U.S. Government

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The following articles appear in this section:

Agencies in Drug Law Enforcement and Supply Control ;
Agencies Supporting Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment ;
Agencies Supporting Substance Abuse Research ;
Drug Policy Offices in the Executive Office of the President ;
The Organization of U.S. Drug Policy

Agencies in Drug Law Enforcement and Supply Control

So many agencies are involved in drug law-enforcement and supply-control activities that none are discussed here in detail. Except for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the order in which these descriptions appear is not necessarily related to the importance of an agency's role in the overall supply-control effort: Their functions frequently fit together like parts of an intricate puzzle.

The DEA was created in 1973 as a result of a reorganization that merged the activities and personnel from four federal drug law-enforcement programs into one agency within the Department of Justice (DOJ). John Bartels, Jr., was the first director. The offices and programs merged into DEA were the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), the Office for Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE), the Office for National Narcotic Intelligence, and U.S. Customs Service activities primarily directed to drug law enforcement. Since that time, DEA has been the lead federal agency for enforcement of drug laws.

DEA operates domestically and in foreign countries with the agreement of the government in each country. Its legal authority stems primarily from the Controlled Substances Act and other laws directed at control of essential chemicals and precursors. DEA's efforts are directed against illicit drug production and high level drug-smuggling and drug-trafficking organizations operating within the United States or abroad. This agency is responsible for working with foreign governments to identify and disrupt the cultivation, processing, smuggling, and distribution of illicit substances, and the diversion of legally manufactured pharmaceuticals to illicit traffic in the United States. It maintains formal relationships with INTERPOL and the United Nations and works with them on international narcotics-control programs. The U.S. Department of State also has major responsibilities in working with foreign governments in this aspect of drug-traffic control. In carrying out these activities, DEA works closely with the state department, the Coast Guard, the Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Customs Service, and also with state and local law-enforcement agencies.

One of DEA's major domestic responsibilities is the enforcement of regulations concerning importation, manufacture, storage, and dispensing of all drugs scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act. Related to this function is the oversight, authorized by the Drug Treatment Act of 1974, of drug treatment programs using such drugs as LAAM or Methadone (in Methadone Maintenance). DEA employs approximately 400 administration compliance officers to enforce regulations dealing with production and distribution of Prescription Drugs and supports a training program for narcotics officers at state and local levels. Virtually all state legislatures have passed a version of a prototype law, the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, which places legal Controls on drugs at the state level similar to those at the federal level and establishes penalties under state law for violation of those laws. The Uniform Controlled Substances Act promotes uniformity in the way drugs are regulated, but individual states may schedule drugs not included in federal schedules and may place any drug at a different level of scheduling.

Because of similar laws at the federal and state levels, and overlapping responsibilities among federal agencies, several law-enforcement agencies may have jurisdiction with respect to any single drug offense or group of offenders. The decision about which of the cooperating agencies takes the lead and under which law a case will be tried depends on mutual assessment among enforcement agencies and prosecutors of their capabilities and procedures, and of which jurisdiction is most likely to obtain a conviction, since rules of evidence and procedures differ between federal and local courts. Generally, federal agencies will focus on high level drug traffickers and networks. Local police are empowered only to enforce state and local drug laws and are not permitted to arrest people for breaking a federal drug law. Federal agents may not enforce state and local drug laws unless specifically authorized to do so. The DEA also has enforcement responsibilities under the Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act of 1988. This law was designed to control the availability of chemicals and precursors used by clandestine laboratories to produce Designer Drugs or to further process plant products such as Coca leaf into pure Cocaine. Since at least thirty-seven states have passed similar laws, this is another area where federal and local enforcement agencies may have concurrent jurisdiction.

Other major responsibilities of DEA include investigation of major drug traffickers operating at interstate and international levels; personnel training; scientific research related to control or prevention of illicit trafficking; management of a narcotics intelligence system; seizure and forfeiture of assets derived from or traceable to illicit drug trafficking.

Forfeiture is the loss of ownership of property used in connection with drug-related criminal activity or property derived from its income. Such forfeiture was authorized in the Comprehensive Drug Prevention Control Act of 1970 and the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Statute also passed in 1970. In 1990, DEA seized assets valued at more than one billion dollars, although not all of this property was ultimately forfeited. Forfeited property is usually sold at public auction and the proceeds are used for government activities and shared with cooperating state governments. States have used these funds for drug treatment and education programs as well as for drug law enforcement. Some goes into a special forfeiture fund within the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which in turn transfers it to other federal agencies. For example, significant amounts were transferred to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) to support treatment programs for pregnant addicts.

In addition to DEA, several other organizations within the DOJ and other Cabinet departments have responsibility in areas concerning drug laws and related matters. The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) in the DOJ, established by the Justice Assistance Act of 1984, contains several bureaus involved with these issues. Three having significant roles at the present time are the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The BJA provides technical and financial assistance to state and local government for controlling drug trafficking and violent crime. Under the terms of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, states may apply for grants to assist them in enforcing local and state laws against offenses comparable to those included in the Controlled Substances Act. Part of the application for these "formula grant" funds requires devising a statewide anti-drug and-violent crime strategy. The BJS collects, analyzes, and disseminates information on crime, its victims, and its perpetrators. Its 1992 report, Drugs, Crime, and the Justice System, the source for much of the material in this article, may be the best written and most comprehensive summary on the topic ever produced by the federal government. BJS also manages the Drugs and Crime Data Center and Clearing-house (tel. 1-800-666-3332), which gathers and evaluates existing data on drugs and the justice system. The NIJ is the major research and development entity within the DOJ. Among its other activities, NIJ evaluates the effectiveness of programs supported by BJA, such as community anti-drug initiatives, and Shock Incarceration and Boot-Camp Prisons.

Other drug law-enforcement entities within the DOJ include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the U.S. Attorneys, who are the chief federal law-enforcement officers in their districts and are responsible for prosecuting cases in federal court; the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS); and the U.S. Marshals Service, which manages the Asset Forfeiture Fund. The FBI became more prominently involved in antidrug activities when its resources were significantly expanded in 1982 under President Ronald W. Reagan's reinvigoration of the "war on drugs." At that time it was given concurrent jurisdiction with DEA to investigate drug offenses, with the FBI concentrating primarily on drug trafficking by organized crime, electronic surveillance techniques, and drug-related financial activities such as investigations of international Money Laundering.

