oversight

State Partnership Program: Improved Oversight, Guidance, and Training Needed for National Guard's Efforts with Foreign Partners

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-05-15.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

             United States Government Accountability Office

GAO          Report to Congressional Committees




May 2012
             STATE
             PARTNERSHIP
             PROGRAM
             Improved Oversight,
             Guidance, and
             Training Needed for
             National Guard's
             Efforts with Foreign
             Partners




GAO-12-548
                                              May 2012

                                              STATE PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM
                                              Improved Oversight, Guidance, and Training Needed
                                              for National Guard’s Efforts with Foreign Partners
Highlights of GAO-12-548, a report to
congressional committees




Why GAO Did This Study                        What GAO Found
The National Guard’s State                    Many State Partnership Program stakeholders, including State Partnership
Partnership Program is a DOD security         Program Coordinators, Bilateral Affairs Officers, and combatant command
cooperation program that matches              officials, cited benefits to the program, but the program lacks a comprehensive
state National Guards with foreign            oversight framework that includes clear program goals, objectives, and metrics to
countries to conduct joint activities—        measure progress against those goals, which limits the Department of Defense’s
including visits between senior military      (DOD) and Congress’ ability to assess whether the program is an effective and
leaders and knowledge sharing in              efficient use of resources. The benefits described by all stakeholders focused on
areas such as disaster management—            the program’s contributions to meeting their specific missions, such as building
that further U.S. national security
                                              security relationships, providing experience to guardsmen, and supporting
goals. The program has partnerships
                                              combatant commands’ missions. Goals, objectives, and metrics to measure
between 52 U.S. state and territory
National Guards and 69 countries. In
                                              progress are necessary for management oversight, and National Guard Bureau
fiscal year 2011, program expenditures        officials told GAO that they recognize the need to update the program’s goals
were at least $13.2 million. The 2012         and develop metrics and have initiated efforts in these areas. Officials expect
National Defense Authorization Act            completion of these efforts in summer 2012. Until program goals and metrics are
directed GAO to study the program.            implemented, DOD cannot fully assess or adequately oversee the program.
GAO determined (1) the extent to              State Partnership Program activity data are incomplete as well as inconsistent
which State Partnership Program               and funding data are incomplete for fiscal years 2007 through 2011; therefore
activities are meeting program goals
                                              GAO cannot provide complete information on the types and frequency of
and objectives; (2) the types and
                                              activities or total funding amounts for those years. GAO found that the multiple
frequency of activities and funding
levels of the program; and (3) any            data systems used to track program activities and funding are not interoperable
challenges DOD faces in the program’s         and users apply varying methods and definitions to guide data inputs. The
implementation. GAO collected written         terminology used to identify activity types is inconsistent across the combatant
responses to questions from State             commands and the National Guard Bureau. Further, funding data from the
Partnership Program Coordinators at           National Guard Bureau and the combatant commands were incomplete, and
the state level, Bilateral Affairs Officers   while the National Guard Bureau provided its total spending on the program
at the U.S. embassies in the partner          since 2007, it could not provide information on the cost of individual activities.
nations, and officials at the combatant       Although the National Guard Bureau has initiated efforts to improve the accuracy
commands, reviewed documents, and             of its own State Partnership Program data, without common agreement with the
interviewed DOD officials.                    combatant commands on what types of data need to be tracked and how to
                                              define activities, the data cannot be easily reconciled across databases.
                                              The most prominent challenge cited by State Partnership Program stakeholders
What GAO Recommends                           involved how to fund activities that include U.S. and foreign partner civilian
GAO recommends that DOD complete              participants. Activities involving civilians, for example, have included subject-
its comprehensive oversight framework         matter expert exchanges on military support to civil authorities and maritime
for the State Partnership Program,            border security. Although DOD guidance does not prohibit civilian involvement in
develop guidance to achieve reliable          activities, many stakeholders have the impression that the U.S. military is not
data on the program, and issue                permitted to engage civilians in State Partnership Program activities and some
guidance and conduct additional               states may have chosen not to conduct any events with civilians due to the
training on the appropriate use of            perception that it may violate DOD guidance. DOD and the National Guard
funding for program activities, including     Bureau are working on developing additional guidance and training in this area.
those involving civilians. DOD                Until these efforts are completed, confusion may continue to exist and hinder the
concurred with all recommendations.           program’s full potential to fulfill National Guard and combatant command
                                              missions.
View GAO-12-548. For more information,
contact John Pendleton at (202) 512-3489 or
pendletonj@gao.gov.

                                                                                      United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                      1
               Background                                                                   5
               State Partnership Program Stakeholders Cited Benefits but
                 Program Oversight Is Hindered by Lack of Clear Goals,
                 Objectives, and Progress Measures                                         8
               Complete Information about Activities and Funding Is Unavailable           13
               Challenges in Funding Activities and Incorporating U.S. and
                 Foreign Partner Civilians Require Additional Guidance and
                 Training                                                                 20
               Conclusions                                                                25
               Recommendations for Executive Action                                       26
               Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                         27

Appendix I     Scope and Methodology                                                      29



Appendix II    State Partnership Program Participating States and Countries, by
               Combatant Command                                                          32



Appendix III   Comments from the Department of Defense                                    38



Appendix IV    GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                      41



Table
               Table 1: Key Benefits of the State Partnership Program, as Cited by
                        State Partnership Program Coordinators, Bilateral Affairs
                        Officers, and Officials from Combatant Commands                   10


Figures
               Figure 1: State Partnership Program Participating States and
                        Countries, by Combatant Command                                     6
               Figure 2: Process for Establishing New Partnerships                          8
               Figure 3: Approximate Expenditures on State Partnership Program
                        Events, Fiscal Year 2011                                          19


               Page i                                     GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
Figure 4: State Partnership Program Participating States and
         Countries, Africa Command                                                        32
Figure 5: State Partnership Program Participating States and
         Countries, Central Command                                                       33
Figure 6: State Partnership Program Participating States and
         Countries, European Command                                                      34
Figure 7: State Partnership Program Participating States and
         Countries, Northern Command                                                      35
Figure 8: State Partnership Program Participating States and
         Countries, Pacific Command                                                       36
Figure 9: State Partnership Program Participating States and
         Countries, Southern Command                                                      37




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Page ii                                             GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   May 15, 2012

                                   The Honorable Carl Levin
                                   Chairman
                                   The Honorable John McCain
                                   Ranking Member
                                   Committee on Armed Services
                                   United States Senate

                                   The Honorable Howard P. McKeon
                                   Chairman
                                   The Honorable Adam Smith
                                   Ranking Member
                                   Committee on Armed Services
                                   House of Representatives

                                   The National Guard State Partnership Program—a Department of
                                   Defense (DOD) security cooperation program that pairs state National
                                   Guards with foreign countries—works to promote national objectives,
                                   stability, partner capacity, and better understanding and trust between the
                                   United States and foreign countries. The State Partnership Program is
                                   one of many efforts within DOD to address security cooperation and its
                                   overarching vision is to establish and sustain enduring relationships with
                                   partner countries in support of the U.S. national security strategy. The
                                   program began in 1993 with 13 partner countries, primarily from the
                                   former Soviet Union, to help improve relations with these countries and
                                   help reform their defense establishments after the end of the Cold War.
                                   Today the program has partnerships between 52 states and territories
                                   and 69 1 foreign countries spread throughout the regions of all six




                                   1
                                    There are currently 63 active partnerships. One of those partnerships is between Florida
                                   and the U.S. Virgin Islands with the Regional Security System, a collective security
                                   agreement for seven island nations in the Eastern Caribbean. The seven nations that
                                   participate in the Regional Security System are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados,
                                   Dominica, Grenada, Saints Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the
                                   Grenadines. Two countries, Colombia and Turkmenistan, do not currently have a state
                                   National Guard partner assigned.




                                   Page 1                                              GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
geographic combatant commands 2 and focuses on building the capacity
of and relationships with partner countries’ militaries through exchanges
of military skills and experience, sharing defense knowledge, enhancing
partnership capacity, and furthering mutual security cooperation.

