This issue paper explores the history of the federal drug-control budget as well as the methodology used to produce the numbers in it. It argues that what is commonly referred to as the "federal drug control budget" is not a budget in the textbook sense: that is, it is limited in its capacity to either ensure accountability or establish policy priorities. At best the federal drug budget provides a descriptive level of effort. And even as a historical description, the numbers may misrepresent the total level of expenditures as well as their distribution across programs to control both supply and demand. This paper begins with a brief review of the federal drug-control expenditures and the history of the drug budget. It then examines the differing methods used to calculate agency drug-control budget estimates and the consequences of the differences. Such "scorekeeping" varies from agency to agency and produces a distinctly ad hoc collection of estimated drug-control expenditures. Finally, the paper argues that the federal drug budget better serves as an advocacy tool than as a mechanism to drive policy changes.