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Drug Control: Reauthorization of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (Testimony, 05/01/97, GAO/T-GGD-97-97).

GAO discussed the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP),
focusing on: (1) its recent work on federal drug control efforts; (2)
ONDCP's efforts to implement performance measures; (3) ONDCP's
anticipated actions to lead the development of a centralized
lessons-learned data system for drug control activities; and (4) whether
ONDCP, which is scheduled to expire in September 1997, should be
reauthorized.

GAO noted that: (1) its recent work shows that there are some promising
initial research results in the area of demand reduction but that
international supply reduction efforts have not reduced the availability
of drugs; (2) GAO's work also shows that the nation still lacks
meaningful performance measures to help guide decisionmaking; (3) GAO
has acknowledged that performance measurement in the area of drug
control is particularly difficult for a variety of reasons; (4)
notwithstanding, GAO has concluded over the years that better
performance measures than the ones in place were needed; (5) in 1993,
GAO recommended that Congress, as part of its reauthorization of ONDCP,
direct the agency to develop additional performance measures; (6) in
reauthorizing ONDCP in 1994, Congress specified that ONDCP's performance
measurement system should assess changes in drug use, drug availability,
the consequences of drug use, drug treatment capacity, and the adequacy
of drug treatment systems; (7) ONDCP's initial effort, with a private
contractor, did not prove fruitful, and, in the summer of 1996, it began
a new effort involving working groups composed of representatives from
federal drug control agencies and state, local, and private
organizations; (8) the working groups have been tasked with establishing
performance measures for the goals set forth in the 1997 national
strategy articulated by ONDCP; (9) as of April 15, 1997, no new measures
had been approved by the ONDCP Director; (10) given the complexity of
the issues and the fragmentation of the approach to the national drug
strategy among more than 50 federal agencies, GAO continues to believe
that there is a need for a central planning agency, such as ONDCP, to
coordinate the nation's efforts; and (11) while it is difficult to gauge
ONDCP's effectiveness given the absence of good performance measures,
GAO has found no compelling evidence that would lead it to advise
against ONDCP's reauthorization for a finite period of time.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  T-GGD-97-97
     TITLE:  Drug Control: Reauthorization of the Office of National 
             Drug Control Policy
      DATE:  05/01/97
   SUBJECT:  Drug trafficking
             International cooperation
             Intergovernmental relations
             Drug abuse
             Narcotics
             Drug treatment
             Information systems
             Strategic planning
             Interagency relations
IDENTIFIER:  ONDCP High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program
             National Drug Control Strategy
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Before the National Security, International Affiars and Criminal
Justic Subcommittee, committee on Government Reform and Oversight,
House of Representatives

For Release on Delivery
Expected at 11:00 a.m.
on Thursday
May 1, 1997

DRUG CONTROL - REAUTHORIZATION OF
THE OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG
CONTROL POLICY

Statement of Norman J.  Rabkin
Director, Administration of Justice Issues
General Government Division

GAO/T-GGD-97-97

GAO/GGD-97-97t


(186766)


Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  DOD - Department of Defense
  GPRA - Government Performance and Results Act of 1993
  ONDCP - Office of National Drug Control Policy

DRUG CONTROL:  REAUTHORIZATION OF
THE OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG
CONTROL POLICY
====================================================== Chapter Summary

Over the years, GAO has issued numerous reports on the nation's drug
control efforts.  These reports show a consistent theme:  the
nation's effort to control illegal drugs is complex, fragmented among
many agencies, and hindered by the absence of meaningful performance
measures to gauge progress and to guide decisionmaking to better
ensure that limited resources are put to the best use. 

In 1983, GAO concluded that there was a need to coordinate the
nation's drug control efforts and recommended that the President make
a clear delegation of responsibility to one individual to strengthen
oversight of federal drug enforcement programs.  Since then, GAO has
periodically concluded that there is a continuing need for a central
planning agency.  Congress addressed this issue through the Anti-Drug
Abuse Act of 1988, which created the Office of National Drug Control
Policy (ONDCP) to better plan a nationwide drug control effort and
assist Congress in overseeing that effort.  ONDCP was initially
authorized through November 1993 and later reauthorized through
September 30, 1997. 

