United States Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Requesters DRUG CONTROL July 2019 Certain DOD and DHS Joint Task Forces Should Enhance Their Performance Measures to Better Assess Counterdrug Activities GAO-19-441 July 2019 DRUG CONTROL Certain DOD and DHS Joint Task Forces Should Enhance Their Performance Measures to Better Highlights of GAO-19-441, a report to Assess Counterdrug Activities congressional requesters Why GAO Did This Study What GAO Found The U.S. government has identified Many federal agencies are involved in efforts to reduce the availability of illicit illicit drugs, as well as the criminal drugs by countering the flow of such drugs into the United States. Among them organizations that traffic them, as are the Department of Defense (DOD), which has lead responsibility for significant threats to the United States. detecting and monitoring illicit drug trafficking into the country, and the In 2017, over 70,000 people died from Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which is responsible for securing U.S. drug overdoses, according to the borders to prevent illegal activity. DOD and DHS lead and operate task forces— Centers for Disease Control and Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF)-South, JIATF-West, and three DHS Joint Prevention. DOD and DHS created Task Forces (JTF)—to coordinate and conduct counterdrug missions and joint task forces to help facilitate and activities. Task force officials reported that the task forces coordinated effectively strengthen interagency efforts in with each other when they had shared purposes and overlapping or shared combating the flow of illicit drugs, particularly in the maritime domain. geographical boundaries (see map). The task forces also used coordination mechanisms that align with best practices, such as working groups and liaison GAO was asked to review the structure officers, to minimize duplication of their missions and activities. of these task forces and their ability to Map of the Areas of Responsibility for the Department of Defense (DOD) Joint Interagency coordinate and conduct missions Task Forces (JIATF) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Joint Task Forces effectively. Among other objectives, this report (1) assesses the extent to which the task forces coordinate effectively to minimize duplication, and (2) examines how the task forces measure the effectiveness of their missions and activities. GAO reviewed and assessed documentation on the task forces’ missions, coordination efforts, and performance assessments and compared them to best practices from prior work, departmental guidance, and federal internal control standards. GAO also met with task force officials to discuss and observe planning and coordination activities. What GAO Recommends GAO is making three Note: DHS also has JTF-Investigations, which is a functional task force with no geographic area of recommendations, including that responsibility. JIATF-West establish a vital few, Each of the five task forces GAO reviewed has performance measures, but only consistent performance measures for JIATF-South uses output (e.g., number of detected smuggling events) and its overall performance; and that DHS outcome-based measures to assess the effectiveness of its activities. develop outcome-based performance Specifically, JIATF-South developed an outcome-based measure of its overall measures for the JTFs’ activities. DOD effectiveness: the percentage of smuggling events it detected and provided to and DHS concurred with the three recommendations. law enforcement that resulted in disrupted or seized illicit drugs. JIATF-West evaluates its numerous initiatives and activities, for instance, by determining if they were executed as planned, but has not established a vital few performance measures that consistently convey the overall effectiveness of its activities. View GAO-19-441. For more information, Lastly, the DHS JTFs’ performance measures are not outcome-based and do not contact Nathan Anderson at (202) 512-3841 or fully assess the effectiveness of the task forces’ activities. Enhancing their AndersonN@gao.gov. measures would better position JIATF-West and the JTFs to demonstrate contributions and convey trends in the overall effectiveness of their activities. United States Government Accountability Office Contents Letter 1 Background 5 Each of the Five Task Forces in Our Review Has a Counterdrug Mission, and Its Activities Vary Based on Threats in Its Area of Responsibility and Available Resources 11 The Five Task Forces in Our Review Generally Coordinated Effectively to Help Minimize Duplication of Counterdrug Missions and Activities, Using Various Mechanisms 14 Four of the Five Task Forces’ Performance Measures Do Not Allow Them to Determine the Effectiveness of Their Counterdrug Activities 19 Conclusions 29 Recommendations for Executive Action 29 Agency Comments 30 Appendix I Fiscal Year 2018 Performance Measures and Targets for the Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Forces 31 Appendix II Comments from the Department of Defense 32 Appendix III Comments from the Department of Homeland Security 34 Appendix IV GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments 37 Related GAO Products 38 Tables Table 1: Information on the Department of Defense Joint Interagency Task Forces’ and Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Forces’ Locations, Leadership, and Number of Staff 9 Table 2: Joint Interagency Task Force–South (JIATF-South) Interdiction Continuum Measures 20 Page i GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Table 3: Evolution of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Joint Task Forces’ (JTF) Performance Measures from Fiscal Year 2017 to Fiscal Year 2018 26 Table 4: Performance Measures for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Joint Task Forces (JTF), Fiscal Year 2018 27 Table 5: Performance Measures and Targets for the Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Forces, Fiscal Year 2018 31 Figures Figure 1: Primary Federal Departments and Components Involved in Counterdrug Missions and Activities and Their Respective Responsibilities 6 Figure 2: Map of the Joint Interagency Task Forces’ and Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Forces’ Geographical Areas of Responsibility 10 Figure 3: Joint Task Force Officials’ Views on the Extent and Effectiveness of Coordination Efforts 15 Page ii GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Abbreviations AMO Air and Marine Operations CBP U.S. Customs and Border Protection Coast Guard U.S. Coast Guard DHS U.S. Department of Homeland Security DOD U.S. Department of Defense DOJ U.S. Department of Justice FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation HOMECORT Homeland Criminal Organization Target HSI Homeland Security Investigations ICE U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement JIATF Joint Interagency Task Force JTF Joint Task Force ONDCP Office of National Drug Control Policy This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. The published product may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without further permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately. Page iii GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Letter 441 G St. N.W. Washington, DC 20548 July 9, 2019 The Honorable Roger Wicker Chairman Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation United States Senate The Honorable John Thune United States Senate The Honorable Brian Schatz United States Senate The U.S. government has identified illicit drugs, as well as the transnational and domestic criminal organizations that traffic and smuggle them, as significant threats to the public, law enforcement, and the national security of the United States. Deaths related to the use of drugs, including illicit drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and other synthetic opioids, have risen in recent years. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, in 2017, over 70,000 people died from drug overdoses compared to approximately 47,000 such deaths in 2014. For the past decade, one key priority of U.S. efforts to combat the effects of illicit drugs has been to reduce their availability. Many federal departments and agencies are involved in efforts to reduce the availability of drugs by countering the trafficking and flow of illicit drugs into the United States. 1 Among them are the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Regarding counterdrug efforts, DOD is the lead department responsible for detecting and monitoring (tracking) illicit drug trafficking into the United States and DHS is responsible for securing the U.S. air, land, and sea borders to prevent illegal activity. Both DOD and DHS created and lead interagency task forces to help facilitate and strengthen efforts across federal agencies to conduct counterdrug missions and activities to combat the flow of illicit 1 For more information on some other agencies’ efforts, see GAO, Counternarcotics: Overview of the U.S. Efforts in the Western Hemisphere, GAO-18-10 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 13, 2017); and Illicit Opioids: While Greater Attention Given to Combating Synthetic Opioids, Agencies Need to Better Assess their Efforts, GAO-18-205 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 29, 2018). Page 1 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces drugs into the United States. Given the number of federal counterdrug task forces that exist, we focused this review on the two DOD and three DHS joint task forces that conduct counterdrug missions and activities and have overlapping areas of responsibility, particularly in the maritime domain. 2 In particular, for DOD we included Joint Interagency Task Forces (JIATF)—JIATF-South and JIATF-West. These interagency task forces were formed in 1989 as partnerships between military and federal law enforcement agencies to coordinate and conduct counterdrug operations. 