tv Director of National Drug Control Policy Testifies on 2022 Strategy CSPAN June 21, 2022 11:40am-1:02pm EDT
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national drug control policy doctor ronald guida testified about the opioid epidemic and administrations from policy. he said overdoses claimed more than 1 million lives over the past two decades and that the pandemic had exacerbated the opioid crisis . this hearing before the senate caucus on international narcotics control is just over an hour. >> the hearing will come to order. and i'm hereby declared to begin my opening statements . we will recognize doctor gupte. we lost over 7000 americans last year including 453 rhode islanders. a painful reminder . of the massive challenge ahead in addressing john drug
trafficking and substance abuse . we must do better . the office of national drug control policy has become rancid plan with ambitious goals to me by 2025 including a 13 percent reduction in drug overdose deaths doubling treatments in missions for populations most at risk of overdose deaths, a 25 percent increase inthe number of year led recovery organizations , doubling the portion of federal inmates with an opioid use disorder who can access mag, a five percent increase in active investigations targeting the generationcartels and their enablers . these goals developed with input from national drug control program agencies and others promise to turn the tide against the overdose epidemic. several priorities deserve particular focus. preventionefforts are cost-effective and life-saving . the longer we can delay the age of first use of illicit drugs the more likely we are
to prevent addiction. bolstering these programs is the smart place to start. treatment and some harm reduction efforts are also effective . medication assisted treatment and overdose through the russell medications they lives everyday but most americans we need treatment for substance abuse disorders don't receive . as have to change. we must know the treatment and recovery workforces establish best practices for recovery and ensure a dedicated funding stream for recoveryprograms. this strategy recognizes this . equally important are treatments and programs which connect nonviolent offenders with treatment in lieu of incarceration and reentry programs . i'm pleased that the strategy prioritized by these programs i hope all nbc will use the of rhode tices island programs is the leader program and the rhode island department of corrections and easy program as a national level.ro my bipartisan bill would
boost the prevention treatment and recovery infrastructure and permanently allow for medication and treatment by a telehealth. i look forward to seeingthese bills enacted . we must also hold drug trafficking organizations accountable multijurisdictional taskforces that target drug trafficking organizations have proven effective losing law enforcement work would be wise. most of thedrawings americans consume come from elsewhere . mexican cartels source readers or chemicals for fentanyl and other illicit drugs from china and india. colombia remains the primary source of cocaine consumed in the united states. all means we need to strengthen international partnerships with law enforcement. we can produce low fronts crossing it trafficking organizations where personable switches that will . as long as cartels and their enablers addiction and overdose deaths will continue
to rise. i'm pleased the strategy includes goals to increase the number of financial investigations into cartels by using suspicious activity reports and to increase sanctions against members of some of the most dangerous cartels. i'm disappointed in some of the omb's choices, cartels thrive where the rule of law is weak and wherecorruption can flourish. we should help partner nations from combat corruption and strengthen important institutions like courts . in jurisdictions that they exploit. it's disappointing to see the 2023 budget request include a 16 percent cut to international programs that could help to address these problems. still the threat as we offer ambitious goals and offer changes will lead to carefully measured success. right now for instance we don't have timely reporting of fatal and nonfatal drug overdoses or a reliable baseline like how much money
we have denied and seized from drug trafficking organizations for atthe number of related prosecutions. this kind of information is critical to measuring the strategies affecting us. i applaud omb for recognizing the vocal inadequacy of our current systems and i'm counting on them to help us turn the corner. the stakes for the implementation of this strategy are high. omb has set goals which if achieved will prevent tens of thousands of deaths over the next three years. i look forward to hearing about how it will implement its strategy and hold national agencies accountable for reaching the strategy goals. i also look forward to hearing what gao has to say about the threat of compliance with its statutory requirements and with that i turned to my distinguished cochair senator grassley. >> thank you very much. thank you particularly for examining through this hearing the office of national drug control policies coordination of national drug control efforts
and preliminary review of the drug control strategy by the government gao. congress creates agencies like this one. congress appropriates money for agencies like thisone . tyrus from time to time passes laws for people to carry out so we're going today are constitutional responsibility to make sure that the executive branch of government and this agency specifically carries out our laws according to congressional intent as required by the e president to faithfully execute the laws under the constitution. omb cp was created to serve as our nation's leader combating drugs. since its inception in 1989 the threat posed by drugs has evolved.ed affirmation of the omb cp of
this particular group of senators cuthe drug caucus remains thesame . to save lives. this hearing comes at a critical juncturefor our nation . we're in the middle of the most destructive and challenging drug environment that this country has ever seen. and by now we've all seen the numbers. so i quote again similar numbers to what the chairman post. the center for disease control and prevention reported that 108,000 americans died last year from drug overdose. this is staggering and this thought to be thunacceptable to any senator or any citizen in this country. i was no longer no stranger to the drug crisis. our towns and communities have been hard by the impacts of legal drugs. this includes meth, fentanyl
and now the spread of the deadly pills. fentanyl overdoses have become the number one cause of death among us adults 18 to 45. overdose deaths from methamphetamine have tripled in recent years according to the national institute of health. common sense tells us that we need omb cd to lead efforts and steer a national strategy that makes it harder to obtain and use fentanyl as an analog as well as mess, synthetic opioids and anydrug . we need to be focused on ee stopping the spread of these drugs . but i think omb cds 2022 strategy could do better at that. the strategy doesn't put
