Following a trial that lasted nearly five weeks, a federal jury in St. Paul, Minnesota, found three former Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers guilty of federal civil rights offenses arising out of the death of George Perry Floyd Jr. on May 25, 2020.
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Judy Woodruff of PBS NewsHour
March 4, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- Over 500K Rapid Coronavirus Tests Being Distributed to HBCUs
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- [Protest of BOP Cancellation of Solicitation for Correctional Facility Construction]
August 17, 2021A firm protested the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) cancellation of a solicitation for correctional facility construction, contending that BOP: (1) improperly cancelled the solicitation, since the specifications were not defective; and (2) should have made award to it, since it was the low bidder. GAO held that BOP properly cancelled the solicitation, since the conflicting specifications: (1) misled bidders and precluded them from competing on an equal basis; and (2) prejudiced the other bidders regarding the applicability of certain sales taxes. Accordingly, the protest was denied.
- Statement from Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on the Life of Walter E. Dellinger III
February 16, 2022U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland released today the following statement on the passing of Walter E. Dellinger III: “The passing of Walter Dellinger is an enormous loss for those of us at the Justice Department who worked alongside and learned from him, for his family who cherished him, and for our nation, which was made better because of him.
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with South African Foreign Minister Pandor
November 27, 2021
- Defense Forensics: Additional Planning and Oversight Needed to Establish an Enduring Expeditionary Forensic Capability
August 24, 2021What GAO Found The Department of Defense (DOD) has taken some important steps to establish an enduring expeditionary forensic capability by issuing a concept of operations in 2008, followed by a directive in 2011 to establish policy and assign responsibilities. As required by the directive, DOD has drafted a strategic plan to guide the activities of the Defense Forensic Enterprise, including expeditionary forensics. Although the plan includes a mission statement, and goals and objectives–two of the five key elements identified by GAO as integral to a well-developed strategic plan–it does not identify approaches for how goals and objectives will be achieved, milestones and metrics to gauge progress, and resources needed to achieve goals and objectives. GAO’s prior work has shown that organizations need a well-developed strategic plan to identify and achieve their goals and objectives effectively and efficiently. Officials in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (OUSD(AT&L)) said that they decided to create a concise, high-level strategic plan and that they plan to issue guidance tasking the DOD components to develop individual implementation plans that include milestones. However, approaches, metrics, and resources needed to accomplish its goals and objectives were absent from the draft guidance. GAO discussed this omission with OUSD(AT&L), and in response, this office plans to revise its draft guidance. Also, the forensic strategic plan has been in draft for 2 years having undergone multiple revisions, and is still undergoing DOD internal review with no publication date set, and by extension, a publication date has not been set for the proposed DOD component implementation plans. The lack of an approved strategic plan and associated implementation plans limits DOD’s ability to prioritize its efforts to develop an enduring expeditionary forensic capability by the end of 2014. Moreover, OUSD(AT&L) has not reviewed and evaluated the adequacy of DOD components’ expeditionary forensic budget estimates for fiscal years 2013 through 2018, as required by DOD’s directive. OUSD(AT&L) officials said that they were waiting for the DOD components to finalize their budget estimates for fiscal years 2013 through 2018, and waiting for the Joint Capabilities Integration Development System to validate their forensic requirements. Regardless, reviewing and evaluating the DOD components’ proposed budget estimates allows OUSD(AT&L) to advise the DOD components on their resource allocation decisions with respect to expeditionary forensic capabilities. OUSD(AT&L) officials cited several factors that also affected their ability to review and evaluate the DOD components’ forensic budget data, such as aggregation of components’ forensic budget estimates with other costs. Moreover, these officials said the directive does not provide guidance to DOD components on how to collect and report forensic budget data. GAO’s Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government notes that agencies should provide policy and guidance to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of operations. Until OUSD(AT&L) reviews and evaluates the adequacy of DOD components’ forensic budget estimates, and guidance is in place to inform forensic budget collection and reporting, OUSD(AT&L) will continue to experience challenges with identifying the costs associated with DOD’s expeditionary forensic capabilities. Why GAO Did This Study DOD used expeditionary forensics for collecting fingerprints and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) to identify, target, and disrupt terrorists and enemy combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan. The increased incidence of improvised explosive devices and other asymmetric threats has increased demand for expeditionary forensic capabilities. Many of DOD’s expeditionary forensic activities are resourced through DOD’s Overseas Contingency Operations funds. DOD estimates that it cost between $800 million and $1 billion of these funds from 2005 through 2012 to support expeditionary forensics activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, as military operations are projected to draw down in Afghanistan, this funding is expected to substantially decline by the end of 2014. Consequently, DOD is taking steps to establish expeditionary forensics as an enduring capability in DOD’s base budget. GAO was asked to examine DOD’s expeditionary forensic capability. This report assessed the extent to which DOD has taken steps to establish an enduring expeditionary forensic capability. To address this objective, GAO reviewed relevant policy, plans, and budget estimates, and interviewed cognizant DOD officials.