3 For DHS, we included three Joint Task Forces (JTFs)—JTF- East, JTF-West, and JTF-Investigations—that were created in 2014 to enhance and unify DHS efforts, and those of its component agencies (components), to secure the U.S. southern border and approaches to the United States via land, sea, or air. These five task forces have a role in U.S. counterdrug efforts, such as by supporting the removal of cocaine bound for the United States and strengthening interagency and foreign partners’ counterdrug capabilities. However, questions have been raised about their effectiveness and the extent of coordination between them, including potential duplication of counterdrug missions and activities. You asked us to review these five task forces’ coordination efforts, and their ability to conduct operations effectively. In this report, we (1) describe the missions of JIATF-South, JIATF-West, and the three DHS JTFs; (2) assess the extent to which these task forces coordinate effectively with one another to minimize duplication of missions and activities; and (3) examine how these task forces measure the effectiveness of their missions and activities. To describe the missions of the task forces, we collected and reviewed documentation related to each task force’s missions and activities, such as mission statements, guidance, memoranda, policies, and prior reports. We also interviewed officials from each of the task forces, as well as key components and offices, such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the U.S. Coast Guard (Coast Guard). We obtained from these officials additional details 2 While there are other joint task forces within DOD that conduct counterdrug missions and activities, such as Joint Task Force–North, we did not include this task force in our review because it is comprised solely of DOD personnel and it does not generally operate in the maritime domain. 3 This includes federal law enforcement agency representation from DHS components, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Department of Justice (DOJ) components, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Page 2 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces related to the task forces’ missions and activities, including information on any task force reorganization efforts that have taken place since fiscal year 2014, such as the JIATF-West reorganization in early 2016. 4 We analyzed similarities and differences across the task forces, including the departments and agencies that provide staff to support the tasks forces, as well as the varied agency representation on the task forces’ leadership positions. To assess the effectiveness of the task forces’ coordination, we examined documentation related to task force coordination, such as strategic plans, guidance, and memoranda of understanding and agreement. Additionally, we collected and reviewed documentation on the extent to which the task forces coordinated with one another, such as joint operations plans and joint investigation reports; as well as the mechanisms used for coordination, such as joint meetings and the use of liaisons. We also met with officials at each of the five task forces to discuss and observe the task forces’ planning and coordination efforts. 5 Further, we developed a set of 17 structured interview questions—which we derived from our Duplication, Overlap, and Fragmentation guide and our prior work on collaboration and coordination best practices—to interview a group of knowledgeable officials at each of the five task forces on their coordination efforts. 6 Specifically, we asked officials in each of the task forces to describe the nature of the task force’s coordination efforts, to include: (1) the presence of a collaborative relationship with each of the other task forces; (2) the circumstances under which it coordinates; (3) the various mechanisms used to coordinate; and (4) views on the effectiveness of the coordination with each of the other task forces. To quantify these results, we conducted a network analysis in which we aggregated the responses to our structured interview questions about the 4 We selected fiscal years 2014 through 2018 to review because they were the most recent fiscal years for which data were available and also included the time frame during which there was a task force reorganization effort at JIATF-West. 5 We met with officials from DOD, DHS, and DOJ and their component agencies, who were representatives of these task forces. 6 GAO, Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication: An Evaluation and Management Guide, GAO-15-49SP (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 14, 2015); Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO-14-704G (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 2014); Managing for Results: Implementation Approaches Used to Enhance Collaboration in Interagency Groups, GAO-14-220 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 14, 2014); and Managing for Results: Key Considerations for Implementing Interagency Collaborative Mechanisms, GAO-12-1022 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 27, 2012). Page 3 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces nature and mechanisms used by the task forces to communicate and coordinate with one another and developed a representation of the patterns of collaboration among the task forces. 7 We then analyzed these networks to determine the extent to which the task forces were using mechanisms our prior work had identified as best practices for effective coordination. We then used task force documentation, such as joint operations after action reports, to validate the responses regarding the coordination mechanisms used. We also assessed the interview responses we received from the task forces regarding their interactions with the other joint task forces as a means to corroborate each task force’s responses. To examine how the task forces measure the effectiveness of their missions and activities, we identified performance measures the task forces used for assessing the effectiveness of their missions and activities from fiscal years 2014 through 2018. 8 Specifically, we reviewed each of the task forces’ annual performance measures and reports and any available results for this time period. We assessed the task forces’ performance measures against criteria, such as departmental performance assessment standard operating procedures, best practices to enhance performance management and measurement processes we have identified in our prior work, and federal internal control standards related to monitoring performance. 9 Additionally, we examined measures against relevant requirements in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. 10 To assess the reliability of the performance measures and any underlying data used to inform the performance assessments from fiscal years 2014 through 2018, we reviewed documentation, such as data 7 Network analysis is a set of quantitative and graphical methods to identify the underlying patterns and structures in a complex set of relationships among entities such as countries, organizations, or individuals. 8 We selected the most recent 5 fiscal years to assess the task forces’ performance. 9 GAO-14-704G; Office of Management and Budget, Performance Management Challenges and Strategies (Washington, D.C.: June 18, 2003); GAO, Designing Evaluations: 2012 Revision, GAO-12-208G (Washington, D.C.: January 2012); GAO, Performance Measurement and Evaluation: Definitions and Relationships, GAO-11-646SP (Washington, D.C.: May 2011); GAO, Executive Guide: Effectively Implementing the Government Performance and Results Act, GAO/GGD-96-118 (Washington, D.C.: June 1, 1996); and Department of Defense Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats, Counternarcotics and Global Threats Performance Metrics System Standard Operating Procedures (January 2012). 10 Pub. L. No. 114-328, § 1901, 130 Stat. 2000, 2665-70 (2016). See 6 U.S.C. § 348(b)(9). Page 4 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces dictionaries, system manuals, and user guides. We also interviewed task force officials to better understand the processes for inputting and monitoring the quality of the data and inputs, and how they identify and address any deficiencies. Additionally, we interviewed task force officials about how the data and other inputs were used, and the methodologies for assessing the task forces’ missions and activities. We found the data to be sufficiently reliable for the purposes of reporting how task forces measure the effectiveness of their missions and activities. We conducted this performance audit from May 2018 to July 2019 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. Background Roles and Responsibilities As previously mentioned, multiple federal departments and components in Federal Counterdrug have responsibilities for combating the flow of illicit drugs into the United States. Figure 1 summarizes the missions and responsibilities of the Missions and Activities federal departments and components primarily responsible for combating the trafficking of illicit drugs. Page 5 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Figure 1: Primary Federal Departments and Components Involved in Counterdrug Missions and Activities and Their Respective Responsibilities Page 6 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces DOD and DHS Joint Task Forces Involved in Counterdrug Missions and Activities DOD Joint Interagency Task In 1989, DOD created several joint task forces, which aimed to bridge the Forces military’s counterdrug efforts with those of civilian, federal law enforcement agencies. These task forces have evolved since then and eventually developed into the present-day iterations of JIATF-South under the U.S. Southern Command and JIATF-West under the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. JIATF-South and JIATF-West both consist of representatives from DOD, DHS, and DOJ components, among others. Coast Guard admirals currently serve as the Directors of both of the JIATFs. Previously, DOD service components have led JIATF-South; however, while DOD is responsible for detection and monitoring of drug flow, it is precluded from taking law enforcement actions in counterdrug efforts. 