enough emphasis on scheduling fentanyl analogs and also tackling counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl and meth is hardly even mentionedin the strategy . i'm concern for strategies emphasis on harm reduction could allow for an even greater use of drugs. i'm also concerned that the strategy notes that omb cd will take a review of mandatory minimum sentences or drug offenses should be eliminated. this guiding document sets the tone for how our nation receives drug policy and calls are federal and state partners to action. i'm worried that making drugs more accessible is what this administration calls drug control. i prefer the strategy focused on the mostly full drugs .acing us we need to take and make it
harder to get and use drugs and find areas where we can get real work done. i have a few ideas on that subject. the permanent scheduling of all fentanyl related substances is just a mere start. the omb cd has supported classwide scheduling of fentanyl analogs and i hope that's still the case. second, the methamphetamine response act that i introduced with senator feinstein is now law and i look forward to working with omb cp on its implementation. also congress can continue supporting prevention efforts like educating parents and children to stop access and use of drugs. but there's more work to be done and i look forward to hearing from the director
today and discussing how we could work together to turn the tide. thanks again to ourwitness for being here today and i look forward to your testimony . >> thank you. let me thank senator hassan for joining us and recognized doctor gupta for a five-minute statement followed by our questions. he has been a practicing primary care physician for more than 25 years. he served as west virginia's health commissioner under 2 governors through the opioid crisis. and lead pioneering public health initiatives in that capacity to help with the crucial problems that west virginia face. he has had several academic positions including medical o and health officer and senior vice president market march of dimes and comes to us from the distinguished medical background. we will proceedafter that with our questions .
>> that afternoon chairman white house, chairman grassley. thank you for inviting me today to testify about president biden's inaugural drug control strategy. the strategy was released in time of unprecedented challenges but far too many years these prices have been unraveling the very social fabric of the nation and destroying american lives. the sentence disease control and prevention estimates that overdoses have claimed more than 1 million lives over the past two decades. in 2021 alone as we mentioned we lost more than 107,000 americans. that's one life being lost every five minutes. these are our friends, our neighbors, our family members and cohorts. since 2015 overdose deaths in america have more than doubled veand the pandemic has amplified the existing difficulties in accessing treatment for substance abuse
disorders. i treated many patients with addiction have gone on to lead successful lives. but ai've also seen too many patients succumb to their pa disease and have tended far too many funerals. working in emergency rooms i've spent weeks and months where i was dealing with overdose every shift. behind these are there are millions of individuals experiencing nonfatal overdoses and overwhelming our first responders. underneath these overdoses are tens of millions of americans suffering from substance abuse disorders. there are other affects as well. research diestimates that the economic costs of this epidemic to be a staggering $1 trillion a year. and up to 26 percent of the loss in us labor force participation can be attributed to the disease of
addiction. addiction and the overdose epidemic is a nonpartisan issue which edis evidenced by the fact that it affects everyone regardless of where you live. and this is why ending the opioid epidemic is part of president biden's unity agenda and why it has strong support across the country and across the little parties for finding comprehensive and meaningful solutions. as the office of national drug control policy develops this strategy we focus on the fact that this epidemic is being driven largely by untreated addiction and drug trafficking process. the strategies and seven goals focus on reducing substance abuse, overdose deaths and the supply of illicit substances and increasing prevention harm reduction treatment and recovery efforts and finally improving the way criminal justice systems addresses substance abuse disorder people can get the help they need before it'stoo late .pe there are also four key priorities that cut across
strategies. at the time when three out of four overdose deaths involved opioids it is critical that we are making sure that everyone can access not so. we're working to ensure that everyone can getsubstance abuse treatment . where disrupting drug trafficking operations and removing data collection particularly for nonfatal overdoses as they are a pretty good indicator that someone will experience a future fatal overdose. i've taken together these goals and priorities in a new era of drug policy that is comprehensive and targeted at saving lives first. as of this moment in history our nation is at an inflection point. our actions must rise to the occasion by being bold and innovative. but also compassionate and consequential. the biden harris administration's national drug control strategy has an unprecedented response has faced the blueprint designed
to save lives immediately. build infrastructure for treatment connection our nation so desperately needs and disrupt drug trafficking and the profits that fueled it. all the while ensuringthat federal government is accountable and serves as a good steward of taxpayer dollars . saving lives is our northstar because i believe every life is precious and worth saving. if this strategy is implemented as indicated and intended we could save 154,000 lives over the next three years to help tens of millions of people get into treatment and on the past recovery. the president and i are committed to seeing this through because american lives depend on it. thank you for your efforts to make our country safer. as president biden said let's come together to beatus. i look forward to your questions . >> one of the things that you
did in west virginia was to create overdose review teams. you call it opioid autopsy. what should, i should fly that senator cornyn and i have a show on this. and overdose review teamact . how important is it for the federal government to support overdose review teams ? >> thank you mister chairman. it is very important to understand the science and data behind millions ofpeople suffering nonfatal overdoses because what we found is four y out of five people came in contact with the healthcare system . it's us who failed them, not the work of others. we've got to figure out what's happening with people in communities,in neighborhoods and be able to solve those issues at that level . >> you done a good job i think in rhode island ensure we go into an emergency department with an overdose assigned to appear .
