Federal Drug Office Accused of "Enron-Style Accounting" in New National Drug Budget Reporting 2/22/02

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(The following is a press release from Common Sense for Drug Policy, http://www.csdp.org online.)

The Office of National Drug Control Policy has announced plans to revise reporting of the federal anti-drug budget. An analysis of the new reporting by Common Sense for Drug Policy finds that it will falsely appear to cut the drug budget in half and greatly understate the real cost of law enforcement. CSDP President Kevin B. Zeese charged, "The drug czar realizes that the cost of the drug war is a political liability, especially the expensive military and law enforcement programs. Creative accounting will allow them to hide the expenditures on these costly programs."

CUTTING DRUG WAR COST IN HALF, MAKING DRUG CONTROL BALANCED VIA TRICKSTER ACCOUNTING

The effect of these reporting revisions will be to take some of the enforcement costs 'off the books' and artificially reduce the cost of the drug budget from $19.2 billion to just over $11 billion. "This reporting revision is a transparent attempt to use Enron-style accounting to fool the public into believing the Administration is finally putting more money into treatment and prevention," Zeese added. The changes would make the funding ratio falsely appear to change from its current 70/30 split, with law enforcement and interdiction making up the bulk of the spending, to an apparent though untrue ratio of 53/47.

EXCLUDING COST OF INCARCERATION, MINIMIZING DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, EXAGGERATING TREATMENT SPENDING

ONDCP will greatly reduce the reported expenditures on the law enforcement side while actually spending record amounts on enforcement. The Department of Justice will cut its drug budget by $5 billion by not counting the cost of prosecution and incarceration of drug offenders -- $3 billion will come from the cost of incarceration. "ONDCP's drug strategy emphasizes arrest and incarceration, yet incredibly they are not planning on counting the cost of prosecution, judging and incarceration in the drug budget -- strangely claiming it is not a cost of the drug war. They have a responsibility to report on the massive economic and social cost of incarceration, rather than hiding those costs," Zeese said. The new budget also underreports spending by the Department Defense in several ways, including not counting the cost of military personnel. "With DoD the lead agency for interdiction and with troops on the ground in the Colombian drug war, it is dishonest to say military personnel fighting the drug war are not a cost of the drug war."

ONDCP plans to include the cost of alcohol treatment as part of their drug budget, yielding an apparent increase of over $500 million in treatment funding. Alcohol is not within the jurisdiction of ONDCP. Thus, including alcohol treatment services will greatly -- and falsely -- overstate federal drug treatment spending. "Real increases in treatment are needed, not misreporting of alcohol treatment dollars as drug treatment dollars to make it look like an increase in treatment spending," claimed Zeese.

FIGURING OUT HOW MUCH IS REALLY SPENT ON TREATMENT

ONDCP has promised to review the spending estimates reported by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Dept. of Education and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Dept. of Health and Human Services. The Rand Corp., in a report for the Drug Czar's office, estimated that in 1998 these three federal agencies overstated their actual spending on treatment and prevention by $1 billion. While this review is much-needed, the actions taken by the drug czar so far will exacerbate the problems by artificially increasing reported treatment spending.

(Visit http://www.csdp.org to read this new Common Sense for Drug Policy report online.)

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Issue #225, 2/22/02 Editorial: Costs and Consequences | Lies, Damn Lies, and "The Economic Costs of Drug Abuse in the United States, 1992-1998" | New Mexico Post-Mortem: Reformers Differ on What Went Right, What Went Wrong | Britain: Parliamentary Committee Will Recommend Cannabis Decrim, Ecstasy Down-Scheduling, More Heroin Prescriptions | Dutch to Consider Prescription Heroin for Hard Cases, Study Results Lay Groundwork for Move | New Study Provides First Comprehensive Report on Drug Laws in All 50 States and DC, Variations Abound | At the Statehouse: Medical Marijuana Moving in Maryland and Vermont | Libertarian Party Ad Campaign Takes on Drug Terror Link | Federal Drug Office Accused of "Enron-Style Accounting" in New National Drug Budget Reporting | News Links: Bolivia and Colombia, California Medical Marijuana, Drug-Terror Ad Parody | Alerts: HEA, Bolivia, DEA Hemp Ban, SuperBowl Ad, Ecstasy Legislation, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana, Virginia | The Reformer's Calendar

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