DOD defines State Partnership Program activities as any security
cooperation activity supported by funds appropriated to DOD, occurring
between a state’s National Guard personnel and that state’s partner
nation, consistent with the State Partnership Program. Activities can vary
depending on the needs of the partner nation, the capabilities of the state
or territory National Guard, and the priorities of the geographic combatant
commander and the U.S. ambassador of the partner country. Through
this program, states’ National Guard personnel work with their partner
countries to conduct activities, such as knowledge sharing from subject
matter experts, demonstrations of particular National Guard capabilities,
and visits between senior military leaders, and cover topics such as
disaster management, military education, non-commissioned officer
development, and border operations. The National Guard Bureau
provides guidance to the states participating in the program, but the
program is primarily managed by a State Partnership Program
Coordinator—a full-time National Guardsman at the state level—and a
Bilateral Affairs Officer—normally a full-time National Guardsman or other
military officer assigned to the geographic combatant command and
under the direction of the U.S. embassy in the partner country. 3 State
Partnership Program activities are planned collaboratively by the State
Partnership Program Coordinators, the Bilateral Affairs Officers, the U.S.
embassy country teams, and the geographic combatant commands.




2
 There are six geographic combatant commands: U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa
Command, U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Southern Command,
and U.S. Central Command. There are also three functional combatant commands: U.S.
Strategic Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, and U.S. Transportation
Command. The functional combatant commands play no role in the State Partnership
Program, and throughout this report we refer only to the geographic combatant
commands.
3
 Some countries within the U.S. Southern Command use Traditional Commander’s
Activities coordinators in this role. The combatant commands fund Traditional
Commander’s Activities coordinators, while the National Guard Bureau funds Bilateral
Affairs Officers. For consistency purposes in this report, we refer to all of these personnel
as Bilateral Affairs Officers.




Page 2                                                GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
According to National Guard Bureau officials, in fiscal year 2008, the
National Guard Bureau spent about $2.52 million on the program and in
fiscal year 2011 the National Guard Bureau spent about $6.1 million. This
money, according to National Guard Bureau officials, provides for the pay
and allowances of guardsmen while they are conducting an activity with a
partner country and is authorized to be used for military personnel only.
Additional money, about $7.1 million in fiscal year 2011, is provided by
the combatant commands from a variety of sources, such as Traditional
Combatant Commander’s Activities funds, Cooperative Threat Reduction
Program funds, and Warsaw Initiative Fund/Partnership for Peace funds.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 directed us
to conduct a study of the National Guard State Partnership Program. 4 To
meet this mandate, we assessed (1) the extent to which State Partnership
Program activities are meeting the goals and objectives of the program;
(2) the types and frequency of activities and funding levels associated
with the program; and (3) the challenges, if any, that DOD faces in the
implementation of the program.

To address these objectives, we obtained perspectives, including views
on the benefits of the program, from the Office of the Secretary of
Defense for Policy, Joint Staff, National Guard Bureau, and program
stakeholders including State Partnership Program coordinating officials at
the geographic combatant commands, State Partnership Program
Coordinators, and Bilateral Affairs Officers. We also collected information
on the process that DOD uses to establish partnerships. We requested
and analyzed documentation about the goals and objectives of the



4
 Section 1234 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, Pub. L. No.
112-81 (2011), requires us to submit a report to the House and Senate Armed Services
Committees on the State Partnership Program that includes: (1) a summary of the sources
of funds for the State Partnership Program over the last 5 years; (2) an analysis of the
types and frequency of activities performed by participants in the State Partnership
Program; (3) a description of the objectives of the State Partnership Program and the
manner in which objectives under the program are established and coordinated with the
Office of the Secretary of Defense, the geographic combatant commands, United States
Country Teams, and other departments and agencies of the United States Government;
(4) a description of the manner in which the Department of Defense selects and
designates particular State and foreign country partnerships under the State Partnership
Program; (5) a description of the manner in which the department measures the
effectiveness of the activities under the State Partnership Program in meeting the
objectives of the program; and (6) an assessment of the effectiveness of the activities
under the State Partnership Program in meeting the objectives of the program.




Page 3                                             GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
program and any guidance that would describe how the program is to be
implemented. To determine the extent to which State Partnership
Program activities are meeting the goals and objectives of the program,
we interviewed National Guard Bureau officials about the development of
goals, objectives, and performance metrics for the program. We also
contacted all State Partnership Program Coordinators and Bilateral Affairs
Officers who participate in this program with open-ended questions by e-
mail. We collected and analyzed responses from 50 of the 52 State
Partnership Program Coordinators and from 23 out of 47 Bilateral Affairs
Officers. 5 We also collected and analyzed written responses to similar
questions from the coordinating officials at the six U.S. geographic
combatant commands. To determine the types and frequency of activities
and funding levels associated with the program, we collected and
analyzed data on State Partnership Program activities—including types of
activities, funding sources, and funding amounts—obtained from the
National Guard Bureau and the six U.S. geographic combatant
commands from fiscal years 2007 through 2011. To assess the reliability
of the data, we collected written information from the combatant
commands on their databases. We also discussed the procedures for
generating and verifying the data with knowledgeable combatant
command and National Guard Bureau officials and, where possible,
examined the data for anomalies. We discussed the limitations we
identified in the data with the officials, and those limitations are discussed
in this report. To identify challenges that DOD faces in implementing the
program, we included relevant questions when we contacted all State
Partnership Program Coordinators and all Bilateral Affairs Officers who
participate in this program, and the six U.S. geographic combatant
commands, as described above. We conducted this performance audit
from August 2011 to May 2012 in accordance with generally accepted
government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan
and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide
a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit
objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable
basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. A
more detailed description of our scope and methodology is included in
appendix I.



5
 There are 52 states and territories currently participating in the State Partnership
Program. While there are 63 partnerships in the program, not every country has a Bilateral
Affairs Officer assigned.




Page 4                                              GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
             The State Partnership Program grew from the former Joint Contact Team
Background   Program, a program comprised of active component personnel that
             sought to establish professional contacts between the U.S. military and
             the militaries of newly independent nations of the former Soviet Union.
             The Joint Contact Team Program was intended to promote subordination
             to civilian leadership, respect for human rights, and a defensively oriented
             military posture. In 1993, the National Guard Bureau was integrated into
             the Joint Contact Team Program to initiate the first state partnerships, as
             it was believed that Russia would find the National Guard less
             provocative than a U.S. active duty full-time military presence. The
             program has since expanded to 63 partnerships covering all combatant
             commands, with nearly all state National Guards participating. Figure 1
             illustrates the number of partner country relationships within each
             combatant command.




             Page 5                                      GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
Figure 1: State Partnership Program Participating States and Countries, by Combatant Command

                                                                                                                 Interactivity instructions
                                                                                                               Roll over the combatant command
                                                                                                               name to view partnerships.
                                                                                                               See appendix II for the non-interactive,
                                                                                                               printer-friendly version.



                                                                         U.S. European
         U.S. Northern                                                     Command
          Command



                                                          U.S.
                                                         Central
                                                        Command




                    U.S. Southern         U.S. Africa                                    U.S. Pacific
                      Command             Command                                        Command
                                        Source: National Guard Bureau.

                                        *Indicates country has a Bilateral Affairs Officer.




                                      Page 6                                                           GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
Both the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review Report and the 2011
National Military Strategy of the United States of America identify security
cooperation and building partner capacity as priorities in multiple regions,
including the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. In addition, both documents
emphasize the need to strengthen and expand the United States’ network
of international partnerships to enhance security, and the National Military
Strategy instructs the combatant commands, among others, to partner
with other agencies to pursue theater security cooperation. As such, the
State Partnership Program acts as a force enabler for the combatant
commands, and State Partnership Program activities are part of the
combatant commands’ theater security cooperation plans. State
Partnership Program activities are to be approved by the combatant
commands, as well as the U.S. ambassador in their respective partner
nations, before they can be executed.

Any nation requesting a state partnership sends its official request to its
respective U.S. ambassador. Once the partnership is endorsed, the
request is forwarded to the appropriate combatant command. If the
combatant command finds that the partnership meets strategic objectives
and priorities, the combatant command sends the request to the National
Guard Bureau. The Chief of the National Guard Bureau reviews the
request to determine the viability of the partnership. If the Chief accepts
the request, he or she notifies the combatant command and solicits
proposals from the adjutants general of the state Guards. State Guard
proposals include a statement of intent; background on the state Guard
and its capabilities; proposed areas of military engagement with the
partner nation; potential benefits to both the state Guard and partner
nation; discussion of historical, cultural, and academic similarities
between the state and the partner nation; and any documentation
supporting the state Guard’s nomination. The proposals go through three
levels of review within DOD, and the Chief of the National Guard Bureau
forwards a recommended nominee to the combatant command and the
partner country’s U.S. embassy for final approval. Figure 2 illustrates the
request and approval process.




Page 7                                      GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
Figure 2: Process for Establishing New Partnerships




                                        State Partnership Program stakeholders, including State Partnership
State Partnership                       Program Coordinators, Bilateral Affairs Officers, and combatant command
Program Stakeholders                    officials, cited benefits of the program, but the program lacks clear goals,
                                        objectives, and performance metrics. Without a comprehensive oversight
Cited Benefits but                      framework for defining and measuring progress, DOD cannot fully assess
Program Oversight Is                    whether the program is an effective and efficient use of resources.
Hindered by Lack of
Clear Goals,
Objectives, and
Progress Measures

Stakeholders Cited                      State Partnership Program Coordinators provided examples of how the
Benefits of the State                   program benefits their states and their National Guard units, including
Partnership Program                     providing experience and training for guardsmen and developing
                                        relationships between the state and the partner country. For example, 39
                                        of the 50 State Partnership Program Coordinators who responded to our
                                        questions reported that the State Partnership Program provides
                                        experience to participating guardsmen. In another instance, one State
                                        Partnership Program Coordinator reported that by demonstrating medical
                                        techniques to partner country participants, the guardsmen simultaneously
                                        gain direct experience performing those techniques. Three State
                                        Partnership Program Coordinators specifically noted that the program
                                        allows participants to deploy and complete realistic military training
                                        outside a warzone. In addition, 17 State Partnership Program
                                        Coordinators noted the value of the State Partnership Program in
                                        providing a mechanism for developing relationships between the state
                                        Guard units and the partner countries. Another State Partnership


                                        Page 8                                      GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
Program Coordinator noted that establishing such relationships improves
long-term international security, and several State Partnership Program
Coordinators noted that the relationships fostered by the program were
instrumental in the partner countries’ deployments to Afghanistan or Iraq.

All six combatant commands and all 23 Bilateral Affairs Officers who
responded to our questions reported that the State Partnership Program
supports their missions and objectives, including promoting stability and
security cooperation and assisting with building partner capacity. For
example, one Bilateral Affairs Officer reported that a State Partnership
Program activity on women’s leadership in the military met the geographic
combatant command’s objective of building partner capacity, as well as
U.S. country team objectives to advance human rights, advance public
diplomacy, and strengthen regional security capabilities. The activity
covered deployment preparations, leadership development, and sexual
assault prevention. Three of the six combatant commands specifically
noted that the National Guard units are uniquely suited to assist the
combatant command in building the capacity of partner countries as a
result of their civilian and military experiences. For example, in one
combatant command, State Partnership Program activities were used to
support combatant command objectives by providing subject matter
expertise to Royal Bahamas Police Force Drug Enforcement Unit officers
in the field of combat trauma care. Thirteen Bilateral Affairs Officers also
cited the benefit of the State Partnership Program’s ability to develop and
maintain relationships between the state Guard units and the partner
countries. For example, one Bilateral Affairs Officer stated that the
relationship between one state Guard unit and its partner country was
leveraged to assist the country in making progress toward the country
team’s goal of anchoring the country in European and Euro-Atlantic
institutions. The partner country was originally reluctant to accept
assistance with military personnel management due to cultural
sensitivities, but based on the established relationship, the state Guard
unit was granted full access and made suggestions that were
implemented by the partner country. Table 1 summarizes the key benefits
of the program as described by State Partnership Program Coordinators,
Bilateral Affairs Officers, and officials from the combatant commands.




Page 9                                      GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
Table 1: Key Benefits of the State Partnership Program, as Cited by State Partnership Program Coordinators, Bilateral Affairs
Officers, and Officials from Combatant Commands

State Partnership Program Coordinators Bilateral Affairs Officers                                       Officials from combatant commands
Provides experience and training for             Events are tied to combatant command or                Events support combatant command
guardsmen                                        country team mission                                   mission and objectives
Develops relationship with partner country       Good communication and coordination                    National Guard units possess unique
                                                 between stakeholders                                   skills that are useful for supporting
                                                                                                        combatant command objectives
Encourages partner countries to co-deploy        Provides information sharing and support to            Encourages partner nation deployment
to Iraq or Afghanistan                           partner country                                        to Iraq or Afghanistan
Improves retention or provides other             Builds relationship with partner country
incentives for guardsmen
Guardsmen benefit from partner country’s         Encourages partner countries to co-deploy to
experiences                                      Iraq or Afghanistan
                                             Source: GAO analysis of responses to e-mailed questions.



                                             In addition, European Command’s combatant commander testified to
                                             Congress in February 2012 that the State Partnership Program develops
                                             important strategic relationships that benefit ongoing military activities. 6
                                             The European Command indicated in written responses to our questions
                                             that this program helps maintain access to partner countries’ leadership
                                             and is vital to defense institution building. Similarly, the National Guard
                                             Bureau describes the State Partnership Program as fitting within the
                                             building partner capacity portfolio of DOD, and views the program as an
                                             integral component of DOD’s global security cooperation strategy that can
                                             contribute to enhanced security. Further, it sees the program as integral
                                             to the combatant commands’ theater engagement plans and the U.S.
                                             Ambassadors’ Mission Strategic Resource Plans. Moreover, the National
                                             Guard Bureau told us that it found that the State Partnership Program is
                                             valuable to U.S. ambassadors. In October 2010, the National Guard
                                             Bureau, in conjunction with the Department of State, surveyed the
                                             ambassadors of U.S. embassies with State Partnership Program
                                             partnerships as part of an effort to conduct a strategic review of the
                                             program. Forty-one of the 62 ambassadors surveyed provided responses,
                                             and 40 of the respondents agreed that the State Partnership Program is a
                                             valuable tool in advancing their mission goals and objectives.


                                             6
                                              Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from U.S. European
                                                                                     th
                                             Command and U.S. Africa Command, 112 Cong. 16 (2012), statement of Admiral James
                                             G. Stavridis, United States Navy Commander, United States European Command before
                                             the House Armed Services Committee.




                                             Page 10                                                       GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
                             Respondents noted that the activities and relationships developed by the
                             program—fostering activities to support joint military exercises and
                             deployments, providing support for international peacekeeping
                             operations, and embedding training teams—promote overall national
                             security and strategic interests. Thirty-nine ambassadors agreed that
                             there are mechanisms to ensure that activities are properly integrated
                             with U.S. country team priorities.


The State Partnership        Despite considerable anecdotal evidence from many State Partnership
Program Does Not Have        Program stakeholders about the program’s benefits, we were unable to
Agreed-Upon Goals or         comprehensively assess the State Partnership Program because the
                             National Guard Bureau has not updated its program goals or objectives to
Metrics to Assess Progress   match the program’s current operations. The National Guard Bureau
                             developed goals and objectives for the program in 2007, but officials told
                             us that these goals and objectives need to be updated to reflect the
                             program as it currently operates. The previous goals and supporting
                             objectives were broadly stated and reflected the desire to build partner
                             capacity, but did little to clarify the specific goals for the State Partnership
                             Program. We have previously reported that achieving results in
                             government requires a comprehensive oversight framework that includes
                             clear goals, measurable objectives, and metrics for assessing progress. 7
                             Officials stated that they recognize the need to update program goals and
                             objectives to more accurately reflect the current environment and the
                             focus on military-to-military activities, and reported that they have initiated
                             such efforts and expect the new goals and objectives to be finalized by
                             July 2012. Officials also indicated that the new program goals and
                             objectives will be more closely aligned with the combatant commands’
                             strategic goals and objectives.