recovery specialist doesn't always work. but the opportunity is there oand i think it's made a big difference and we look a forward to working together to get our bill passed into law. telehealth was something we learned a lot t about through the epidemic. and we want to make sure that the capacities and flex abilities of telehealth that were established during that continued. you support the continuation of telehealth flexibility in opioid treatment? >> yes mister chairman, one of the great things that happened the first year right from the first day of this administration is providing that flex ability for communities being able to provide telehealth as one of the ways . making sure that that happens and continues to happen because getting to remote areas especially in rural areas is very critical of telehealth is one way to get there .
>> we had enormous success with our incarcerated population reducing deaths by over 60 percent. by beginning treatment free release and seeing to it that there were supports post relief, are you comfortable with the bureau of prisons has stepped up as it should to deal with the population that is exiting incarceration and reentering society? >> .. working aggressively to make sure we have systems in place where no one within the federal system is denied treatment because we know that has a direct impact on society both in terms of reducing recidivism, reducing overdose and improving just the cost of the system.
>> have you gotten a response? >> yes.hi so far we have a great working relationship. i'm looking forward to having significant amount of success in this. >> this is probably more our problem than yours. it's a funding problem and we provide the funding but everywhere i go around rhode island i hear the same concerns about workforce. and particularly in the caring professions workforce whether it's healthcare or elder care oo childcare, and particularly acute in mental health and in substance treatment. and in part i think we take advantage of people who, for reasons of personal commitment, are willing to operate in jobs that they are compensated for less than they are worth but their sense of inner motivation keeps them there. but it really isn't fair to them to take advantage of that and not pay the salaries that are
worthwhile. what do you think the key steps are that congress should takeato support the substance treatment workforce and to make sure salaries are commensurate for the kind of service they provide? >> thank you, mr. chairman. clear the importanceou of workforce in addiction is important.t. we have 23 trillion americans in recovery today, so pure recovery support groups arert important. there is a lot of work happening within the strategy which is we have apprenticeship loan repayment programs, people get support deserving underserved areas. folks with licenses but other workforce that we're going too need in terms of social workers and making sure with navigators, all of things will be informed. >> is that part of your focus of 70? >> yes. yes, mr. chairman. >> the last question. there are two sides of the business of international drug trafficking.es onefi is producing and
distributing the unlawful drugs themselves. the second is collecting the money that you get paid at the sale and bringing it back and then investing it or putting it to use in whatever ways. my experience as a prosecutor has been thatse would put an enormous a lot of effort into the first part of the business, much less effort into the second part of the business. and in my view the second part of the business, the financing of international narcotics trafficking, is enabled by the structure, and international structure of dark economy that can hide the loot of kleptocrats, the funds developed by criminal trafficking networks, whether it is human trafficking or drug trafficking,
terrorist financing. and i hope that as you look at the financing side of these international networks, you are attentive to this larger question of the common infrastructure that all of these evil efforts use in order to obscure where they have got their money to hide that they have the money, to avoid taxes and accountability. we need to have a very significant moment of international transparency and i think that will rebound very effectively into our enforcement against international traffickers. >> thank you, mr. chairman. one of the top priorities, what we are now calling commercial disruption, that involves looking exactly at these businesses as commerce and going after the prophets. profits. going after,nd denying them profits helps us make sure we're removing the real motivation behind their models, first.
