Office of the Spokesperson
The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack against Ukraine. Secretary Blinken thanked the Secretary-General for the commitment of the United Nations to deliver assistance in Ukraine despite extremely dangerous and difficult circumstances. Secretary Blinken emphasized the importance of ensuring humanitarian workers’ safety and security.
- Pakistan Independence Day
August 15, 2021
- Weapon System Sustainment: Aircraft Mission Capable Rates Generally Did Not Meet Goals and Cost of Sustaining Selected Weapon Systems Varied Widely
November 19, 2020Mission Capable Rates for Selected Department of Defense Aircraft GAO examined 46 types of aircraft and found that only three met their annual mission capable goals in a majority of the years for fiscal years 2011 through 2019 and 24 did not meet their annual mission capable goals in any fiscal year as shown below. The mission capable rate—the percentage of total time when the aircraft can fly and perform at least one mission—is used to assess the health and readiness of an aircraft fleet. Number of Times Selected Aircraft Met Their Annual Mission Capable Goal, Fiscal years 2011 through 2019 aThe military departments did not provide mission capable goals for all nine years for these aircraft. Aggregating the trends at the military service level, the average annual mission capable rate for the selected Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps aircraft decreased since fiscal year 2011, while the average annual mission capable rate for the selected Army aircraft slightly increased. While the average mission capable rate for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter showed an increase from fiscal year 2012 to 2019, it trended downward from fiscal year 2015 through fiscal year 2018 before improving slightly in fiscal year 2019. For fiscal year 2019, GAO found only three of the 46 types of aircraft examined met the service-established mission capable goal. Furthermore, for fiscal year 2019: six aircraft were 5 percentage points or fewer below the goal; 18 were from 15 to 6 percentage points below the goal; and 19 were more than 15 percentage points below the goal, including 11 that were 25 or more percentage points below the goal. Program officials provided various reasons for the overall decline in mission capable rates, including aging aircraft, maintenance challenges, and supply support issues as shown below. Sustainment Challenges Affecting Some of the Selected Department of Defense Aircraft aA service life extension refers to a modification to extend the service life of an aircraft beyond what was planned. bDiminishing manufacturing sources refers to a loss or impending loss of manufacturers or suppliers of items. cObsolescence refers to a lack of availability of a part due to its lack of usefulness or its no longer being current or available for production. Operating and Support Costs for Selected Department of Defense Aircraft Operating and support (O&S) costs, such as the costs of maintenance and supply support, totaled over $49 billion in fiscal year 2018 for the aircraft GAO reviewed and ranged from a low of $118.03 million for the KC-130T Hercules (Navy) to a high of $4.24 billion for the KC-135 Stratotanker (Air Force). The trends in O&S costs varied by aircraft from fiscal year 2011 to 2018. For example, total O&S costs for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (Navy) increased $1.13 billion due in part to extensive maintenance needs. In contrast, the F-15C/D Eagle (Air Force) costs decreased by $490 million due in part to a reduction in the size of the fleet. Maintenance-specific costs for the aircraft types we examined also varied widely. Why This Matters The Department of Defense (DOD) spends tens of billions of dollars annually to sustain its weapon systems in an effort to ensure that these systems are available to simultaneously support today’s military operations and maintain the capability to meet future defense requirements. This report provides observations on mission capable rates and costs to operate and sustain 46 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft in the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. How GAO Did This Study GAO was asked to report on the condition and costs of sustaining DOD’s aircraft. GAO collected and analyzed data on mission capable rates and O&S costs from the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force for fiscal years 2011 through 2019. GAO reviewed documentation and interviewed program office officials to identify reasons for the trends in mission capability rates and O&S costs as well as any challenges in sustaining the aircraft. This is a public version of a sensitive report issued in August 2020. Information on mission capable and aircraft availability rates were deemed to be sensitive and has been omitted from this report. For more information, contact Director Diana Maurer at (202) 512-9627 or email@example.com.
- Court Orders Toledo Pharmacy and Two Pharmacists to Stop Dispensing Dangerous Doses and Combinations of Opioids and Other Controlled Substances
June 7, 2021A federal court in Ohio ordered a Toledo pharmacy and two of its pharmacists to pay a $375,000 civil penalty and imposed restrictions related to the dispensing of opioids and other controlled substances.