11 Task force officials stated that Coast Guard leadership encourages participation from both DOD and DHS because the Coast Guard is both a military and a law enforcement agency. 12 The deputy and vice leadership positions at the JIATFs are held by officers and civilians from DOD, DHS, and DOJ components, which allow the task forces to leverage various experiences and authorities across these components, according to task force officials. DHS Joint Task Forces In 2014, DHS established three new joint task forces — (1) JTF–East, (2) JTF–West, and (3) JTF–Investigations—as pilot programs to, among other things, address the smuggling of illicit drugs over the southern border and approaches to the United States. Additionally, according to the DHS Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Plan, the JTFs were created to strengthen the unity of effort within DHS toward common goals. The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act subsequently codified these task forces and established new JTF requirements, such as establishing outcome-based and other appropriate performance 11 See 18 U.S.C. § 1385. 12 According to JIATF officials, the JIATF Directors operate under military authorities. Page 7 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces measures to evaluate the effectiveness of each JTF. 13 In 2017, DHS also created a JTF Coordination Cell to develop JTF performance measures and enhance awareness among DHS components about the role of the JTFs, among other things. The DHS JTFs primarily consist of representatives from CBP, ICE, and the Coast Guard, and a representative from each of these components serves as the Director for each of the three JTFs. The deputy leadership positions of each JTF are held by officers from the other two components. For example, DHS JTF-West’s director is an officer from CBP, and the deputy directors are officers from the Coast Guard and ICE. According to a DHS memorandum, in establishing the JTFs, DHS wanted each JTF to be led and supported by the different DHS components in order to integrate their varied capabilities. For more information on the task forces’ leadership and compositions, see table 1. 13 The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act also details DHS JTF responsibilities, such as planning and executing joint task force activities and exercising operational direction with personnel allocated to the JTFs, as well as personnel and resource requirements and limitations. Pub. L. No. 114-328, § 1901, 130 Stat. 2000, 2665-70 (2016). See 6 U.S.C. § 348(b). Page 8 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Table 1: Information on the Department of Defense Joint Interagency Task Forces’ and Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Forces’ Locations, Leadership, and Number of Staff Task force Location Task force leadership Number of a assigned staff Joint Interagency Task Key West, FL Director: U.S. Coast Guard 408 Force-South (JIATF-S) Deputy Director: U.S. Navy Vice Directors: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Joint Interagency Task Honolulu, HI Director: U.S. Coast Guard 126 Force-West (JIATF-W) Deputy Director: U.S. Navy (civilian) Chief of Staff: U.S. Marine Corps Joint Task Portsmouth, VA Director: U.S. Coast Guard 44 Force-East (JTF-E) Deputy Directors: CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Joint Task Washington, DC Director: ICE HSI 67 Force-Investigations (JTF-I) Deputy Directors: U.S. Coast Guard and CBP Joint Task San Antonio, TX Director: CBP 56 Force-West (JTF-W) Deputy Directors: U.S. Coast Guard and ICE HSI Source: GAO summary of information provided by each joint task force. | GAO-19-441 a According to task force officials, the number of assigned staff represent the number of permanent staff for the JIATFs and the number of permanent and temporary duty staff for the DHS JTFs in fiscal year 2018. Organizational Structure Each of the five task forces are similarly organized by functional areas and all include areas such as administration and personnel, intelligence, and operations. For example, JIATF-South, JIATF-West, and each of the DHS JTFs have Planning sections, which help guide the task forces’ overarching strategic plans and operations, with input from other sections. One task force—JIATF-West—further tailored its organizational structure to its missions and activities. Specifically, JIATF-West reorganized in January 2016, at the direction of the former U.S. Indo-Pacific Combatant Commander, to operationalize and combine its Intelligence and Operations functional areas into a Counternarcotics Operations Center. According to JIATF-West leadership, the Counternarcotics Operations Page 9 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Center better reflects the nature of its intelligence gathering and sharing activities with other federal law enforcement agencies and foreign countries. JIATF-West officials also stated the task force merged its section that provided support and training of foreign law enforcement agencies into its Planning and Engagement section since that section directs activities related to JIATF-West’s engagement with partner nations. Areas of Responsibility As shown in figure 2, the two DOD task forces (JIATF-South and JIATF- West) and two of the three DHS task forces (JTF-East and JTF-West) have geographical areas of responsibility. In contrast, the third DHS task force (JTF-Investigations) is focused on coordinating investigations and information sharing to support DHS and the other two DHS JTFs. As a result, it does not have a geographical area of responsibility. Figure 2: Map of the Joint Interagency Task Forces’ and Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Forces’ Geographical Areas of Responsibility Page 10 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces JIATF-South, JIATF-West, and the DHS JTFs all support or conduct Each of the Five Task missions and activities related to countering the flow of illicit drugs. The Forces in Our Review counterdrug missions and activities each task force engages in vary based on the type of threats present in its area of responsibility, as well Has a Counterdrug as the physical assets available to it, according to task force documents Mission, and Its and officials. For the JIATFs, counterdrug activities in the maritime and air domains are their primary focus, as their missions are focused on the Activities Vary Based detection and monitoring of illicit drug trafficking to support U.S. and on Threats in Its Area foreign partner law enforcement interdiction activities. In contrast, the JTFs primarily coordinate counterdrug and other activities among the of Responsibility and DHS components. For example: Available Resources Example of Joint Interagency Task Force– • JIATF-South: Focuses its activities on detecting, monitoring, and South (JIATF-South) Activity to Combat supporting the interdiction of bulk cocaine movements being Illicit Drug Trafficking smuggled on noncommercial maritime vessels. According to JIATF- When JIATF-South receives information about South officials, this focus is partly because the key coca-producing a potential illicit drug smuggling event, it will use available air and maritime assets countries are within its area of responsibility, and partly because allocated to it to detect and monitor the cocaine is a key source of profit for transnational criminal suspect smuggling vessel. Once JIATF-South locates the suspect vessel and has assets in organizations. JIATF-South is also allocated assets, such as ships place, JIATF-South turns over control of the and surveillance aircraft, from DOD and DHS components (such as assets to the relevant law enforcement the Coast Guard and CBP Air and Marine Operations), as well as agencies (e.g., the Coast Guard, CBP, etc.) to interdict the smuggling vessel and any illicit from foreign partners. JIATF-South uses these maritime and air drugs that may be on board. assets, in conjunction with available intelligence, to detect and monitor Source: GAO analysis of information provided by JIATF- South. | GAO-19-441 the trafficking of illicit drugs, such as cocaine, being smuggled north across its area of responsibility. Once JIATF-South detects a smuggling event occurring, it passes this information and control of the assets to law enforcement authorities to interdict the smuggling event. For an example of how this occurs, see the sidebar. Page 11 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Example of Joint Interagency Task Force– • JIATF-West: Focuses its missions and activities on four priorities: (1) West’s (JIATF-West) Capacity Building detecting precursor chemicals that can be used to manufacture illicit Efforts to Combat Illicit Drug Trafficking drugs, such as synthetic opioids; (2) supporting allies and foreign JIATF-West has helped countries in its area of partners in combating illicit drug trafficking in its area of responsibility; responsibility—such as Vanuatu—build their financial investigative capacity by providing (3) monitoring drug flows moving to, from, and through Asia and other law enforcement training on topics such as countries in the Indo-Pacific region; and (4) detecting the flow of bank records analysis, money laundering theory, and accounting. This training is fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, according to JIATF-West intended to help foreign law enforcement documents. 