secondly, we're disrupting their operating capital. that also works to dismantle and disrupt their function everyday. part of that is executive orders president biden signed late december. we have had sanctioned about 26 individuals and 17 entities all of which are fentanyl related. many of those charges include the center lower cartel members and thebe whole idea exactly th, to go after both in the production of it but also the proceeds. now we are able go not only that traffickers but finances, enablers, their lawyers, the accounts, all of the activity is going on. >> senator grassley. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director, you hold an important role with a common goal to reduce illicit drug use. your success is of utmost importance as our nation has experienced and what you've heard from bothh of us
record-breaking deaths from overdose. we know that fentanyl andor its analogues are driving the surge in drug overdoses. i invested in making sure that fentanyl analogues are scheduled and i think you are as well, since ondcp said congress draft legislation last year that places fentanyl drugs in schedule one. it contains other provisions like encouraging research. i could probably work with you on that part of it. unfortunately it also includes problematic policy choices of removing mandatory minimums for fentanyl traffickers, which doesn't have sufficient support in congress. as you know the authority to control these of drugs expires at the end of the year. so can you give us an idea of your approach to making sure that the permanent classwide
scheduling solutions happen by the end of the year? thank you,. chairman. we are sure that the scheduling of fentanyl as a class is important for federal related substances. having said that, as a class, i can tell you the position is unique and interesting way to schedule substances. this brings a lot of complex factors and that is the reason the administration proposed scheduling fentanyl as a class but also balancing that with the rights and research part. we would love to continue to work with you at your office and with your staff to figure out the path forward. it is imperative we continue to find a permanent path forward. sen. grassley: why don't you give me a rough idea of what some of those things are? simple things that congress has been doing four or five times on
a piecemeal basis for two or three years of the schedule. dr. gupta: what we don't know is what the future may hold. they may be other compounds, others that might not be active compounds. you want to be careful that those are included but also their consciously included in class. secondly, the notion of the outlands does not apply to bodily injury or death investigations. it allows more judges to be able to judge. having said that, we would love to continue to work with your office to find a path forward. sen. grassley: some critics of classwide scheduling think it could undermine research with potential benefits of fentanyl drugs. the inner agency bill that you
shared with congress has scheduling and research prevention. can you explain how this research into the drug possible while still controlling them? dr. gupta: senator, are you asking about the proposal or research separately? sen. grassley: they are together, so since the fentanyl legislation, it seems to me that we can permanently schedule them and also provide them for necessary research. it seems simple to me. dr. gupta: we believe that research could be provided. good innovation and research would help in the future to create the maximum outcome of the next treatments. i do think research can be done on that. that is why the proposal included having research as a component of the permanent scheduling. sen. grassley: national drug
control strategy is mandated by federal law. gao did a review and noted that the ondcp was delayed in publishing the strategy this year and that you have yet to release these documents that are part of the 2022 strategy, particularly the missing documents are five-year protections of the natural -- national drug control program and budget priorities along with an outline of specific resources. and even to implement the southwest florida strategy. why did you feel -- fail to meet the statutory deadline for releasing the strategies and when will ondcp release the documents to address the drug crisis at the southwest border? dr. gupta: thank you. when i came into office with that as a physician to work on the ground with people, my first
goal was to save lives. it is important for the american public that we save lives and get this right. that is exactly what i did. i went back and looked at the draft that was available, went through due process, had 2000 complications with stakeholders as well as the interagency partners. to me, it is more important to get it right because lives are at stake. just today, we are seeing smaller numbers increase but also fewer hundred deaths than the last time the support -- this report was released. the question of the other documents, we are constantly working closely with gao and where committed to working to release those documents as early as possible. you have my commitment to work with your staff and congress to get those out. sen. grassley: you must have a timetable to get it done. dr. gupta: i will get that to
you very responsibly and quickly. sen. grassley: i have heard from parents about counterfeit bills -- pills laced with fentanyl. drug networks are releasing fake pills and falsely advertising them to young people with deadly results. as a parent and grandparent, this is a problem that young people are susceptible to online marketing of these deadly pills. i recently introduced a bipartisan bill that reduces enhancement for spreading laced counterfeit pills. the fda is also releasing a campaign to address the issue, despite the seizures of laced pills ironic -- skyrocketing in
the country. when i searched the 2022 strategy, the phrase counterfeit pills came up four times. compare that to the phrase harm reduction, which was mentioned 148 times. how are you going to refocus efforts to stop the spread of counterfeit pills and what can congress do to support your effort? dr. gupta: the counterfeit pills are a challenge ahead of us. it is our populations they are looking at getting nonprescription pills. every life lost is tragic, especially when it is a child. the important thing here is along with the dea, and thank you, i am looking forward to working with the dea on these
pieces, we are working on the one pill can kill campaign, working with social media companies and working with various other law enforcement agencies to make sure we know what the e-commerce market is. services are working with e-commerce as well to look at the supply chain and those things are happening as we speak. we can do much more in terms of making sure that parents, school teachers, neighbors are aware the danger of these counterfeit pills because they are a true danger in our communities. sen. supple have some -- sen. hassan: i want to -- we have been working together to get fentanyl permanently scheduled. dr., it was good to have you in