- NASA to Broadcast Mars 2020 Perseverance Launch, Prelaunch Activities
September 26, 2020Starting July 27, news [Read More…]
- Overseas Presence: Cost Analyses and Performance Measures Are Needed to Demonstrate the Full Potential of Providing Embassy Support Remotely
August 25, 2021The President has emphasized the importance of safety, efficiency, and accountability in U.S. government staffing overseas by designating the achievement of a rightsized overseas presence as a part of the President’s Management Agenda. One of the elements of rightsizing involves relocating certain administrative support functions from overseas posts to the United States or regional centers overseas, which can provide cheaper, safer, or more effective support. This report (1) reviews State’s efforts in providing administrative support from remote locations, (2) identifies the challenges it faces in doing so, and (3) outlines the potential advantages and concerns associated with providing support remotely.State has a number of regional and domestic offices that provide some management support remotely to overseas posts in areas such as financial management and human resources. For example, State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs provides support to posts in its region through staff based in Florida. State announced in October 2005 it would identify and remove additional functions that do not need to be performed at post and could instead be performed domestically or at regional centers overseas. State faces several challenges in trying to expand its use of remote support. For example, restrictions on what management functions non-American staff can perform might limit the extent to which services can be provided remotely. In addition, current funding arrangements for various regional bureaus and posts might limit opportunities for remote support to be offered from one region to another, while posts’ reluctance to change is a further constraint. State is assessing whether certain regulations could be waived or changed and how institutional challenges might be overcome. There are several potential advantages to providing administrative support to posts from remote locations, and several concerns. For example, one U.S.-based officer provides financial management support to multiple overseas posts, eliminating the need for an American financial management officer at each post served, which, according to State, could result in cost savings. Officials at posts we visited reported they were generally satisfied with the level of support and customer service at a regional or domestic service center, though some noted concerns. However, at the time of our review, State had neither analyzed the potential cost savings associated with providing remote support nor systematically assessed the quality of support provided. In addition, many officials in Washington and overseas were unaware of the full breadth of support offered by regional service centers.
- Congressional Award Foundation: Review of the FY 2020 Financial Statement Audit
June 29, 2021What GAO Found Based on the limited procedures GAO performed in reviewing the independent public accountant’s (IPA) audit of the Congressional Award Foundation’s fiscal year 2020 financial statements, GAO did not identify any significant issues that it believes require attention. Had GAO performed additional procedures, other matters might have come to its attention that it would have reported. The IPA provided an unmodified audit opinion on the Foundation’s fiscal year 2020 financial statements. Specifically, the IPA found that the Foundation’s financial statements were presented fairly, in all material respects, in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. Further, for fiscal year 2020, the IPA did not identify any (1) deficiencies that it considered to be material weaknesses in the Foundation’s internal control over financial reporting or (2) instances of reportable noncompliance or other matters as a result of its tests of the Foundation’s compliance with certain provisions of laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements. The Foundation concurred with the IPA’s conclusions. GAO’s review of the Foundation’s fiscal year 2020 financial statement audit, as differentiated from an audit of the financial statements, was not intended to enable GAO to express, and it does not express, an opinion on the Foundation’s financial statements or conclude on the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting. Furthermore, GAO does not express an opinion on the Foundation’s compliance with provisions of applicable laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements. The IPA is responsible for its reports on the Foundation dated April 6, 2021, and the conclusions expressed therein. GAO provided a draft of this report to the Foundation and the IPA for review and comment. The Foundation’s National Director and the IPA’s Audit Principal each replied in emails that they had no comments on the draft report. Why GAO Did This Study This report presents the results of GAO’s review of the Foundation’s fiscal year 2020 financial statement audit. The Congressional Award Act established the Congressional Award Board to carry out a program to promote excellence among the nation’s youth in the areas of public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition or exploration. The Board created the Foundation as a nonprofit corporation to assist in carrying out this program. The Congressional Award Act, as amended by the Government Reports Elimination Act of 2014, requires the Foundation to obtain an annual financial statement audit from an IPA. The act also requires GAO to review the audit and report the results to the Congress annually. GAO’s objective was to review the audit of the Foundation’s fiscal year 2020 financial statements. To satisfy this objective, GAO (1) read and considered various documents with respect to the IPA’s independence, objectivity, and qualifications; (2) analyzed key IPA audit documentation; (3) read the Foundation’s fiscal year 2020 financial statements, the IPA’s audit report on the Foundation’s financial statements, and the IPA’s report on internal control over financial reporting and on compliance or other matters based on its audit; and (4) met with IPA representatives and Foundation management officials. For more information, contact Beryl H. Davis at (202) 512-2623 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Justice, Labor Departments Reach Settlements with Facebook Resolving Claims of Discrimination Against U.S. Workers and Potential Regulatory Recruitment Violations
October 19, 2021The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Labor today announced separate settlement agreements with Facebook regarding its use of the permanent labor certification program (PERM). The Justice Department’s settlement resolves its claims that Facebook routinely refused to recruit, consider or hire U.S. workers, a group that includes U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, asylees, refugees and lawful permanent residents, for positions it had reserved for temporary visa holders in connection with the PERM process. Additionally, the Labor Department’s settlement resolves issues it separately identified through audit examinations of Facebook’s recruitment activities related to its PERM applications filed with the Employment and Training Administration’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC).