GAO's recent work shows that there are some promising initial
research results in the area of demand reduction but that
international supply reduction efforts have not reduced the
availability of drugs.  GAO's work also shows that the nation still
lacks meaningful performance measures to help guide decisionmaking. 
GAO has acknowledged that performance measurement in the area of drug
control is particularly difficult for a variety of reasons. 
Notwithstanding, GAO has concluded over the years that better
performance measures than the ones in place were needed.  In 1993,
GAO recommended that Congress, as part of its reauthorization of
ONDCP, direct the agency to develop additional performance measures. 

In reauthorizing ONDCP in 1994, Congress specified that ONDCP's
performance measurement system should assess changes in drug use,
drug availability, the consequences of drug use, drug treatment
capacity, and the adequacy of drug treatment systems.  ONDCP's
initial effort, with a private contractor, did not prove fruitful,
and, in the summer of 1996, it began a new effort involving working
groups composed of representatives from federal drug control agencies
and state, local, and private organizations.  The working groups have
been tasked with establishing performance measures for the goals set
forth in the 1997 national strategy articulated by ONDCP.  As of
April 15, 1997, no new measures had been approved by the ONDCP
Director. 

Given the complexity of the issues and the fragmentation of the
approach to the national drug strategy among more than 50 federal
agencies, GAO continues to believe that there is a need for a central
planning agency, such as ONDCP, to coordinate the nation's efforts. 
GAO notes that, while it is difficult to gauge ONDCP's effectiveness
given the absence of good performance measures, GAO has found no
compelling evidence that would lead it to advise against ONDCP's
reauthorization for a finite period of time. 


DRUG CONTROL:  REAUTHORIZATION OF
THE OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG
CONTROL POLICY
==================================================== Chapter Statement

Mr.  Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: 

I am pleased to be here today to discuss the Office of National Drug
Control Policy (ONDCP).  My testimony focuses on (1) our recent work
on federal drug control efforts; (2) ONDCP's efforts to implement
performance measures; (3) ONDCP's anticipated actions to lead the
development of a centralized lessons-learned data system for drug
control activities; and (4) whether ONDCP, which is scheduled to
expire in September of this year, should be reauthorized. 


   BACKGROUND
-------------------------------------------------- Chapter Statement:1

In 1988, Congress created ONDCP to better plan the federal drug
control effort and assist it in overseeing that effort.  ONDCP was
initially authorized for 5 years--until November 1993.  With the
enactment of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of
1994 (P.L.  103-322 (1994)), ONDCP was reauthorized until September
30, 1997. 

ONDCP is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the drug control
efforts of over 50 federal agencies and programs.  ONDCP is also
charged with coordinating and reviewing the drug control activities
of hundreds of state and local governments as well as private
organizations to ensure that the drug control effort is well
coordinated and effective at all levels.\1

Under the 1988 act, ONDCP is to (1) develop a national drug control
strategy with short- and long-term objectives and annually revise and
issue a new strategy to take into account what has been learned and
accomplished during the previous year, (2) develop an annual
consolidated budget providing funding estimates for implementing the
strategy, and (3) oversee and coordinate implementation of the
strategy by federal agencies.  Since its inception, ONDCP has
published nine annual national drug control strategies. 

Some highlights of the 1997 strategy include:  (1) explicit
recognition that demand reduction must be the centerpiece of the
national antidrug effort; (2) a commitment to robust international
drug interdiction programs; and (3) making prevention of drug use by
youth the top priority.  The 1997 strategy sets forth five goals,
including both supply and demand drug control efforts: 

"1.  Educate and enable America's youth to reject illegal drugs as
well as the use of alcohol and tobacco. 

"2.  Increase the safety of America's citizens by substantially
reducing drug-related crime and violence. 

"3.  Reduce health and social costs to the public of illegal drug
use. 

"4.  Shield America's air, land, and sea frontiers from the drug
threat. 

"5.  Break foreign and domestic sources of supply."

The administration's drug control budget request for fiscal year 1998
is approximately $16 billion, an increase of $818 million over the
1997 budget.  Approximately $5.5 billion is targeted for demand
reduction, an increase of 10 percent over the 1997 budget and $10.5
billion for supply reduction, an increase of 3.2 percent over the
1997 budget.\2


--------------------
\1 ONDCP is also responsible for designating and providing overall
policy guidance and oversight for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking
Areas (HIDTA) Program and operating the Counterdrug Technology
Assessment Center (CTAC), which serves as the counterdrug enforcement
research and development center for the federal government. 

