Drug Enforcement:

Improving Management of Assistance to High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas

T-GGD-91-53: Published: Jul 25, 1991. Publicly Released: Jul 25, 1991.

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GAO reviewed the Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) administration of federal assistance to localities with severe drug trafficking problems, focusing on: (1) the extent to which decisions on how best to spend High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) funds were based on collaboration among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies; (2) how the $25 million in fiscal year 1990 HIDTA funds were actually spent; (3) the analytical base ONDCP established for assessing the effectiveness of that spending, as the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 required; and (4) how ONDCP plans will affect the continuation of HIDTA funding and the implications these plans may have on HIDTA efforts. GAO noted that: (1) despite calling for active involvement of state and local law enforcement agencies in assessing the needs of each HIDTA locality and developing plans on how best to spend HIDTA funds, ONDCP guidelines were not sufficient to ensure that these agencies were fully integrated into the local HIDTA planning processes; (2) due to the late receipt of funds, agencies only spent $1.5 million of the $25 million appropriated on drug control operations, spending the rest on investigative and office equipment and moving additional agents to HIDTA localities; (3) ONDCP has not established a foundation for assessing HIDTA performance; and (4) ONDCP wished to continue the HIDTA effort through appropriations made directly to federal agencies so that program accountability would be transferred to those agencies.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Under ONDCP auspices, a steering committee has been established to promote collaboration in the development of spending plans in each HIDTA.

    Recommendation: To promote federal, state, and local collaboration, cooperation, and coordination in developing HIDTA spending plans as envisioned in the ONDCP guidelines, the Director, ONDCP, should modify those guidelines to require the establishment of local HIDTA steering committees with state and local law enforcement agency representation.

    Agency Affected: Office of National Drug Control Policy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: ONDCP established a process that requires HIDTA areas to compile a list of the most important trafficking organizations and develop a strategic plan to dismantling each organization.

    Recommendation: As a basis for establishing accountability and assessing program performance, the Director, ONDCP, should reach agreement with the agencies receiving HIDTA funds on the: (1) performance milestones and measurable goals the HIDTA-funded initiatives would be expected to meet; (2) output measures that would be appropriate for evaluating progress and success in achieving those goals and milestones; and (3) way this information is to be reported.

    Agency Affected: Office of National Drug Control Policy


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