Under Section 655 of the Foreign Assistance Act, as amended, the Department of State reports annually to Congress on the aggregate dollar value and quantity of all defense articles and services that State licensed for direct commercial sale to each country. State's report is intended to be an accurate record to ensure that Congress and the public are informed regarding foreign arms sales by U.S. industry. In the course of a previous GAO review on the proliferation of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS),we found that State reported to Congress that it had approved licenses for the commercial sale of Stinger missiles to foreign countries in five instances during fiscal years 2000 and 2002. However, U.S. government policy precludes the commercial sale of Stinger missiles, and State had not approved licenses for the commercial sale of Stinger missiles. State officials stated in May 2004 that the information the department had reported in its fiscal years 2000 and 2002 reports was incorrect. In response to our ongoing review, State submitted an amended 2002 report to Congress in September 2004 and posted corrected 2000 and 2002 reports to its Web site. Under the authority of the Comptroller General, we assessed the reasons for State's misreporting of Stinger missile sales authorizations in its fiscal years 2000 and 2002 Section 655 reports.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of State||1. The Secretary of State should establish and implement procedures to resolve data reliability problems that affect direct commercial sales information in State's Section 655 report, including the review of data entered and database-design limitations.|