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August 2006
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Drug Czar salary cuts?

Via Tom at DARE Generation Diary comes this major put-down (search for ONDCP) of the Drug Czar’s office by the Senate Appropriations Committee: (emphasis added)

COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

The Committee recommends an appropriation of $11,500,000 for ONDCP’s salaries and expenses. This amount is $11,809,000 below the budget request and $15,139,000 below the fiscal year 2006 enacted level.

The Committee is extremely displeased with the performance of ONDCP staff regarding their communication with the Committee and their responsiveness to congressional inquiries. ONDCP’s lethargy and the inadequate information provided severely impacts the ability of the Committee to conduct its oversight and make budgetary decisions in a timely manner. This kind of unresponsiveness on the part of ONDCP results in an unnecessary waste of time and energy; numerous follow up communications are required in almost every instance. The Committee is particularly concerned that ONDCP has attempted to prevent the Committee from meeting with the directors of ONDCP programs. Therefore the Committee has reduced the salaries and expenses budget to more closely reflect actual performance.
The principal purpose of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy [ONDCP] is to establish priorities, objectives, and policies for the Nation’s drug control program. The Committee is concerned that the overall organization of ONDCP is ineffective and must be improved. In fact, 6 years ago an independent review found weaknesses in ONDCP management and organization, unfortunately these problems persist today. The Committee believes an investigation into funding allocations and expenditures, as well as the use of resources is warranted. The Committee believes an independent review of the overall organization and management of grants and funding systems would be beneficial to ONDCP and the Congress. Such an evaluation may provide insight into changes and improvements that could make ONDCP more effective in the future. Therefore, the Committee has allocated funding for a study by the National Academy of Public Administration [NAPA] to conduct a review of organization and management. In addition, the Committee also requests that the Government Accountability Office [GAO] review the grant management systems, and other funding systems–emphasizing the criteria and methodology used to award and distribute funds. The Committee is aware and supportive of GAO’s impending review of the Drug-Free Communities program, and recommends that GAO also review the Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program, among others. The Committee expects NAPA and GAO to work together, sharing progress and information during the course of their reviews, which should begin within 60 days after the enactment of this act.

Wow.

My reading of this is that although Senators may not be ready to talk publicly about alternatives to prohibition, they’re getting pretty damned pissed off by the fact that their drug war is a black hole, constantly sucking money into oblivion with nothing to show for it. They’re realizing that they can’t adequately explain the value of their drug war themselves, so they want to make sure there’s someone they can blame for its failure.

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