Despite congressional demands for transparency, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has a murky budget that understates its emphasis on popular law enforcement efforts over treatment and prevention programs, say budget and drug policy experts quoted by the Washington Post. The White House has requested $14.1 billion for drug control efforts in fiscal 2009, a 3.4 percent increase. Nearly two-thirds would go to law enforcement, interdiction efforts, and programs to destroy drug crops abroad. Just over a third, or $4.9 billion, would fund treatment and prevention.
In 2002, the administration narrowed the way it counts federal anti-drug spending, which is scattered across programs in about two dozen agencies. As a result, billions of dollars spent by several agencies moved off of the drug control office’s books. “The way the budget had been compiled for years was designed to make the drug control budget look as big as it possibly could,” said Tom Riley, a drug office spokesman. “This was to really say, ‘Let’s make the budget more about the things we actually manage and the things that we actually do focus on.’ ” Experts say lawmakers and the public need a more complete accounting to assess federal anti-drug efforts. John Carnevale, a former Clinton administration drug control office budget director, found that since fiscal 2002 federal spending on “supply side” efforts — interdiction, law enforcement and overseas activities — has grown 57 percent. Spending on treatment and prevention grew 2.7 percent. Research has found that prevention and treatment do more to reduce drug consumption and drug-related crime, said economist Rosalie Pacula of Rand Corp.’s Drug Policy Research Center.