Treasury Department agencies that play a role in controlling illicit drugs include the U.S. Customs Service, which stops and seizes illegal drugs as well as other contraband being smuggled into the United States; The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF), which investigates violations of laws dealing with weapons, particularly federal drug offenses invoking weapons; and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which assists in financial investigations, particularly money laundering.

Two agencies in the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Coast Guard, are significantly involved in drug-control activities. The FAA uses its radar systems to assist in detecting smuggling by air; the Coast Guard is involved in interdiction of drugs being smuggled into the U.S. by water.

The Postal Inspection Service of the U.S. Postal Service is also involved in the antidrug effort. This agency enforces laws against using the mail to transport drug paraphernalia and illegal drugs.

The Department of State's role in international drug policy is to coordinate drug-control efforts with foreign governments. Within State, the Bureau of International Narcotics Matters (INM) is responsible for international antidrug policy. This bureau provides technical assistance, money, and equipment to foreign governments for local law enforcement, transportation of personnel, and equipment for crop eradication. It also monitors worldwide drug production. Each U.S. Embassy abroad has a designated narcotics coordinator. In countries where there is considerable drug-related activity, there may be an entire narcotics-assistance section at the embassy. The state department also helps selected foreign governments with demand-reduction activities. Helping countries adversely affected economically by drug Crop Control and eradication is a responsibility of the Agency for International Development. The U.S. Information Agency provides information about drug policy and relevant laws to U.S. officials serving in foreign countries.

The Department of Defense (DOD) is involved in detecting and monitoring aircraft and ships that might be involved in smuggling drugs into the United States. Until the 1980s, the military was prohibited from exercising police power over U.S. civilians by the Possae Comitatus Act of 1876. Changes in the act allow the military to share resources with civilian law-enforcement agencies, although military personnel are still not permitted to arrest civilians. The National Guard also assists federal agencies in border surveillance and in marijuana eradication.

Eleven agencies are involved in the Intelligence Center at El Paso, Texas (EPIC), operated by the DEA. EPIC is designed to target, track, and interdict drugs, aliens, and weapons moving across U.S. borders. The participating agencies, in addition to the DEA, are the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS); the Customs Service; the U.S. Marshals Service; the U.S. Coast Guard; the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); the Secret Service; the Department of State Diplomatic Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF); and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). There is also a Counternarcotics Center developed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that coordinates international intelligence on narcotics trafficking. This effort involves personnel from the National Security Agency (NSA), the Customs Service, the DEA, and the Coast Guard.

(See also: Crime and Drugs ; Drug Interdiction ; International Drug Supply Systems ; Terrorism and Drugs )


Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Program, U.S. Department of Justice. (1992). Drugs, crime, and the justice system. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Drug Abuse Policy Office, Office of Policy Development, The White House. (1984). National strategy for prevention of drug abuse and drug trafficking. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Executive Office of the President, The White House. (1995). National drug control strategy. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Office of the Federal Register, National Archives AND Records Administration. (1993). United States government manual 1993/1994. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Jerome H. Jaffe

Agencies Supporting Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment

Within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), originally established in 1953 as the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (DHEW), a number of Public Health Service (PHS) agencies have been involved in reducing drug abuse. From 1974 to 1992, many demand-reduction activities have related to increasing, through research, the scientific foundations for a better understanding of how drugs of abuse interact with individuals, so as to prevent drug abuse and effectively treat those who do abuse drugs. Included among these agencies are the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), both components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), components of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In addition, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), another NIH component, play a role in the department's anti-drug abuse mission. Although not all inclusive, the chart below shows the organizational hierarchy of these agencies within the department.

From its creation in 1974 by statute, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has conducted Research on drugs of abuse and their effects on individuals. In its early days, NIDA supported Prevention and Treatment programs and conducted clinical training programs for professional health-care workers (particularly in schools of medicine, nursing, and social work) and counselor and other paraprofessional training. With the advent of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Mental Health Services block grant, enacted into statute in 1981, the direct provision of treatment and prevention services became a state responsibility. Enactment of the block grant that is currently administered within SAMHSA served to refocus NIDA's role on the generation of knowledge through scientific research, so that more could be learned about strategies and programs to help prevent and treat drug abuse.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) conducts research on alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Because a comprehensive approach to prevention and treatment of drug abuse requires attention to alcohol as well as to illicit drugs, and because individuals who abuse illicit drugs often abuse alcohol as well, the research programs of NIDA and NIAAA are symbiotic. Furthermore, the genetic, environmental, and social influences important to the initiation of drug and alcohol use are similar, and research in one area suggests researchable hypotheses in the other.

The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), established in 1986 as the Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (OSAP), has led the nation's efforts to prevent alcohol and other drug use, with a special emphasis on youth and Families at particularly high risk for drug abuse. Youth considered to be at high risk include school Dropouts, economically disadvantaged youth, or children of parents who abuse drugs or alcohol or who are at high risk of becoming drug or alcohol abusers. CSAP administers a variety of programs, including Prevention demonstration grants targeting youth at high risk and projects for pregnant and postpartum women and their infants.

The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), formerly the Office of Treatment Improvement (OTI), was established administratively in 1990 with a focus on improving treatment services and expanding the capacity for delilvering treatment services. In addition to administering the Alcohol and Drug Abuse block grant, CSAT administers a number of demonstration grant programs such as the Target Cities, Critical Populations, and Criminal Justice treatment programs.

Drug and alcohol abuse are complex behaviors that often result in a multitude of adverse consequences. Thus, to understand them necessitates multifaceted, often crosscutting areas of research. Because many individuals who suffer from alcohol or drug abuse also suffer from mental illness, NIAAA and NIDA, as well as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) of the NIH, are engaged in initiatives to learn more about individuals who are dually diagnosed.

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has become a growing health program among intravenous drug users, and an increased risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in those who share drug paraphernalia with other drug users has been clearly demonstrated (Chaisson et al., 1987; Schoenbaum et al., 1989). Accordingly, NIDA collaborates with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on AIDS prevention programs and with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to provide HIV therapeutics to intravenous drug abusers with HIV.

The study of maternal and fetal effects of drug abuse is another high-priority focus within the department. Research and demonstration programs have been undertaken by NIDA and CSAP, and the NICHD is also conducting studies in this area.

Recent research has shown that the most effective treatment for drug abusers is a comprehensive array of services that address not only their drug-abuse problems but also other health problems and their potential need for education and vocational rehabilitation, as well as a host of ancillary services. Accordingly, NIDA, the centers within SAMHSA, and HRSA are exploring the effectiveness of providing a comprehensive range of drug-abuse and other primary-care services, both in drug-abuse settings and primary-care settings.