\2 As defined in the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, P.L.  100-690,
demand reduction includes drug abuse education, prevention,
treatment, research, and rehabilitation.  Supply reduction includes
international drug control; foreign and domestic drug enforcement
intelligence; interdiction; and domestic drug law enforcement,
including law enforcement directed at drug users. 


   RECENT GAO WORK ON FEDERAL DRUG
   CONTROL EFFORTS
-------------------------------------------------- Chapter Statement:2

At the request of the Chairman, Subcommittee on Transportation and
Related Agencies and the Chairman, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and
Human Services, and Education, House Committee on Appropriations, on
the demand reduction side we recently identified findings of current
research on promising approaches in drug abuse prevention targeted at
school-age youth and described promising drug treatment strategies
for cocaine addiction.  On the supply reduction side, we summarized
our recent work assessing the effectiveness of international efforts,
including interdiction, to reduce illegal drug availability.\3

We reported that recent research points to two types of promising
drug prevention approaches for school-age youth.  The first approach
emphasizes drug resistance skills, generic
problem-solving/decisionmaking training, and modification of
attitudes and norms that encourage drug use (the psychosocial
approach).  The second approach involves the coordinated use of
multiple societal institutions, such as family, community, and
schools, for delivering prevention programs (the comprehensive
approach).  Early research has demonstrated that both approaches have
shown some success in reducing student drug use as well as
strengthened individuals' ability to resist drugs in both short- and
longer-term programs. 

Three approaches have been found to be potentially promising in the
treatment of cocaine use.  These approaches include (1) avoidance or
better management of drug-triggering situations (relapse prevention
therapy); (2) exposure to community support programs, drug sanctions,
and necessary employment counseling (community
reinforcement/contingency management); and (3) use of a coordinated
behavioral, emotional, and cognitive treatment approach
(neurobehavioral therapy).  Research shows that many drug dependent
clients using these approaches have maintained extended periods of
cocaine abstinence and greater retention in treatment programs. 

While these prevention and treatment approaches have shown promising
outcomes in some programs, further evaluative research would have to
be conducted to determine their effectiveness and their applicability
among different populations in varied settings.  Such research should
help policymakers better focus efforts and resources in an overall
drug control strategy. 

Regarding international drug control efforts, our work has shown
that, despite some successes, efforts have not materially reduced the
availability of drugs in the United States for several reasons. 
First, international drug trafficking organizations have become
sophisticated, multibillion dollar industries that quickly adapt to
new U.S.  drug control efforts.  Second, the United States faces
other significant and long-standing obstacles, such as inconsistent
funding, competing foreign policy objectives, organizational and
operational limitations, and a lack of ways to tell whether or how
well counternarcotics efforts are contributing to the goals and
objectives of the national drug control strategy, and the resulting
inability to prioritize the use of limited resources.  Third, in
drug-producing and transit countries, counternarcotics efforts are
constrained by competing economic and political policies, inadequate
laws, limited resources and institutional capabilities, and internal
problems such as terrorism and civil unrest. 

Recognizing that there is no panacea for resolving all of the
problems associated with illegal drug trafficking, and consistent
with the intent of the Government Performance and Results Act
(GPRA),\4 we recently made several recommendations to the Director of
ONDCP to better comply with the 1988 Anti Drug Abuse Act's
requirements.  We recommended that ONDCP complete the development of
a long-term plan with meaningful performance measures and multiyear
funding needs that are linked to the goals and objectives of the
international drug control strategy.  In particular, such a plan
would permit ONDCP to better carry out its responsibility to at least
annually review the progress made and adjust its plan, as
appropriate.  Further, we recommended that ONDCP enhance support for
the increased use of intelligence and technology to (1) improve U.S. 
and other nations' efforts to reduce supplies of and interdict
illegal drugs and (2) take the lead in developing a centralized
lessons-learned data system to aid agency planners and operators in
developing more effective counterdrug efforts.\5


--------------------
\3 Drug Control:  Observations on Elements of the Federal Drug
Control Strategy (GAO/GGD-97-42, Mar.  14, 1997). 