14 According to JIATF-West officials, JIATF-West’s agencies better detect transnational criminal activities primarily consist of intelligence gathering and collaboration organizations’ transactions, thus making it more difficult for such organizations to operate with law enforcement partners within foreign countries where in their area of responsibility. precursor chemicals are manufactured or combined to manufacture Source: GAO summary of JIATF-West information. | GAO-19-441 illicit drugs. JIATF-West also engages in capacity building with law enforcement authorities in foreign countries in the Pacific region, such as the Philippines and Thailand. For an example of JIATF-West’s capacity building efforts, see the sidebar. Unlike JIATF-South, JIATF-West does not have assets, such as ships or aircraft. However, JIATF-West officials stated that even if JIATF- West had assets, it would not alter the focus of its missions and activities because of the threat transnational criminal organizations pose and the nature of the flow of illicit drugs and precursor chemicals in its expansive area of responsibility. For example, JIATF-West officials told us that precursor chemicals are typically shipped in commercial cargo containers. Notably, all precursor chemicals are legal to manufacture and sell for legitimate uses, such as the production of pharmaceutical drugs and pesticides, and it is difficult to determine when such chemicals have been diverted for illicit use. Officials stated that JIATF-West would face legal and logistical challenges if they were to directly disrupt precursor chemicals being diverted, such as if the vessel was state-owned or was in a foreign country’s territorial waters. Thus, even if JIATF-West had assets, JIATF-West officials noted that the legal and logistical challenges would not change how the task force approaches its missions and activities. • DHS JTFs: Focus on coordinating with DHS components (e.g., CBP, ICE HSI, Coast Guard) to facilitate awareness about cross- component, cross-geographic homeland security issues. The JTFs have broader missions than countering the flow of illicit drugs. For example, the JTFs also have responsibilities for coordinating migrant 14 Illicit synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, are manmade and chemically produced in a laboratory to mimic the effects of opiates derived from the poppy plant, such as heroin and morphine. Page 12 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces interdiction and counter-terrorism activities. 15 Further, given their areas of responsibility, JTF-East primarily focuses on threats along the southern maritime border of the United States and JTF-West primarily focuses on threats along the southwest land border. In contrast, JTF-Investigations focuses on supporting DHS-wide investigations and sharing information to support the other two task forces. Similar to JIATF-West, the JTFs do not have physical assets to support these activities. According to JTF officials, this is partly because the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act requires the JTFs to be cost neutral. 16 Additionally, JTF officials stated the JTFs were not meant to serve a similar function as the DOD combatant commands and, instead, are meant to help with planning and coordinating missions and activities across joint operating areas. 15 According to the DHS Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Plan, the DHS JTFs’ key objectives are to: (a) minimize the risk of terrorism; (b) increase the perceived risk of engaging in or facilitating illegal transnational or cross-border activity; (c) interdict people and goods attempting to enter illegally at and between U.S. ports of entry; (d) increase situational awareness in the air, land, and sea border and approaches; (e) decrease or disrupt the profitability and finances of transnational criminal activities at the optimal points; (f) dismantle criminal and terrorist organizations and networks; (g) prevent the illegal exploitation of legal flows; (h) maximize the resiliency of key nodes, conveyances, pathways, and transportation infrastructure; (i) minimize the cost to travelers and delays to shippers in being screened and vetted at ports of entry; and (j) maximize the number of travelers and value of imported goods that undergo screening before arriving at ports of entry. Further, the DHS Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Plan is to be executed along six lines of effort that link to these objectives, such as reduce the terrorism risk to the nation and combat transnational criminal organizations. 16 Pub. L. No. 114-328, § 1901, 130 Stat. 2000, 2665-70 (2016). See 6 U.S.C. § 348(b)(6)(B). Page 13 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Task force officials reported that the task forces effectively coordinated The Five Task Forces counterdrug missions and activities to minimize duplication of efforts. The in Our Review extent to which the task forces coordinate varied based on whether they have (1) shared purposes and (2) areas of responsibility with overlapping Generally or shared geographical boundaries. In particular, those task forces that Coordinated have shared purposes and those task forces that have overlapping areas of responsibility or shared boundaries tended to coordinate with one Effectively to Help another more than with the other task forces. We also found that the task Minimize Duplication forces use a variety of mechanisms to coordinate counterdrug missions and activities, such as the use of working groups and liaison officers, that of Counterdrug our prior work has identified as best practices. Missions and Activities, Using Various Mechanisms Task Force Officials Officials we met with from each of the task forces stated that they are Reported Effective satisfied with the level of coordination that takes place with other task forces and that the coordination efforts have been effective. Our analysis Coordination with the of their responses found that of the five task forces, JTF-Investigations’ Other Task Forces coordination activities were rated as the most effective by the other four task forces. JIATF-South was rated the second highest task force in terms of both the effectiveness of its coordination activities and the number of other task forces with which it coordinated. Figure 3 provides a visual representation of the task force officials’ views on the extent to which the task forces coordinate with one another and the effectiveness of the coordination efforts. Page 14 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Figure 3: Joint Task Force Officials’ Views on the Extent and Effectiveness of Coordination Efforts Note: Some task forces may not have as many adjoining lines denoting the extent of coordination based on their activities or geographical boundaries. For example, JTF-West and JIATF-West do not share a geographic boundary and representatives from those task forces stated that because of this, there is generally not a need to coordinate with each other. Consequently, they did not rate the effectiveness of the coordination. The effectiveness of the coordination depicted above was derived from the structured interview question that asked each task force to rate the effectiveness of its coordination with the other task forces using a five-point scale to include “not effective,” “neither effective nor ineffective,” “somewhat effective,” “moderately effective,” or “very effective.” The results shown above represent the average score each task force received from the other task forces it coordinates with. Page 15 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Joint Task Force–Investigation’s (JTF-I) The extent of the coordination between the task forces varies based on Homeland Criminal Organization Target their purposes and geographical proximity to one another. (HOMECORT) Process When the JTFs were first established, JTF-I developed a process to help ensure that the • Shared purposes. Task force officials we spoke with told us the level task forces were working strategically on the of coordination with the other task forces varies based on the extent to highest priority homeland security issues. which the task forces have shared purposes. Of the five task forces, In particular, JTF-I officials developed and JTF-Investigations was the one task force that coordinated with all the implemented the HOMECORT process to identify and coordinate DHS efforts to other task forces, which is consistent with its purpose to enhance dismantle the top transnational criminal DHS investigations, coordinate priorities, and share information with organizations impacting homeland security by: the other joint task forces. As a part of its process in designating 1. Soliciting and receiving cases nominated cases as a Homeland Criminal Organization Target (HOMECORT), by the other JTFs and DHS components; JTF-Investigations conducts a Comprehensive Criminal Network 2. Analyzing the case submissions against a variety of criteria to assess the Analysis that identifies links between multiple cases and criminal methods criminal organizations use, and organizations that can cross geographical and task force boundaries sharing this information to enhance (see sidebar for more information on the HOMECORT process). investigators’ capabilities; According to JTF-Investigations officials, this analysis helps identify 3. Passing the cases to the HOMECORT cases that may be related and helps to coordinate cases across task Board (which includes leaders of the investigative services and deputies of the force jurisdictions to prevent duplication of missions and activities. components, among others) for a final decision on HOMECORT designation; • Geographical proximity. Officials we spoke with from the five task and forces told us that they coordinated more with those task forces with 4. Bringing together all component officials which they had a shared border or joint operating area. For example, working on the newly designated JIATF-South shares a joint operating area or a geographical boundary HOMECORT cases to develop an with both JTF-East and JIATF-West and, as a result, officials from Integrated Action Plan to synchronize efforts, including identifying resources, these three task forces provided more robust examples of actions to be taken, and desired coordination. outcomes to be achieved. Source: GAO summary of information from Joint Task Force– Investigations. | GAO-19-441 The Task Forces Use a According to task force documentation, such as operational guidance, Variety of Mechanisms to and our discussions with task force officials, JIATF-South, JIATF-West, and the DHS JTFs coordinated with each other on missions and activities Coordinate Missions and where they have a shared interest, such as a common illicit drug threat. Activities These coordination activities include information sharing and joint operations, as well as mechanisms, such as the use of working groups and liaison officers, which our prior work has identified as best practices Page 16 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces for coordination. 