Best Practice: Plan Colombia
"Plan Colombia" is often cited as a best practice for interagency cooperation. In 2000, the US government designed a comprehensive $1.6 billion package of assistance to help Colombia fight the illicit drug trade, increase the rule of law, protect human rights, expand economic development, institute judicial reform, and foster peace. The assistance package had five components:
- Improve governing capacity and respect for human rights
- Train and equip counter-narcotics units to enable operations into Southern Colombia
- Provide economic alternatives assistance
- Increase interdiction in Colombia and the region
- Assist Colombian National Police eradication efforts
The State Department worked closely with the National Security Council staff, the Department of Defense, the US Agency for International Development, law enforcement agencies, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Congress, and the Colombia government to develop the comprehensive assistance package. Early in the process, US government partners agreed upon the goals for US assistance, and established various governance and working groups in Washington, at US Southern Command, and in Colombia. These working groups met on a recurring basis to work through the details of the assistance plan. They were supported by a strong, cohesive interagency leadership team that set a positive example of interagency collaboration.
Interagency collaboration was critical throughout the policy cycle from policy development to resourcing to execution of US assistance. Other unique aspects of Plan Colombia that contributed to its success included significant, coordinated, and successful efforts to gain Congressional support, the flexibility of planning efforts to adjust to changing circumstances, and the support of the Colombia government.
Since inception, Plan Colombia has helped establish security in the Colombian countryside, contributed to strong economic growth, and fostered public confidence in Colombian governmental institutions. Since 2001, Colombia’s cocaine production has declined by 22 percent, and seizures of cocaine bound for the United States have increased by two thirds. Additionally, kidnappings in Colombia have fallen by 76 percent, terrorist attacks by 61 percent, and homicides by 40 percent, and poverty has also been reduced.