Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
Nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, global suffering continues despite heroic efforts by our healthcare workers, private citizens, institutions, organizations, countries, and economies. Throughout, it has remained a fact that no one country acting alone can stop the virus. As President Biden has made clear since the September 2021 Global COVID-19 Summit, vaccinating the world, saving lives now, and building back better require concerted global action. Together, the international community can end the acute phase of the pandemic. Today’s COVID-19 Global Action Meeting was an important step toward achieving this shared goal.
Today I convened foreign ministers and senior leaders from countries and international organizations who will help coordinate additional leadership, political will, capacity, and resources, to achieve specific targets in the global COVID-19 response. Together, we identified urgent gaps in response activities and aligned around specific roles to advance global efforts aimed at bringing this pandemic under control and strengthening readiness for future global health threats. We agreed that more political leadership is needed to save lives and end this pandemic cycle in 2022.
We also discussed the COVID-19 Prioritized Global Action Plan for Enhanced Engagement (GAP), which outlines six lines of global effort to respond to acute pandemic needs. Participants committed to lead coordination roles and concrete actions in support of these elements to complement efforts of WHO and other multilateral organizations:
- To Get Shots in Arms, participants discussed coordinated efforts to improve vaccine readiness and logistics, in step with increased donations and procurement, toward the goal of at least 70 percent of the population fully vaccinated with quality, safe, and effective vaccines in every country and income category by September 2022. We recognized the need to focus on difficult-to-reach populations.
- To Bolster Supply Chain Resilience, participants explored mechanisms to facilitate sufficient and steady supplies of critical products and materials that are needed to break this cycle of the COVID-19 pandemic, including establishing mechanisms to identify and remove medical supply chain bottlenecks.
- To Address Information Gaps, participants considered global efforts to enhance vaccine confidence and combat the spread of false information, enlisting regional champions and medical, civil society, young people, and faith leaders to use evidence based, accurate, locally relevant messaging.
- To Support Health Workers, participants emphasized the need to take action toward the health, safety, and wellbeing of frontline health workers, and recognized the need to improve their training and numbers to effectively support the COVID-19 response.
- To Ensure Acute Non-Vaccine Interventions, we discussed the need for greater collaboration and policy innovation in the provision of therapeutics, testing regimes, and oxygen where needed most.
- To Strengthen Global Health Security Architecture, participants also stressed the importance to both end the current pandemic and. secure future preparedness for health emergencies at the national, regional and global level.
We will remain engaged on all six lines of effort in the GAP, and we will redouble our commitment to strengthen efforts to get shots in arms, bolster supply chain resilience, and strengthen the global health security architecture in collaboration with multilateral efforts. I also announced the U.S. government is making a direct donation of 5 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine to the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), the African Union’s vaccine procurement and distribution effort. The first five million doses are already shipping to countries across the continent. Together with doses provided in partnership with COVAX, this brings the total doses the United States has donated to Africa to more than 155 million – as part of the 435 million doses donated worldwide.
Throughout the meeting, we recognized the progress made over the duration of the pandemic and the challenges that remain. Everyone has a role to play in ending this acute phase of the pandemic. The implementation and achievement of the GAP depends on collaboration between governments, NGOs, multilateral organizations, the private sector, philanthropic institutions, civil society, and private citizens. In that spirit, the United States looks forward to continued consultations bringing together an expanded group of partners in action-oriented roles to help end this pandemic cycle in 2022 and strengthen global health security. We call on our partners and allies to build on the leadership expressed today and make tangible commitments that will help us reach this important goal.
Participants joining the United States in the COVID-19 Global Action Meeting included the Commonwealth of Australia, Canada, the Republic of Colombia, the French Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of India, the Republic of Indonesia, the Italian Republic, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Senegal, the Republic of South Africa, the Kingdom of Spain, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the African Union/Africa Centres for Disease Control, the European Commission, and the World Health Organization.