17 According to task force officials, this coordination is intended to enhance counterdrug efforts and avoid duplication of missions and activities. As described earlier, the task forces have different mission focuses that depend on their geographically defined areas of responsibility, which also help the task forces avoid duplication of missions and activities. However, as shown earlier in figure 2, there are some areas of land, sea, and air in which more than one task force may conduct missions and activities (e.g., between JIATF-South and JTF- East). These areas of overlap are called joint operating areas. According to our review of task force documents and discussions with task force officials, within these joint operating areas, the task forces share intelligence information, coordinate missions and activities with one another, and sometimes conduct joint operations. For example, in 2018, JTF-East led and coordinated with JIATF-South on an operation to increase intelligence and targeting capabilities to disrupt illicit drug trafficking organizations operating within their joint operating area in the Caribbean. JTF-East personnel deployed to JIATF-South’s headquarters to facilitate coordination and information sharing. As a result of this joint operation, the law enforcement agencies involved seized over 3,700 pounds of cocaine and apprehended 69 migrants, one smuggler, and the smuggling vessel, according to JTF-East documentation. Officials from the task forces we spoke with reported coordinating most frequently through meetings and working groups, and through liaison officers, as detailed in examples below. Meetings and Working Groups • JIATFs: In 2018, JIATF-South and JIATF-West officials developed a collaborative process to track and target shipments with potential illicit drugs and precursor chemicals moving between their respective areas of responsibility. For example, JIATF-West analysts traveled to JIATF- South to initiate the process, and officials stated they continue to work with JIATF-South analysts remotely on an ongoing basis on such collaborative efforts. • JTFs: The JTF Coordination Cell hosts quarterly “synchronization meetings” with the three DHS JTFs to discuss emerging drug and smuggling trends, ongoing coordination efforts, and investigations. 17 GAO-12-1022. Page 17 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Liaison Officers All five task forces utilize liaison officers to enhance coordination with the other task forces and components. For example, in 2018, JIATF-West sent an analyst to JTF-Investigations to coordinate on a HOMECORT case related to drug threats in the Indo-Pacific region. Further, the five task forces coordinate with each other and their participating components through liaison officers that reside at the task forces. For example, JIATF- South officials told us that they coordinate with JTF-East through a Coast Guard liaison at JIATF-South. Liaison officers also provide direct access to their components’ information systems, which task force officials said further aids them in sharing information and coordinating missions and activities. Other Coordination In addition to meetings, working groups, and liaison officers, the task Mechanisms forces utilize other coordination mechanisms, such as memoranda of understanding and agreement, shared databases, and conferences, as detailed below. • Memoranda of understanding or agreement: The two JIATFs have nine separate formal memoranda of understanding or agreement with various DHS and DOJ components, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and ICE, that detail how the task forces and agencies will coordinate with one another and share resources. • Shared databases: Each of the five task forces, along with other federal agencies, can submit information, sometimes known as a “critical movement alert” to shared databases, to alert JIATF-South about a potential drug event in its area of responsibility. 18 According to JIATF-South officials we spoke with and our observations, JIATF- South uses these critical movement alerts, along with other intelligence that may exist, to determine whether it will dedicate assets to target a smuggling event, in conjunction with other, relevant law enforcement agencies. • Conferences: Each of the five task forces participates in periodic in- person, telephone, or video conferences to coordinate with one another and share information on key issues. For example, JIATF- South officials stated they have ongoing discussions once a quarter 18 The five task forces, along with other federal agencies, can submit illicit drug events to the U.S. National Consolidated Counterdrug Database, which tracks seizures of different drugs worldwide to give a baseline of drug trafficking activity. JIATF-South manages the module of the database related to cocaine. JIATF-West maintains the module on amphetamine-type stimulants. Additionally, critical movement alerts reside within a JIATF- South database, known as HELIOS, which all four of the other task forces have access to. Page 18 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces via video conference with JIATF-West officials and other federal agencies and task forces to coordinate on illicit drug threats. Four of the Five Task Forces’ Performance Measures Do Not Allow Them to Determine the Effectiveness of Their Counterdrug Activities JIATF-South Uses Various JIATF-South uses both output-based and outcome-based performance Output and Outcome- measures to gauge the effectiveness of its counterdrug missions and activities, and it reports the results to the DOD Deputy Assistant Based Measures to Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats in JIATF- Assess the Effectiveness South’s annual Performance Summary Reports. 19 JIATF-South of Its Counterdrug consistently assesses four key performance measures, called interdiction Activities continuum measures, using data from the Consolidated Counterdrug Database to determine the effectiveness of its missions and activities. Specifically, JIATF-South measures (1) total maritime smuggling events, (2) targeted smuggling events, (3) detected smuggling events, and (4) seized or disrupted smuggling events. According to JIATF-South officials, data on these events allow JIATF-South to develop its primary measure to determine the effectiveness of its counterdrug missions and activities: the percentage of smuggling events JIATF-South detected that it handed off to law enforcement agencies that resulted in disrupted or seized illicit drugs. These measures and the results for fiscal years 2014 through 2018 are shown in table 2. 19 We have previously reported outputs are the direct products and services delivered by a program. An example of an output-based performance measure is the number of times a task force passes along information on potential illicit drug shipments to law enforcement authorities. In contrast, outcomes are the results of those products and services. An example of an outcome-based performance measure is the percentage of information leads on illicit drug shipments sent to law enforcement authorities that resulted in interdictions and seizures. For more information, see GAO, Designing Evaluations: 2012 Revision, GAO-12-208G (Washington, D.C.: January 2012). Page 19 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Table 2: Joint Interagency Task Force–South (JIATF-South) Interdiction Continuum Measures Fiscal year Total maritime Targeted Detected Seized or Percentage of Department of smuggling smuggling smuggling disrupted detected events Defense target (%) a b c events events events smuggling handed-off to d events interdiction and apprehension e resources (%) 2014 1,397 383 171 135 79 None 2015 2,218 526 246 192 78 90 2016 4,575 1,186 451 322 71 80 2017 4,251 1,071 410 309 75 80 2018 3,854 793 357 245 69 80 Source: GAO analysis of JIATF-South data. | GAO-19-441 a Total maritime smuggling events includes all known smuggling events reported in the Consolidated Counterdrug Database (CCDB) b Targeted smuggling events includes the number of known smuggling events JIATF-South was able to target with its available physical assets, such as sending ships, aircraft, etc. to attempt to locate the smuggling event. c Detected smuggling events includes the number of targeted smuggling events that JIATF-South was able to actually detect with its available physical assets. d Seized or disrupted smuggling events includes the number of detected smuggling events where law enforcement partners were able to seize or disrupt illicit drugs. e JIATF-South determines this percentage by dividing the total number of “seized or disrupted” events by the total number of “detected” events. From fiscal years 2014 through 2018, the rate at which JIATF-South successfully detected and handed off smuggling events for interdiction was generally 70 percent or higher. While JIATF-South officials acknowledged they have not met the target set by DOD, they noted there are many factors that influence the effectiveness of JIATF-South’s counterdrug missions and activities in any given year that are outside of its span of control. For example, drug trafficking organizations may adapt their tactics in response to JIATF-South’s activities to make it more difficult for the task force to target and detect their movements. This could include changing their trafficking routes or altering the size or type of smuggling conveyances the drug trafficking organizations use to transport the illicit drugs. Page 20 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces JIATF-West Has a Well- In September 2014, JIATF-West set up an Assessments Branch to Documented