Countering Overseas Threats: DOD and State Need to Address Gaps in Monitoring of Security Equipment Transferred to Lebanon
What GAO Found
The United States allocated $671 million for Lebanese security forces from fiscal year 2009 through fiscal year 2013. Of these total allocated funds, $477 million, or 71 percent, had been disbursed or committed by the end of fiscal year 2013. Nearly all of the allocations made in fiscal years 2009 through 2011 had been disbursed or committed. For the largest program, Foreign Military Financing, the Department of Defense (DOD) had committed about $352 million of the $481 million allocated in fiscal years 2009 through 2013.
Consistent with end-use monitoring requirements, DOD and the Department of State (State) conduct annual inventories for equipment transferred to Lebanese security forces. However, GAO found gaps in efforts to document and monitor physical security of some U.S. equipment transferred to Lebanese security forces that may weaken efforts to safeguard physical security of some equipment. First, while DOD annually inventories sensitive equipment by serial number, as required by its policy, U.S embassy officials in Beirut have not always used DOD's required checklists to document compliance with physical security safeguards. Second, State did not fully document 4 of the 10 end-use monitoring checks it conducted in fiscal years 2011 and 2012 for defense equipment the Lebanese government purchased commercially. State end-use monitoring guidance requires that specific information be documented and maintained for all such checks. Third, while State conducts an annual inventory of the equipment it transfers to the Lebanese security forces, State may not be ensuring that the recipients of defense articles implement recommended physical security safeguards because State lacks procedures to identify defense articles and any recommended safeguards for storing them.
GAO estimates that State vetted 100 percent of the Lebanese students that attended U.S.-funded security-related training from October 10, 2010, through April 30, 2013, for human rights violations. On the basis of a cross-check analysis of vetting data and a sample of names from six training rosters, GAO estimates that State vetted all of the 7,104 Lebanese students that attended training during that period.
Why GAO Did This Study
Since 2009, the United States has allocated $671 million in security-related assistance for Lebanon to train, modernize, and equip the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces. The U.S. government established end-use monitoring programs to ensure that defense equipment is safeguarded. The Foreign Assistance Act prohibits certain assistance to any unit of foreign security forces if the Secretary of State has credible information that such a unit has committed a gross violation of human rights. GAO was asked to examine U.S. security-related assistance for Lebanon.
This report assesses the extent to which the U.S. government (1) disbursed or committed funds allocated for Lebanese security forces in fiscal years 2009 through 2013, (2) implemented end-use monitoring for equipment transferred to Lebanese security forces, and (3) vetted Lebanese recipients of U.S. security-related training for human rights violations. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed laws and regulations, analyzed agency data, and interviewed officials in Washington, D.C., and Beirut, Lebanon.
GAO recommends that DOD ensure U.S. officials use required checklists to confirm Lebanese facilities' compliance with required safeguards, and that State maintain proper documentation of end-use checks and establish formal procedures to ensure that bureaus identify defense articles and any recommended physical security safeguards for storing them. DOD and State concurred.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||To help ensure that U.S. agencies are in a better position to ensure adequate safeguards for and monitoring of sensitive equipment, the Secretary of Defense should take additional steps to ensure that Office of Defense Cooperation officials in Beirut use the checklists required during the physical security checks.||
The Department of Defense generally concurred with this recommendation and noted that the ODC in Beirut started taking steps to address the recommendation. To respond to the recommendation, in December, 2014, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency published a quarterly newsletter that included information about updated end-use monitoring security checklists and a tutorial about the security checklists for defense articles. In addition, the agency reiterated checklist requirements during end-use monitoring training seminars that took place in July 2014 and August 2015, with another scheduled in August 2016, according to the chief of the End-use Monitoring Division.
|Department of State||The Secretary of State should direct the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls and U.S. officials overseas to maintain cables or e-mails as required by State guidance to document each Blue Lantern end-use check.||
State concurred with our recommendation. In response to our recommendation and to facilitate the daily management and operations of Blue Lantern end-use checks, in February 2015, State created a Blue Lantern Sharepoint website with a database of action requests, response cables, and supporting documentation. According to State, the site will serve as a historical resource and significantly improve posts' and State's ability to track and document Blue Lantern-related documentation.
|Department of State||The Secretary of State should direct State bureaus transferring equipment to foreign security forces under security-related assistance programs to establish formal written procedures to identify whether items are defense articles.||
The Department of State generally concurred with this recommendation. On October 19, 2015, INL issued new standard operating procedures for end-use monitoring that clearly define defense articles as any item or technical data designated in the most recent version of the United States Munitions List (22 CFR section 121, Ref 4.5). Included in this end use monitoring definition are any items on the Department of Commerce's "600 Series" list (Ref 4.10).
|Department of State||The Secretary of State should direct State bureaus transferring equipment to foreign security forces under security-related assistance programs to establish formal written procedures to consult with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls to determine if there are additional safeguards recommended for the transfer of the defense articles.||
On October 19, 2015, the Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) issued new standard operating procedures for end-use monitoring. The procedures directed end-use monitoring officials to ensure that all U.S. government personnel utilize an end-use monitoring defense article checklist when conducting inspections. Two checklists are provided in the appendices of the procedures for use during inspections of facilities where defense articles are secured. One of the checklists added an additional safeguard that requires State officials to report to DDTC in the event of a loss, theft, or unauthorized access of defense articles. In March 2016, State distributed a cable to all posts that explained this reporting requirement. According to an INL official, the Bureau conferred closely with DDTC when finalizing the standard operating procedures, which were cleared by DDTC on September 25, 2015. Along with the cable, the procedures provide direction to bureau-level counterparts at posts to have greater accountability over DDTC-licensed items, according to the official.