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Highlights

What GAO Found

The National Guard Bureau (NGB) counterdrug program's budget data show that funding has ranged from about $219.3 million to $242.1 million in fiscal years 2004 through 2014–with a peak of $247 million in fiscal year 2013–but in fiscal year 2015 funding was reduced substantially. Based on Department of Defense (DOD) data, every year since 2004 Congress has directed funding above the requested amount, thus keeping program amounts steady through 2014. In fiscal year 2013, DOD reported requesting $117 million for the program, about a 40 percent decrease from the prior year's request. While DOD reduced its request, however, Congress in fiscal years 2013 and 2014 directed funding at generally comparable amounts from prior years. In fiscal year 2015 Congress directed less of an increase above DOD's request, leaving the program with lower total funding of $175.5 million.

Funding for National Guard's State Counterdrug Program, Fiscal Years 2004-2015

Funding for National Guard's State Counterdrug Program, Fiscal Years 2004-2015

The NGB has developed performance measures to report on its counterdrug program; however, the information collected is not used to evaluate and inform funding for state-level programs or oversee the counterdrug schools' training. GAO has previously reported that setting useful measures is important for oversight; without them, managers cannot monitor and evaluate the performance of programs' activities. NGB officials stated that they developed the current measures in response to DOD guidance to report on the program's aggregate performance and did not fully consider the types of measures or information that would be useful to evaluate individual state-level programs and oversee the counterdrug schools. Without collecting and using useful performance information to evaluate state-level programs and oversee the counterdrug schools, DOD and Congress cannot ensure that the counterdrug program is achieving its desired results and is distributing its funding most efficiently.

Why GAO Did This Study

Since 1989 the National Guard has received hundreds of millions of dollars to help enhance the effectiveness of state-level counterdrug efforts by providing military support to assist interagency partners with their counterdrug activities. The program funds the drug interdiction priorities of each state Governor; counterdrug-related training to interagency partners at five counterdrug schools; and state-level counterthreat finance investigations, all of which are part of DOD's broader counterdrug efforts.

Senate Report 113-176 included a provision for GAO to conduct an assessment of the state operations of the National Guard's counterdrug program. This report: (1) identifies the changes in funding for the program since fiscal year 2004, and (2) assesses the extent to which performance information is used to evaluate the program's activities. GAO analyzed the program's budgets and obligations data, performance measures, and program guidance, and interviewed knowledgeable officials.

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Recommendations

GAO recommends that DOD (1) identify additional information needed to evaluate the performance of state programs and oversee counterdrug schools' training; and (2) subsequently collect and use performance information to help inform funding distribution decisions to state programs and to conduct oversight of the training offered by the counterdrug schools. DOD concurred with GAO's recommendations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense To ensure that resources are being efficiently applied to meet the National Guard counterdrug program's objectives, the Secretary of Defense should direct the National Guard Bureau in consultation with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats to identify additional information needed to evaluate the performance of the state programs and oversee counterdrug schools' training.
Closed - Implemented
The National Guard Bureau implemented revisions to the National Guard counterdrug program to identify and collect additional information to evaluate the performance of the 54 state programs and the counterdrug schools, as GAO recommended. Specifically, in April 2016, National Guard counterdrug program officials developed a strategic framework with four goals that support counterdrug objectives of the Department of Defense, Office of the National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and Federal law enforcement. Within each of the goals, are objectives and measures to evaluate the efforts of the individual state programs and the counterdrug schools. In August 2016, each of the state programs and the counterdrug schools included the goals, objectives, and revised performance measures in their individual fiscal year 2017 plans.
Department of Defense To ensure that resources are being efficiently applied to meet the National Guard counterdrug program's objectives, the Secretary of Defense should direct the National Guard Bureau in consultation with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats to subsequently collect and use performance information to help inform funding distribution decisions to state programs and to conduct oversight of the training offered by the counterdrug schools.
Open
DOD concurred with our recommendation and stated that it would collect and use performance information to evaluate the effectiveness of each state program to provide support and to meet its objectives. DOD also stated that it would take steps to assist states with any needed corrective-action plans. While the National Guard counterdrug program has begun collecting performance information in its annual assessments of state programs and counterdrug schools, it has not yet incorporated the information into its funding distribution decisions. In March 2021, National Guard Bureau officials reported that they had developed a plan to use a scorecard to evaluate each state counterdrug program using specific performance measures. Officials stated that they plan to apply the resulting performance information to the Threat Based Resource Model for overall program funding by state. National Guard Counterdrug Program officials stated that they were awaiting final approval of the scorecard concept and performance measures from the National Guard Counterdrug Program General Officers Advisory Council. We will continue to monitor the National Guard Bureau's implementation of its scorecard approach to ensure it meets the intent of our recommendation.

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