new hampshire recently to see the problems we have on the ground as the epidemic of substance use continues as well as what we are doing in the granite state to address the drug crisis. i look forward to welcoming you back again. i want to start by just talking a little bit about the issue of fentanyl precursors in particular. i work with my colleagues to pressure china to take additional steps to regulate a fentanyl analogues and fentanyl precursors, which are the chemical chemical components that make up fentanyl. while there has been a drop in fentanyl trafficking directly from china to the united states we have recently seen a rise in fentanyl precursors coming from china, going to mexico, where fentanyl is now produced. and then it is smuggled into the united states. how is ondcp coordinating efforts along the law enforcement agencies to improve efforts to disrupt drug smuggling from mexico, and precursor chemical shipments from china and india to mexico
where the drugs are manufactured? dr. gupta: thank you, senator. it was indeed a pleasure to be able to visit new hampshire and see a lot of great work that is happening on the ground. very impressive. with respect to china, we have a long-standing counter narcotics relationship that is currently showing uneven progress. the fact is, i echo the words of secretary blinken that said we have to compete with china, but this is an area where we can cooperate. we are working very closely. i have regular conversation with ambassador burns, our lead diplomat in beijing, this is very high on his list of priorities. we are very specific asks of china to contain these precursor shipments to make sure they are following the international norms of shipping and labeling, and we are cooperating on these dual use chemicals coming to mexico and the united states. it is important that we continue to hold them accountable as a global leader. if that is what they want to be, they have to
take a lead on these issues. with mexico, we have invested over the years a lot of resources as well as a lot of other aspects of expertise with mexico. similar to, it is a shared responsibility with the mexican government. it is important that the amount of resources as well as energy we have spent both in gun trafficking and cash flow and other aspects, that we continue to have dialogue, how we can have the same level of cooperation and enthusiasm with us. i was in mexico my first week in office, we met with the military, as well as the addiction council. we continue to believe that the bicentennial security agreement that was signed in two countries in public health, security and community safety, will be an important path forward. sen. hassan: following up a little bit, has there been outreach and work with india and its role with precursors as well? dr. gupta: yes, india is a
promising improving global counter relationship, current relationship. we are having the third visit, third meeting of the counter narcotics people from india. our team will be traveling next month there. a high-level agreement on some of the goals, that includes not just precursor shipments, but also other opioids like tramadol and those substances that we are seeing shipments of here. sen. hassan: thank you. i was heartened to see that the 2022 strategy highlights the importance of medication assisted treatment. in treating substance use disorder. how does access to medication assisted treatment factor into your treatment and recovery benchmarks? dr. gupta: thank, you senator. the treatment, the fact is, today a fraction of the americans who need treatment are getting treated. part of this is stigma. part of this is really the inability to get treatment and access treatment. awesome -- just looking at having
universal treatment access by 2025, increasing treatment behind the walls, and making sure that those drugs are available to all people, is very critical. that allows people, first of, all not to die. second of all, get into treatment, and then get on to recovery, so they become productive parts of this nation's economy. as we talked about, there is a lot of loss, economic and labor force participation loss, that is attributed to addiction and substance use. sen. hassan: thank you, that is exactly why i introduced the substance abuse prevention treatment and recovery act. to reauthorize and improve the block grant. it is a bipartisan bill with senators murkowski and lujan, which will provide desperately needed resources for communities grappling with substance use disorder crisis and to ensure efforts are based on what we know is effective and lasting. one thing you talked about, the stigma, there is more work we can do to help people understand medication assisted treatment is
the gold standard at this point. and really is effective. last quick question. several cities and regions are seeing an increase in new synthetic opioids that are even more powerful than fentanyl. which is, from what i understand, the power of fentanyl, it's hard to comprehend. how is ondcp working with scientific and law enforcement organizations to develop ended -- and deploy field testing kits that are able to detect these new even more dangerous synthetic drugs? dr. gupta: thank you, senator. we know that with synthetic, there is a very important shift that has happened recently in the drug policy world, a shift from plant-based to synthetics. with those synthetics, pandora's box has been opened. we can expect to see much more potent substances. it's really important for us to continue to work with the scientific community, to understand, and that's why part of the harm reduction agenda is also to be able to have that drug checking ability. to understand what's in people's drugs so we have an
idea of what is prevailing and looking at those emerging threats and acting before it is too late. sen. hassan: and having a system that's agile enough so that as the synthetics are changing, as the compounds are changing, the testing mechanisms can change quickly and be produced, quickly, right? dr. gupta: yes, senator. sen. lee: -- sen. hassan: thank you very much. >> thank you very much, dr. gupta, there will be questions for the record from those of us who are here and those whose schedules prevented them from being here so i hope you will answer those and we will continue the discussion. i would like to have a separate briefing at some point on the question of the sanctions, and how you see that working into this. that's to be scheduled later, if that would be agreeable to you. dr. gupta: thank you, mister chairman. really looking forward to having that briefing. we will get those questions very timely. thank you. >> much appreciated. we will now move on to the
