When President Barack Obama announced he would create the Shared Security Partnership, he pledged to spend a specific amount of money -- $5 billion -- on a broad array of interests.
The partnership was meant to fund everything from law enforcement training to border security to technology, and it's clear that money is being invested in those areas. But the partnership itself is a vague entity, referenced in public documents but lacking a specific budget of its own.
"It clearly does exist, but there's very little information about what it is,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative think tank focusing on national security issues.
Gartenstein-Ross, who has done consulting work under both Obama and President George W. Bush on national security issues, said the partnership appears to be a new name applied to measures that were already in place when Obama took office.
"They're really very much in line with multiple other things that had already been in place,” he said, citing the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance Program as an example of ongoing work. "I don't see a marked increase in these kind of cooperation measures.”
We searched House committee reports on appropriations bills and found references to the Shared Security Partnership, as well as a few mentions in State Department budget documents.
The State Department's 2012 budget notes that the partnership is "a multi-year, multi-agency initiative to address a wide array of existing threats to U.S. national security posed by terrorist organizations.” One function: "to forge strategic partnerships for confronting common global extremist threats by strengthening law enforcement efforts, creating an infrastructure of information-sharing and coordination, and developing bilateral, regional, and global partnerships.”
The "multi-year, multi-agency” nature of the program is what makes its funding difficult to track. Our inquiries to the State Department and White House went unanswered.
The State Department's 2013 budget summary includes a $24 million allocation for international law enforcement academies. In addition, the summary says, "Funds made available to support the Shared Security Partnership (SSP) initiative will be utilized to support emerging regional security priorities in West Africa as well other high threat regions to enhance regional and local-level criminal justice institutions,” the summary says.
A House report on a 2010 State Department appropriations bill dictated Shared Security Partnership funds be disbursed in Africa.
• $37 million for International Law Enforcement Academies, with $17 million in SSP funds
• $21 million for the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership, including $3.3 million in SSP funds
• $13.6 million for the State Department's Africa regional presence, with $6.1 million in SSP funds
"We know for certain that money is being spent in these areas. What is less than clear is what would act count in the Shared Security Partnership program,” said Gartenstein-Ross. "It's kind of fuzzy accounting, and it's not clear how much is new.”
What's also not clear: Whether Obama's $5 billion threshold has been met. So for now, we rate this a Compromise.