Besides the DHHS, there are many other agencies involved in prevention and treatment efforts. For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), plays a determining role in deciding when new pharmacological treatment agents can be marketed for clinical use, and it is one of the key agencies setting policies and standards for the use of Opioid drugs in the treatment of opioid dependence. Both the Department of Education and the Department of Justice (through the Drug Enforcement Agency [DEA]) have significant programs aimed at prevention; the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense (U.S. Military) have also made major commitments to treatment.

(See also: Education and Prevention ; Prevention Movement ; Research ; Substance Abuse and HIV/AIDS )


Chaisson, R. E., et al. (1987). Human immunodeficiency virus infection in heterosexual intravenous drug users in San Francisco. American Journal of Public Health, 77 (2), 169-172.

Schoenbaum, E. E., et al. (1989). Risk factors for human immunodeficiency virus infection in intravenous drug users. New England Journal of Medicine, 321 (13), 874-879.

Richard A. Millstein

Agencies Supporting Substance Abuse Research

In the United States, federal support of drug-abuse research began in the 1920s with the work of Lawrence Kolb. It became more formalized with the establishment of the Addiction Research Center in 1935. A small research unit was formed with only fifteen employees in a U.S. Public Health Service Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, by 1944. The Addiction Research Center was designed for federal prisoners who were narcotics addicts. This research group became part of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 1948, the year the institute was established. In 1979, the Addiction Research Center moved to Baltimore, Maryland, and became the in-house (intramural) research program of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which was itself established by Congress in 1974.

In the early 1990s, it was estimated that NIDA funded 88 percent of the drug-abuse research in the world. In 1992, the NIDA budget for the almost 1,000 research grants awarded to universities and other research institutions (i.e., extramural research) totaled 338 million dollars. NIDA's 1992 intramural research budget for the Addiction Research Center was 24 million dollars. The research thus funded includes studies in practically every basic and clinical science, both biomedical and social. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), established in 1970, conducts parallel efforts in the area of alcohol-abuse research. In 1992, its budget for extramural research was 155 million dollars for over 600 research projects. NIAAA's intramural research arm, located in Bethesda, Maryland, had a budget of nearly 20 million dollars.

Both NIDA and NIAAA became part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in October 1992. They had previously been part of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA), which included both research and services components. By separating these two components, the Congress indicated its intention to give proper emphasis to both. Now treatment and prevention services for alcohol and drug abuse are under the direction of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

NIDA and NIAAA are the two largest federal research institutes dedicated to drug abuse and alcohol research, but there are many other agencies that have a stake in these areas. They include other institutes in the National Institutes of Health; for example, the National Institute of Child Health and Development centers its research on the effects of drugs and alcohol on fetal development and on the consequences for the neonate of exposure to drugs and alcohol during pregnancy. The National Institute of Mental Health conducts research on the high coincidence of mental illness and substance-abuse disorders. Some of the other institutes have similarly targeted interests, as, for example, the National Cancer Institute, which played an important role in support of research on tobacco dependence and the adverse health effects of tobacco.

Other parts of the Public Health Service also play a role in substance abuse research. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) use their epidemiological expertise to resolve certain questions about the nature and extent of the abuse of drugs and alcohol. The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research conducts research on the costs associated with medical care and health insurance for drug and alcohol abusers seeking treatment.

Beyond the Public Health Service and the Department of Health and Human Services, many other federal agencies and departments are concerned with and conduct research on the social problems caused by drug and alcohol abuse: the departments of education, labor, transportation, treasury, justice, state, veterans affairs and even defenseeach has a stake in drug-abuse research. The Department of Education is concerned primarily with drug and alcohol prevention; the departments of labor and transportation with workplace performance impaired by drugs and alcohol.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has played an important role in both basic and clinical research. Some of the most important work on the treatment of opioid dependence and on alcoholism and the toxic effects of alcohol have been conducted by researchers based at Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals and funded in part by research funds from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Other federal agencies have a regulatory role in certain types of drug-abuse research. Many of the drugs that are studied in animals and volunteer human subjects are included under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. In order to obtain and store the drugs, researchers must be properly registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The DEA is also responsible for ensuring that the drugs are properly stored and the records of their use are properly kept by the researchers. In addition, researchers who are interested in studying any drug not yet approved for clinical use, or studying an approved drug for a new use (such as using the antihypertensive agent, Clonidine, to control alcohol, tobacco, or opioid withdrawal), must obtain permission obtaining an Investigational New Drug (IND) authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Further, when a new agent seems promising, a sponsor (usually a pharmaceutical company) must submit the data supporting its safety and effectiveness to the FDA before it can be approved for marketing and general use.

Both the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury are concerned with law enforcement issues surrounding drug and alcohol use, and they have funded research on detection of clandestine laboratories and the nature of Designer drugs. The 1994 National Strategy showed that of the entire federal drug-abuse research budget, some 500 million dollars, approximately 67 million was allocated to domestic law-enforcement research.

The Department of State and the Department of Defense are involved in matters relating to international narcotics control. The U.S. Information Agency (USIA) and the Agency for International Development sponsor small drug-abuse research programs, mostly epidemiological in nature, in various countries. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) was given the mandate by Congress in 1988 to coordinate the federal antidrug-abuse effort. It does this through its budgetary oversight and through the Research, Data, and Evaluation Committee. The ONDCP for several years has had a Science and Technology subcommittee, which oversees the Counter-Drug Technology Assessment Center (CTAC). CTAC is involved in both medical research and supply-related counter-drug technology development. The latter includes activities such as the use of satellites for wide area surveillance, non-intrusive inspections, and development of information systems to permit sharing of data among criminal justice data bases. All of these policy-related organizations rely on facts based on the biomedical, epidemiological, and behavioral research funded by NIDA, NIAAA, and NIMH.

(See also: Addiction Research Unit (U.K.) ; Education and Prevention ; Prevention Movement ; Wikler's Pharmacologic Theory of Drug Addiction )


Executive Office of the President. (1994). National Drug Control Strategy. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Gordis, E. (1988). Milestones. Alcohol Health and Research World, 12 (4), 236-239.

H ISTORY OF NIDA. (1991). NIDA Notes, 5 (5), 2-4.

Christine R. Hartel

Drug Policy Offices in the Executive Office of the President

The Executive Office of the President (EOP) is an administrative group of key advisors and agencies supporting the president and the White House staff. Changes to the organization and functions of the EOP reflect the priorities and interests of each president. The organization of the EOP can be modified by executive order, by reorganization plan (when authorized), or by legislation.

