Calling it a waste of taxpayer money and the poster child for government inefficiency, Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45), Chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, introduced legislation today to abolish the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, which is overseen by the Department of Justice but funded, for years, by the Department of Defense.
Since being established in 1991, the federal government has spent more than $658 million on the facility even though it duplicated the efforts of existing intelligence centers operated by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), among others.
"Simply put, this facility is a 24-carat boondoggle," explained Congresswoman Bono Mack. "It should never have been opened in the first place, and it has never -- at anytime in its sordid 20-year history -- lived up to its promise or potential. It's time to shutter the place for good and transfer its responsibilities to other federal facilities."
For years, the National Drug Intelligence Center was one of Washington's "dirty little secrets", according to Congresswoman Bono Mack. Every year, funding for the center was tucked away in the federal budget without any meaningful Congressional oversight, protected by powerful interests.
"From the beginning, this was doomed to failure," Continued Congresswoman Bono Mack, who has been a leader in the fight against drug abuse. "There simply was no accountability or clarity of mission."
According to NDIC, its mission has been to "provide strategic drug-related intelligence in order to reduce the adverse effects of drug trafficking, drug abuse and other drug-related criminal activity."
"That's a pretty tall order for a center with a miserable turnover rate of analysts and not-so-conveniently located in a renovated department store in the heart of Johnstown, Pennsylvania -- some 2,000 miles from the Mexican border and 1,400 miles from the Florida Keys, both important drug interdiction points," Congresswoman Bono Mack added. "This isn't meant to be a knock on the good people of Johnstown. Rather it's a reflection of a Washington culture that's always looking for creative ways to jam a square peg in a round hole."
Bono Mack's legislation (H.R. 566) prohibits both the Justice Department and the Defense Department from spending any future taxpayer funds on NDIC and transfers its responsibilities and activities to other existing agencies.