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The United States spends over $16 billion a year to fight drugs, or so the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has certified over the past few years. What confidence is there that this budget accurately reflects federal expenditures on antidrug activities? The agencies that compile the antidrug budgets use a variety of calculation methods, some of which are problematic. Although the drug-control budget will necessarily always be a collection of estimates, it can be significantly improved, by establishing common principles to guide the calculations and by basing them on empirical data. Such steps would provide ONDCP with the ability to implement strategies and hold agencies accountable for their performance. This is essential for the ONDCP Director to be able to direct and coordinate the nation's antidrug programs and for the American people to be confident about what resources are actually being spent on antidrug activities.

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