White House Slams DEA, Drug Czar’s Office For Poor Performance

Report Grades DEA a Zero; Finds “No Evidence” of Ad Campaign’s Effect On Youth Drug-Related Behavior

Washington, DC: A performance report released this week by the White House Office of Management and Budget gives failing grades to the government’s anti-drug efforts.

The review specifically targets the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign as ineffective programs that have poor accountability and have not achieved desired results.

According to the report, the DEA “is unable to demonstrate its progress in reducing the availability of illegal drugs in the US. While DEA has developed some strategic goals and objectives, these goals lack specificity in targets and time frames.”

Authors added that the agency’s directors “are not held accountable for achieving results.” On a scale of zero to 100, the report rated the DEA a zero in the category of “results/accountability,” and recommended that “new measures [are] needed” if the agency is to be effective in the future.

The report gives equally low marks to the ONDCP’s ongoing ad campaign, which recently spent more than $4 million dollars to air a pair of anti-drug public service announcements (PSAs) during January’s Super Bowl broadcast. Authors noted that the campaign, which since 1998 has spent some $2 billion dollars in taxpayer dollars and matching funds to buy print and television ads demonizing marijuana and other drugs, has had no measurable impact on teens’ use of illicit substances.

There is “no evidence that paid media messages have a direct effect on youth drug-related behavior,” the White House concluded.

NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre called the anti-drug agencies’ performance “embarrassing,” but added that each continue to be funded by Congress at record levels despite their abysmal results. “If these federal anti-drug agencies were private companies, they’d both be permanently out of business,” St. Pierre said. “Instead, Congress keeps giving their ‘CEOs’ a raise.”

According to the report, the DEA’s annual budget for fiscal year 2004 is $1.6 billion, more than double it’s budget in 1995. Congress recently re-approved $875 million in funding for the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, despite a federally commissioned review published last spring concluding that teens were more likely to experiment with marijuana after viewing the PSAs.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of The NORML Foundation, at (202) 483-8751. The Office of Management and Budget Report, “Performance and Management Assessments: Budget of the United States Government Fiscal Year 2004,” is available online.