second panel. our witness for the second panel is a director in the government accountability office's homeland security and justice team. she oversees issues related to federal efforts to counter domestic terrorism and violent extremism, domestic intelligence and information sharing, and law enforcement efforts to combat drug misuse. miss mcneill join gao in july of 1999. she has a masters degree in public administration from george washington university. i am delighted to have g.a.o. and ms. mcneil specifically here today to respond to our questions. you have five minutes to make your opening statement. and then we will proceed with questioning. thank you. >> thank you for having me here today. chairman whitehouse, cochairman
grassley, and members of the caucus, i'm pleased to be here today to discuss g.e.o.'s preliminary findings on the 2022 national drug control strategy. progress made by ondcp and critical steps it needs to take to address deficiencies that we have previously identified. when we determined this long-standing and persistent issue was high risk in 2020, 93,000 people died in that same year from drug misuse in the u.s.. the most recent data shows over 107,000 died in 2021. 107,000 people's families and communities lost their loved ones last year. ondcp's roles are critical to prioritize, coordinate and measure key efforts to address the drug crisis. ondcp is required to do a number of things based on the support act. it's required to develop the
strategy, it's required to work with agencies to develop an annual drug budget, and as you, know this year's budget was over $39 billion. the support act calls on ondcp to among other things, determine comprehensive, long-range, quantifiable goals, identify annual measurable targets for each goal, provide an estimate of the needed funding to achieve each goal, and describe a performance evaluation plan to track the progress for each goal. based on our preliminary analysis of the strategy documents released to date, more are forthcoming, we all know that, we found that the strategy addresses some but not all of the statutory requirements. for example, it contains information on those comprehensive goals. it
does identify annual measurable targets, but it doesn't contain any information on the necessary funding to achieve those goals, or any information on a performance evaluation plan to track the progress. moving forward, we will continue reviewing the remaining documents that will complete the strategy once they are issued. we will look for the funding information, we will look for the plan to assess the progress, and more details on how these goals will be operationalized. i want to underscore the evaluation piece. we need to know what we are achieving. we need to know where to refocus our efforts. all of these are critical pieces to effectively tackling the drug epidemic. chairman whitehouse, cochairman grassley, and members of the caucus, this concludes my prepared statement. i'd be happy to respond to any questions at this time. sen. whitehouse: thank you for
being here. one of the things you are very good at is data collection and one of the problems that has been identified in this area has been data collection. so i would like to ask you a little bit about that, potentially in the context of the performance evaluation plan you mentioned but also, more generally, i proposed an amendment with senator hassan to fy 22 ndaa called the narco act. it would direct the department of justice to collect data from drug control agencies based on concerns that have been code in the strategy that our data systems lack the timeliness, scope and precision required for the most impactful national response. there is a recommendation that a drug control data dashboard should be established. could you give us your overview of where we are on data collection, and
what the key steps are that you would recommend to try to make the improvement that is necessary? ms. mcneil: i can speak to a few suggestions and provide some updates on the status of those recommendations. both of the recommendations on the data dashboard are still open. they are not addressed. we have been working with ondcp since 2019 when we made the recommendations. they have been very forthcoming in terms of what they plan to do. so we are just engaging with them, just to make sure we have the latest information. there is still a serious lack of information. there are limited information on fatal or nonfatal ods, there is limited information on the known and estimated flow of drugs into the u.s., there is limited information on the unmatched treatment needs. these are still the same issues
that we have been dealing with for the last few years. i think that it's important to kind of look at what the drug data inter agency working group is planning to do. they are the one that is going to be leading this effort to tackle these data issues. that's an effort that was outlined in some of the documents that ondcp has recently put out. i want to put a few things on the table. we will continue to share this type of information with ondcp. there are models for central repositories that we've identified that ondcp can look to. this data dashboard is supposed to be publicly available, searchable, the data should be quality, it should be reliable for all different levels of government and research private folks to use. they can look at the department of education's ed facts as a model. they can look at opm's enterprise human resources integration as a model. they can
look at the bureau of labor statistics data finder and data tools. these are good models that are just practical examples that they can think about leveraging as they build out this data dashboard. there's some other information that i would like to share and we will provide this to them on data governance, key practices when you are trying to develop a central repository, developing data standards and managing to that, making sure that you get input from your users, what do they need? and how best with they like that information to be provided? how would it almost usable for them? and then invest and maintain infrastructure for that information. you can't just build it and leave it. you really have to manage that and invest in that upkeep. sen. whitehouse: should there be a bigger role for the department of justice in the data collection, given its practical role in investigations and
prosecutions and given the strength of the policy development component? ms. mcneil: i think it's fair to say that all the drug control agencies should be partnering with ondcp and provided all that necessary information. sen. whitehouse: i'm just wondering, who should be the lead. i hear the term interagency working group and i shudder. while inter agency working groups can be effectual, they are also often places where initiative, accountability and punctuality go to die. in fact, we should probably do a report on inter agency working groups at some point. show less -- ms. mcneil: we have that criteria, as well. sen. whitehouse: i shudder with fear when i hear that in interagency working group has been set up to do something. but we will continue to working with you on how this should set up.
