Office of the Spokesperson
The first Summit for Democracy provided a platform for leaders to announce domestic and international commitments, reforms, and initiatives that defend democracy and human rights, fight corruption, and combat authoritarianism. In addition to providing Official Intervention Statements during the Summit, participating delegations were invited to submit a voluntary written compendium of announcements, pledges, and/or commitments.
Those submissions can be found on the Summit for Democracy website. The Department of State will process and post online additional commitments when received from delegations. For delegations that did not submit commitments in writing, their official remarks during the Summit will serve as a roadmap for their commitments in the Year of Action.
During this Year of Action, the United States reaffirms our willingness to work with partners as we implement commitments made to strengthen democracy, promote respect for human rights, and counter corruption. The Year of Action is an opportunity to turn words into deeds. Through different platforms and fora, governments, civil society, the private sector, philanthropies, and academic partners will begin the process of advancing these commitments and initiatives. During the second Summit, we will take stock of our collective efforts and set the foundation for continual work to safeguard democracy and human rights.
- Four Executives and Company Charged with Price Fixing in Ongoing Investigation into Broiler Chicken Industry
July 29, 2021A federal grand jury in Denver, Colorado, returned an indictment yesterday charging Koch Foods, headquartered in Park Ridge, Illinois, for participating in a nationwide conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chicken products.
- Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request: U.S. Government Accountability Office
August 24, 2021This testimony discusses the U.S. Government Accountability Offices (GAO) budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2013. We very much appreciate the confidence Congress has shown in our efforts to help support the Congress in carrying out its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve government performance and accountability for the benefit of the American people.GAO is requesting an appropriation of $526.2 million for FY 2013 to support a staffing level of 3,100. This funding level represents a modest increase of 2.9 percent over FY 2012, and is 5.4 percent below our FY 2010 level. The majority of the requested increase represents the first step in rebuilding our staff capacity to a level that will enable us to optimize the benefits we yield for the Congress and the nation.GAOs work directly contributes to improvements in a broad array of federal programs affecting Americans everywhere and remains one of the best investments across the federal government. With this committees support, in FY 2011 GAO provided assistance to every standing congressional committee and about 70 percent of their subcommittees. GAO issues hundreds of products annually in response to congressional requests and mandates. Actions taken related to our findings and recommendations yielded significant results across the government, including financial benefits of $45.7 billion to reduce government expenditures, reallocate funds to more productive areas, or increase revenues. These benefits produced a return on investment of $81 for every dollar invested in GAO.GAO senior officials testified 174 times before the Congress on an array of complex issues including military and veterans disability systems, U.S. Postal Service fiscal sustainability, defense/weapons systems, and Medicare and Medicaid fraud, waste, and abuse. Fifty-seven of these hearings were related to high-risk areas and programs highlighted in GAOs biennial high-risk report. As the Congress and the administration debate ways to improve the federal governments long-term fiscal outlook, our mission becomes ever more critical to help identify billions of dollars in cost-saving opportunities to tighten federal budgets and identify revenue-enhancement opportunities. GAO seeks both to help position the government to better manage risks that could compromise the nations security, health, and solvency, and to identify opportunities for managing government resources wisely for a more sustainable future. GAO will continue to provide high-quality, high-value, and independent support to the Congress in ways that generate material benefits to the nation. GAOs High-risk Program calls attention to opportunities for cost savings and improvements in federal agency and program management that offer the potential to save billions of dollars, dramatically improve service to the public, and strengthen confidence and trust in the performance and accountability of the U.S. government. In FY 2011, our work also included several products mandated under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act on mortgages, securities markets, financial institutions, the Federal Reserve, and consumer protection. Additionally, our work included many other products related to health-care related reforms.As the Congress and the administration debate ways to improve the federal governments long-term fiscal outlook, our mission becomes ever more critical to help identify billions of dollars in cost-saving opportunities to tighten federal budgets and identify revenue-enhancement opportunities. GAO seeks both to help position the government to better manage risks that could compromise the nations security, health, and solvency, and to identify opportunities for managing government resources wisely for a more sustainable future. GAO will continue to provide high-quality, high-value, and independent support to the Congress in ways that generate material benefits to the nation.GAOs strategic plan for serving the Congress and the nation, 2010-2015, highlights the broad scope of our efforts to help the institution of the Congress respond to domestic and international challenges, such asaddressing current and emerging challenges to the well-being and financial security of the American people;responding to changing security threats and the challenges of global interdependence;helping transform the federal government to address national challenges; andmaximizing the value of GAO by enabling quality, timely service to the Congress and being a leading practices federal agency.
