Observations on the U.S. Process for Approving Operations
GAO-01-100T, Oct 4, 2000
This testimony discusses the decisions by the United States to support new or expanded United Nations (U.N.) operations in the following four locations: Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These decisions were made between January 1999 and June 2000. This testimony focuses on: (1) whether GAO had sufficient access to agency records to conduct the study requested by Congress, (2) how Presidential Decision Directive 25 was used in deciding to support new or expanded U.N. operations, and (3) how the executive branch consulted with Congress during the Directive 25 decision process. GAO found that it lacked the full and independent access to agency records needed to complete its work. The intent of Directive 25 is to ensure selective and effective use of peacekeeping as a tool for advancing U.S. interests and to also establish factors to help assess whether U.S. support for an operation is appropriate. GAO found that Directive 25 factors were considered in the initial operation in East Timor, but GAO could not determine whether those factors were considered in other operations. Communications between Congress and the executive branch consisted of briefings, letters, and testimonies. However, communications provided little information about: (1) the risks and weaknesses of operations identified by Directive 25 analyses, and (2) plans addressing these risks and weaknesses.