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- Public Designation of Former Namibian Public Officials for Involvement in Significant Corruption
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- Two Former Louisiana Supervisory Correctional Officers Sentenced for Civil Rights Offense Arising Out of the Death of an Inmate
March 11, 2021Two Louisiana men, former jail supervisors, were sentenced today to five years in prison and over four years in prison respectively for being deliberately indifferent to an inmate’s serious medical needs.
- Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt Delivers Remarks at Shinshu University 2nd White Collar Crime Workshop
November 20, 2020Good morning. It is my pleasure to be with you today, even if only through a video screen. Thank you very much to Shinshu University and my hosts for your kind invitation to join the list of distinguished speakers, panelists, and participants in today’s important event. It is my great privilege to be here today representing the women and men of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and I look forward to speaking with you about some of our important work over the past year enforcing the federal criminal laws.
- Justice Department, EPA and Indiana Amend Agreement with the City of South Bend, Indiana to Treat Sewage and Wastewater
August 20, 2021The U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) have agreed to amend a 2012 Clean Water Act consent decree with the City of South Bend, Indiana.
- Over-The-Counter Drugs: Information on FDA’s Regulation of Most OTC Drugs
July 30, 2020The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulated most over-the-counter (OTC) drugs—that is, drugs available without a prescription—through the OTC monograph process. FDA has described an OTC monograph as a “rulebook” for marketing safe and effective OTC drugs, such as aspirin, cough and cold medicine, and hand sanitizer. OTC monographs established conditions—such as active ingredients, indications for use, dosage forms, and product labeling—under which an OTC drug was generally recognized as safe and effective. According to FDA officials, before the CARES Act, which was enacted in March 2020, the agency’s ability to update and finalize monographs in response to safety issues and to reflect new scientific information was limited by the rulemaking process the agency was required to follow, as well as insufficient resources. Agency officials estimated that it took at least 6 years to complete the required rulemaking process. Additionally, the agency reported it was critically under-resourced to regulate the estimated 100,000 OTC drugs marketed through the monograph process. However, the CARES Act provided for a new process to regulate these OTC drugs rather than the rulemaking process. FDA officials expect it will take less time to update and finalize requirements for OTC drugs using the new process. The CARES Act also authorized FDA to assess user fees to provide additional resources to regulate OTC drugs. Although FDA officials said this new process and user fees should improve its regulation of OTC drugs, the agency’s analysis of the effect of the CARES Act is still ongoing. FDA officials told GAO that prior to the CARES Act, they used various methods to identify and respond to safety issues related to OTC drugs. For example, to identify these issues, FDA officials said they read medical literature related to safety issues and reviewed reports submitted to the agency’s adverse event reporting system. To respond to these issues, FDA took steps such as issuing drug safety communications to consumers and requesting that manufacturers make changes to a drug’s labeling. For example, in 2015, two FDA advisory committees recommended that cough and cold drugs with codeine be removed from the relevant OTC monograph for use in drugs in children. In 2018, FDA also issued a drug safety communication stating the risks outweighed the benefits for the use of these drugs in children. However, FDA officials said these methods were not a substitute for rulemaking because manufacturers could legally market their OTC drugs without making requested safety changes until the rulemaking process was completed. According to FDA officials, the new process for regulating OTC drugs included in the CARES Act could improve FDA’s ability to address identified safety risks in a more timely and efficient manner in the future. The act established an expedited process to address safety issues that pose an imminent hazard to public health or to change a drug’s labeling to mitigate a significant or unreasonable risk of a serious adverse event. OTC drugs prevent and treat a variety of conditions; for example, sunscreen is used to help prevent sunburn. FDA officials and stakeholders, such as industry representatives and patient and provider groups, have questioned whether the monograph process used to regulate most OTC drugs has been overly burdensome and has limited FDA’s ability to quickly update and finalize monographs in response to potential safety issues for consumers. Enacted in March 2020, the CARES Act changed how FDA regulates OTC drugs. The Sunscreen Innovation Act included a provision for GAO to review FDA’s regulation of OTC drugs. This report describes, among other issues, (1) the factors that affected FDA’s ability to regulate OTC drugs and (2) how FDA identified and responded to safety issues associated with these drugs. GAO reviewed federal statutes and agency documents and interviewed FDA officials and stakeholders familiar with the monograph process. These stakeholders included representatives from the OTC drug industry, health care provider and consumer groups, and researchers. The Department of Health and Human Services provided technical comments on this report, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact John E. Dicken at (202) 512-7114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Justice Department Files Civil Action to Shut Down California Tax Return Preparer
March 19, 2021The United States has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California seeking to bar a Visalia, California tax return preparer from owning or operating a tax return preparation business and preparing federal income tax returns for others.
