Multiple U.S. Agencies Provided Billions of Dollars to Train and Equip Foreign Police Forces

GAO-11-402R: Published: Apr 27, 2011. Publicly Released: Apr 27, 2011.


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Joseph A. Christoff
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Over the past few years, the United States has increased its emphasis on training and equipping foreign police as a means of supporting a wide range of U.S. foreign-policy goals, including countering terrorists overseas and stopping the flow of narcotics to the United States. Funding for these activities has increased significantly since we last reported on these issues in 1992. In response to congressional request, this report provides estimates of the funding the U.S. government provided for activities to train and equip foreign police, hereafter referred to as "police assistance," during fiscal year 2009. We defined "police" as all law-enforcement units or personnel with arrest, investigative, or interdiction authorities.

During fiscal year 2009, seven federal agencies and 24 components within them funded or implemented police-assistance activities to support their counternarcotics, counterterrorism, and anticrime missions. Five of these agencies provided an estimated $3.5 billion for police assistance to 107 countries in fiscal year 2009. This amount compares to about $180 million in inflationadjusted dollars provided for these efforts in 1990, when we last compiled a similar inventory. DOD and State provided an estimated 97 percent of all U.S. government funds ($3.4 billion) for police assistance; DOD provided about 55 percent of the total and State about 42 percent. DOE, USAID, and DOJ provided the remaining 3 percent of U.S. funds for activities such as procuring nucleardetection devices and training law-enforcement officers on their use, establishing community-based police training programs, and developing terrorist crime-scene investigation capabilities. Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Mexico, Colombia, and the Palestinian Territories each received an estimated $100 million or more in police assistance. Both DOD and State provided funds for police assistance in 39 of the 107 recipient countries. In a subsequent review, we plan to assess how the two agencies coordinate efforts in these 39 countries to avoid duplication and overlap.

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