we have raised the responsibilities of doj, i think that is sensible but let's continue that conversation at the staff level to try to get that sorted out. with that, i yield to senator grassley. sen. grassley: thank you and welcomed -- welcome director meant neil -- mcneil. your agency maintains a list of high risk programs, vulnerable to waste fraud and abuse. january 2021, g.a.o. added, quote, national efforts to prevent, respond to, and recover from drug misuse, end of quote. gao cited issues like greater leadership and coordination of the national drug control effort , strategic guidance that fulfills all statutory requirements, and more effective implementation and monitoring. this seems to fall under the ondcp purview.
so this question, three short questions, i will give you one at a time. why is being on the high risk list problematic? ms. mcneil: being on the high risk list provides visibility. when you have an intractable issue, such as these epidemic record number of overdose rates and drug misuse rates, having that on the high risk list provides visibility. we are invited to hearings like this. the director is invited to hearings like this. it just continues to just put the spotlight on an issue that really needs to be resolved. it also puts pressure on those involved to come together and really tackle the problem. every two years, we put out a report. we report on progress made or not made. sen. grassley: what efforts are
ondcp taking to remove these items from the high risk list? ms. mcneil: so the drug misuse issue is on the high risk list. ondcp is not on the high risk list. it is a whole of government approach that is going to need to be taken to remove this issue from a high-risk list. we focus on a number of things. one thing that we did need to re-educate ondcp about is, it's not just about closing recommendations. that is an important part of this, but if we don't see increased capacity, for example, understanding what's needed to meet the treatment needs, making sure that treatment is met, there is other capacity. we had a recommendation towards dea for improved data analytics. they had a lot of information about suspicious opioid orders. they weren't mining that
information. having that but information. having that capacity to be able to look at all these different areas that can positively affect the issue is what we need to see. i also will say, if these rates don't increase, -- don't decrease, it's not coming off the list. sen. grassley: i think you answered the third question. i will ask it and you tell me if you answered it. what will it take for gao to remove drug misuse from the high risk list? ms. mcneil: we will need to see a marked decrease in the rates of overdose deaths and drug misuse. number one. we will need to see a fulsome action plan in this strategy. so when these documents come out later in the summer, hopefully that's when we will see the last remaining two, we will evaluate those. if there is not the resources tied to each of those goals, if there is not a performance
evaluation plan that clearly is assessing the activities that they are prioritizing, that's going to be a problem for us. those are just some of the things. i think sustained leadership is also going to be key there. sen. grassley: this year's strategy is different from past strategies in a few ways. it covers a somewhat controversial topic of harm reduction, focuses more on racial equity and ignores pressing issues like scheduling fentanyl analogues or dealing with deadly illicit fake pills. given the widely cited statistics about overdose rates, what about ondcp strategy is troubling and how can the agency improve their drug control efforts moving forward? ms. mcneil: so we have not reviewed the strategy in this way before. when we reviewed the national
drug control strategy, it has been the complete strategy. this is an early look at the documents that they put out to date. in these last remaining two, there are lots of promising things that they said will be contained in these two documents. i hesitate to say that this strategy is lacking xyz. i can speak to the six documents that they've issued thus far that are lacking some critical information. it goes back to the same themes, wet -- what money are you going to need, what are some specific activities tied to each goal, how are you going to assess that? and then how are you going to use that assessment to inform the next strategy? how are you going to redirect activities and funding toward things that are working, and away from things that aren't working? those are the critical pieces that we are looking for. we will look for that this summer in those documents, if
they come out. sen. grassley: this will be my last question. and then i will submit others to you for writing. you mentioned in your testimony that ondcp hasn't provided details on how to achieve its border strategy goals. this is concerning, since we know that the majority of drugs killing americans originate abroad and come across the southwest border . has ondcp been engaging with gao on rectifying this error, and fixing this is so important? ms. mcneil: no, we have not specifically engaged with them on the border strategies. this is something that we will be asking them information about. we are looking for some of the funding information that we notice was a glaring detail that was not included in those strategies. we will be having ongoing discussions with them over the summer.