- Results-Oriented Cultures: Implementation Steps to Assist Mergers and Organizational Transformations
September 22, 2021The Comptroller General convened a forum in September 2002 to identify useful practices and lessons learned from major private and public sector mergers, acquisitions, and organizational transformations. This was done to help federal agencies implement successful transformations of their cultures, as well as the new Department of Homeland Security merge its various originating components into a unified department. There was general agreement on a number of key practices found at the center of successful mergers, acquisitions, and transformations. In this report, we identify the specific implementation steps for the key practices raised at the forum with illustrative private and public sector examples. To identify these implementation steps and examples, we relied primarily on interviews with selected forum participants and other experts about their experiences implementing mergers, acquisitions, and transformations and also conducted a literature review.At the center of any serious change management initiative are the people. Thus, the key to a successful merger and transformation is to recognize the “people” element and implement strategies to help individuals maximize their full potential in the new organization, while simultaneously managing the risk of reduced productivity and effectiveness that often occurs as a result of the changes. Building on the lessons learned from the experiences of large private and public sector organizations, these key practices and implementation steps can help agencies transform their cultures so that they can be more results oriented, customer focused, and collaborative in nature.
- Local pipe companies face penalties for not cooperating with federal investigation
In Justice NewsNovember 10, 2021A civil action has been [Read More…]
- Japan Travel Advisory
September 26, 2020Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
- DRL Syrian Women’s Participation in Transitional Justice Processes
November 3, 2021Bureau of Democracy, [Read More…]
- [Protests of Army Corps of Engineers Contract Award for Environmental Remediation Services]
August 18, 2021A firm protested an Army Corps of Engineers contract award for environmental remediation services, contending that the: (1) Corps’ evaluation of the bids was unreasonable and inconsistent with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria, making the selection decision flawed; and (2) Corps improperly failed to perform a cost-technical tradeoff analysis. GAO held that the: (1) Corps reasonably gave the awardee’s proposal an excellent technical rating in areas where the proposal met most of the criteria for an excellent rating; (2) protester untimely filed more than 10 days after it knew the basis of protest several issues raised in its supplemental protest; and (3) Corps’ consideration of price and technical factors in the selection decision was reasonable and consistent with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria. Accordingly, the protests were denied.
- PRC Military Pressure Against Taiwan Threatens Regional Peace and Stability
January 24, 2021Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
- Department Press Briefing – January 12, 2022
January 13, 2022Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
- Readout of Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta’s Call with European Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager
August 30, 2021U.S. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta this morning spoke with European Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager. In their inaugural conversation, the two leaders discussed the Justice Department and European Commission’s mutual interest in promoting competition in a fair, global marketplace and building stronger transatlantic cooperation on justice issues and antitrust enforcement.
- Department of Justice Launches Global Action Against NetWalker Ransomware
January 27, 2021The Department of Justice today announced a coordinated international law enforcement action to disrupt a sophisticated form of ransomware known as NetWalker.
- Major New Human Rights-Related Listings and Accompanying Sanctions on Iran
September 26, 2020Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- Four Charged in Alleged $150 Million Payment Processing Scheme
August 26, 2021Four individuals have been charged in the District of Massachusetts with conspiring to deceive banks and credit card companies into processing more than $150 million in credit and debit card payments on behalf of merchants involved in prohibited and high-risk businesses, including online gambling, debt collection, debt reduction, prescription drugs, and payday lending, according to an indictment unsealed today in Boston. Three of the four individuals charged were arrested today. The fourth defendant has not yet been arrested and is a fugitive on separate federal charges.
- Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Payne
September 15, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
- 2020 International Women of Courage Award Recipients Announced
In Women’s NewsSeptember 26, 2020Office of the [Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken Opening Remarks at a Local Labor Roundtable
September 30, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planet Found Hidden in Early NASA Kepler Data
September 26, 2020While the star it orbits [Read More…]
- Decennial Census: Bureau Should Assess Significant Data Collection Challenges as It Undertakes Planning for 2030
March 22, 2021What GAO Found In March 2020, the Census Bureau (Bureau) delayed the start of field data collection because of COVID-19 safety, and then revised several operational timelines in response to the pandemic and Department of Commerce (Commerce) decisions. Nationally the Bureau reported completing more than 99 percent of nonresponse follow-up cases (households that have not responded to the census) by October 15, 2020. The Bureau attributes the use of technology as among the reasons it completed the work by this date. The Bureau, however, had lower completion percentages ranging between 94 and 99 for 10 local geographic areas, in part because of natural disasters and COVID-19. For example, according to the Bureau, in Shreveport, Louisiana, short-term closures stemming from the hurricane impacted data collection for 82,863 housing units. As a mitigation strategy, the Bureau shifted the Shreveport operation to telephone enumeration and brought in more than 1,200 enumerators from travel teams. Despite these efforts, the Bureau was unable to complete 22,588 cases in Shreveport before data collection ended. For these cases the Bureau will need to rely on alternate methods including imputation, which draws data from similar nearby households to determine whether a housing unit exists, whether it is occupied, and, if so, by how many people. In addition to the challenges brought on by natural disasters, the Bureau encountered other difficulties during nonresponse follow-up, such as, the inability of supervisors to reassign open cases in a timely fashion. GAO found that census field supervisors did not have the authority to reassign cases and had to wait for the field