- Navy Ships: Timely Actions Needed to Improve Planning and Develop Capabilities for Battle Damage Repair
June 2, 2021What GAO Found The Navy has identified several challenges with using its regular maintenance capability (which restores ships to fully operational status) to provide battle damage repairs during a great power conflict. Challenges include—the lack of established doctrine for battle damage repair, unclear command and control roles, and a shortage of repair capacity. The Navy Process for Repairing Ships Damaged in Battle The Navy is in the early stages of determining how it will provide battle damage repair during a great power conflict. Eight organizations are responsible for the Navy’s 15 battle damage repair planning efforts, however the Navy has not designated an organization to lead and oversee these efforts. Without designated leadership, the Navy may be hindered in its efforts to address the many challenges it faces in sustaining its ships during a great power conflict. The Navy develops ship vulnerability models during a ship’s acquisition to estimate damage during a conflict. These models are also used to inform war games that refine operational approaches and train leaders on decision-making. However, the Navy does not update these models over a ship’s decades-long service life to reflect changes to key systems that could affect model accuracy. As a result, it lacks quality data on ship mission-critical failure points to inform its analysis of battle damage repair needs. Without periodically assessing and updating its models to accurately reflect the ship’s mission-critical systems, the Navy has limited its ability to assess and develop battle damage repair capabilities necessary to sustain ships in a conflict with a great power competitor. Why GAO Did This Study The ability to repair and maintain ships plays a critical role in sustaining Navy readiness. After the Cold War, the Navy divested many wartime ship repair capabilities. With the rise of great power competitors capable of producing high-end threats in warfare, the Navy must now be prepared to quickly salvage and repair damage to a modern fleet. House Report 116-120, accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, included a provision for GAO to assess the Navy’s efforts to identify and mitigate challenges in repairing battle-damaged ships during a great power conflict. GAO’s report (1) discusses the challenges the Navy has identified in using its regular maintenance capability for battle damage repair, and (2) evaluates the extent to which the Navy has begun developing the battle damage repair capability it requires to prevail in a great power conflict. GAO reviewed relevant guidance and assessed reports on naval war games and other documentation to identify challenges that may impede the planning and repair of battle-damaged ships and efforts to improve the repair capability for a great power conflict.
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- William M. Kelly, M.D., Inc And Omega Imaging, Inc. Agree To Pay $5 Million To Resolve Alleged False Claims For Unsupervised And Unaccredited Radiology Services
September 9, 2020William M. Kelly Inc. and Omega Imaging Inc., together, operate 11 radiology facilities in Southern California, have agreed to pay the United States $5 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by knowingly submitting claims to Medicare and the military healthcare program, TRICARE, for unsupervised radiology services and services provided at unaccredited facilities, the Department of Justice announced today.
- Texas Man Sentenced for Hate Crime and Other Charges After Using Dating App to Target Gay Men for Violent Crimes
October 13, 2021Daniel Jenkins, 22, of Dallas was sentenced today for committing violent crimes as part of a conspiracy to target users of the dating app Grindr. Jenkins was sentenced to a federal prison term of 280 months for his involvement in the scheme to target gay men for violent crimes.
