generated by the model about policy effectiveness. As this report demonstrates, no significant progress can be made in assessing the effectiveness of enforcement policy (or its cost-effectiveness in relation to other policy instruments) in the absence of better data on drug prices and consumption.
The need for better data is highlighted in the National Drug Control Strategy for 2000, the latest in the series issued annually by federal drug policy officials since the 1973 federal strategy quoted above. In 1998, ONDCP inaugurated its Performance Measures of Effectiveness System to assess the impact of drug control activities on drug use, drug availability, and the consequences of drug use. The system includes 60 quantitative “performance targets,” 12 of which (called “impact targets”) relate to “ultimate” outcome measures of drug availability, use, and consequences. ONDCP deserves a great deal of credit for taking the first steps to assess the impact of current policies, including enforcement, on availability, use, and consequences. However, the project is still in an embryonic stage.
In its National Drug Control Strategy for 2000, ONDCP reported to Congress on its progress in developing the Performance Measures of Effectiveness System, pointing out that data do not now exist in relation to 20 of the 60 quantitative performance targets identified in the report. With regard to the impact targets, measures are available for four “use” targets—national prevalence, youth prevalence, workplace prevalence and initial age of use—but not for number of chronic users. Some data are available to develop rough aggregate estimates for the two “consequences” targets—drug-related crime and violence and health and social costs. However, as ONDCP acknowledges, data are presently lacking for the availability targets. A method being developed by ONDCP for estimating the flow of cocaine and heroin into the country is still in an early state of development, and the agency concedes that it does not yet have measures of domestic cultivation and production, trafficker success rate, or an aggregated measure of “availability.” It should be emphasized that, even if data were available to develop valid outcome measures in all these domains, ONDCP still has no way of assessing the impact of enforcement interventions (or other interventions for that matter) on these impact targets. It is revealing in this connection that none of the many other outcome measures relates to the price of illegal drugs.
The central problem, in a nutshell, is that the nation lacks the data needed to inform policy. Nearly all of the uncertainties regarding the