sen. whitehouse: thank you, senator grassley. thank you so much, ms. mcneil, thank you for your work. we always appreciate the support from g.a.o.. for the record, i will say that the second scariest thing behind interagency working group is the whole of government approach. in times of finding an answer anywhere in the future. maybe that is the second part of the gao inquiry. this is not a question about your work here. this is a question about my understanding about your report and what we might do going forward. my questions to dr. gupta are focused on the area of international narcotics trafficking, the imbalance between enforcement efforts against the distribution side and enforcements efforts against the finance side.
and particularly with respect to enforcement against the finance side, with understanding that not only is there the flow of funds back into the criminal enterprise, but there is also the secondary use storage, investment, whatever of those funds. and that second part in particular tends to stand on and be supported by the existence of and anonymized international dark money capability that not only supports the international narcotics trafficking enterprise, but also clip the kratz, international criminals of all varieties, generally horrible people, terrorist all around the world. it strikes me from reading your report that those were not
questions that you looked at. i wanted to make sure that -- ms. mcneil: not yet. i think that is work that we should be focusing on. i think it's important work. as you noted in my bio, i do, a part of my portfolio is countering violent extremism, domestic terrorism. we have ongoing work looking at those illicit financing of those entities. i think we need to be doing something similar here. sen. whitehouse: good, because i was planning to suggest that we figure out how to consider doing something in that space. i think the effort here with our national drug control strategy aligns quite well with the kleptocapture initiative that has just been spit up/enhanced to deal with the problem of the
russian corrupt oligarchs. which creates a capacity that can expand well beyond that particular target set and which also aligns extremely well with the presidents democracy initiative goal of trying to suppress that corrupt international dark economy. and if that's something that we can work together on to pursue, i don't know quite what the format is for the right request. we can go off line do that. i think that's a very important thing to do. i suspect there will be a lot of bipartisan interest in doing that. i would love there to come a day where it is just as socially unacceptable among nations to be a place where you can hide corrupt and illicit money as it is to be a place where you can employ child labor. it's obviously going to take some time to get there. there are
so it's obvious who going tos take some time to get there. you are places that have as the revenue proposition supporting that dark economy and, in fact, unfortunately you are actually american interests that make money off of that. we've got a lot of work to do and i'm glad you see those connections and in whatever way we can help with asking the right questions and supporting gao takingg a look into that i would very much like to do that and would encourage you've already seen those links, so thank you. >> my pleasure. i will coordinate with the staff. >> great. with that we are done here. again, if therear are questions for the record that you get, please answer them promptly and falsely. and thank you very much for your service. with that we are concluded. >> thank you. [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the january 6th committee is getting ready to start their next hearing. today will focus on georgian officials. witnesses include georgia secretary of state brad raffensperger. you could also watched the hearing on our free video app, c-span now, or online at c-span.org. live coverage now here on
office building waiting for today's january 6th committee hearing to begin. schedule for about nine minutes from now, 1 p.m. eastern. today's question will be led by democratic committee member adam schiff who is representing california's district 411 turns and sits on the house judiciary committee. he participate in both impeachment proceedings against former president donald trump as an impeachment manager. he was both an attorney andnd a before serving in congress. today the committee will hear from four witnesses, russell bowers, speaker of the arizona house of representatives. brad raffensperger, georgia secretary of state, gabriel sterling, ceo of the georgia secretary of state office, all republicans. and wandrea arshaye mosset a former georgia elections department employee who served in a nonpartisan position. today's coverage of the january 6th committee and all of c-span's program is brought to you as a public service by the
cable industry and these television companies including verizon fires, comcast and charter communications. a reminder ifry you need to step away from your tv you can follow all of today's hearings on the go with c-span now, congressional sessions and speeches, conferences and hearings all on your phone with c-span now, our free video app. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] >> as witnesses are gathered, just waiting for the committee to start its next year. the day focusing on efforts to pressure officials from georgia and arizona to help president trump change election results. california congressman adam schiff will lead the questioning for theeo committee today. witnesses include georgia republican secretary of state brad raffensperger who is seated. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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