- Executive Arrested and Charged for Bribery and Money-Laundering Scheme
August 4, 2021A South Florida resident was arrested yesterday in Miami on charges related to his alleged role in a scheme to bribe Venezuelan officials and launder funds to obtain contracts from Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), and Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled food company that purchased food for Venezuela, Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícola (CASA).
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken to Mission Indonesia Staff
December 14, 2021
- Cameroonian Operator Charged in Fraudulent Online “Puppy Scam” that Exploited the COVID-19 Pandemic
December 7, 2020A criminal complaint unsealed Friday in federal court in Pittsburgh charges Desmond Fodje Bobga for his alleged involvement in a puppy fraud scheme perpetrated against American consumers. Fodje Bobga, 27, is a citizen of Cameroon who is in Romania on a visa to attend a university there.
- On the Australian Sanctions Regime
December 3, 2021
- Manager of Hospice and Home Health Companies Sentenced to Prison for Role in $150 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme
April 21, 2021A Texas man was sentenced today to 27 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy at the Merida Group, a chain of hospice and home health agencies throughout Texas, to falsely convince thousands of patients with long-term incurable diseases they had less than six months to live in order to enroll the patients in hospice programs for which they were otherwise unqualified, thereby increasing revenue to the company.
- Software Development: DOD Faces Risks and Challenges in Implementing Modern Approaches and Addressing Cybersecurity Practices
June 24, 2021What GAO Found According to the Department of Defense’s (DOD) fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget request, DOD spent $2.8 billion on the 29 selected major business information technology (IT) programs in FY 2019. The department also reported that it planned to invest over $9.7 billion on these programs between FY 2020 and FY 2022. In addition, 20 of the 29 programs reported experiencing cost or schedule changes since January 2019. Program officials attributed cost and schedule changes to a variety of reasons, including modernization changes and requirements changes or delays. Seventeen of the 29 programs also reported experiencing challenges associated with the early impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the slowdown of contractors’ software development efforts. DOD and GAO’s assessments of program risk identified a range of program risk levels and indicated that some programs could be underreporting risks. Specifically, of the 22 programs that were actively using a register to manage program risks, DOD rated nine programs as low risk, 12 as medium risk, and one as high risk. In contrast, GAO rated seven as low risk, 12 as medium risk, and three as high risk. In total, GAO found 10 programs for which its numerical assessments of program risk reflected greater risk than reported by DOD, while DOD had three programs with greater reported risk than GAO. DOD officials noted that differences in risk levels might be associated with a variety of factors, including different risk assessment approaches. However, the differences in risk level GAO identified highlight the need for DOD to ensure that it is accurately reporting program risks. Until the department does so, oversight of some programs could be limited by overly optimistic risk perspectives. As of December 2020, program officials for the 22 major DOD business IT programs that were actively developing software reported using approaches that may help to limit cost and schedule risks. (See table.) Selected Software Development and Cybersecurity Approaches That May Limit Risks and Number of Major DOD Business IT Programs That Reported Using the Approach Software development and cybersecurity approaches that may limit risk Number of programs that reported using the approach Using off-the-shelf software 19 of 22 Implementing continuous iterative software development 18 of 22 Delivering software at least every 6 monthsa 16 of 22 Developing or planning to develop a cybersecurity strategy 21 of 22 Conducting developmental cybersecurity testing 16 of 22 Conducting operational cybersecurity testing 15 of 22 Source: GAO analysis of Department of Defense questionnaire responses. | GAO-21-351aThe Defense Innovation Board encourages more frequent delivery of working software to users for Agile and DevOps practices. Program officials also reported facing a variety of software development challenges while implementing these approaches. These included difficulties finding and hiring staff, transitioning from waterfall to Agile software development, and managing technical environments. DOD’s continued efforts to address these challenges will be critical to the department’s implementation of modern software development approaches. DOD has also made organizational and policy changes intended to improve the management of its IT acquisitions, such as taking steps to implement Agile software development and improve data transparency. In addition, to address statutory requirements, DOD has taken steps to remove the department’s chief management officer (CMO) position. However, the department had not yet sufficiently implemented these changes. Officials from many of the 18 programs GAO assessed that reported using Agile development reported that DOD had implemented activities associated with Agile transition best practices to only some or little to no extent, indicating that the department had not sufficiently implemented best