\4 GPRA (P.L.  103-62 (1993)) was enacted to improve performance
measurement by federal agencies.  It provides a useful framework for
assessing the effectiveness of federal drug control efforts.  Under
GPRA, it is envisioned that each federal agency--defined as an
executive department, government corporation, and an independent
establishment--will move away from its concentration on traditional
workload measures, such as staffing and activity levels, and move
toward a focused assessment of results.  GPRA requires each federal
agency to develop two types of plans--a strategic plan and annual
performance plans.  Strategic plans are to cover a period of at least
5 years and include the agency's mission statement; identify the
agency's long-term strategic goals; and describe how the agency
intends to achieve those goals through its activities and through its
human, capital, information, and other resources.  Annual performance
plans provide the direct linkage between the strategic goals outlined
in the agency's strategic plan and what managers and employees do day
to day.  In addition, the performance plan is to contain the
performance goals the agency will use to gauge its progress toward
accomplishing its strategic goals and identify the performance
measures the agency will use to assess its progress. 

\5 Drug Control:  Long-Standing Problems Hinder U.S.  International
Efforts (GAO/NSIAD-97-75, Feb.  27, 1997). 


   ONDCP'S EFFORTS TO IMPLEMENT
   PERFORMANCE MEASURES
-------------------------------------------------- Chapter Statement:3

We have acknowledged for many years that performance measurement in
the area of drug control has been difficult.  In 1988 and again in
1990, we reported that (1) it was difficult to isolate the full
impact and effectiveness of a single program, such as drug
interdiction, on reducing drug use without considering the impact of
prevention and treatment efforts; (2) the clandestine nature of drug
production, trafficking, and use had limited the quality and quantity
of data that could be collected to measure program success; and (3)
the data that were collected--for example, the data used to prepare
estimates of drug availability and consumption--were generally not
designed to measure program effectiveness.\6

In a 1993 report,\7 we concluded that although difficulties, such as
the interrelated nature of programs, may have precluded the
development of "perfect" or "precise" performance measures, these
difficulties should not have stopped antidrug policymakers from
developing the best alternative measures--measures that could provide
general indicators of what was being accomplished over the long term. 

We also reported in 1993 that ONDCP's national strategies did not
contain adequate measures for assessing the contributions of
component programs for reducing the nation's drug problems.  In
addition, we found little information on which to assess the
contributions made by individual drug control agencies.  As a result,
we recommended that, as part of its reauthorization of ONDCP,
Congress direct the agency to develop additional performance
measures.  In reauthorizing ONDCP in 1994, Congress specified that
ONDCP's performance measurement system should assess changes in drug
use, drug availability, the consequences of drug use,\8 drug
treatment capacity, and the adequacy of drug treatment systems. 

Similarly, in our most recent report,\9 we found it still difficult
to assess the performance of individual drug control agencies.  For
example, increased Customs Service inspections and use of technology
to detect drugs being smuggled through ports of entry may cause
smugglers to seek other routes; this would put more pressure on drug
interdiction activities of other agencies, such as the Coast Guard. 
We concluded that it was important to consider both ONDCP and
operational agency data together because results achieved by one
agency in reducing the use of drugs may be offset by less favorable
results by another agency. 

According to ONDCP officials, around January 1994, they, in
collaboration with the Department of Defense, entered into a contract
with a private contractor to develop "measures of effectiveness" in
the international arena.  According to ONDCP officials, overall the
results of the contractor's efforts did not prove useful in
developing performance measures for ONDCP.  The efforts of the
contractor were eventually abandoned, and in the summer of 1996 ONDCP
began a new effort to develop performance measures for all drug
control operations. 

The new effort relies on working groups, which consist of
representatives from federal drug control agencies and state, local,
and private organizations, to develop national drug control
performance measures.  According to ONDCP officials, early in 1997,
the ONDCP working groups began developing performance targets
(measurable milestones to track progress) and performance measures
(the data used to track each target) for each of the objectives.  As
of April 1997, the plans for one of its five goals--"shield America's
air, land, and sea frontiers from the drug threat"--were ready for
the Director's approval, and they will be distributed to the affected
agencies for agreement.  ONDCP officials told us they are not yet
that far along on the other four goals. 


