Feds massively overstate anti-drug spending

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Talk about fuzzy math. A study to determine if federal agencies overreport how much they spend on drug treatment found the agencies to be off by $1 billion.

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According to a report by the RAND corporation, the overreporting was caused by some wacky accounting: The Department of Veterans Affairs figure, for example, was more than 30 percent too high because of that agencies creative definition of drug treatment: Treatment of, say, a broken arm was classified as “drug treatment” if the arm was attached to, say, a heroin addict. The Border Patrol reported that 15 percent of its budget was spent on drug treatment, but that figure appears to simply have been made up: The agency decided 10 percent seemed too low and 20 percent seemed too high.

The RAND study concludes that the bogus figures, estimated to be off by about 20 percent governmentwide, make it nearly impossible for the drug czar’s office to plan, or to mention hold agencies accountable for their performance.

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In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

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