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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reauthorizing the Office of National Drug Control Policy: Issues for Consideration

Kristin M. Finklea
Analyst in Domestic Security

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has the responsibility for creating policies, priorities, and objectives for the federal Drug Control Program. This national program is aimed at reducing the use, manufacturing, and trafficking of illicit drugs and the reduction of drug-related crime and violence and of drug-related health consequences. The Director of ONDCP has primary responsibilities of (1) developing a comprehensive National Drug Control Strategy (Strategy) to direct the nation’s anti-drug efforts; (2) developing a National Drug Control Budget (Budget) to implement the National Drug Control Strategy, including determining the adequacy of the drug control budgets submitted by contributing Drug Control Program agencies; and (3) evaluating the effectiveness of the National Drug Control Strategy implementation by the various agencies contributing to the Drug Control Program. Authorization for ONDCP expired at the end of FY2010, but it has continued to receive appropriations. Congress, while continuously charged with ONDCP’s oversight, is now faced with its possible reauthorization.

In May 2009, Director R. Gil Kerlikowske called for an end to use of the term “war on drugs.” This is in part because while drug use was previously considered a law enforcement or criminal justice problem, it has transitioned to being viewed more as a public health problem. Indeed, the Obama Administration has indicated that a comprehensive strategy should include a range of prevention, treatment, and law enforcement elements. The 2010 National Drug Control Strategy outlines seven specific objectives—ranging from reducing the prevalence of youth engaged in illegal drug use to reducing the number of drug-related deaths—aimed at reducing both illicit drug use and its consequences.

In creating the National Drug Control Strategy, ONDCP consults with the various federal Drug Control Program agencies. ONDCP then reviews their respective drug budgets and incorporates them into the National Drug Control Budget, which is submitted to Congress as part of the annual appropriations process. In the FY2011 Budget, there are five priorities for which resources are requested across agencies: substance abuse prevention and substance abuse treatment (both of which are considered demand-reduction areas), and drug interdiction, domestic law enforcement, and international partnerships (the three of which are considered supply-reduction areas). The FY2011 request proposes to use 64.0% of the funds ($9.952 billion) for supply-side functions and 36.0% of the funds ($5.600 billion) for demand-side functions. There is currently a continuing resolution (P.L. 111-290) funding federal drug control activities at the FY2010 enacted level of almost $15.032 billion.

In considering ONDCP’s reauthorization, there are several issues that policymakers may deliberate. Congress may consider whether to authorize specific supply-reduction or demandreduction programs. Congress may also exercise oversight regarding ONDCP’s implementation of evidenced-based activities. Another issue up for debate is whether the Budget captures the full scope of the nation’s anti-drug activities. Further, ONDCP is creating a new Performance Reporting System (PRS) to evaluate annual progress toward each of the Drug Control Program’s strategic goals. Congress may exercise oversight regarding the new PRS.

Date of Report: December 10, 2010
Number of Pages: 14
Order Number: R41535
Price: $29.95

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