Since 1970, several drug-policy activities have been established in the EOP. The list includes three separate EOP agencies, authorized and funded by statute, and three drug-policy offices, authorized by the president and located within a larger EOP agency. The drug-policy offices are listed immediately below, followed by a general description of each's activity.

Separate Agencies.

Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention (SAODAP), 1971-1975. Office of Drug Abuse Policy (ODAP), 1977-1978. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), 1989-present.


Federal Drug Management (Office of Management & Budget), 1973-1977. Drug Policy Office (Domestic Policy Staff), 1978-1980. Drug Abuse Policy Office (Office of Policy Development), 1981-1989.


A separate agency in the EOP from 1971 to 1975, SAODAP was responsible for providing leadership and coordination of all federal drug-abuse prevention activities (demand related) and to coordinate the demand-related activities with the supply-related efforts of law enforcement agencies.


Jerome H. Jaffe, 1971-1973 (also Consultant to the President for Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs) Robert L. Dupont 1973-1975.

Authorization and Role.

Established by President Richard M. Nixon (E. O. 11599, June 17, 1971). Legislative authorization: Public Law 92-255, March 21, 1972; the "Drug Abuse Office and Treatment Act of 1972." The director reported to the president, working through the Domestic Council and the White House staff. SAODAP had a staff of over 100 and an annual budget of approximately $50 million. About 50 percent of the budget was in a "Special Fund for Drug Abuse" to be transferred to other federal agencies as an incentive to develop more effective prevention programs.

SAODAP provided oversight of all categories of "Demand Reduction" functions and made recommendations to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on funding for drug-abuse programs. SAODAP published three federal strategies under the auspices of the relatively inactive Strategy Council on Drug Abuse.

When the authorizing statute expired on June 30, 1975, SAODAP's treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention functions were moved from the EOP to the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.


Opened in 1973 as a unique office within OMB, Federal Drug Management (FDM) was designed to manage federal activities directed at illegal drugs during a time of rapid expansion and major reorganization. FDM continued in operation until early 1977.

FDM Chiefs.

Walter C. Minnick, 1973-1974 Edward E. Johnson, 1974-1977.

Authorization and Role.

Established by OMB memorandum, the authority of the staff office and the budget for operating expenses were derived from OMB. Initially, FDM was responsible for coordinating the implementation of drug policy, resolving interagency disputes, assisting drug agencies with reorganization and management, and working closely with other inter-agency drug-coordinating structures. In August 1974, FDM's budget and management responsibilities reverted to the normal OMB divisions and FDM continued to provide Executive Office oversight of the domestic and international drug abuse programs, interdepartmental coordination, and staff support to the cabinet councils on drug abuse.

Located in the Old Executive Office Building, FDM's five-person staff functioned with little public visibility. Working with other OMB staff, FDM guided the implementation of Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1973, including union negotiations. FDM continued through the Ford Administration, providing staff assistance and policy advice to OMB, the Domestic Council, and the National Security Council. FDM was eliminated in early 1977 during the transition to the Carter Administration.


In March 1976, Congress authorized the Office of Drug Abuse Policy, located in the EOP and intended to be the successor agency to SAODAP. President Gerald R. Ford did not activate the new agency, choosing instead to continue with the existing FDM staff. President Jimmy Carter opened ODAP in March of 1977 and abolished it one year later. The director's office was located in the West Wing of the White House and the staff offices were in the Old Executive Office Building.


Dr. Peter G. Bourne, 1977-1978 (also Special Assistant to the President for Health Issues).

Authorization and Role.

Congress established ODAP in Public Law 94-237 and provided an annual budget of $1.2 million. The director was the principal advisor to the president on policies, objectives, and priorities for federal drug-abuse functions. The director coordinated the performance of drug-abuse functions by federal departments and agencies.

ODAP, with a staff of approximately fifteen, conducted a comprehensive set of drug-policy reviews using interagency study teams. The director and staff sought a close cooperative relationship with Congress and testified when requested before various congressional committes. The director was required to prepare an annual report on the activities of ODAP and to oversee the preparation of a drug-abuse strategy.

In mid-1977, the President's Reorganization Project prepared a reorganization of the EOP that included abolishing ODAP. Congress objected to the loss of ODAP. After spirited congressional hearings emphasizing the continuing need for executive coordination of the drug program, ODAP was abolished in March 1978 and its responsibilities transferred to the Domestic Policy Staff.

Bibliography of Associated Major Policy Publications (ODAP) :

U.S. Executive Office of the President. Office of Drug Abuse Policy. Border Management and InterdictionAn Interagency Review, September 1977.

U.S. Executive Office of the President. Office of Drug Abuse Policy. Supply Control: Drug Law EnforcementAn Interagency Review, December 1977.

U.S. Executive Office of the President. Office of Drug Abuse Policy. International Narcotics Control Policy, March 1978.

U.S. Executive Office of the President. Office of Drug Abuse Policy. Narcotics Intelligence (Classified), 1978.

U.S. Executive Office of the President. Office of Drug Abuse Policy. Drug Use Patterns, Consequences and the Federal Response: A Policy Review, March 1978.

U.S. Executive Office of the President. Office of Drug Abuse Policy. Drug Abuse Assessment in the Department of Defense: A Policy Review, November 1977.

U.S. Executive Office of the President. Office of Drug Abuse Policy. 1978 Annual Report. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1978.


The Drug Policy Office (DPO) opened March 26, 1978, as an integral part of the White House Domestic Policy Staff. Six people were transferred from ODAP, and the DPO provided direction and oversight of federal drug-program activities through 1980.


Lee I. Dogoloff, 1978-1980 (Associate Director for Drug Policy in the Domestic Policy Staff).

Authorization and Role.

Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1977 transferred the ODAP responsibilities to the Domestic Policy Staff in the EOP. President Carter signed Executive Order No. 12133 on May 9, 1979, formally designating the associate director for Drug Policy in the Domestic Policy Staff as

Primarily responsible for assisting the President in the performance of all those functions transferred from the Office of Drug Abuse Policy and its Director in formulating policy for and in coordinating and overseeing, international as well as domestic drug abuse functions by all Executive Agencies.

DPO continued to report to Dr. Bourne as special assistant to the president for health issues. On numerous occasions, the associate director testified before Congress on drug-policy matters.

DPO published a 1979 federal strategy under the auspices of the Strategy Council on Drug Abuse, an annual report in 1980, and an annual budget crosscut of all drug-abuse prevention and control activities. Both the Domestic Policy Staff and DPO were eliminated during the transition to the Reagan Administration.