manager to make those reassignments. Bureau officials told GAO it would consider the reassignment of cases as it moves towards planning for the 2030 Census. To monitor nonresponse follow-up, the Bureau used quality control procedures, such as real-time monitoring of enumerator activities by supervisors and training assessments. However, GAO found the Bureau did not have proper controls in place, allowing some enumerators to work without having passed the required training assessment. The Bureau agreed that additional controls were necessary. The Bureau planned to count individuals living in group quarters, such as skilled-nursing and correctional facilities, between April 2, 2020, and June 5, 2020, but revised those dates to July 1, 2020, through September 3, 2020. The pandemic made it difficult to count group quarters. For example, Bureau staff found it challenging to locate a point of contact at some group quarters because facilities were closed due to the pandemic. Bureau officials told us that in December 2020 they decided to re-contact more than 24,000 out of approximately 272,000 group quarter facilities to collect data, and that imputation would be used to count individuals at the remaining facilities still reporting a zero population count. The Bureau is updating plans to assess operations and identify resulting lessons learned from the 2020 Census. As part of its planning for 2030, it will be important for the Bureau to assess the impact of the 2020 late design changes and the operations’ challenges that arose. Why GAO Did This Study The 2020 Census was conducted under extraordinary circumstances. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and related Commerce decisions, the Bureau made a series of late changes to the design of the census. As GAO previously reported, these changes introduced risks to the quality of data that the Bureau provides for congressional apportionment and redistricting purposes. GAO was asked to review the Bureau’s implementation of the 2020 Census. This report assesses the Bureau’s implementation of the: (1) nonresponse follow-up operation, (2) group quarters enumeration, and (3) plans to assess those operations. To address these objectives, GAO conducted a series of surveys of all 248 census offices during the collection of data for those operations. GAO also monitored the cost and progress of operations and interviewed census field supervisors for each operation.
- Air Pollution: Opportunities to Better Sustain and Modernize the National Air Quality Monitoring System
December 7, 2020The ambient air quality monitoring system is a national asset that provides standardized information for implementing the Clean Air Act and protecting public health. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state and local agencies cooperatively manage the system, with each playing different roles in design, operation, oversight, and funding. For example, EPA establishes minimum requirements for the system, and state and local agencies operate the monitors and report data to EPA. Officials from EPA and selected state and local agencies identified challenges related to sustaining the monitoring system. For example, they said that infrastructure is aging while annual EPA funding for state and local air quality management grants, which cover monitoring, has decreased by about 20 percent since 2004 after adjusting for inflation (see fig.). GAO found inconsistencies in how EPA regions have addressed these challenges. GAO’s prior work has identified key characteristics of asset management, such as identifying needed resources and using quality data to manage infrastructure risks, which can help organizations optimize limited resources. By developing an asset management framework that includes such characteristics, EPA could better target limited resources toward the highest priorities for consistently sustaining the system. Annual Inflation-Adjusted EPA Funding for State and Local Air Quality Management Grants Air quality managers, researchers, and the public need additional information so they can better understand and address the health risks from air pollution, according to GAO’s review of literature and interviews GAO conducted. These needs include additional information on (1) air toxics to understand health risks in key locations such as near industrial facilities; and (2) how to use low-cost sensors to provide real-time, local-scale air quality information. EPA and state and local agencies face persistent challenges meeting such air quality information needs, including challenges in understanding the performance of low-cost sensors. GAO illustrated this challenge by collecting air quality data from low-cost sensors and finding variability in their performance. EPA has strategies aimed at better meeting the additional air quality information needs of managers, researchers, and the public, but the strategies are outdated and incomplete. For example, they do not clearly define roles for meeting additional information needs. GAO’s prior work on asset management suggests that a more strategic approach could help EPA modernize the system to better meet the additional information needs. By developing a modernization plan that aligns with leading practices for strategic planning and risk management, such as establishing modernization goals and roles, EPA could better ensure that the system meets the additional information needs of air quality managers, researchers, and the public and is positioned to protect public health. The national ambient air quality monitoring system shows that the United States has made progress in reducing air pollution but that risks to public health and the environment continue in certain locations. The system consists of sites that measure air pollution levels around fixed locations across the country using specific methods. Since the system began in the 1970s, air quality concerns have changed—such as increased concern about the health effects of air toxics. GAO was asked to evaluate the national air quality monitoring system. This report examines the role of the system and how it is managed, challenges in managing the system and actions to address them, and needs for additional air quality information and actions to address challenges in meeting those needs. GAO reviewed literature, laws, and agency documents; conducted a demonstration of low-cost sensors; and interviewed EPA officials, selected state and local officials, representatives from air quality associations, and stakeholders. GAO is making two recommendations for EPA to (1) establish an asset management framework for the monitoring system that includes key characteristics and (2) develop an air quality monitoring modernization plan that aligns with leading practices. In written comments on the report, EPA generally agreed with the recommendations. For more information, contact J. Alfredo Gómez at (202) 512-3841 or email@example.com.
- Statement of Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Antitrust Division and FTC Chair Lina Khan on Competition Executive Order’s Call to Consider Revisions to Merger Guidelines
July 9, 2021The following joint statement can be attributed to Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Antitrust Division and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan: