Drug War

Drug Enforcement Administration Staffing and Reporting in Southeast Asia Gao ID: NSIAD-93-82 December 4, 1992

GAO reviewed the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) staffing and intelligence reporting in Southeast Asia--specifically Burma, Laos, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Singapore. This report discusses the (1) factors affecting the size, location, and operations of DEA offices in these areas; (2) contributions and qualifications of DEA intelligence analysts assigned to Southeast Asia; (3) analytical support provided by the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, to DEA intelligence programs in Southeast Asia; and (4) adequacy of DEA intelligence reporting in Southeast Asia. GAO found that DEA has not fully staffed its Southeast Asia offices with effectively performing intelligence analysts, resulting in lower overall intelligence contributions. Various political and administrative factors, rather than the extent of the narcotics problem in each country, have generally influenced the size, location, and operations of DEA offices in Southeast Asia. For example, even though Burma is a major producer of illicit opium and heroin, political upheaval in that country has meant a limited DEA role there. In addition, DEA operates no office in Laos, the second largest opium producer in Southeast Asia, due to a lack of Laotian cooperation. Three of four analysts posted to Southeast Asia have done a poor job providing intelligence reports--a situation GAO believes is due mainly to a lack of regional or area knowledge, skills, and abilities among the analysts. According to a DEA official, the agency has no criteria other than time-in-grade requirements for determining whether applicants for intelligence analyst positions are qualified to do the work.

GAO found that: (1) DEA did not fully staff its Southeast Asia offices with qualified personnel; (2) transfers of and poor performance of some intelligence analysts produced lowered intelligence contributions and unmet reporting objectives for some special programs; (2) political and administrative factors influenced the size, location, and operations of DEA offices in Southeast Asia; (3) DEA had no criteria to determine if intelligence analysts' knowledge, skills, and abilities were adequate for the position, but it planned to provide area training to future assignees; (4) USCINCPAC provided some intelligence support to DEA as part of its counternarcotics mission, which helped fill some intelligence gaps, but DEA officials were not uniformly satisfied with those analysts' performance; (5) DEA indefinitely postponed assigning additional USCINCPAC intelligence analysts; and (6) three of five special field intelligence programs did not meet their operational plans' reporting objectives, partially due to decreased levels of support and an increased focus on enforcement activities rather than information collection and analysis.


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