                             National Guard Bureau officials also acknowledged that once they update
                             program goals and objectives, they will need to develop metrics to
                             measure results of the program. However, they indicated that due to the
                             relationship-building nature of the program, it is difficult to establish
                             appropriate metrics that capture the effects of the program. As we have
                             previously reported, performance measurement is the ongoing monitoring
                             and reporting of program accomplishments, focused on regularly



                             7
                              GAO, Preventing Sexual Harassment: DOD Needs Greater Leadership Commitment and
                             an Oversight Framework, GAO-11-809 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 21, 2011).




                             Page 11                                       GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
collected data on the level and type of program activities, direct products
and services delivered by the program, and the results of those activities. 8
As we have previously reported, it is sometimes difficult to establish
performance measures for outcomes that are not readily observable and
that in those cases, more in-depth program evaluation may be needed in
addition to performance measures. 9 Program evaluations are systematic
studies conducted periodically that examine programs in-depth and
include context in order to examine the extent to which a program is
meeting its objectives. 10 The RAND Corporation, a nonpartisan nonprofit
organization that conducts public policy research, has reported on
performance measures that programs like the State Partnership Program,
which engage in building partner capacity and other security cooperation
activities, can use to demonstrate results. 11 Further, other federal
agencies engaged in security cooperation activities use program
evaluations in addition to performance measures. For example, the
United States Agency for International Development has implemented
multiple program evaluations for its foreign assistance programs, and the
Global Peace Operations Initiative within the Department of State uses
program evaluations to gauge the effectiveness of its training programs.
National Guard Bureau officials told us that they are working with experts
from other organizations including RAND and the Defense Security
Cooperation Agency and have begun to develop metrics for the program.
They provided us with a draft document containing some key assessment
indicators in the areas of operational and mission support, doctrine and
training, and systemic support. Under the area of mission support, for


8
 GAO, Performance Measurement and Evaluation: Definitions and Relationships,
GAO-11-646SP (Washington, D.C.: May 2011).
9
 GAO, Results-Oriented Government: GPRA Has Established a Solid Foundation for
Achieving Greater Results, GAO-04-38 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 10, 2004) and
GAO-11-646SP.
10
    GAO-11-646SP.
11
  RAND, Developing an Army Strategy for Building Partner Capacity for Stability
Operations (2010). In this report, RAND lists generic indicators used as a basis for
measuring the effectiveness of various types of security cooperation programs in meeting
the objective of establishing a safe and secure environment in the partner nation. See also
RAND, Prototype Handbook for Monitoring and Evaluating Department of Defense
Humanitarian Assistance Projects (2011). In this handbook, RAND provides guidance,
analytic tools, and measures to demonstrate the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance
projects, which also are intended to build upon nations’ capacities; and show how those
projects link to strategic-level goals, including those of the country teams and combatant
commands.




Page 12                                             GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
                            example, officials stated they are planning to track how effective State
                            Partnership Program activities are in meeting combatant command and
                            country team priorities. Officials further stated that these metrics are
                            expected to be finalized during the summer of 2012. Such goals and
                            metrics would form the foundation for a comprehensive oversight
                            framework and, until they are put into place, DOD cannot fully assess
                            whether the program is an effective and efficient use of resources.


                            We cannot provide complete information on the types and frequency of
Complete Information        State Partnership Program activities or the total funding amounts for
about Activities and        these activities for fiscal years 2007 to 2011 because activity data are
                            incomplete as well as inconsistent and funding data are incomplete.
Funding Is                  According to Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government,
Unavailable                 program managers and decision makers should have reliable data to
                            determine whether they are meeting goals and using resources effectively
                            and efficiently. 12 Without complete and consistent data on the State
                            Partnership Program, we and DOD cannot assess the program’s
                            efficiency nor provide complete information to decision makers, including
                            Congress.


Data on State Partnership   Data on State Partnership Program activities from the combatant
Program Activities Are      commands and the National Guard Bureau are incomplete and
Incomplete and              inconsistent. The National Guard Bureau and the combatant commands
                            maintain separate databases for tracking events. Each entity
Inconsistent                independently tracks its activities and funding in databases that are not
                            interoperable. According to National Guard Bureau officials, DOD’s
                            Guidance for Employment of the Force mandates that all security
                            cooperation activities be tracked, including State Partnership Program
                            activities, in management information system databases. The National
                            Guard Bureau uses its own system to track State Partnership Program
                            events that it funds. National Guard Bureau officials indicated that events
                            funded by a combatant command and the National Guard Bureau would




                            12
                              GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1
                            (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 1999).




                            Page 13                                          GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
be tracked in both databases. 13 National Guard Bureau officials told us
that as a result, data must be pulled from both the combatant commands’
and the National Guard Bureau’s data systems to glean the most
complete information on the funding of State Partnership Program
activities.

We asked the combatant commands and the National Guard Bureau to
provide us with a list of all State Partnership Program activities since
fiscal year 2007, but the data that they provided to us were incomplete.
Africa Command could only provide data since fiscal year 2009, when the
command became fully operational, but officials told us that it is possible
not all State Partnership Program activities are included in the data it
provided because there is no way to electronically search for State
Partnership Program activities in its database since they are not
annotated as State Partnership Program activities. According to an Africa
Command official, the data provided were selected manually, and some
activities may have been overlooked. Activity data provided to us by
European Command were also incomplete in that the location of events
was missing for 482 of 753 (64 percent) activities. European Command
officials told us that while the database does not always contain
information on the location of events, individual records, such as after-
action reviews for specific events, would have this information. In
addition, the National Guard Bureau data were missing for fiscal year
2009 because the data system was not yet operational and data were not
centrally maintained. National Guard Bureau officials told us that data
were incomplete for 2010 because it was the first year that the National
Guard Bureau began to use this data system to collect State Partnership
Program data and staff had to learn how to use the system.

Further, we found that some activity information that should have been
contained in both combatant command and National Guard Bureau
databases was not. For example, Northern Command and Pacific
Command reported that a majority of State Partnership Program activities
in their areas of responsibility were funded by the National Guard Bureau.
As a result, we expected that the activity data would be maintained in
both the combatant commands’ and the National Guard Bureau’s


13
  The combatant commands use several types of databases to maintain their information.
Several of the combatant commands use the Theater Security Cooperation Management
Information System. The National Guard Bureau currently uses the Army Global Outlook
System as its database for maintaining information on the State Partnership Program.




Page 14                                           GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
databases. However, when we compared the data provided by the
combatant commands, including Northern Command, to the data
provided by the National Guard Bureau, we found that both had records
of State Partnership Program activities that were not accounted for in the
other’s database. In addition, we compared a sample of the data provided
to us by the combatant commanders and the National Guard Bureau to
the activities listed in a DOD report to Congress on a subset of State
Partnership Program activities involving civilians. 14 Our analysis showed
that 32 activities in the report to Congress were not accounted for in the
data provided to us, despite the broader scope of our data request. The
National Guard Bureau officials told us that their database was not used
to meet the data request for the DOD report because they don’t have data
from the required years. Instead, individual state Guard units were asked
through a data call from the National Guard Bureau to provide lists of
activities.