Methodology provide an annual assessment of the task force’s counterdrug efforts that was intended to inform leadership about whether the task force was for Assessing Its Activities, undertaking the best activities to achieve its mission and implementing but Its Measures Do Not them effectively. According to JIATF-West officials, the nature of JIATF- Allow It to Demonstrate West’s missions and activities make it inherently more difficult to assess the Overall Effectiveness and quantify the effectiveness of its efforts relative to other task forces. of Its Counterdrug For example, unlike JIATF-South, which is annually allocated assets to support its missions and activities and can measure results—such as tons Activities of cocaine seized—JIATF-West’s initiatives and activities are primarily focused on information sharing and helping partner nations improve their counterdrug capabilities, activities for which results may be more difficult to quantify. Page 21 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Example of Joint Interagency Task Force- To develop its annual assessment report, JIATF-West’s Assessments West’s (JIATF-West) Initiative and Activity Branch evaluates and assigns scores for each of the approximately 20 Assessment counterdrug initiatives and more than 100 corresponding activities it Initiative Assessment conducts each year. (For an example of a JIATF-West initiative and a In fiscal year 2017, JIATF-West undertook an initiative to enhance maritime security in the corresponding activity and a description of how they were assessed, see Southern Philippines and assessed its the sidebar.) In particular, JIATF-West evaluates its initiatives to progress in achieving seven objectives, such as: determine the progress made toward achieving objectives defined in • Developing and approving tactics, JIATF-West’s strategic documents, such as its Theater Counternarcotics techniques, procedures, and guidance. Campaign Plan. Further, JIATF-West evaluates its activities to determine • Demonstrating a Philippine law whether they were executed as planned, including considerations of enforcement unit’s ability to sustain whether the activities were done with the intended organizations, at the maintenance and logistics support for facilities and equipment. specified locations and times, and whether they met stated objectives. 20 Overall, JIATF-West determined that it Nevertheless, we identified ways JIATF-West measures its performance achieved many desired effects and objectives that inhibit its ability to demonstrate its overall effectiveness of countering but that some improvements were required (with a score of 3.7 out of 5). the flow of illicit drugs. Specifically, we found that JIATF-West (1) lacks a Activity Assessment vital few performance measures that summarize its overall effectiveness One activity JIATF-West undertook to support that can be consistently assessed over time and (2) that it does not have this initiative was a training course provided to established targets for assessing the effectiveness of its numerous a Philippine maritime law enforcement unit on maritime security planning. To assess this missions and activities. activity, JIATF-West, among other things, assessed whether the training: • Provided instruction on assessing the operational environment. • Provided instruction on operational planning and design, mission analysis, and orders preparation. • Provided instruction on briefing techniques. JIATF-West rated its activity performance 4.4 and its effectiveness 2.5 (out of 5), concluding that it successfully executed a mission planning training course with the Philippine maritime law enforcement unit, but could improve the training in the future by addressing challenges related to tactics, techniques, and procedures. Source: GAO description based on JIATF-West documentation. | GAO-19-441 20 JIATF-West’s assessments of the activities that support its initiatives include both measures of performance and measures of effectiveness where each is rated on a scale. Measures of performance assess whether the activity went forward as scheduled, included the appropriate organizations, and met its objectives. Measures of effectiveness assess whether the activity met the broader intermediate objectives of the initiative that it supports. Page 22 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces JIATF-West Lacks a Vital Few, JIATF-West has focused its performance measures on assessing its Comprehensive Performance numerous initiatives and activities; however, it has not developed a vital Measures That Summarize Its few, comprehensive performance measures that summarize the overall Effectiveness and Are effectiveness of its numerous initiatives and activities in a manner that Consistent Over Time would convey essential information on its counterdrug activities to decision makers at the DOD command level and above. Such information could help these decision makers better understand the overall effectiveness of JIATF-West’s counterdrug missions and activities in relation to broader U.S. counterdrug efforts. For example, JIATF-West could develop a performance measure that calculates the percentage of leads it provides to foreign partners that result in seizures or apprehensions. Such a measure could demonstrate JIATF-West’s overall effectiveness in supporting allies and foreign partners in combating illicit drug trafficking in its area of responsibility, in keeping with one of its operational priorities. Guidance on performance measures from the DOD Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats states that agencies should develop a vital few measures, no more than two or three, which convey essential information on counterdrug activities to decision makers. 21 JIATF-West used to assess and report such measures as recently as fiscal year 2015. For example, it reported scores on the effectiveness of its mission and broader lines of effort, such as countering illicit drug and precursor chemical flows in its area of responsibility. However, JIATF-West officials told us they stopped reporting on these performance measures in fiscal year 2015 because, from the task force’s perspective, the measures did not provide meaningful insights into the effectiveness of the task force’s operations. However, such performance measures could provide meaningful information on the effectiveness of JIATF-West’s counterdrug activities to decision makers at the DOD command level and above, even if such summary information might not affect the effectiveness of operations at the task force level. We have previously reported on the importance of developing performance measures that demonstrate broader effectiveness and have also reported it is worthwhile for agencies to 21 Department of Defense, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats, Counternarcotics and Global Threats Performance Metrics System Standard Operating Procedures (Jan. 26, 2012). Page 23 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces develop them to better determine and understand the overall effectiveness of their missions and activities. 22 Further, JIATF-West is also unable to assess the effectiveness of its initiatives and activities over time because it has annually changed the way it measures the effectiveness of more than 100 counterdrug initiatives and activities. Specifically, JIATF-West has adjusted how it assesses the initiatives and activities each year since 2014—for example, by changing the weight scale for scoring its initiatives and activities to give more emphasis to some over others. 23 These changes to the methodology make it difficult to compare results and assess the effectiveness of its activities over time. DOD guidance states that agencies should have measures that are consistent over time to capture trend results. 24 In discussing these issues with JIATF-West officials, they stated that assessing the initiatives and activities provides valuable information on the effectiveness of the task force’s efforts for internal, task force management. They acknowledged that JIATF-West’s performance measures could be improved to allow for assessments of the effectiveness of the task force’s activities over time, but they added that they plan to use the same methodology to calculate the task force’s initiatives and activities scores in the future because this information is still needed internally. Given that JIATF-West’s individual initiatives and activities change year to year, however, it will be difficult for JIATF-West to assess trends in the effectiveness of its initiatives and activities over time. By also establishing a vital few, comprehensive performance measures that can be assessed consistently over time, as appropriate, JIATF-West will be able to better convey trends in the overall effectiveness of its counterdrug missions and activities over time. 22 GAO-12-208G; GAO-11-646SP; and GAO-18-205. 23 In fiscal year 2014, JIATF-West scored its initiatives and activities on a 0 to 4 scale. From fiscal year 2015 to the present, JIATF-West scores its initiatives on a scale of 1 to 5. In addition, beginning in fiscal year 2015, JIATF-West changed its methodology by giving more weight to some measures than others. For example, in calculating its overall activity score, JIATF-West used to average the scores from its measures of performance and measures of effectiveness, respectively. However, in 2015, JIATF-West calculated the overall activity score using a weighted average to give more emphasis to its scores for measures of effectiveness. 24 Department of Defense, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats, Counternarcotics and Global Threats Performance Metrics System Standard Operating Procedures (Jan. 26, 2012). Page 24 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces JIATF-West Lacks Specific JIATF-West has not developed specific performance targets (i.e., Performance Targets for Its established acceptable levels of performance or outcomes) for its Initiatives and Activities initiatives and activities as part of its documented assessment methodology, and no such targets appear in any of the task force’s annual assessment reports. When assessing its initiatives and activities, JIATF-West officials told us it aims to achieve the best possible outcome—or the highest possible score—for each of the initiatives and activities it undertakes and assesses. 