Similar in organization and responsibilities to the preceding DPO, the Drug Abuse Policy Office (DAPO) was the principal EOP drug-abuse staff during the eight years of President Ronald W. Reagan's administration. In 1981, DAPO was established within the White House Office of Policy Development.


Carlton E. Turner, 1981-1986 (also Special Assistant to the President; promoted in March 1985 to Deputy assistant to the President).

Dr. Donald Ian MacDonald, 1987-1989, (Special Assistant to the President; promoted in August 1988 to Deputy Assistant to the President).

Authorization and Role.

The statutory basis for the office (21 USC 1111 & 1112) required the president to establish a system to assist with drug abuse policy functions and to designate a single officer to direct the drug functions. Presidential Executive Order 12368, signed on June 24, 1982, assigned the Office of Policy Development (OPD) to assist the president with drug-abuse policy functions, including international and domestic drug-abuse functions by all executive agencies. The director of ODAP was responsible for advising the president on drug-abuse matters and assisting Nancy D. Reagan and her staff in developing the First Lady's drug-abuse prevention program.

The director and staff developed policies regarding all aspects of drug abuse, including drug law enforcement, international control, and health-related prevention and treatment activities for both government and the private sector. DAPO coordinated the development and publication of 1982 and 1984 drug-abuse strategies.

In October 1984, Public Law 98-473, which created the National Drug Enforcement Policy Board to oversee drug law enforcement, also included a new statutory duty for DAPO; "to insure coordination between the National Drug Enforcement Policy Board and the health issues associated with drug abuse."

In March 1987, Executive Order 12590 established a National Drug Policy Board (NDPB) to assist the president in formulating all drug-abuse policy, replacing the director of DAPO in that role. The new executive order made the director a member of the NDPB and assigned DAPO to assist both the president and the NDPB in the performance of drug-policy functions. The DAPO director assisted in developing the health-related aspects of the national drug strategy published in the board's 1988 report Toward a Drug-Free AmericaThe National Drug Strategy and Implementation Plans.

DAPO was terminated early in the administration of President George H. Bush by Public Law 100-690, which created the Office of National Drug Control Policy.


In January 1989, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) was established as an agency in the EOP to oversee all national drug-control functions and to advise the president on drug-control matters. Functioning as the so-called drug czar, the director of ONDCP had the broadest combination of staff, funding, and authority of any previous EOP drug agency or office.


William J. Bennett, 1989-1990. Bob Martinez, 1991-1992. Lee P. Brown 1993-1996. General Barry R. McCaffrey 1996-present.

Authorization and Role.

Established by Public Law 100-690 (21 USC 1504) with a five-year authorization, ONDCP had a staff of approximately 130 and a Fiscal Year 1993 budget of $59 million for salaries, expenses, and support for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas. The fiscal year 1994 budget request reduced the ONDCP staff to 25 positions. In 1996, with the appointment of retired Army General Barry R. McCaffrey, President Clinton planned to increase the ONDCP staff to 150 positions. The director controls a Special Forfeiture Fund with over $75 million appropriated in Fiscal Year 1993 to provide added funding for high-priority drug-control programs.

ONDCP was responsible for national drug control policies, objectives and priorities, and annual strategy, and a consolidated budget. ONDCP was also required to make recommendations to the president regarding changes in the organization, management, personnel, and budgets of the federal departments and agencies engaged in the antidrug effort.

ONDCP was required to promulgate an annual national drug control strategy and to coordinate and oversee the implementation of the strategy. The director had to consult with and assist state and local governments regarding drug-control matters.

More recently, the ONDCP has set its agenda, at least in part, toward international drug control policies. The current director, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, has expended significant effort working with the Mexican government to thwart drug trafficking in Mexico. According to an article in Insight on the News, 70 percent of all the cocaine that enters the United States comes via Mexico (Dettmer, 1997). Additionally, McCaffrey has pushed the U.S. Congress to approve an anti-drug supplemental package of more than a billion dollars to help aid the Colombian government in its drug interdiction efforts. According to McCaffrey, as quoted in a Press Release from the ONDCP, "Now ninety percent of the cocain on our streets and two-thirds of the heroin seized in the U.S. originates in or passes through Colombia." That package was passed by the House of Representatives in March, 2000. (ONDCP, Press Release, 2000).

(See also: Anslinger, Harry J., and U.S. Drug Policy )


Bonafede, D. (1971). White House Report/Nixon's offensive on drugs treads on array of special interests. National Journal, 3 (27), 1417-1423.

Dettmer, J.&Linebaugh, S. (1997). McCaffrey's no-win war on drugs. Insight on the News, 13, no. 7, 8-12.

Ageneral focuses on community leaders in the drug war. (1996). The Addiction Letter, 4, no. 4, 4-5.

Havemann, J. (1973). White House Report/Drug agency reorganization establishes unusual management group. National Journal, 5 (18), 653-659.

Hogan, H. (1989). Drug control at the federal level: Coordination and direction. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, the Library of Congress. Report 87-780 GOV.

Office of National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office of the President. Press Release: McCaffrey Commneds House on Passage of Colmbia/Andrean Drug Emergency Assistance Package, Urges Senate to Act Swiftly. Washington, D.C.: March, 2000.

Office of National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office of the President. Statement of Director Barry R McCaffrey Announcment of Emergency and Increased Funding Proposal for Colombia and the Andean Region. Washington, D.C.: January, 2000.

U.S. Congress, House, Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control. (1978). Congressional resource guide to the federal effort on narcotics abuse and control, 1969-76, Part 1. A Report of the Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control. 95th Congress, 2nd sess. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Office of the Federal Register. The United StatesGovernment Manual. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Richard L. Williams

Revised by Chris Lopez

The Organization of U.S. Drug Policy

Reducing drug abuse has been a priority for the U.S. government since the late 1960s, with continuing expansion of management attention and federal budgets. In 1969, eight agencies and four cabinet departments received drug-program funding; in 1975, seventeen agencies in seven cabinet departments were included; the federal drug control program for 1993 involves forty-five agencies and twelve cabinet departments. In 1969, the total budtet for federal drug-abuse programs was $81 million; for 2000, the budget was approximately $17.8 billion.


Drug-policy issues are complex. The organization for drug-policy development must be able to handle the complexity of the drug problem and of the government's response.

