2014/Algeria/Regional Strategic Initiative Algeria Program Evaluation Report - Executive Summary

Regional Strategic Initiative Algeria Program Evaluation Report
September 2014

This publication was produced at the request of the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism. It was prepared independently by Development & Training Services, Inc.


The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bureau of Counterterrorism, the Department of State, or the United States Government.


This evaluation of the Regional Strategic Initiative (RSI) Assistance Program for Algeria was commissioned in April 2014 to document the effectiveness and impact of RSI’s capacity building activities carried out since 2010.


The evaluation was conducted from April to July 2014 by Dr. W. Philip Boyle (Team Leader), Mr. Donnell Christian (Forensics Specialist), and Dr. Laura Dugan (Criminal Justice Expert), with the participation of Ms. Olga Kalashnikova from the Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism (DOS/CT). The evaluation used a mixed-methods approach to obtain information from program documents, key stakeholder interviews, and field research in Algeria. The team also reviewed the Global Terrorism Database and the Government Actions in Terror Environments (GATE)-Algeria Database for relevant data.


DOS/CT and the Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) signed an Inter-agency Agreement (IAA) in July 2010 to build the capacity of the Algerian Gendarmerie Nationale (GN) to fight terrorism and transnational crime. The program has three objectives; a fourth was added last year. The objectives are to:

• Assist the GN to obtain ISO 17025 accreditation for its INCC forensic laboratory

• Provide targeted capacity-building consultation, assistance, and training to GN criminal investigators and border security officers

• Provide assistance and training to support Algeria-hosted regional capacity-building events


Strategic Planning

• Key strategic planning and project design factors were absent from the ICITAP RSI program including: clear objectives and expected outcomes, indicators, and baseline assessments against which to measure changes.

• In September 2013, CT provided specific guidance on objectives and targets for program the components, which refer to performance outputs, without linking them to each other or strategically to higher-level objectives in the field of counterterrorism.

Capacity Building for the Forensic Laboratory to Obtain ISO 17025 Certification

• The INCC attained International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) 17025 accreditation in blood alcohol and cannabis, as required by the IAAs. Accreditation covers:

• Establishing the quality management system for the entire INCC.

• Two of the examinations performed by the INCC.

• The following factors contributed to achieving the ISO goal:

• The RSI forensic development program delivered over 45 capacity building activities.

• Unprecedented communication was established between the Senior Forensics Advisor (SFA) and members of the Algerian government, allowing open discussion of the operation of the INCC and indirectly of the operation of other portions of the GN.

• The INCC is on track to comply with their FY2013-2015 goals to implement the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and competency testing in its laboratory sections.

Capacity Building for Criminal Investigators and Border Security Officers

• ICITAP, utilizing CT/RSI funding, sponsored 25 criminal investigation (CI) activities; seven (two study visits and five workshops/seminars) activities were in collaboration with other Embassy sections, with ICITAP directly sponsoring 18.

• Some 360 Algerians were trained under the CI component, including 74 from the forensics lab. Participating agencies were the GN (majority), DGSN (Algerian national police), Customs, and Ministry of Justice.

• Independent verification of the impact and spread of training was not permitted; evidence of participant knowledge prior to and following (pre-post testing) capacity-building events was not available from the program implementers or partners. Anecdotal evidence indicated training was successfully implemented. All activities appear to be appropriate with respect to countering terrorism or organized criminal activities.

• Delays in program activities in the CI component have been due to the lengthy process of review by GN authorities and the availability of training resources. The Border Security (BS) component was put on hold by the first Senior Law Enforcement Advisor (SLEA), because of the lack of program access to border areas. This component began in January 2014 when the advisor was named.

• Proxy indicators of the impact of capacity-building on increased effectiveness in combating were identified. Neither the GN nor DGSN are willing to share such data, to the frustration of the SLEA and Embassy Algiers. The indicators are:

• Number of arrests and conviction rates

• Number of groups dismantled

• Money and arms seized

• Explosives tracked and seized.

Assistance and Training in Support of Algeria-hosted Regional Capacity Building Events

• The objective to have Algeria serve as a regional hub for capacity building was recently added to the program. ICITAP had not engaged in promoting or sponsoring any regional capacity-building events at the time of the evaluation (May 2014).

Roles and Functions of the SLEA and Subject Matter Experts (SME)

• The SLEA is the on-the-ground program manager, with considerable programmatic discretion, for all three components in Algeria, holding the de facto rank of section head within Embassy Algiers. His functions include:

• Participating in the law enforcement and counter violent extremism working groups.

• Participating in other high-level Embassy discussions.

• Supervising the CI, BS and INCC resident advisors and SMEs.

• Reporting to ICITAP Headquarters in Washington, DC.