Through our data analysis, we also found that activities in the National
Guard Bureau and the combatant command databases were
inconsistently defined, which hindered our ability to report on the types
and frequency of activities. The combatant commands and the National
Guard Bureau reported a broad range of activities conducted for fiscal
years 2007 through 2011, but common activities included knowledge
sharing on an area of expertise by National Guard personnel with partner
nation participants, demonstrations of National Guard capabilities, and
visits between an adjutant general or other high ranking U.S. military
official with senior leaders of the partner nation’s armed forces. However,
the terminology used to identify activity types varied both across the
combatant commands and between the combatant commands and the
National Guard Bureau. An August 2011 Directive Type Memorandum
from the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy provides a definition for a
State Partnership Program activity, but it does not define specific activity
types. 15 We found that the combatant commands use different terms to



14
  Department of Defense, State Partnership Program Fiscal Years 2009 & 2011 (Dec.
2011).
15
  Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Memorandum, Directive-Type Memorandum
(DTM) 11-010, “Use of Appropriated Funds for Conducting State Partnership Program
(SPP) Activities” (Aug. 19, 2011). According to the Directive Type Memorandum, a State
Partnership Program activity is any security cooperation activity supported by funds
appropriated to DOD, occurring between a State’s National Guard personnel and the
partner country, consistent with the State Partnership Program.




Page 15                                            GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
                            define similar activities. For example, one combatant command used the
                            term orientation to describe the partner country observances of U.S.
                            forces in action, whereas another combatant command referred to those
                            activities as familiarizations. The user’s manual for the National Guard
                            Bureau’s database contains a list of different activity types, but the types
                            themselves are not consistent with the terminology used by the
                            combatant commands. For example, in their respective databases, the
                            National Guard Bureau used the term military-to-military for most of its
                            activities that involve U.S. military activities conducted with host country
                            militaries, whereas the combatant commands used terms like
                            familiarization or traveling contact team, making it difficult to identify if the
                            data in different databases were describing the same activity or two
                            separate activities. 16 In addition, although State Partnership Program
                            activities that are funded by both a combatant command and the National
                            Guard Bureau should be entered into each entity’s database for its
                            respective funded amount, four combatant commands and the National
                            Guard Bureau reported that there is no standard method for all the
                            combatant commands and the National Guard Bureau to ensure the
                            separate entries can be easily compiled in order to see all data
                            maintained on a particular activity, including the total funding amount of
                            the activity. Because of these inconsistencies, we could not summarize
                            the types or frequency of activities that have taken place under the State
                            Partnership Program.


State Partnership Program   The funding data for State Partnership Program activities from fiscal
Funding Information Is      years 2007 through 2011 are incomplete, thus preventing us from
Incomplete                  providing complete information on the total cost of the program. As
                            previously discussed, funding data on State Partnership Program
                            activities are maintained in multiple databases, depending primarily on
                            the funding source for the activity. We found that funding data from the
                            National Guard Bureau and some of the combatant commands were
                            incomplete. For example, National Guard Bureau officials told us that that
                            there was no standardized method for collecting and centrally managing
                            its own State Partnership Program data prior to fiscal year 2009, when



                            16
                              Other terms for activity types used in the National Guard Bureau’s database include
                            seminar/workshop, bilateral conference, senior official visit, and subject matter expert
                            exchange, among others. The combatant commands use a variety of terms for activity
                            types, including subject matter expert exchange, exchange, senior leadership visit,
                            conference, and assessment.




                            Page 16                                              GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
their database was first implemented. While the National Guard Bureau
could tell us the total amount of money it spent on the program since
2007, it could not tell us how much money the National Guard Bureau
spent on individual activities. In addition, our analysis also indicated that
the funding data maintained by the combatant commands are incomplete,
as described below.

•    European Command: From fiscal years 2007 through 2011,
     European Command’s funding data were missing for 415 out of 753
     activities (about 55 percent). European Command officials told us that
     missing information could indicate that an event had not been
     executed, that the activity was funded by a source other than the
     combatant command, or that the information was not updated in the
     database. Officials stated that business processes were put into place
     at the end of fiscal year 2010 to prevent this problem from recurring
     and our analysis showed that data were improved in fiscal year 2011.
•    Africa Command: For fiscal years 2009 through 2011, Africa
     Command was missing funding data for 9 out of 70 (about 13 percent)
     State Partnership Program events. An Africa Command official
     explained that this could indicate that the event had not yet occurred
     or had been canceled, or it could indicate that the data were missing.
•    Pacific Command: Data provided by Pacific Command showed that
     118 events took place in its area of responsibility from fiscal years
     2007 through 2011, but information on the source of funding for 41
     events (about 35 percent) was missing. According to Pacific
     Command officials, most of the State Partnership Program activities in
     Pacific Command’s area of responsibility were funded by the National
     Guard Bureau rather than the command. However, for the activities
     that it did fund, it could only provide projected funding amounts and
     not expenditure data. 17 According to a Pacific Command official,
     missing data were most likely due to personnel turnover at the state
     level.
•    Southern Command: Data provided by Southern Command were
     likely complete, but Southern Command officials stated that gathering
     the data was difficult due to the lack of interoperability of the multiple
     databases containing the data.




17
  Pacific Command provided funding for three events through the Asia Pacific Regional
Initiative since fiscal year 2007. The Asia Pacific Regional Initiative is a program designed
to build cooperative military relationships with allies in the pacific region.




Page 17                                               GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
•   Central Command: Data provided by Central Command were also
    likely complete but officials told us that Central Command’s data
    systems do not always update accurately and therefore officials
    manually track events on a spreadsheet outside of the database. Data
    provided to us were based on this spreadsheet, rather than the
    database.
•   Northern Command: Officials from Northern Command told us that it
    did not fund any State Partnership Program events as all events
    within Northern Command’s area of responsibility were funded by the
    National Guard Bureau.
As a result, funding data for 2007 through 2010 are unavailable due to the
incompleteness of the data. Funding data for fiscal year 2011 are the
most complete, but the amount presented is only an estimate, as some
data are still missing. We found that for fiscal year 2011 the National
Guard Bureau and the combatant commands spent at least $13.2 million
on State Partnership Program activities. Figure 3 below depicts available
expenditure information for fiscal year 2011.




Page 18                                   GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
Figure 3: Approximate Expenditures on State Partnership Program Events, Fiscal Year 2011




                                        Note: Funding data presented in this figure are estimates as the data are not complete.
                                        a
                                         The National Guard Bureau provided total amounts expended per state by year, while the combatant
                                        commands provided amounts expended per activity. We totaled these amounts to obtain the amounts
                                        shown in this figure.
                                        b
                                        Data provided by Africa Command and European Command were incomplete.




DOD Lacks Guidance on                   DOD is developing a single global data system, but currently there are no
Current State Partnership               common methods for tracking data on the State Partnership Program or
Program Data                            coordinated efforts to address inconsistencies. Specifically, DOD has
                                        recognized that multiple databases, operating independently and lacking
Management                              interoperability, are a problem and is developing a single, global data
                                        system—the Global Theater Security Cooperation Management
                                        Information System—to replace the multiple databases now being used to
                                        capture theater security-type information from various programs, of which
                                        the State Partnership Program is one. However, the development of this
                                        global data system is still in its early stages and the department does not
                                        know when the system is expected to have full operational capabilities. In




                                        Page 19                                                   GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
                        the absence of a common data system, we found that currently there is
                        no guidance from the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, 18 the
                        National Guard Bureau, or the combatant commands on what data need
                        to be tracked or how the data should be entered to ensure it is complete
                        and consistent across all the databases, and that current efforts to
                        improve the accuracy of the data are not coordinated. For example,
                        officials from the National Guard Bureau told us that the efforts they have
                        initiated are specific to the database the National Guard Bureau uses and
                        that they have not coordinated with the combatant commands to address
                        the inconsistency issues that occur across databases. Moreover, there is
                        not agreement among stakeholders on common terms to use in
                        describing how to annotate activities in their respective databases so that
                        they can be easily identified and reconciled from one database to
                        another. Given the current inconsistency and incompleteness of the data,
                        DOD cannot assess the program’s performance and neither we nor DOD
                        can provide complete and accurate information on activity types,
                        frequency, and funding to decision makers.