Illegal drugs come from both international and domestic sources; they include a wide variety of substances; they involve many different forms of transportation, geographical areas, criminal activities, use patterns, and social effects. All these elements are dynamicconstantly adjusting to changes in supply and demand. Drug traffickers and continuing users immediately react to drug law enforcement pressures by shifting to areas or techniques that have less risk. Federal managers and policymakers must recognize the complex changes (and the probable causes) and be capable of adjusting the federal effort promptly and effectively.

National leadership, including an accepted strategy and a process to ensure implementation, is essential to real progress in eliminating illegal drugs and their use. The president must have congressional cooperation in authorizing and funding the strategy. The cabinet departments and agencies must be willing participants, with an effective procedure for resolving interdepartmental differences of opinion.

The complex drug issue, however, does not fit the usual organization of the federal government: There is no cabinet department with line authority over all drug-program resources; and only a few federal agencies are organized around a single drug-related function (e.g., the Drug Enforcement Agency and the National Institute on Drug Abuse). Most of the drug control agencies and all the departments have various other important roles, so they must balance their drug and nondrug responsibilities.

Every step in the policy-determination and implementation process is complex and subject to bureaucratic, political, and technical differences of opinion. Two of the most difficult aspects of the drug problem are (1) seeking agreement on the extent and nature of the problem, and (2) attempting to assess the impact of the federal effort on the ever changing situation.

During the past two decades, the federal organization for determining drug policy and implementing drug programs has expanded to involve a significant portion of the federal government. The following list of cabinet departments and agencies that execute drug policy reflects the breadth of implementation activities.


The 1992 National Drug Control Strategy lists over forty-five agencies and several activities in twelve cabinet departments involved in drug-control efforts:


Agency for International Development

Department of Agriculture
Agricultural Research Service
U.S. Forest Service

Central Intelligence Agency

Department of Defense

Department of Education

Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (includes the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Office for Substance Abuse Prevention and the Office for Treatment Improvement)
Centers for Disease Control
Food and Drug Administration
Health Care Financing Administration
Indian Health Service

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Department of the Interior
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Bureau of Land Management
Fish and Wildlife Service
National Park Service
Office of Territorial and International Affairs

The Judiciary

Department of Justice
Assets Forfeiture Fund
U.S. Attorneys
Bureau of Prisons
Criminal Division
Drug Enforcement Administration
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Immigration and Naturalization Service
INTERPOL/U.S. National Central Bureau
U.S. Marshals Service
Office of Justice Programs
Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces
Support of U.S. Prisoners
Tax Division

Department of Labor

Office of National Drug Control Policy
Counter-Narcotics Technology Assessment Center
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas
Special Forfeiture Fund

Small Business Administration

Department of State
Bureau of International Narcotics Matters
Bureau of Politico/Military Affairs
Diplomatic and Consular Service

Department of Transportation
U.S. Coast Guard
Federal Aviation Administration
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Department of the Treasury
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
U.S. Customs Service
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
Internal Revenue Service
U.S. Secret Service

U.S. Information Agency

Department of Veterans Affairs

Weed and Seed Program


In reviewing historical drug-policy coordinating systems since the late 1960s, each system reflects a complex set of considerations. Two elements seem to differentiate between the various approaches: Either a drug-policy adviser and supporting drug staff is fully integrated into the regular policy processes at the White House, or a high-priority cabinet-level activity or agency is established with its own special policy process but with less participation in White House internal staff activity.

Each president selects his own White House staff and establishes a policy-development process to meet his needs. Therefore, any policy-coordinating mechanism that is closely related to a president must be expected to change with each new administration.

Congress has repeatedly attempted to establish a "drug czar" in the Executive Office of the President (EOP)one person to oversee drug policy and to advise both the president and Congress.


A chronological summary of drug-policy coordinating mechanism is presented here, beginning with 1971first from the perspective of the Executive Branch, then from the perspective of Congress.

Executive Drug Policy 1971-1976.

On the demand side, President Richard M. Nixon created the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention (SAODAP) in the EOP in June 1971to lead and coordinate all federal drug-abuse prevention activities. The first director, Dr. Jerome H. Jaffe, was given the added title of Consultant to the President for Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. SAODAP then monitored the annual budget process and prepared budget analyses of all federal drug-abuse programs, by agency and by activity.

Also in 1971, President Nixon called for "an all out global war on the international drug traffic" (1973 Federal Strategy, p. 112), and his organization for policy reflected the international perspective. International efforts were coordinated by the Cabinet Committee on International Narcotics Control (CCINC), chaired by the secretary of state. Established in August 1971, CCINC was responsible for developing a strategy to stop the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States and to coordinate federal efforts to implement that strategy. Domestic drug-law enforcement had a high priority within the normal cabinet-management system.

In January 1972, President Nixon created the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE) in the Department of Justice and gave the ODALE director, Myles J. Ambrose, the added title of Consultant to the President for Drug Abuse Law Enforcement. The directors of both SAODAP and ODALE had a policyoversight role in advising the president.

The 1972 legislation authorizing SAODAP also created the Strategy Council on Drug Abuse (known as "The Strategy Council") and directed the "development and promulgation of a comprehensive, coordinated, long-term Federal strategy for all drug abuse prevention and drug traffic functions conducted, sponsored, or supported by the Federal government." The cabinet-level strategy council, with the directors of SAODAP and ODALE as co-chairmen, prepared the 1973 Federal Strategy for Prevention of Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking, the first explicit strategy document.

During 1973, the drug program and drug-policy organizations underwent major change. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) established a special management office called Federal Drug Management (FDM), which supported OMB's senior officials, the CCINC, and the White House Domestic Council. Given unusually wide latitude in providing direct management assistance to the drug-related operating agencies, FDM assisted in implementation of President Nixon's Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1973. Also in 1973, Dr. Jaffe was succeeded at SAODAP by Dr. Robert Dupont who in 1975 became the first director of the newly established National Institute on Drug Abuse. FDM also assumed oversight of the demand-related drug activities as SAODAP was phased out of the EOP. Before terminating in mid-1975, SAODAP published the 1974 and 1975 federal strategies, under the auspices of a relatively inactive Strategy Council.