• Nine short-term SMEs have made 31 visits to the INCC for periods of one to two weeks each, to provide mentoring to groups of laboratory technicians in targeted skills and in specific laboratory sections.

• The SMEs provide technical guidance to laboratory personnel, review new policy guidance and other assistance to integrate the quality assurance requirements of ISO/IEC 17025 into their analytical methodology.

Program Management and Perceptions

• The program is managed by the SLEA and implemented by three resident advisors who are experts in: Forensics, Criminal Investigations, and Border Security. The stated program intention was to embed all three resident advisors, but only the SFA has been successfully embedded.

• The CI and BS Advisors are effectively sharing roles and functions, providing continuity to both components. When one advisor is absent to renew his visa, the other is present in Algiers and oversees both components.

• ICITAP Headquarters management appears to have delegated primary responsibility for program management to the SLEA.

• Senior staff in Embassy Algiers perceive the program as successful and attribute this to the professional and personal respect advisors have garnered in the Embassy and among their Algerian counterparts as a result of their professional backgrounds, high work quality and personalities. They are perceived as adding value to Embassy objectives specifically by:

• Building excellent relationships with Algerian authorities, in this case with the GN.

• Increasing the technical capacity of the INCC, considered the most successful component of the ICITAP Algeria program.

• Providing training activities for investigators under the CI prong of the program.

• Major challenges identified are:

• Lack of consistent strategic coordination between the program and GN officials.

• Interruptions in program continuity and momentum due to the need for all resident advisors to renew their visas every 90 days in their home country, a process consuming up to a month or more for each renewal.

• Program documentation is incomplete and the timing of bi-weekly reporting may be unduly burdensome and add little informational value.

External Perceptions of the RSI Algeria Program

• GN officials expressed a high level of satisfaction with INCC mentoring activities, CI course selection and content, and with the quality of technical assistance personnel in all capacities.

• Evidence of the successful building of relationships of trust between the SFA and governmental authorities is evidenced by the level of access accorded during her visit to the In Amenas site post-attack. No other country national was allowed at the site.

• Other donor country officials expressed awareness of and appreciation of the ICITAP program in Algeria, particularly its ability to embed an advisor within the INCC. No other donor assistance program has been able to achieve anything similar.


Strategic Planning

• The lack of strategic definition and documentation for this program hampered the evaluation team’s ability to identify the direct impact of the capacity building activities and to use meaningful proxy indicators to measure progress and results.

• The end result of the absence of strategic definition is generous program funding with minimal specific guidance (goals, objectives, performance indicators) and benchmarks against which to measure program success. These lead to insufficient accountability as well.

• ICITAP is not able to report on the degree to which individuals acquired new knowledge, skills, and investigative techniques as a result of the assistance provided, and how these have been converted into new practices and behavior.

Capacity Building for the Forensic Laboratory to Obtain ISO 17025 Certification

• ISO Certification was clearly expressed as the target for the forensics component and was achieved as a result of appropriate mentoring, technical assistance, and training activities.

• Access was limited in INCC to directly measure the impact of training on skill development.

Capacity Building for Criminal Investigators and Border Security Officers

• The CI component overcame challenges to successfully implement the capacity building activities to counter terrorism and organized criminal activities.

• Direct access to trainees by the evaluation team, and more importantly, by ICITAP SLEA and other trainers following the trainings, would have allowed for greater documentation and validity of the impact of these activities within relatively large populations of trainees.

• In the absence of ICITAP-implemented BS activities, no conclusions can be drawn about the success of the BS program to date.

Assistance and Training in Support of Algeria-hosted Regional Capacity Building Events

• In the absence of ICITAP-implemented/mentored regionally focused activities, no conclusions can be drawn about the success of this component of the program to date.

Roles and Functions of the SLEA and SME

• The role, functions, and functioning of the SLEA have successfully moved a challenging program forward, especially in the CI component where both incumbents have worked closely with the CI Advisors. The delegation of much program management to the SFA in the INCC has proven successful, given the nature of her involvement in the laboratory.

• The quality of resident advisors and SMEs has been high, which has led to the Algerian satisfaction with the overall quality of the program, as expressed to the evaluation team.

Program Management and Perceptions

• Program management has successfully depended on the SLEA, the SFA and, to a lesser degree the CI and BS Advisors. Combining the role of SLEA and CI Advisor for potential cost savings would not have maintained the same level of program effectiveness.

• Sharing the CI and BS Advisor roles to provide greater continuity when one advisor is out of the country for visa renewal increases program effectiveness and accomplishments.

• The ICITAP Algeria management team has been highly successful in building working relationships with Algerian counterparts. This is perceived to be due to the professional backgrounds, high quality of their work, and personal social skills of the SLEA, resident advisors, and SMEs. Success in this domain has been higher than that achieved by any other Embassy section and is much valued by the Ambassador and Embassy senior staff.