                        State Partnership Program stakeholders that we contacted, including
Challenges in Funding   combatant commands, State Partnership Program Coordinators, and
Activities and          Bilateral Affairs Officers, cited several types of challenges in funding State
                        Partnership Program activities and in incorporating U.S. and foreign
Incorporating U.S.      partner civilians into events. Specifically, stakeholders cited funding
and Foreign Partner     challenges such as concerns about funding availability and funding for
Civilians Require       events that included civilians. Although guidance and training exist on
                        funding for the program, stakeholders expressed confusion in response to
Additional Guidance     our questions. Until clarifying guidance and training are developed and
and Training            provided, the National Guard Bureau and the combatant commanders
                        may not be able to fully maximize the State Partnership Program in
                        meeting their missions.




                        18
                          According to Directive Type Memorandum 11-010, the Under Secretary of Defense for
                        Policy is the principal adviser to the Secretary of Defense for State Partnership Program
                        policy and programs.




                        Page 20                                             GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
Stakeholders Expressed      When we asked stakeholders a broad, open-ended question about
Concerns about Funding of   challenges facing the program, funding was a frequently cited problem.
Activities and Civilian     Four combatant commands, six Bilateral Affairs Officers, and 20 State
                            Partnership Program Coordinators told us that funding was a challenge to
Involvement                 the program. The combatant commands expressed concerns about the
                            availability of funding for the program. For example, one combatant
                            command stated that the most challenging aspect of the State
                            Partnership Program is the funding of the guardsmen because they need
                            to be put on special orders that are not necessary when using active duty
                            personnel. Another combatant command stated that additional funding for
                            the program “is critical for the continued success of the program” as
                            several other countries would like to join the program, and two combatant
                            commands expressed concerns that State Partnership Program funding
                            would be cut in the future. Bilateral Affairs Officers also expressed similar
                            challenges with funding. For example, one Bilateral Affairs Officer told us
                            that obtaining pay and allowances for guardsmen is difficult compared to
                            active duty forces. Further, three Bilateral Affairs Officers mentioned that
                            they would like to have additional funding to conduct more events and
                            one State Partnership Program Coordinator told us that the National
                            Guard Bureau and the combatant commands do not always have the
                            necessary funds available to support an event.

                            State Partnership Program Coordinators also expressed concerns about
                            the funding process that extended beyond funding availability. For
                            example, one State Partnership Program Coordinator commented that
                            because funds come from dual sources—the National Guard Bureau and
                            the combatant commands—there is sometimes confusion and funding
                            uncertainties as the two organizations negotiate who will pay for what
                            events or portions of events. Another commented that “the myriad of
                            funding authorizations and their specific peculiarities [are] a challenge to
                            even the most experienced State Partnership Program Coordinator.”
                            Further, one State Partnership Program Coordinator told us that because
                            he was not active duty, he did not have access to training offered by the
                            Air Force that he felt would be beneficial to understanding how to better
                            fund events.

                            The most prominent challenge cited by State Partnership Program
                            stakeholders involved concerns about conducting and funding activities
                            that include civilian participants. In the past, the State Partnership
                            Program has incorporated both U.S. and foreign partner civilians into a
                            variety of activities. These included activities such as subject matter
                            expert exchanges with members of the state’s fire department and the
                            host nation on military support to civil authorities; a familiarization on 911


                            Page 21                                       GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
system operations between U.S. and host country civilians; and a subject
matter expert exchange with U.S. and foreign partner law enforcement
officials on maritime border security issues. However, in response to our
question about challenges facing the program, 31 State Partnership
Program Coordinators cited difficulties in conducting activities with
civilians. In response to our question about how the program should be
changed, 36 State Partnership Program Coordinators stated that the
program should be changed to better facilitate civilian engagements.
Further, many of the State Partnership Program Coordinators expressed
the opinion that they were not allowed to conduct activities with civilians
at all, even though DOD officials told us that civilians are permitted to
participate in activities as long as the proper funding authority is used. For
example, one State Partnership Program Coordinator told us that his
state’s greatest challenge is the current DOD guidance which, based on
his understanding, restricts all events to strict military-to-military events.
Another State Partnership Program Coordinator told us that the state
recently had to cancel planned events with its partner country’s civilian
authorities because of its interpretation of this guidance. A third State
Partnership Program Coordinator stated that the perceived “requirement
[to] strictly limit operations to military-to-military engagements limits [the]
ability to support” the needs of the embassy and of the partner country.
Another State Partnership Program Coordinator told us that the perceived
restriction in the DOD guidance prevents his state’s capabilities from
being fully used.

Bilateral Affairs Officers from the partner country embassies and
combatant commands had similar perceptions about civilian participation
in State Partnership Program activities. Out of the 23 Bilateral Affairs
Officers who provided answers to our questions, 9 cited this area as a
challenge for the program. For example, in regard to the challenges
posed for the program, one Bilateral Affairs Officer told us that the
inability of the National Guard Bureau to bring civilian subject matter
experts to the partner countries diminishes the value of events. In
addition, 14 of the 23 Bilateral Affairs Officers that responded to our
questions expressed the opinion that the State Partnership Program
should be changed to better facilitate civilian engagements. For example,
one Bilateral Affairs Officer told us that expanding activities into other
sectors, such as medical or law enforcement, would help to fulfill
embassy and combatant command missions. In addition, one combatant
command stated that the restrictions on funding civilians are a challenge
facing the program. However, according to DOD officials, the combatant
commands have certain funds, such as Traditional Combatant



Page 22                                      GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
                              Commander’s Activities funds, which may be available to use for funding
                              events involving civilians.


DOD Has Taken Initial         DOD has issued some guidance on the State Partnership Program,
Steps to Clarify Civilian     including guidance on the use of funds for civilians, in part to respond to
Funding Concerns, but It Is   congressional direction. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal
                              Year 2010 required the Secretary of Defense to prescribe regulations on
Unclear When Formal           the use of funds appropriated to DOD to pay the costs incurred by the
Guidance and Training         National Guard in conducting activities under the State Partnership
Programs Will Be in Place     Program, and also required the Secretary to submit annual reports to the
                              appropriate congressional committees describing the civilian engagement
                              activities conducted under the State Partnership Program. 19 In response
                              to the requirement to issue regulations, DOD issued its Directive Type
                              Memorandum in August 2011. 20 The Directive Type Memorandum does
                              not explicitly prohibit the involvement of civilians in State Partnership
                              Program activities; however, it stipulates that funds appropriated to DOD
                              shall not be used to conduct activities with civilians unless those activities
                              are based on legal authority that allows the use of such funds for those
                              activities. National Guard Bureau officials told us that since the issuance
                              of the Directive Type Memorandum, states have become cautious about
                              conducting events with civilians, and many have chosen to not conduct
                              any events with civilians due to a concern about violating DOD guidance.
                              The Directive Type Memorandum will expire in August 2012 and the
                              Under Secretary of Defense, Policy, has drafted an instruction that is
                              intended to further clarify the use of funds appropriated to DOD, including
                              funds for civilian participation, under the State Partnership Program.
                              Officials indicate that this instruction is currently undergoing review within
                              DOD and should be issued sometime during 2012, but could not provide
                              us with a confirmed issuance date. In addition, the National Guard Bureau
                              is working on guidance for implementing the State Partnership Program.
                              According to National Guard Bureau officials, an instruction will establish
                              policy, assign responsibilities, and provide guidance for the execution of
                              the State Partnership Program. An accompanying manual will provide
                              more details on how to implement the program. National Guard Bureau
                              officials indicated that the instruction and the manual are expected to be


                              19
                               Pub. L. No 111-84, § 1210 (2009).
                              20
                               Under Secretary of Defense, Policy Directive Type Memorandum, Directive-Type
                              Memorandum (DTM) 11-010, “Use of Appropriated Funds for Conducting State
                              Partnership Program (SPP) Activities” (Aug. 19, 2011).




                              Page 23                                         GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
issued sometime during 2012, but also could not provide us with a
confirmed issuance date.