practices. For example, 12 of the 18 programs reported that DOD’s life-cycle activities only supported Agile methods to some or little to no extent. Program officials also reported challenges associated with implementing Agile software development. The department has a variety of efforts underway to help with its implementation of Agile software development. DOD officials stated that the department’s transition to Agile will take years and will require sustained engagement throughout DOD. In addition, DOD has taken steps aimed at improving the sharing and transparency of data it uses to monitor its acquisitions. According to a November 2020 proposal from the Office of the Under Secretary for Acquisition and Sustainment, DOD officials are to develop data strategies and metrics to assess performance for the department’s acquisition pathways. However, as of February 2021, DOD did not have data strategies and had not finalized metrics for the two pathways associated with the programs discussed in this report. Officials said they were working with DOD programs and components to finalize initial pathway metrics. They stated that they plan to implement them in fiscal year 2021 and continue to refine and adjust them over the coming years. Without important data from acquistion pathways and systems, DOD risks not having timely quantitative insight into program performance, including its acquisition reform efforts. Finally, DOD’s CMO position was eliminated by a statute enacted in January 2021. This position was responsible for key efforts associated with the department’s business systems modernization, which has been on GAO’s High Risk List since 1995. DOD plans to take steps to address the uncertainty associated with the recent elimination of the position. Why GAO Did This Study For fiscal year 2021, DOD requested approximately $37.7 billion for IT investments. These investments included major business IT programs, which are intended to help the department carry out key business functions, such as financial management and health care. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 included a provision for GAO to assess selected IT programs annually through March 2023. GAO’s objectives for this review were to (1) summarize DOD’s reported performance of its portfolio of IT acquisition programs and the reasons for this performance; (2) evaluate DOD’s assessments of program risks; (3) summarize DOD’s approaches to software development and cybersecurity and identify associated challenges; and (4) evaluate how selected organizational and policy changes could affect IT acquisitions. To address these objectives, GAO selected 29 major business IT programs that DOD reported to the federal IT Dashboard (a public website that includes information on the performance of major IT investments) as of September 2020. GAO reviewed planned expenditures for these programs, from fiscal years 2019 through 2022, as reported in the department’s FY 2021 budget request. It also aggregated program office responses to a GAO questionnaire that requested information about cost and schedule changes that occurred since January 2019 and the early impacts of COVID-19. GAO also analyzed the risks of the 22 programs that were actively using central repositories known as risk registers to manage program risks. GAO used these registers to create program risk ratings, and then compared its ratings to those of the DOD chief information officer (CIO). In addition, GAO aggregated DOD program office responses to the questionnaire that requested information about the software and cybersecurity practices used by 22 of the 29 IT programs that were actively developing software. GAO compared the responses to relevant guidance and leading practices. GAO reviewed selected IT-related organizational and policy changes and reviewed reports and documentation related to the effects of these changes on IT acquisitions. GAO also aggregated program office responses to the questionnaire that requested information about DOD’s implementation of these changes. This included information on DOD’s implementation of best practices as part of its efforts to implement Agile software development. GAO met with relevant DOD officials to discuss each of the topics addressed in this report.
- Enactment of Legal Peace Legislation to Restore Sudan’s Sovereign Immunities
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- Justice Department Settles with Transport Packaging Services Company to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim
November 4, 2021The Department of Justice today announced it has reached a settlement agreement with Rehrig Pacific Company (Rehrig Pacific), headquartered in California. The settlement resolves allegations that Rehrig Pacific discriminated against a non-U.S. citizen when, because of his citizenship status, it did not give him the opportunity to produce his choice of valid documentation proving his permission to work.
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Mexican Foreign Secretary Ebrard
September 21, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
- Justice Department and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Announce Actions to Resolve Lending Discrimination Claims Against Cadence Bank
August 30, 2021The Justice Department and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) today announced coordinated actions to address allegations of lending discrimination by Cadence Bank N.A.
- Texas man admits to smuggling $1.1 Million of crystal meth
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- South Padre Island man heads to prison following the discovery of more than 22K pornographic images
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