--------------------
\6 Controlling Drug Abuse:  A Status Report (GAO/GGD-88-39, Mar.  1,
1988) and Drug Interdiction:  Funding Continues to Increase but
Program Effectiveness Is Unknown (GAO/GGD-91-10, Dec.  11, 1990). 

\7 Drug Control:  Reauthorization of the Office of National Drug
Control Policy (GAO/GGD-93-144, Sept.  29, 1993). 

\8 Consequences of drug use include burdens drug users place on
hospital emergency rooms in the United States, national health care
costs of drug use, drug-related crime and criminal activity, and
contribution of drugs to the underground economy. 

\9 GAO/GGD-97-42. 


   CENTRALIZED DATA SYSTEMS: 
   LESSONS LEARNED
-------------------------------------------------- Chapter Statement:4

As previously mentioned, we recently recommended in our report on
international antidrug activities that ONDCP strengthen its planning
and implementation of antidrug activities through the development of
an after-action reporting system similar to the Department of
Defense's (DOD) system.\10 Under DOD's system, operations reports
describe an operation's strengths and weaknesses and contain
recommendations for consideration in future operations.  A
governmentwide after-action system for reporting international
antidrug activities should allow agencies to learn from the problems
and impediments encountered internally and by other federal agencies
in implementing past operations.  With such information, the agencies
would be in a better position to develop plans that avoid past
problems or contingencies in known problem areas.  This
governmentwide after-action system should go a long way toward
meeting ONDCP's basic responsibility of taking into account what has
been learned and accomplished during the previous year and adjusting
its plan accordingly.  As of April 15, 1997, ONDCP officials said
they had not yet implemented this recommendation.  According to these
officials, ONDCP is currently preparing a formal response to the
Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs, and
Criminal Justice, Committee on Government Reform and Oversight,
explaining how it plans to implement this recommendation. 


--------------------
\10 GAO/NSIAD-97-75. 


   THE NEED CONTINUES FOR A
   CENTRAL PLANNING AGENCY TO
   COORDINATE DRUG CONTROL EFFORTS
-------------------------------------------------- Chapter Statement:5

Over the years, we have concluded there is a continuing need for a
central planning agency, such as ONDCP, to coordinate the nation's
drug control efforts.  Before ONDCP existed, we recommended in 1983
that the President make a clear delegation of responsibility to one
individual to oversee federal drug enforcement programs to strengthen
central oversight of the federal drug enforcement program.\11 Again
in 1988,\12 we reported problems caused by the fragmentation of
federal antidrug efforts among cabinet departments and agencies, and
the resulting lack of coordination of federal drug abuse control
policies and programs.  In 1993,\13 we concluded that given the
severity of the drug problem and the large number of federal, state,
and local agencies working on the problem, there was a continuing
need for a central planning agency, such as ONDCP, to provide
leadership and coordination for the nation's drug control efforts. 
We recommended that Congress reauthorize ONDCP for an additional
finite period of time. 

Coordinating the 5 goals of the national drug control strategy among
more than 50 federal agencies is a complex process.  Our analysis of
federal agencies that contribute to the implementation of each of the
5 strategy goals showed an average of 21 agencies were committing
resources to address specific strategy goals.  For example, Goal 1
involves 18 agencies, Goals 2 and 3 involve 24, Goal 4 involves 13,
and Goal 5 involves 28.  Further, we found that more than 30 agencies
are committing resources to implement two or more of the five
strategy goals. 

Given the complexity of the issues and the fragmentation of the
approach to the national drug control strategy among more than 50
agencies, we continue to believe there is a need for a central
planning agency, such as ONDCP, to coordinate the nation's drug
control efforts.  In addition, we have found no compelling evidence
to lead us to advise against ONDCP's reauthorization for a finite
period of time. 


--------------------
\11 Federal Drug Interdiction Efforts Need Strong Central Oversight
(GAO/GGD-83-52, June 13, 1983). 

\12 GAO/GGD-88-39. 

\13 GAO/GGD-93-144. 


------------------------------------------------ Chapter Statement:5.1

Mr.  Chairman, this completes my statement.  I would be pleased to
answer any questions you or the other Subcommittee members might
have. 

*** End of document. ***