In early 1975, President Gerald R. Ford directed the White House Domestic Council to review the federal drug effort. Vice-President Nelson A. Rockefeller chaired an interagency task force called the Domestic Council Drug Abuse Task Force, with the chief of FDM as study director. The task force, with advice from community organizations, prepared a comprehensive White Paper on Drug Abuse. The 1975 white paper recommended assigning responsibility for overall policy guidance to the Strategy Council on Drug Abuse; creating an EOP Cabinet Committee to coordinate prevention and treatment activities; and continuing a small staff in OMB to assist the Strategy Council and the EOP. In April 1976, President Ford announced two new cabinet committees, the Cabinet Committee on Drug Law Enforcement and the Cabinet Committee on Drug Abuse Prevention "to ensure the coordination of all government resources which bear on the problem of drug abuse" (1976 Strategy, p. 26). The cabinet committee structure, supported by the FDM staff, worked to the satisfaction of President Ford but did not satisfy Congress.

Congress enacted legislation establishing an Office of Drug Abuse Policy (ODAP) in March 1976, seeking a single individual in the EOP who had responsibility for the overall drug program. President Ford did not activate the new agency but continued with the three cabinet committees, supported by the FDM staff.

Executive Drug Policy 1977-1980.

In March 1977, President Jimmy Carter revised the drug-policy structure, activating ODAP and abolishing the three drug-related cabinet committees. Also, he revitalized the strategy council, with the director of ODAP as executive director, to serve as the governmentwide advisory committee for all drug-abuse matters. ODAP worked particularly well with the White House staff, partially because Director Peter Bourne was also special assistant to the president for health issues and had an excellent relationship with President Carter and the White House staff. ODAP aggressively pursued a wide range of policy and coordination activities, including a major review of all federal drug programs.

The President's Reorganization Project reviewed the organization of the Executive Branch and recommended abolishing ODAP in mid-1977. Within the EOP, ODAP was an unusual federal agency, with a strong presence and authority for a single issue, somewhat contrary to the normal EOP structure. Thus, ODAP was a logical target in efforts to streamline the EOP. Congress disagreed strongly with the elimination of ODAP, however. After congressional hearings and negotiations, the Carter Administration compromised by continuing part of the ODAP staff and all the ODAP functions as part of the White House Domestic Policy Staff (DPS).

In March 1978, six members of ODAP's staff were transferred to DPS and became the Drug Policy Office (DPO). DPO continued to perform the ODAP functions, including responding to congressional interests and reporting directly to Peter Bourne. After Bourne departed the White House staff in 1978, the drug staff worked through the director of the DPS. In May 1979, the president affirmed the head of DPO (Lee Dogoloff, the associate director for drug policy)as the individual primarily responsible for the federal government's drug-abuse prevention and control programs. DPO published the 1979 Federal Strategy and a 1980 Annual Report. A major policy-coordinating mechanism was the monthly meetings held by DPO with the heads of the major operating agencies (called the Principals Group). DPO also supported another policy-coordinating mechanism called the National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee, established in April 1978. DPO also initiated efforts to increase military support for drug-interdiction activities. During the transition to the Reagan Administration in early 1981, most of President Carter's DPO staff departed.

Executive Drug Policy 1981-1988.

In 1981, President Ronald W. Reagan's Office of Policy Development (OPD) included a Drug Abuse Policy Office (DAPO) similar in organization and role to the preceding DPO. President Reagan charged DAPO with (1) a full range of policy-development and-coordination activities, (2) international negotiations, and (3) assisting First Lady Nancy Reagan's drug-abuse prevention efforts. In addition to overseeing the efforts of the federal drug agencies, DAPO emphasized the use of all opportunities for the federal government to encourage a wide range of nongovernment antidrug activities. DAPO was directed by Carlton Turner, a pharmacologist, who was succeeded in 1987 by Dr. Donald Ian Macdonald, a pediatrician. DAPO published the 1982 Federal Strategy and, reflecting the broader policy direction, published the first "National" Strategy in 1984.

DAPO continued the coordination meetings with the agency heads (the previous Principals Group, renamed the Oversight Working Group) and assisted in the design and implementation of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System (NNBIS), headed by Vice-President George H. Bush. DPO assisted the Cabinet Council on Legal Policy and the Cabinet Council on Human Resources with drug matters until the cabinet councils were replaced by the Domestic Policy Council in April 1985. The Domestic Policy Council Working Group on Drug Abuse Policy prepared a major presidential drug initiative in 1986, with assistance from DAPO.

During this period, the oversight of drug law enforcement moved away from the White House.

In 1984, Congress had established a federal drug law-enforcement czar to "facilitate coordination of U.S. operations and policy on illegal drug law enforcement." The attorney general was chairman of the new cabinet-level National Drug Enforcement Policy Board (NDEPB) with staff offices in the Department of Justice. DAPO was charged with ensuring "coordination between the NDEPB and the health issues associated with drug abuse," in addition to supporting the president and the White House staff. In January 1987, the NDEPB published the National and International Drug Law Enforcement Strategy, which expanded on the sections of the 1984 National Strategy involving drug law enforcement and international controls. DAPO continued to provide Executive Office oversight of the entire drug program.

In 1987, President Reagan replaced the NDEPB by creating a National Drug Policy Board (NDPB) to coordinate all drug-abuse policy functions. The director of the White House DAPO was a member and assisted the NDPB in developing the health-related drug policy. The NDPB published Towarda Drug-Free AmericaThe National Drug Strategy and Implementation Plans in 1988.

The White House Conference for a Drug Free America was opened in 1987 with DAPO assistance; it was charged with reviewing a wide range of drug programs, policies, and informational activitiesincluding focusing "public attention on the importance of fostering a widespread attitude of intolerance for illegal drugs and their use throughout all segments of our society" (Executive Order No. 12595, Section 1 (c)). The conference, chaired by Lois Haight Herrington, published a final report in 1988 with 107 wide-ranging recommendations, including a "Cabinet-rank position of National Drug Director."

In late 1988, Congress again passed drug czar legislation, authorizing a new agency named the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in the EOP.

Executive Drug Policy 1989-1990s.

ONDCP began operation in the EOP in early 1989, absorbing the NDPB, and terminating the two existing White House drug activities, DAPO and NNBIS. Although never actually a member of the cabinet, the first two cabinet-level directors were given broad responsibilities for developing and guiding a National Drug Control Program, including developing an annual strategy and overseeing its implementation. The first director, William Bennett, had been secretary of education in the Reagan administration; he was succeeded by Bob Martinez, a former governor of Florida. ONDCP had oversight of organization, management, budget, and personnel allocations of all departments and agencies engaged in drugcontrol activities. ONDCP used a complex set of interagency coordinating committees under a Supply Reduction Working Group, a Demand Reduction Working Group, and a Research and Development Committee. The director chaired the NSC's Policy Coordinating Committee for Narcotics which ensured coordination between drug law enforcement and national security activities. The director also provided administrative support to the President's Drug Advisory Council, which in turn assisted ONDCP in supporting national drug-control objectives through private sector initiatives. ONDCP was also required to establish realistic and attainable goals for the following two years and the following ten years and to monitor progress toward the goals. Following the election of President Bill Clinton, Lee Brown, a criminologist and former New York police commissioner, was appointed director of ONDCP and was also given membership in the cabinet. The fourth director, retired Army General Barry R. McCaffrey, was appointed in 1996.


