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Highlights

In fiscal year 2005, the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) was established to eliminate terrorist safe havens in northwest Africa by strengthening countries' counterterrorism capabilities and inhibiting the spread of extremist ideology. Funds obligated for TSCTP in fiscal years 2005 through 2007 and committed for fiscal year 2008 by the Department of State (State), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Department of Defense (DOD) have amounted to about $353 million for activities in nine partner countries. In this report, GAO examines (1) the distribution of funds for TSCTP and the types of activities supported and (2) the program's implementation, including the extent to which it is guided by a comprehensive, integrated strategy. GAO has reported previously on the need for a strategy that includes priorities and milestones that can help agencies collaborate in combating terrorism. GAO analyzed TSCTP-related documents and conducted work in Mali, Morocco, and Mauritania.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of State To enhance U.S. agencies' ability to collaborate in strengthening country and regional counterterrorism capabilities and inhibiting the spread of extremist ideology in northwest Africa, the Secretary of State should work through the Director of Foreign Assistance, who serves concurrently as USAID Administrator, to develop a comprehensive strategy for the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership in conjunction with the Secretaries of Defense and the Treasury, the U.S. Attorney General, and the heads of any other partner agencies. The strategy should include clear goals, objectives, and milestones, including output and outcome indicators, and identify resources needed to achieve the program's goals.
Closed - Not Implemented
State, USAID, and DOD agreed with the recommendation. However, State did not develop a comprehensive strategy for the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) and, as of 2012, continues to use documents created in 2005 to guide the partnership. According to State officials, the documents created in 2005 to guide the TSCTP remain valid. State has taken a piecemeal approach to making adjustments to specific programs when needed; however, our report found that the 2005 documents used in planning TSCTP activities do not prioritize proposed activities or identify milestones needed to measure progress or make improvements.
Department of State The Secretaries of State and Defense should develop and issue joint guidance with regard to DOD personnel temporarily assigned to conduct TSCTP activities in the partner countries.
Closed - Not Implemented
State agreed with the recommendation. However, as of August 2012, State had not developed or issued joint guidance with DOD with regard to DOD personnel temporarily assigned to conduct Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Program (TSCTP) activities in partner countries, as recommended by GAO. According to State officials, the existing guidance for TSCTP is sufficient and further joint guidance is not needed and has not been developed.
Department of Defense The Secretaries of State and Defense should develop and issue joint guidance with regard to DOD personnel temporarily assigned to conduct TSCTP activities in the partner countries.
Closed - Not Implemented
DOD partially concurred with the recommendation. However, as of August 2012, DOD had not developed or issued joint guidance with State with regard to DOD personnel temporarily assigned to conduct Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Program (TSCTP) activities in partner countries, as recommended by GAO. According to DOD officials, DOD believes sufficient guidance exists in governing statutes and directives regarding deployed DOD personnel, including those participating in TSCTP.

Full Report