25 DOD guidance states that targets should be set for each performance measure to establish a minimum level of performance to be accomplished within a given time frame. 26 Additionally, establishing specific performance measure targets that set a minimum level of performance to achieve could better encourage the task force to meet the targets and identify ways to improve, as needed. The DHS JTF The DHS JTFs were fully operational in fiscal year 2016 and began Performance Measures assessing their performance and producing performance reports in fiscal year 2017. Since they began reporting on their performance, the Changed from Fiscal Year measures the JTFs reported changed in fiscal year 2018 and, according 2017 to 2018 and Do Not to JTF officials, will change again in fiscal year 2019. Specifically, in the Reflect Outcomes fiscal year 2017 performance report, the JTFs reported on activities, such as the amounts of drugs seized, arrests made, and currency seized. However, according to task force officials, the 2017 report’s performance measures did not accurately reflect the strategic-level coordination the JTFs performed. For example, the measures the JTFs reported in fiscal year 2017 focused on drug seizures and arrests made by the DHS components. While the drug seizures and arrests made by the DHS components may have been made possible because of coordination activities of the DHS JTFs, using data on drug seizures and arrests as JTF performance measures resulted in double-counting because the components reported on the same seizures and arrests for their respective counterdrug programs. To address these issues for fiscal year 2018, the JTFs and the DHS Coordination Cell developed a new set of performance measures that were intended to better reflect the JTFs’ coordination activities and 25 In fiscal year 2014, the best possible score an initiative or activity could achieve was a 4. From fiscal years 2015 to 2017, the best possible score was a 5. 26 Department of Defense, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats, Counternarcotics and Global Threats Performance Metrics System Standard Operating Procedures (Jan. 26, 2012). Page 25 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces contributions. For example, a new JTF performance measure developed for fiscal year 2018 included the number of leads that the JTFs provided to a partner law enforcement agency, DHS component, or foreign government partner for interdiction or investigative action. Table 3 shows the evolution of the JTF performance measures from fiscal year 2017 to fiscal year 2018. Table 3: Evolution of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Joint Task Forces’ (JTF) Performance Measures from Fiscal Year 2017 to Fiscal Year 2018 Fiscal year 2017 performance measures Fiscal year 2018 performance measures • Percent of transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) • Number of disruptions and degradations of TCOs targeted by the JTFs that are disrupted • Number of operations executed against TCOs with assistance or dismantled or coordination limited to DHS components • Number of JTF operations executed against • Number of operations executed against TCOs with TCOs targeted by the JTFs interdepartmental (any non-DHS federal, state, or local entity) • Number of criminal arrests linked to TCOs assistance or coordination targeted by the JTFs • Number of operations executed against TCOs with • Pounds of drugs seized linked to TCOs targeted international assistance or coordination by the JTFs • Number of joint intelligence products initiated or enhanced in • Total amount of currency and/or monetary instruments alignment with the JTF operational priorities seized of TCOs targeted by the JTFs • Number of supportive efforts provided to or in response to a partner agency, component, or foreign partner that are for awareness only • Number of supportive efforts provided to a partner agency, component, or foreign partner that are for interdiction or investigative action • Number of individuals who satisfactorily completed a joint training event provided by their respective JTF • Number of marketing efforts provided to stakeholders regarding JTF capabilities, capacities, or processes for awareness, collaboration, cooperation, and relationship building Source: DHS Joint Task Force performance information. | GAO-19-441 The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act requires the Secretary of DHS to establish outcome-based and other appropriate performance measures to evaluate the effectiveness of each joint task force. 27 Although the DHS JTF Coordination Cell and the JTFs developed performance measures in fiscal year 2018 that better reflect the specific 27 Pub. L. No. 114-328, § 1901, 130 Stat. 2000, 2665-70 (2016). See 6 U.S.C. § 348(b)(9). Page 26 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces missions and activities of the three task forces, these measures are focused on outputs—such as the number of operations conducted in combating transnational criminal organizations—and not outcomes, such as the number or percentage of leads that resulted in seizures of illicit drugs. According to JTF Coordination Cell officials, the fiscal year 2018 JTF performance measures are not outcome-based because it is difficult to quantify and capture the contributions of the JTFs through their roles as coordinators and facilitators of missions and activities that are conducted by DHS components. Table 4 illustrates each of the DHS JTF performance results for fiscal year 2018 under the revised measures. 28 Table 4: Performance Measures for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Joint Task Forces (JTF), Fiscal Year 2018 Performance measure Joint Task Joint Task Joint Task Force–West Force–East Force– Investigations Number of disruptions and degradations of transnational 217 87 270 criminal organizations (TCOs) within joint operating areas Number of operations executed against TCOs with assistance 179 107 178 or coordination limited to DHS components Number of operations executed against TCOs with 137 106 174 interdepartmental (any non-DHS federal, state, or local entity) assistance or coordination Number of operations executed against TCOs with 18 68 160 international assistance or coordination Number of joint intelligence products initiated or enhanced in 120 133 87 alignment with the JTF operational priorities Number of supportive efforts provided to or in response to a 310 166 46,931 partner agency, component, or foreign partner that are for awareness only Number of supportive efforts provided to a partner agency, 279 246 1,338 component, or foreign partner that are for interdiction or investigative action 28 The JTFs and the DHS JTF Coordination Cell also established performance targets for each JTF and each of its measures. In fiscal year 2018, each of the JTFs met or exceeded the individual targets set for these measures. For example, DHS set a performance goal (or target) for JTF-Investigations to provide 15 personnel with joint duty training to promote workforce professional development and enhance coordination within DHS, and 17 JTF-Investigations personnel completed the training in fiscal year 2018. For JTF-West, it set a target of executing two operations against transnational criminal organizations with international assistance or coordination, and in fiscal year 2018 JTF- West executed 18 such operations. For the performance targets and results for each of the measures for each of the task forces in fiscal year 2018, see appendix I. Page 27 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Performance measure Joint Task Joint Task Joint Task Force–West Force–East Force– Investigations Number of individuals who satisfactorily completed a joint 891 119 17 training event provided by their respective JTF Number of marketing efforts provided to stakeholders 136 60 124 regarding JTF capabilities, capacities, or processes for awareness, collaboration, cooperation, and relationship building Source: GAO analysis based on information provided by the Department of Homeland Security. | GAO-19-441 Note: The JTFs report operations in each appropriate category and do not limit an operation to a single description. For example, depending on the specific circumstances, a single JTF-led or coordinated operation may be counted in both the measure for interdepartmental efforts, as well as the measure for operations with international assistance or coordination. However, if an operation’s engagement was limited to solely DHS components, it would only count toward the measure for operations limited to DHS components. In addition to the changes to the performance measures made from fiscal years 2017 to 2018, JTF Coordination Cell officials told us in October 2018 they plan to further revise their performance measures for fiscal year 2019, as they believe their measures could continue to improve to better reflect the value added by the JTFs and their coordination and information-sharing activities. JTF Coordination Cell officials further stated that they had considered linking the fiscal year 2018 performance measures to relevant strategic-level outcomes in DHS plans. However, they noted that such outcomes—including the number of drug seizures and apprehensions—are already reported by the individual DHS components and they are trying to avoid the double-counting that occurred in the fiscal year 2017 performance report. We acknowledge that the types of coordination activities that the JTFs perform are inherently more difficult to measure, but developing and implementing outcome-based performance measures that reflect the value the JTFs add would better position the JTFs to demonstrate the effectiveness of their coordination efforts. For example, a performance measure that calculates