• The Embassy holds the RSI-funded ICITAP Algeria program in very high regard, both for its capacity-building in forensics and criminal investigations, and for its ability to build relationships within the host country government.

External Perceptions of the RSI Algeria Program

• The GN expressed satisfaction with the entire program and urges the continuation of the program.

• The success of the forensic program with the GN has opened a line of communication with the DGSN forensic laboratory, which has expressed interest in developing a similar program. Some DGSN trainees have benefitted from attendance at CI training events and this involvement is likely to grow given the general appreciation of the capacity building.

• Other donor country officials generally know the RSI program and express admiration for its successes in relationship building with the GN, particularly the embedding of an advisor in the INCC forensics laboratory. This is unprecedented in Algeria at this time.


Strategic Planning

• CT officials should ensure that each funding document contains:

• A statement of work clearly defining the training and technical assistance to be provided by the implementer.

• The related performance indicators that can be used to evaluate progress and the impact of the assistance that has been provided. CT’s statement of work should remain flexible enough to allow the implementer the latitude to adjust the implementation plan, subject to approval by CT, to address the dynamic nature of the in-country situation.

Program Supervision

• CT and DC-based ICITAP staff should establish and maintain a document control system to store all records associated with the implementation of all their programs.

• ICITAP should issue monthly status reports to CT in lieu of the current bi-weekly reports.

• The SLEA should issue a report on the training activity, immediately following the training, which discusses how it contributed to the program’s overall strategy.

• The SLEA should prepare an analytical summary report on the results of post-training evaluations of trainees immediately following the training.

• ICITAP, in consultation with CT, should change the current report format to provide stakeholders the information they require to provide real time program monitoring.

• ICITAP should issue an Annual Performance Report directly to the RSI program manager at an agreed upon time after the end of the fiscal year. The annual reports should be maintained and compared from year to year and deficiencies addressed in a timely manner.

Capacity Building for Laboratory Technicians and Preparation for the INCC to Obtain ISO 17025 Certification

• CT should continue to fund ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation technical assistance to the INCC, to ensure INCC successfully completes its first surveillance audit and its subsequent reaccreditation audit in 2017.

• CT should assist the INCC to expand the scope of its accreditation to disciplines that are more relevant to counterterrorism than cannabis and blood alcohol.

• ICITAP should expand the ISO mentoring program to assist the INCC to acquire ISO/IEC 17020 accreditation in forensic examination areas that are relevant to terrorism investigation.

• The RSI Algeria program managers should support additional mentoring in the targeted areas of chemistry and biology/DNA to ensure the INCC management mandate is met. ICITAP should incorporate the DGSN laboratory staff, as appropriate, into future training and technical assistance provided to the INCC, and ICITAP should encourage the INCC to transfer the knowledge and skills it has acquired to the DGSN where applicable.

Regional Forensic Training Center

• ICITAP should expand the forensic development program to include technical assistance to assist the INCC to develop and fund a regional forensic training center. The focus should be to: (1) provide training and technical assistance associated with forensic examinations to forensic laboratories in the region, and (2) provide training and technical assistance associated with both ISO/IEC 17020 and 17025 compliance.

Capacity Building for Criminal Investigators and Border Security Officers

• CT should continue to fund the CI and BS components of the current program. The ICITAP team should develop a proposed strategy covering the remaining program period. This strategy should indicate what workshops and courses the CI and BS Advisors intend to hold and which training resources they will use and when.

• SLEA and relevant leadership officials of the DGSN should be brought into planning due to its previous participation in ICITAP trainings and its expressed interest in forensic assistance. Ministry of Justice prosecutors and Ministry of Finance customs officials could be included in future trainings where appropriate.

• Both CT and ICITAP/Algiers should utilize the GN’s expressions of interest in specific areas of training as the starting point for planning a program and ongoing assessments.

• CT should place primary emphasis on building skills and competencies that directly relate to countering terrorism and violent extremism.

Roles and Functions of the SLEA and SME

• The SLEA should work with his advisors and Algerian counterparts to develop a strategy and a needs assessment for the remaining program period to include various requested activities.

• SMEs should be brought in to mentor staff in underserved laboratory departments whose work is most related to counterterrorism.

Program Management and Perceptions

• ICITAP program management and Embassy Algiers officials should continue to work toward embedding at least one of the two non-laboratory resident advisors in the GN training center.

• ICITAP and Embassy Algiers should work to extend visas for resident advisors from 90 to 180 days to allow more time in country and greater continuity in program activities.

External Perceptions of the RSI Algeria Program

• The RSI program should continue to engage actively in relationship building with the GN. While forensic and CI capacity building remains the core objective, there may be new opportunities in BS and in establishing a regional training hub that may allow an expansion of the relationship.