Between 1998 and 2004, Congress appropriated over $1.2 billion to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) for the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. The campaign aimed to prevent the initiation of or curtail the use of drugs among the nation's youth. In 2005, Westat, Inc., completed a multiyear national evaluation of the campaign. GAO has been mandated to review various aspects of the campaign, including Westat's evaluation which is the subject of this report. Applying generally accepted social science research standards, GAO assessed (1) how Westat provided credible support for its findings and Westat's findings about (2) attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of youth and parents toward drug use and (3) youth self-reported drug use.
Matter for Congressional Consideration
|In light of the fact that the phase III evaluation of the media campaign yielded no evidence of a positive outcome in relation to teen drug use and congressional conferees' indications of their intentions to rely on the Westat study, Congress may wish to consider limiting appropriations for the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign beginning in the fiscal 2007 budget year until ONDCP is able to provide credible evidence of the effectiveness of exposure to the campaign on youth drug use outcomes or provide other credible options for a media campaign approach. In this regard we believe that an independent evaluation of the new campaign should be considered as a means to help inform both ONDCP and Congressional decision making.|