Document Alert: “DHS Drug Interdiction Efforts Need Improvement”–DHS IG

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General has issued a report on the Drug Interdiction mission (pdf) covering the entire department. It is not a particularly long report, but I will quote the summary and recommendations.

“What We Found

“We determined the Department’s oversight of its drug interdiction efforts did not align with ONDCP’s (Office of National Drug Control Policy–Chuck) National Drug Control Strategy. The strategy sets goals and objectives for the drug control agencies to reduce illicit drug use, manufacturing and trafficking, drug-related crime and violence, and drug-related health consequences. Specifically, due to a lack of formal oversight roles and responsibilities, the Department did not: (1) report drug seizures and drug interdiction resource hours to ONDCP, and (2) ensure its components developed and implemented adequate performance measures to assess drug interdiction activities.

“As a result, DHS could not ensure its drug interdiction efforts met required national drug control outcomes nor accurately assess the impact of the approximately $4.2 billion it spends annually on drug control activities.”

Recommendations: “We recommend that the Under Secretary for Management:”

“1: Develop and implement a plan to ensure compliance with 21 U.S.C. 1704 that mandates DHS must annually submit to ONDCP and the appropriate congressional committees: the number and type of seizures of drugs by each component of DHS seizing drugs, as well as statistical information on the geographic areas of such seizures; and the number of air and maritime patrol hours primarily dedicated to drug supply reduction missions undertaken by each component of DHS.

“2: Develop and implement a plan to ensure components develop outcome-based performance measures that adequately assess the success of drug interdiction efforts.”

Figure 1: “FYs 2011–2015 DHS Component Drug Control Spending,” showing spending by the three major drug enforcement components of DHS, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Coast Guard, and ICE on page 2 (pdf page 6), and Figure 3: “FY 2015 DHS Component Drug Seizures in Pounds and by Percent of Total DHS Seizures” on page 4 (pdf page 8)  were particularly interesting to me.

Its All About Reporting:

This really all about improving reporting of what is done, rather than specifically improving performance, although that is an implicit goal of improved reporting.

Generally the Coast Guard came out well in the report, without the duplication apparent in reporting by CBP and ICE. The only real recommendation for the Coast Guard was that we need to report on interdiction of other drugs in addition to Cocaine and Marijuana.

I do have a bit of a problem with the way “resource hours” are typically aggregated. Some times there seems to be no difference between an hour by a 25 foot boat and a National Security Cutter. That really is not very helpful; it becomes a statistic for its own sake; and may lead to poor resource allocation decisions. Hopefully we are reporting in much greater detail.

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