What GAO Found
United States Government Accountability Office
Why GAO Did This Study
Accountability Integrity Reliability
Improved Guidance and More
Highlights ofGAO-08-336, a report to theRanking Member, Subcommittee onNational Security and Foreign Affairs,Committee on Oversight and GovernmentReform
S/CT provides minimal guidance to help prioritize ATA program recipients,and S/CT and DS/T/ATA do not systematically align ATA assistance with U.S.assessments of foreign partner counterterrorism needs. S/CT provides policyguidance to DS/T/ATA through quarterly meetings and a tiered list of prioritycountries, but the list does not provide guidance on country counterterrorism-related program goals, objectives, or training priorities. S/CT and DS/T/ATAalso did not consistently use country-specific needs assessments and programreviews to plan assistance.S/CT has established mechanisms to coordinate the ATA program with otherU.S. international efforts to combat terrorism. S/CT holds interagencymeetings with representatives from the Departments of State, Defense,Justice, and Treasury and other agencies as well as ambassador-level regionalstrategic coordinating meetings. GAO did not find any significant duplicationor overlap among the various U.S. international counterterrorism efforts.State has made progress in establishing goals and intended outcomes for theATA program, but S/CT and DS/T/ATA do not systematically assess theoutcomes and, as a result, cannot determine the effectiveness of programassistance. For example, although sustainability is a principal focus, S/CT andDS/T/ATA have not set clear measures of sustainability or integratedsustainability into program planning.State reporting on U.S. counterterrorism assistance abroad has beenincomplete and inaccurate. S/CT has not provided a congressionallymandated annual report to Congress on U.S. government-wide assistancerelated to combating international terrorism since 1996.
After 1996, S/CT hasonly submitted to Congress annual reports on the ATA program. However,these reports contained inaccurate program information, such as the numberof students trained and courses offered. Additionally, the reports lackedcomprehensive information on the results of program assistance that wouldbe useful to Congress.
e at ATA Facility in Colombia
The Department of State’s (State)Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA)program’s objectives are to providepartner nations withcounterterrorism training andequipment, improve bilateral ties,and increase respect for humanrights. State’s Office of theCoordinator for Counterterrorism(S/CT) provides policy guidanceand its Bureau of DiplomaticSecurity, Office of AntiterrorismAssistance, (DS/T/ATA) managesprogram operations. GAO assessed(1) State’s guidance fordetermining ATA priorities, (2) howState coordinates ATA with othercounterterrorism programs, (3) theextent State established ATAprogram goals and measures, and(4) State’s reporting on U.S.international counterterrorismassistance. To address theseobjectives, GAO reviewed Statedocuments and met with cognizantofficials in Washington, D.C., andfour ATA program partner nations.
What GAO Recommend
GAO suggests that Congressreconsider the requirement thatState prepare an annual report onU.S. counterterrorism assistance.GAO also recommends that Statereview its ATA program guidance,its use of needs assessments, andmeasures for assessing the ATAprogram. State generally agreedwith our recommendationsregarding the ATA program, andsupported the matter we suggestfor congressional consideration.
To view the full product, including the scopeand methodology, click onGAO-08-336.For more information, contact CharlesMichael Johnson, Jr. at (202) 512-7331 email@example.com.