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Thursday, March 4th, 2021

GAO report finds redundancies in overseas DOD, State Department security initiatives

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently conducted a report surveying the overseas inventory of Department of Defense (DOD) security cooperation, along with various State Department assistance efforts in order to determine if any redundancies exist.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks the DOD and State Department have both engaged in various initiatives to bolster the capacity of foreign partners to address security-related threats. According to a recent report conducted by the RAND Corporation, however, the increased growth of legal authorities and efforts with security cooperation has led to security redundancies, limitations and gaps.

The RAND report also stated that the rapid security growth has led to expanding demands on DOD staff who must navigate through the various legal processes, resources and programs to executive individual initiatives with partner governments.

GAO identified 194 DOD and State Department security assistance efforts used to build foreign partner capacity. In total, the agency found that DOD had 56 initiatives which the listed associated authorities do not require any State Department involvement and 87 initiatives for which at least one of the listed associated authorities requires some level of State Department involvement.

The report also found 22 State Department efforts that do not require DOD involvement and 30 efforts that do require at least some DOD involvement.

While the GAO made no recommendations in its report, the DOD disagreed with some of GAO’s methods and conclusions, stating an inconsistent application of definitions. GAO noted that it stood by its methodology and findings, while the State Department only provided technical comments, which GAO incorporated as appropriate.