Department of State:

Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs Follow Legal Authority, but Some Activities Need Reassessment

GAO-04-521: Published: Apr 30, 2004. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 2004.

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The Department of State requested $415 million to fund programs in the Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining, and Related Programs (NADR) appropriations account for fiscal year 2005. Interest has been expressed in learning about whether programs are being implemented in accord with the law, and in the extent to which programs use experts hired on a contractual basis. GAO was asked to determine (1) the legal authorizations for the programs and the extent to which programs are implemented in accord with these authorizations and (2) the extent to which program management and implementation use outside experts.

The seven major programs funded through the Department of State's Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs appropriations account are authorized by law and engage in activities that are in accord with their authority. However, the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund (NDF) engages in activities that, while authorized by law, appear to be inconsistent with expectations about the scope of the program's mission. Past appropriations committee reports and testimony by the Secretary of State indicated that the NDF is designed to respond to urgent, unanticipated nonproliferation events of immediate concern to the United States. However, at least half of the NDF's $35 million budget request for fiscal year 2004 and 57 percent of the $34.5 million request for fiscal year 2005 were designated for longer-term activities preplanned through the annual budget process, including expansion of an export control system called Tracker. Furthermore, the Tracker system has been developed and deployed independently of another Department of State program, the Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance Program, which supports the development of export control capabilities in foreign countries. Currently, the Tracker system is not integrated into the export control assessments and activities of this program or the export control activities of other Departments, such as the Department of Commerce. Program management offices, which range in size from 1 to 26 staff, average about 80 percent federal employees and 20 percent experts hired on a contractual basis. In contrast, projects funded by these programs are implemented by experts on contract from other U.S. government agencies (who may also be federal employees), outside contractors, or international and nongovernmental organizations. The Department of State concurred with the need to integrate export control activities, but took exception to other issues regarding the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Given the actions by State and Commerce, Commerce no longer has the involvement in the program referred to and congressional action is no longer relevant or required.

    Matter: The Congress may want to consider conditioning future year funding requests for the Tracker export control system until the Secretaries of State and Commerce have determined whether the two systems should be integrated.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Our research through the congressional record and congressional reports that included the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund indicated no evidence that Congress enacted any clarifying language.

    Matter: The Congress may also want to consider clarifying through legislation its intent with respect to the scope and direction of the NDF's activities.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to the GAO recommendation, State reported and GAO confirmed that Tracker was transferred from the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund to the Export Control and Border Security Assistance (EXBS) program in 2005. Also, Commerce reported that the Office of International Programs has dissolved in the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and is now back with the Department of State. Therefore, Commerce no longer has the program referred to and congressional action is no longer relevant or required.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of State and Commerce should evaluate the extent to which the export control activities of the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund and the Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance Program are integrated and thus ensure that recipient countries are receiving comprehensive assistance to improve their export control systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to the GAO recommendation, State reported and GAO confirmed that Tracker was transferred from the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund to the Export Control and Border Security Assistance (EXBS) program in 2005. Also, Commerce reported that the Office of International Programs has dissolved in the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and is now back with the Department of State. Therefore, Commerce no longer has the program referred to and congressional action is no longer relevant or required.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of State and Commerce should evaluate the extent to which the export control activities of the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund and the Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance Program are integrated and thus ensure that recipient countries are receiving comprehensive assistance to improve their export control systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

 

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