Various legislative committees and subcommittees oversee the drug-control activities of the Executive Branch departments and agencies. In addition to the various standing committees, Congress had special drug-oversight activities, including the Senate Caucus for International Narcotics Control and the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control. Special audits and evaluations by the General Accounting Office and support from the Congressional Research Service also assisted Congress in its oversight role.

The continuing congressional interest in establishing an effective drug-policy oversight mechanism reflected the difficulties of the various committees in attempting to address the drug activities of a single agency within the context of the overall federal effort. The frustration was reflected in the repeated legislative efforts to establish a drug czar in the EOP to oversee federal drug policy and to advise both the president and Congress.

For example, the Senate Committee on Government Operations had a long-term interest in drug-program oversight. Senator Charles H. Percy, responding to the plan to abolish ODAP in 1977, summarized the congressional view. Reiterating the programmatic needs for a single, high-level coordinating body with broad statutory authority over federal drug-abuse policy and its implementation, Senator Percy stated:

My concerns are not limited to the question of whether the Federal drug abuse effort can function effectively under this proposal (to abolish ODAP). Indeed, my greatest opposition is that Congressional participation in the formulation and execution of Federal drug policy will be seriously impaired with the demise of ODAP. Although Congress has jurisdiction over the individual offices and agencies, this authority is meaningless without corresponding jurisdiction over those responsible for coordinating the line agencies' programsthe point where policy differences must be reconciled. [Congressional Record, September 30, 1977; S-16071-16072].

In the House of Representatives, the Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, headed by Representative Charles Rangel, played an important role in Congressional oversight of drug programs and policy. The select committee was formed in July 1976 "to oversee all facets of the Federal narcotics effort and coordinate the response of the seven legislative committees in the House which have jurisdiction over some aspect of the narcotics problem." Without legislative jurisdiction, the select committee was primarily a fact-finding activity to support the seven standing committees in the House of Representatives. The select committee also was a focal point for congressional pressure for a legislatively based federal drug czar. In early 1993, the select committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control was discontinued.


In 1972, Congress passed legislation authorizing the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention, as requested by President Nixon. After SAODAP expired in 1975, Congress authorized a replacement drug-policy agency (ODAP), in early 1976, and was critical of President Ford's decision to not open the new agency.

When President Carter decided to activate ODAP in early 1977, Congress applauded the decision and confirmed the director and deputy director; but ODAP was abolished in early 1978 despite congressional objections, ending their successful relationship with ODAP. The resulting executive/congressional negotiations required the Drug Policy Office of the DPS to carry out the functions previously assigned to ODAP and to allow congressional access to the drug-policy staff.

In late 1979, Congress followed up with legislation requiring the president to establish a drug-abuse policy coordination system and to designate a single officer to direct the activities (21 USC 1111 & 1112). A system was established by President Carter (Executive Order 12133, 1979-Drug Policy Office) and by President Reagan (Executive Order 12368, 1982-Drug Abuse Policy Office).

In late 1982, Congress enacted a strong drug czar, in an Office of National and International Drug Operations and Policy, with a cabinet-level director. The director was granted broad powers to develop, review, implement, and enforce government policy and to direct departments and agencies involved. The explicit power to direct other departments and agencies was seen as too strong and in conflict with the principles of cabinet government. President Reagan did not accept the legislation.

In 1984, the Congress and the administration agreed to establish a cabinet-level NDEPB with a limited charter to coordinate drug law enforcement. The legislation designated the attorney general as chairman and primary adviser to the president and to Congresson both national and international law enforcement.

In 1987, President Reagan signed Executive Order 12590, broadened the charter of the attorney general and the NDEPB to include the entire federal drug program and named the new activity the National Drug Policy Board.

In late 1988, Congress passed new drug czar legislation, creating the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the EOP, with a cabinet-level director and funding provisions for both operating expenses and program activities. President Bush accepted the new agency and appointed a cabinet-level director, but he did not include the first director or his successor in his immediate cabinet.

Thus, Congress achieved the drug czar objectives that it pursued for two decadesa cabinet-level drug-policy manager with broad oversight of policy and budgets, responsible both to Congress and the president.

(See also: Anslinger, Harry J., and U.S. Drug Policy International Drug Supply Systems ; Opioids and Opioid Control, History ; Prevention Movement ; Treatment, History of )


Hogan, H. (1989). Congressional Research Service, the Library of Congress. Drug control at the federal level: Coordination and direction. Report 87-780 GOV.

U.S. Congress, House. Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control. (1978). Congressional resource guide to the federal effort on narcotics abuse and control, 1969-76, Part 1. A Report of the Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control. 95th Congress, 2nd sess. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

U.S. Congress, House. Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control. (1980). Recommendation for continuedhouse oversight of drug abuse problems. A Report of the Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control. Report No. 96-1380. 96th Congress, 2nd sess. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

U.S. Executive Office of the President. Domestic Council Drug Abuse Task Force. (1975). White paper on drug abuse September. 1975. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

U.S. Executive Office of the President. (1980). Domestic Policy Staff. Annual report on the federal drug program. 1980. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

U.S. Executive Office of the President. Drug Abuse Policy Office, Office of Policy Development. The White House. (1984). 1984 national strategy for prevention of drug abuse and drug trafficking. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

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U.S. Executive Office of the President. Office of National Drug Control Policy. (1990). National drug control strategy. January 1990. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

U.S. Executive Office of the President. Office of National Drug Control Policy. (1992). National drug control strategy. January 1992. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

U.S. Executive Office of the President. President's Advisory Commission on Narcotic and Drug Abuse. (1963). Final report. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

U.S. Executive Office of the President. Strategy Council on Drug Abuse. (1973) Federal strategy for drug abuse and drug traffic prevention. 1973. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

U.S. Executive Office of the President. Strategy Council on Drug Abuse. (1976). Federal strategy. Drug abuse prevention. 1976. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

U.S. Executive Office of the President. Strategy Council on Drug Abuse. (1979). Federal strategy for drug abuse and drug traffic prevention. 1979. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

Richard L. Williams

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