During the course of our review, Congress enacted the National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, which provides authority for the
use of up to $3 million to pay for some costs associated with civilian
participation. 21 However, National Guard Bureau officials stated that DOD
has not issued guidance on the implementation of this provision.
According to officials, due to this lack of guidance, funds have not been
used for this purpose. The draft DOD instruction is still undergoing review
and is intended to provide clarifying information on the use of funds
appropriated to DOD prior to the enactment of the National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. Therefore, it may be appropriate
for the Under Secretary of Defense, Policy, to determine whether or not
the draft instruction is the right mechanism for conveying additional
guidance addressing section 1085 of the National Defense Authorization
Act for Fiscal Year 2012, or determine alternative plans for how to
address the confusion expressed by National Guard Bureau officials.
Without additional guidance, however, the National Guard Bureau does
not plan to use this authority so the concerns about how to fund civilian
participation are likely to persist.

Beyond the lack of guidance, the responses stakeholders provided to our
questions revealed that there is widespread confusion about aspects of
program implementation, including addressing funding concerns. We
have previously reported that challenges facing such programs can be
mitigated by improving training and that training can help ensure that
program policies and procedures are consistently adhered to by program




21
  Section 1085 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, Pub. L.
No. 112-81 (2011), allows the Secretary of Defense to use up to $3,000,000 of the funds
made available to the National Guard to pay for travel and per diem costs associated with
the participation of the United States and foreign civilian and non-defense agency
personnel in conducting activities under the State Partnership Program of the National
Guard, subject to Section 1210 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
2010, Pub. L. No. 111–84 (2009), codified at 32 U.S.C. 107 note. Section 1210 of the
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 states that funds shall not be
available for activities conducted under the State Partnership Program in a foreign country
unless such activities are jointly approved by the commander of the combatant command
and the chief of mission concerned.




Page 24                                             GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
              offices. 22 Further, DOD guidance emphasizes the need for proper training
              and staffing to increase effectiveness in budgeting. 23 The National Guard
              Bureau has taken steps to provide training but told us that their efforts
              needed improvement in some areas. For example, State Partnership
              Program Coordinators have the opportunity to attend the Defense
              Institute of Security Assistance Management course, which in 2012 and
              several years prior, included topics such as an introduction to security
              cooperation, understanding the State Partnership Program, emphasizing
              security cooperation administration as well as emphasizing the interaction
              and constraints of the State Partnership Program with other DOD security
              cooperation activities. Moreover, officials indicated that the National
              Guard Bureau holds annual State Partnership Program conferences and
              participates in combatant commands’ conferences, where some training
              on the processes and authorities are presented. National Guard Bureau
              officials stated that they are planning some training for State Partnership
              Program Coordinators for the summer of 2012 and plan to include an
              overview of funding, but have not determined the specific content related
              to funding for this training event. Without further guidance and training in
              this area, the National Guard Bureau and the combatant commands may
              miss additional opportunities to use the program to fulfill their missions.


              In recent years, DOD has emphasized the importance of strengthening
Conclusions   security cooperation with other countries as a way of promoting stability
              and partner capacity around the world, and the State Partnership
              Program is one of many efforts in this area. While many State Partnership
              Program stakeholders cited anecdotal benefits to the program such as
              training and experience for guardsmen and supporting combatant
              commanders’ goals and priorities, DOD and Congress do not have an
              effective means to assess the program because fundamental elements
              such as agreed-upon goals are missing. As a result, little oversight of the
              program has been conducted in the past. Officials informed us that they
              are working on goals, objectives, and metrics and expect to implement
              them in the next few months. Such goals and measures are critical
              because they form the foundation of an oversight framework that would



              22
                GAO, Indian Health Service: Increased Oversight Needed to Ensure Accuracy of Data
              Used for Estimating Contract Health Service Need, GAO-11-767 (Washington, D.C.: Sept.
              23, 2011).
              23
               Joint Publication 1-04, Legal Support to Military Operations (Mar. 1, 2007).




              Page 25                                             GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
                      enable decision makers and stakeholders to objectively judge the
                      program’s effectiveness and gauge progress over time. However, in order
                      to make use of metrics, DOD and the National Guard Bureau will need
                      complete and consistent data from the combatant commands and state
                      National Guards engaged in State Partnership Program activities. In the
                      interim period until DOD fully implements its global data system, guidance
                      that establishes an agreed-upon set of definitions and rules for inputting
                      data, and that would apply to the National Guard Bureau, all combatant
                      commands, and state National Guards, could provide a foundation for
                      measuring the State Partnership Program’s effectiveness and efficiency.
                      Finally, some activities that stakeholders believe could have a broad
                      impact—such as those involving civilians—are not being conducted due
                      primarily to a lack of guidance and understanding on how to fund those
                      activities. Ensuring that stakeholders understand how to use funding from
                      the National Guard Bureau, combatant commands, and other sources to
                      support the State Partnership Program would help state National Guards
                      fully utilize the program.


                      We recommend that the Secretary of Defense take the following four
Recommendations for   actions:
Executive Action
                      •   To improve the management of the State Partnership Program, direct
                          the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, in coordination with the
                          combatant commands and the embassy country teams, to complete
                          and implement the program’s comprehensive oversight framework by
                          using the goals, objectives, and metrics currently being developed as
                          its basis.
                      •   To enable oversight and improve the completeness and consistency
                          of data needed to manage the State Partnership Program, direct the
                          Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Joint Staff, in coordination
                          with the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, the combatant
                          commands, and the embassy country teams, to develop guidance for
                          all stakeholders that includes agreed-upon definitions for data fields
                          and rules for maintaining data until the global data system is fully
                          implemented.
                      •   To address concerns about how funds can be used to include civilians
                          in State Partnership Program activities, direct the Under Secretary of
                          Defense for Policy, to develop guidance that clarifies how to use funds
                          for civilian participation in the State Partnership Program.
                      •   To improve program implementation, direct the Chief of the National
                          Guard Bureau to develop additional training for State Partnership
                          Program Coordinators and Bilateral Affairs Officers on the appropriate



                      Page 26                                    GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
                         use of funds for supporting the State Partnership Program, especially
                         in regard to including civilians in program events.

                     In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with our
Agency Comments      findings and recommendations. Regarding our first recommendation to
and Our Evaluation   complete and implement the program’s comprehensive oversight
                     framework, DOD concurred and noted that these efforts are underway
                     with target implementation for the end of fiscal year 2012. In response to
                     our second recommendation to develop guidance for all stakeholders that
                     includes agreed-upon definitions for data fields and rules for maintaining
                     data, and our third recommendation to develop guidance that clarifies the
                     use of funds for civilian participation in State Partnership Program
                     activities, DOD concurred and stated that it is currently developing a DOD
                     instruction that will provide additional guidance to stakeholders on these
                     issues. DOD did not, however, indicate timelines for the issuance of this
                     instruction. We believe that prompt action in this regard will help DOD
                     achieve greater visibility over the State Partnership Program, and we urge
                     DOD to determine a timeline for issuance. Regarding our final
                     recommendation to develop additional training for State Partnership
                     Program Coordinators and Bilateral Affairs Officers on the appropriate
                     use of funds for supporting the State Partnership Program, especially in
                     regard to including civilians in program events, DOD concurred and
                     stated that the National Guard Bureau has developed some additional
                     training and will use existing workshops to increase training opportunities.
                     We are pleased with DOD’s efforts and continue to believe that increased
                     training in this area will help DOD fully utilize the State Partnership
                     Program. DOD’s comments are printed in their entirety in appendix III.

                     We also provided a draft of this report to the Department of State and the
                     United States Agency for International Development, but they did not
                     provide any comments.


                     We are sending copies of this report to appropriate congressional
                     committees, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the
                     Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.
                     This report is also available at no charge on the GAO website at
                     http://www.gao.gov.




                     Page 27                                     GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
If you or your staff have any questions regarding this report, please
contact me at (202) 512-3489 or pendletonj@gao.gov. Contact points for
our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found
on the last page of this report. GAO staff who made key contributions to
this report are listed in appendix IV.




John H. Pendleton
Director, Defense Capabilities and Management




Page 28                                   GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology
             Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




             To address our objectives, we collected perspectives on the program
             from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Policy; Joint Staff; National
             Guard Bureau; and program stakeholders including State Partnership
             Program coordinating officials at the geographic combatant commands;
             State Partnership Program Coordinators; and Bilateral Affairs Officers,
             including their views on the benefits of the program. We also collected
             information on the process that the Department of Defense (DOD) uses to
             establish partnerships and the steps taken by all U.S. program
             stakeholders, including State Partnership Program Coordinators, Bilateral
             Affairs Officers, and combatant commanders, to coordinate State
             Partnership Program activities and prevent duplication of effort. We also
             obtained and reviewed DOD documents, including Defense Strategic
             Guidance, the Quadrennial Defense Review, and The National Military
             Strategy of the United States of America to place the State Partnership
             Program within the broader context of DOD’s strategic efforts.

             To determine the extent to which State Partnership Program activities are
             meeting the goals and objectives of the program, we gathered
             documentation; interviewed National Guard Bureau officials about the
             development of goals, objectives, and performance metrics for the
             program; and assessed their efforts based on criteria from our previous
             work. We also reviewed an improvement plan for the State Partnership
             Program provided by the National Guard Bureau and assessed the extent
             to which the plan addressed the need for goals, objectives, and metrics
             and identified timeframes for implementation. In addition, we obtained
             and reviewed DOD guidance, including the Directive Type Memorandum
             released in August 2011, to determine if goals and objectives for the
             State Partnership Program were specified in those documents. To identify
             benefits of the program, we contacted all State Partnership Program
             Coordinators and Bilateral Affairs Officers via e-mail with a standard set
             of questions. In addition to program benefits, the questions addressed
             roles in implementing the State Partnership Program, steps to avoid
             duplication of program activities, any challenges faced when
             implementing the program, and any suggested areas for improvement.
             We received and analyzed responses from 50 of the 52 State Partnership
             Program Coordinators and from 23 out of 47 Bilateral Affairs Officers. 1
             We also collected and analyzed written responses to similar questions


             1
              There are 53 U.S. states and territories currently participating in the State Partnership
             Program. While there are 63 partnerships in the program, not every country has a Bilateral
             Affairs Officer assigned.




             Page 29                                             GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




from coordinating officials at the six U.S. geographic combatant
commands.

In conducting our content analysis, a GAO analyst independently
reviewed each response from the State Partnership Program
Coordinators and Bilateral Affairs Officers to identify recurring themes in
the answers to each question. A second GAO analyst independently
reviewed the responses from the State Partnership Program Coordinators
and Bilateral Affairs Officers and reviewed the recurring themes identified
by the first analyst to reach concurrence and identify any themes that the
first analyst may have overlooked. Using the identified recurring themes,
the analysts developed categories and definitions for what should and
should not be included under each category when coding the responses.
A GAO analyst then independently reviewed the answers to each
question and placed them into one or more of the relevant categories. In
some cases, the respondent may have provided information to answer
the question in other areas of the response. When that occurred, the
analyst also coded that information and noted that it was provided in an
answer to a different question. A second GAO analyst independently
reviewed the answers to each question and placed them into one or more
of the relevant categories. The coding of both analysts was compared to
identify areas of disagreement. For items in which there was not
agreement, the two analysts met to discuss reasons for selecting the
categories they did until an agreement about the category that was most
appropriate was reached.

To determine the completeness and consistency of activity and funding
data for the program, we collected and analyzed data on State
Partnership Program activities from fiscal years 2007 through 2011—
including types of activities, funding sources, and funding amounts—
obtained from the National Guard Bureau and the six U.S. geographic
combatant commands. To assess the reliability of the data, we collected
written information from the combatant commands to gain an
understanding of the processes and databases used to collect and record
data and to identify any known limitations to the data. We also collected
written information on any data quality control procedures in place for
data on State Partnership Program activities and reviewed user manuals
for the various databases, where provided. We discussed the procedures
for generating and verifying the data with knowledgeable combatant
command and National Guard Bureau officials. We examined the data
provided for obvious anomalies and compared the data to DOD’s report
to Congress on State Partnership Program activities involving civilians.
We found missing information and inconsistencies as well as a lack of


Page 30                                    GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




guidance on data inputs to ensure complete and consistent information.
We discussed these limitations with the officials in an attempt to obtain
more complete information and reconcile the differences. We ultimately
determined that the data we received were not reliable for the purposes of
providing complete information on the types and frequency of activities,
the funding sources used, or the total cost of the activities because of our
concerns about the completeness and consistency of the data, which we
discuss in our report. As a result, the data we included in the report do not
represent the complete scope of the State Partnership Program. The data
do, however, illustrate the limitations we found.

To identify challenges that DOD faces in implementing the program, we
included a question on any challenges in implementing the program and
any areas for improvement in our email to all State Partnership Program
Coordinators and all Bilateral Affairs Officers who participate in this
program, as described above. Our content analysis included categories
for challenges and areas for improvement. We also collected and
analyzed written responses to similar questions from the six U.S.
geographic combatant commands. On the basis of the challenges cited
by stakeholders, we also reviewed legislation and guidance on the State
Partnership Program, including the Directive Type Memorandum and
internal National Guard Bureau memoranda on the use of funds for State
Partnership Program activities, to identify areas of confusion that might
require clarification or additional training. We also identified criteria in our
previous work for combating the challenges identified by State
Partnership Program stakeholders. We discussed these areas with
National Guard Bureau officials and any efforts in place to address the
challenges.

We conducted this performance audit from August 2011 to May 2012 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing
standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to
obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe
that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings
and conclusions based on our audit objectives.




Page 31                                        GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
Appendix II: State Partnership Program
                                        Appendix II: State Partnership Program
                                        Participating States and Countries, by
                                        Combatant Command


Participating States and Countries, by
Combatant Command
Figure 4: State Partnership Program Participating States and Countries, Africa Command




                                        *Indicates country has a Bilateral Affairs Officer.




                                        Page 32                                               GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
                                        Appendix II: State Partnership Program
                                        Participating States and Countries, by
                                        Combatant Command




Figure 5: State Partnership Program Participating States and Countries, Central Command




                                        Page 33                                           GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
                                       Appendix II: State Partnership Program
                                       Participating States and Countries, by
                                       Combatant Command




Figure 6: State Partnership Program Participating States and Countries, European Command




                                       *Indicates country has a Bilateral Affairs Officer.




                                       Page 34                                               GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
                                        Appendix II: State Partnership Program
                                        Participating States and Countries, by
                                        Combatant Command




Figure 7: State Partnership Program Participating States and Countries, Northern Command




                                        Page 35                                       GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
                                        Appendix II: State Partnership Program
                                        Participating States and Countries, by
                                        Combatant Command




Figure 8: State Partnership Program Participating States and Countries, Pacific Command




                                        Page 36                                           GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
                                       Appendix II: State Partnership Program
                                       Participating States and Countries, by
                                       Combatant Command




Figure 9: State Partnership Program Participating States and Countries, Southern Command




                                       *Indicates country has a Bilateral Affairs Officer.




                                       Page 37                                               GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
Appendix III: Comments from the
                     Appendix III: Comments from the Department
                     of Defense



Department of Defense

Note: GAO received
DOD’s letter
April 27, 2012




                     Page 38                                      GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
Appendix III: Comments from the Department
of Defense




Page 39                                      GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
Appendix III: Comments from the Department
of Defense




Page 40                                      GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
Appendix IV: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Appendix IV: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  John H. Pendleton, (202) 512-3489 or pendletonj@gao.gov
GAO Contact
                  In addition to the contact named above, key contributors to this report
Staff             were Marie Mak, Assistant Director; Leslie Bharadwaja; Michele Fejfar;
Acknowledgments   Kelly Liptan; Erik Wilkins-McKee; Amie Steele; and Nicole Willems.




(351649)
                  Page 41                                   GAO-12-548 State Partnership Program
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