- Veterans Community Care Program: Improvements Needed to Help Ensure Timely Access to Care
September 30, 2020In a September 2020 report, GAO found that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) established an appointment scheduling process for its new Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP) but did not specify allowable wait times for some key steps in the process. Further, GAO found that VA had not established an overall wait-time performance measure—that is, the maximum amount of time it should take for veterans to receive care from community providers. In 2013, GAO recommended that VA establish a wait-time measure under a prior VA community care program, and in 2018 again recommended that VA establish an achievable wait-time goal to receive care under the VCCP. VA has not implemented these recommendations. Potential Allowable Wait Time to Obtain Care through the Veterans Community Care Program Note: This figure illustrates potential allowable wait times in calendar days for eligible veterans who are referred to the Veterans Community Care Program through routine referrals (not urgent), and have VA medical center staff—Referral Coordination Team (RCT) and community care staff (CC staff)—schedule the appointments on their behalf. Given VA’s lack of action over the prior 7 years in implementing wait-time measures for various community care programs, GAO believes that Congressional action is warranted requiring VA to establish such an overall measure for the VCCP. This should help to achieve timely health care for veterans. GAO found additional VCCP challenges needing VA action: (1) VA uses metrics that are remnants from the previous community care program and inconsistent with the time frames established in the VCCP scheduling process. (2) Few community providers have signed up to use the software VA intends for VA medical center (VAMC) staff and community providers to use to electronically share referral information with each other. (3) Select VAMCs faced challenges scheduling appointments in a timely manner and most did not have the full amount of community care staff VA’s staffing tool recommended. In June 2019, VA implemented its new community care program, the VCCP, as required by the VA MISSION Act of 2018. This new program replaced or consolidated prior community care programs. Under the VCCP, VAMC staff are responsible for community care appointment scheduling. This statement summarizes GAO’s September 2020 report. It describes for the VCCP: (1) the appointment scheduling process that VA established for veterans, (2) the metrics VA used to monitor the timeliness of appointment scheduling, (3) VA’s efforts to prepare VAMC staff for appointment scheduling, and (4) VA’s efforts to determine VAMC staffing needs. In performing that work, GAO reviewed VA documentation, such as guidance, referral timeliness data, and VAMC community care staffing data; conducted site visits to five VAMCs; and interviewed VA and VAMC officials. In its September 2020 report, GAO recommended that Congress consider requiring VA to establish an overall wait-time measure for the VCCP. GAO also made three recommendations to VA, including that it align its monitoring metrics with the VCCP appointment scheduling process. VA did not concur with this recommendation, but concurred with the other two. GAO maintains that all recommendations are warranted. For more information, contact Sharon M. Silas at (202) 512-7114 or email@example.com.
- Federal Contracting: Noncompetitive Contracts Based on Urgency Need Additional Oversight
August 24, 2021What GAO Found The Departments of Defense (DOD) and State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) used the urgency exception to a limited extent, but the reliability of some federal procurement data elements is questionable. For fiscal years 2010 through 2012, obligations reported under urgent noncompetitive contracts ranged from less than 1 percent to about 12 percent of all noncompetitive contract obligations. During that time, DOD obligated $12.5 billion noncompetitively to procure goods and services using the urgency exception, while State and USAID obligated $582 million and about $20 million respectively, almost exclusively to procure services. Among the items procured were personal armor, guard services and communications equipment to support missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. GAO found coding errors that raise concerns about the reliability of federal procurement data on the use of the urgency exception. Nearly half—28 of the 62 contracts in GAO’s sample—were incorrectly coded as having used the urgency exception when they did not. GAO found that 20 of the 28 miscoded contracts were awarded using procedures that are more simple and separate from the requirements related to the use of the urgency exception. Ensuring reliability of procurement data is critical as these data are used to inform procurement policy decisions and facilitate oversight. For the 34 contracts in GAO’s sample that were properly coded as having used the urgency exception, agencies cited a range of urgent circumstances, primarily to meet urgent needs for combat operations or to avoid unanticipated gaps in program support. The justifications and approvals—which are required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to contain certain facts and rationale to justify use of the urgency exception to competition—generally contained the required elements; however, some were ambiguous about the specific risks to the government if the acquisition was delayed. Ten of the 34 contracts in GAO’s sample had a period of performance of more than one year—8 of which were modified after award to extend the period of performance beyond 1 year. The FAR limits contracts using the urgency exception to one year in duration unless the head of the agency or a designee determines that exceptional circumstances apply. Agencies did not make this determination for the 10 contracts. The FAR is not clear about what steps agencies should take when a contract is modified after award to extend the period of performance over 1 year. Some contracting officials noted that these modifications are treated as separate contract actions and would not require the determination by the head of the agency or designee. Others considered them cumulative actions requiring the determination. Standards for Internal Controls in the Federal Government calls for organizations to maintain proper controls that ensure transparency and accountability for stewardship of government resources. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP)—which provides governmentwide policy on federal contracting procedures—is in a position to clarify when the determination of exceptional circumstances is needed to help achieve consistent implementation of this requirement across the federal government. Further, under the urgency exception, the FAR requires agencies to seek offers from as many vendors as practicable given the circumstances. For some contracts in GAO’s sample, lack of access to technical data rights and reliance on contractor expertise prevented agencies from obtaining competition. Why GAO Did This Study Competition is a critical tool for achieving the best return on the government’s investment. Federal agencies are generally required to award contracts competitively but are permitted to award noncompetitive contracts under certain circumstances, such as when requirements are of such an unusual and compelling urgency that the government would suffer serious financial or other injury. Contracts that use the urgency exception to competition must generally be no longer than one year in duration. The conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2013 mandated GAO to examine DOD’s, State’s, and USAID’s use of this exception. For the three agencies, GAO assessed (1) the pattern of use, (2) the reasons agencies awarded urgent noncompetitive contracts and the extent to which justifications met FAR requirements; and (3) the extent to which agencies limited the duration. GAO analyzed federal procurement data, interviewed contracting officials, and analyzed a non-generalizable sample of 62 contracts with a mix of obligation levels and types of goods and services procured across the three agencies.
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- DOD Health Care: DOD Should Monitor Implementation of Its Clinical Practice Guidelines
February 5, 2021As of October 2020, the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) had jointly developed 22 clinical practice guidelines (VA/DOD CPG) that address specific health conditions, including those related to chronic diseases, mental health issues, pain management, and rehabilitation. Such guidelines are important as military and veteran populations may have different health care needs than civilians due to involvement in combat or occupational exposures (e.g., fumes from burn pits) that may amplify physical and psychological stresses. GAO found that DOD and VA considered the health care needs of these populations throughout the guideline development process and that the guidelines include information about these health care needs in different sections. In some cases, the guidelines include treatment recommendations that specifically address the health care needs of the military and veteran populations. In other instances, they may include information about the prevalence of a specific condition for these populations, among other information. Each of the military services (Army, Air Force, and Navy) has its own process for distributing VA/DOD CPGs to providers at their military treatment facilities (MTF). However, DOD’s Defense Health Agency (DHA) is in the process of assuming administrative operations—to include distributing guidelines—for all of the military services’ MTFs through an incremental transition process that is to be completed by the end of September 2021. While DHA officials acknowledged that they need to develop a uniform distribution process for the guidelines once they complete the transition, MTF providers can currently access the guidelines through VA’s designated website and DOD’s electronic health record systems. Congress directed DOD to implement VA/DOD CPGs, using means such as providing education and training, and to monitor MTFs’ implementation of them. However, GAO found that DHA and the military services are not systematically monitoring MTFs’ implementation of these guidelines. While the Army tracks VA/DOD CPG education and training at its MTFs, officials with DHA, the Navy, and the Air Force explained that they have not been monitoring MTF implementation of these guidelines. DHA officials acknowledged that they need to develop a monitoring process as they assume administrative and oversight responsibilities for the military services’ MTFs, but have not yet developed a plan to do so. Without a systematic process to monitor MTF implementation of these guidelines, DHA does not know the extent to which MTF providers may be using VA/DOD CPGs to reduce the variability and improve the quality of health care services provided—factors that may contribute to better health outcomes across the military health system. Through DOD’s TRICARE program, eligible beneficiaries may receive care from providers at MTFs or from civilian providers. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 required DOD to establish a program to develop, implement, update, and monitor clinical practice guidelines, which are evidence-based treatment recommendations to improve the consistency and quality of care delivered by MTF providers. The Act also included a provision for GAO to assess issues related to the military health system, including the process of ensuring that providers adhere to clinical practice guidelines, and to report annually for 4 years. This is GAO’s fourth report based on the Act. This report describes (1) how the process for developing the guidelines considers the health care needs of the military and veteran populations, (2) how they are distributed by the military services to their providers and how providers access them, and (3) the extent to which DHA and the military services monitor MTF implementation of them, among other things. GAO reviewed relevant policies and guidance; analyzed each of the 22 CPGs; and interviewed officials with DOD, the military services, and VA. GAO recommends that DHA work with the military services to develop and implement a systematic process to monitor MTFs’ implementation of VA/DOD CPGs. DOD concurred with this recommendation. For more information, contact Debra A. Draper at (202) 512-7114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Evidence-Based Policymaking: Survey Results Suggest Increased Use of Performance Information Across the Federal Government
November 3, 2021What GAO Found Performance information can help decision makers understand and improve results at federal agencies. GAO’s 2020 survey of federal managers showed that the reported use of performance information in decision-making generally increased across the federal government compared to prior surveys. For example, on an index that approximates such use with a single score, GAO estimates with 95 percent confidence that the 2020 government-wide result was statistically significantly higher than each prior score since GAO created the index in 2007 (see below). Managers’ Reported Use of Performance Information, as Measured by GAO’s Index Note: The index is an average of results from 11 related survey questions on agency and manager use of performance information. Scores range from 1, which reflects managers reported the use of performance information to “no extent,” to 5, which reflects to a “very great extent.” At a majority of agencies, managers reported statistically significant increases in performance information use. For example, index scores increased at 16 of the 24 agencies in 2020 compared to 2017, including at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Prior GAO work highlighted actions that NASA has taken since December 2018 to increase its use of performance information to improve the management of its acquisition projects, which have a history of cost growth and schedule delays. This includes having projects report relevant data to a central repository, which agency leaders review and discuss to help manage project performance. GAO’s analyses also found that key practices continue to be positively associated with greater reported use of performance information. For example: managers reported increases at a majority of agencies on actions related to leading practices identified by GAO’s past work that promote the use of performance information, such as providing relevant training and effectively communicating performance information; and managers whose programs were subject to data-driven reviews —regular reviews of progress toward select goals—to a greater extent also reported greater use of performance information. Why GAO Did This Study The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 and the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 included requirements to enhance federal efforts to develop and use performance information and other evidence in decision-making. Both acts include provisions for GAO to periodically report on their implementation. This report assesses the extent to which (1) federal managers’ reported use of performance information changed in 2020, and (2) selected leading practices and data-driven reviews were associated with greater reported use of performance information. To conduct its work, GAO analyzed results from a survey it administered from July to December 2020 to a stratified random sample of about 4,000 managers at 24 major federal agencies. The survey had a 56 percent response rate. Results can be generalized to the population of managers government-wide and at each agency. GAO also reviewed relevant Office of Management and Budget (OMB) documents, interviewed OMB staff, and followed up on the implementation of prior related GAO recommendations. In response to a draft of this report, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Agency for International Development provided comments that highlighted results from GAO’s survey and described efforts to improve the use of evidence in decision-making. OMB and the remaining 22 agencies did not provide comments. For more information, contact Alissa H. Czyz at (202) 512-6806 or CzyzA@gao.gov.
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- Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks at the Pan Am 103 Press Conference
December 21, 2020On this day 32 years ago, December 21, 1988, at 7:03 p.m. local time, a bomb destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 as it flew 31,000 feet above Lockerbie, Scotland. The massive Boeing 747 plane, known as the “Clipper Maid of the Seas,” exploded and fell to the ground in countless pieces scattered across 840 square miles, nearly the entire width of Scotland. The explosion killed all 259 people on board—243 passengers and 16 crew members, including 190 Americans. Falling debris claimed the lives of 11 Lockerbie residents on the ground, many of whom were in their homes and had just sat down for dinner.