the percentage of leads provided to components, partner law enforcement agencies, or foreign government partners that result in a successful seizure or arrest could help demonstrate the JTFs’ contributions to DHS counterdrug efforts. Further, in designing its outcome-based performance measures that are reflective of their coordination and information sharing activities, establishing a consistent set of performance measures across years, as appropriate, will allow the JTFs to better assess and convey their progress over time. Page 28 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces In 2017, 70,237 Americans died from an overdose involving synthetic Conclusions opioids, heroin, cocaine, and other drugs. The number of annual overdose deaths has nearly doubled over the past decade. Combating the trafficking and availability of illicit drugs in the United States is a government-wide priority that requires a coordinated effort by federal departments and agencies with counterdrug responsibilities. JIATF- South, JIATF-West, and the three DHS JTFs are five task forces that are focused on strengthening interagency counterdrug efforts. While these task forces have worked together to coordinate and avoid duplicative activities, improvements to the performance measures used by four of the five task forces could enable them to better determine the effectiveness of their counterdrug missions and activities. In particular, by developing a vital few, comprehensive measures that are consistent from one year to the next, and establishing specific targets against which it can measure its missions and activities, JIATF-West will be better able to determine the effectiveness of its missions and activities and assess performance trends across years. In addition, by developing outcome-based performance measures that are consistent, the JTFs would be better positioned to demonstrate the effectiveness of their counterdrug efforts over time. We are making a total of three recommendations: two for JIATF-West and Recommendations for one for DHS. Executive Action The Director of JIATF-West should establish a vital few performance measures that are consistently measured over time. (Recommendation 1) The Director of JIATF-West should establish specific targets that set a minimal level of performance. (Recommendation 2) The Secretary of Homeland Security should develop outcome-based performance measures for the DHS JTFs that are consistent. (Recommendation 3) Page 29 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces In May 2019, we provided a copy of this report to DOD, DHS, DOJ, and Agency Comments the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) for review and comment. In written comments, which are included in appendix II, DOD stated that it concurred with the two recommendations directed to JIATF- West and noted that JIATF-West plans to conduct an internal evaluation to establish a vital few performance measures to allow it to measure performance over time. Additionally, JIATF-West has identified several areas where it can establish specific targets that set a minimal level of performance to support DOD priorities. In its written comments, which are included in appendix III, DHS stated that it concurred with its recommendation and plans to implement new performance measures in a phased approach. DHS also provided technical comments, which we have incorporated into the report, as appropriate. Additionally, ONDCP provided technical comments, which we have incorporated into the report, as appropriate. DOJ did not have any comments on the draft report. We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate congressional committees, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, the Acting Secretary of Defense, and other interested parties. In addition, the report is available at no charge on the GAO website at www.gao.gov. If you or your staffs have any questions about this report, please contact me at (202) 512-3841or AndersonN@gao.gov. Contact points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last page of this report. Key contributors to this report are listed in appendix IV. Nathan Anderson Acting Director Homeland Security and Justice Page 30 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Appendix I: Fiscal Year 2018 Performance Appendix I: Fiscal Year 2018 Performance Measures and Targets for the Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Forces Measures and Targets for the Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Forces This appendix provides further details regarding the performance measures and performance targets for the Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Forces. Table 5: Performance Measures and Targets for the Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Forces, Fiscal Year 2018 Joint Task Joint Task Joint Task Force–West Force–East Force–Investigations Performance measure Target Result Target Result Target Result Number of disruptions and degradations of 7 217 33 87 2 270 transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) within joint operating areas Number of operations executed against 21 179 56 107 12 178 TCOs with assistance or coordination limited to DHS components Number of operations executed against 21 137 74 106 8 174 TCOs with interdepartmental (any non-DHS federal, state, or local entity) assistance or coordination Number of operations executed against 2 18 35 68 4 160 TCOs with international assistance or coordination Number of joint intelligence products initiated 7 120 91 133 17 87 or enhanced in alignment with the Joint Task Force (JTF) operational priorities Number of supportive efforts provided to or in 10 310 70 166 3 46,931 response to a partner agency, component, or foreign partner that are for awareness only Number of supportive efforts provided to a 10 279 49 246 3 1,338 partner agency, component, or foreign partner that are for interdiction or investigative action Number of individuals who satisfactorily 210 891 63 119 10 17 completed a joint training event provided by their respective JTF Number of marketing efforts provided to 21 136 42 60 14 124 stakeholders regarding JTF capabilities, capacities, or processes for awareness, collaboration, cooperation, and relationship building Source: GAO analysis based on information provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). | GAO-19-441 Note: The JTFs report operations in each appropriate category and do not limit an operation to a single description. For example, depending on the specific circumstances, a single JTF-led or coordinated operation may be counted in both the measure for interdepartmental efforts, as well as the measure for operations with international assistance or coordination. However, if an operation’s engagement was limited to solely DHS components, it would only count toward the measure for operations limited to DHS components. Page 31 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Appendix II: Comments from the Department Appendix II: Comments from the Department of Defense of Defense Page 32 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Appendix II: Comments from the Department of Defense Page 33 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Appendix III: Comments from the Appendix III: Comments from the Department of Homeland Security Department of Homeland Security Page 34 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Appendix III: Comments from the Department of Homeland Security Page 35 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Appendix III: Comments from the Department of Homeland Security Page 36 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Appendix IV: GAO Contact and Staff Appendix IV: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments Acknowledgments Nathan Anderson, (202) 512-3841 or AndersonN@gao.gov GAO Contact: In addition to the contact named above, Christopher Conrad (Assistant Acknowledgements: Director), Kelsey Hawley (Analyst-in-Charge), and Julia Vieweg made key contributions to this report. Also contributing to the report were Billy Commons, Pamela Davidson, David Dornisch, Eric Hauswirth, and Susan Hsu. Page 37 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces Related GAO Products Related GAO Products Drug Control: DOD Should Improve Its Oversight of the National Guard Counterdrug Program. GAO-19-27. Washington, D.C.: January 17, 2019. Colombia: U.S. Counternarcotics Assistance Achieved Some Positive Results, but State Needs to Review the Overall U.S. Approach. GAO-19-106. Washington, D.C.: December 12, 2018. Illicit Opioids: Office of National Drug Control Policy and Other Agencies Need to Better Assess Strategic Efforts. GAO-18-569T. Washington, D.C.: May 17, 2018. Illicit Opioids: While Greater Attention Given to Combating Synthetic Opioids, Agencies Need to Better Assess their Efforts. GAO-18-205. Washington, D.C.: March 29, 2018. Counternarcotics: Overview of U.S. Efforts in the Western Hemisphere. GAO-18-10. Washington, D.C.: October 13, 2017. Border Security: Additional Actions Could Strengthen DHS Efforts to Address Subterranean, Aerial, and Maritime Smuggling. GAO-17-474. Washington, D.C.: May 1, 2017. Coast Guard: Resources Provided for Drug Interdiction Operations in the Transit Zone, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. GAO-14-527. Washington, D.C.: June 16, 2014. Combatting Illicit Drugs: DEA and ICE Interagency Agreement Has Helped to Ensure Better Coordination of Drug Investigations. GAO-11-763. Washington, D.C.: July 28, 2011. (102816) Page 38 GAO-19-441 Joint Task Forces The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and investigative GAO’s Mission arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and accountability of the federal government for the American people. 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Drug Control: Certain DOD and DHS Joint Task Forces Should Enhance Their Performance Measures to Better Assess Counterdrug Activities
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2019-07-09.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)