- Defense Contracting: More Insight into Use of Financing Payments Could Benefit DOD in Future Emergencies
February 17, 2022What GAO Found As defense contractors build weapon systems like aircraft or ships that are both time- and capital-intensive, the Department of Defense (DOD) in certain cases provides contract financing along the way in the form of progress or advance payments. Progress payments can be based on costs incurred by the contractor or the amount of work accomplished. On the other hand, advance payments are funds provided to the contractor before work begins. During the COVID-19 pandemic, DOD took steps to increase the progress payment rates for eligible contracts, from 80 to 90 percent on contracts awarded to large businesses and from 90 to 95 percent on contracts awarded to small businesses. In addition, DOD made some advance payments. As a result, from April 2020 through June 2021, beyond its normal financing activities, it is estimated that DOD provided more than $6 billion in additional financing to help lessen the economic impact of COVID-19 on the defense industrial base (see table). Department of Defense’s Use of Progress and Advance Payments to Address COVID-19 Impacts on the Defense Industrial Base, April 2020 through June 2021 (in billions) Payment type Total payments made Estimated amount of additional payments made to address COVID-19 impacts Percent made to address COVID-19 impacts Progress payments $55.0 $5.6 10 Advance payments $0.9 $0.8 89 Source: GAO analysis of Department of Defense data. | GAO-22-105007 DOD set these higher rates to increase cash flow to the defense industrial base during the pandemic. DOD, which does not have privity of contract with subcontractors, has little insight into the extent to which prime contractors provided these additional funds to their suppliers. DOD officials said they generally relied on their typical oversight processes. These processes include the use of standard forms that contractors submit to request additional contract financing. These forms, however, are not designed to and do not provide comprehensive visibility into whether contract financing payments were flowed down to suppliers. Further, while DOD requested information from 28 contractors on the use of these additional funds, the resulting information provided limited insight into the flow of funds to suppliers. The Navy, which is responsible for oversight on shipbuilding contracts, worked with the Defense Contract Audit Agency to review how shipbuilders flowed the COVID-19-related funds to suppliers and found that some paid their suppliers more quickly than usual. If DOD were to again increase contract financing rates to address cash flow challenges faced in future emergencies, more information on whether prime contractors are providing these funds to their suppliers, would help ensure that the funds were having their intended effect of mitigating impacts on the defense industrial base. Why GAO Did This Study The COVID-19 pandemic had unprecedented effects on the U.S. economy, including the contractors that develop and build weapon systems for DOD. One of the actions DOD took to help ensure the financial health of the defense industrial base was to increase cash flow to contractors and, in turn, their suppliers. Congress included a provision for GAO to examine DOD’s oversight of these increased payments. This report assesses (1) the extent to which DOD made increased progress payments and advance payments from April 2020 through June 2021 and (2) the extent to which DOD has visibility into how those payments flowed to suppliers. GAO analyzed data on advance and progress payments, reviewed acquisition regulations and policies, and met with officials from responsible DOD offices and representatives from contractors and industry groups.
- Peacekeeping: Observations on Costs, Strengths, and Limitations of U.S. and UN Operations
August 31, 2021As of June 2007, more than 100,000 military and civilian personnel are engaged in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations in 15 locations in Africa, Europe, Asia, the Americas, and the Middle East. In 2006, the United States provided the UN with about $1 billion to support peacekeeping operations. Given that thousands of U.S. troops are intensively deployed in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, UN peacekeeping operations are an important element in maintaining a secure international environment. As requested, this testimony discusses (1) the costs of the current UN mission in Haiti compared with the estimated cost of a hypothetical U.S. operation and (2) the strengths and limitations of the United States and the UN in leading peace operations. This testimony is based on our prior report and information we updated for this hearing. To estimate U.S. costs, we developed parameters for a U.S. mission similar to the UN mission in Haiti, which the Joint Staff validated as reasonable. We then applied DOD’s official cost estimating model. However, it is uncertain whether the United States would implement an operation in Haiti in the same way as the UN.We estimate that it would cost the United States about twice as much as it would the UN to conduct a peacekeeping operation similar to the UN mission in Haiti. The UN budgeted $428 million for the first 14 months of the mission. A similar U.S. operation would have cost an estimated $876 million. Virtually the entire cost difference can be attributed to cost of civilian police, military pay and support, and facilities. First, civilian police costs are less in a UN operation because the UN pays police a standard daily allowance, while U.S. police are given salaries, special pay, and training. Second, U.S. military pay and support reflect higher salaries and higher standards for equipment, ammunition, and rations. Third, U.S. facilities-related costs would be twice those of the UN and reflect the cost of posting U.S. civilian personnel in a secure embassy compound. When we varied specific factors, such as increasing the number of reserve troops deployed, the estimated cost for a U.S. operation increased. Cost is not the sole factor in determining whether the United States or the UN should lead a peacekeeping operation. Each offers strengths and limitations. Traditionally, the United States’ strengths have included rapid deployment, strong command and control, and well-trained and equipped personnel. However, ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have reduced personnel and equipment readiness levels and resulted in shortfalls for military police, engineers, and civil affairs experts. The UN provides broad multinational support for its missions, with a UN Security Council mandate and direction for its operations. The UN also has access to international civil servants, police, and senior officials who have nation-building experience and diverse language skills. Finally, the UN has fostered a network of agencies and development banks to coordinate international assistance with peacekeeping missions. However, the UN has traditionally had difficulties in rapidly deploying its forces and ensuring unified command and control over its peacekeeping forces.
- Haiti Travel Advisory
September 26, 2020Do not travel to Haiti [Read More…]
- Justice Department Obtains $4.5 Million Settlement from a New Jersey Landlord to Resolve Claims of Sexual Harassment of Tenants
December 14, 2021The Justice Department announced today that Joseph Centanni, a landlord who has owned hundreds of rental units in and around Elizabeth, New Jersey, has agreed to pay $4.5 million in monetary damages and a civil penalty to resolve a Fair Housing Act (FHA) lawsuit concerning his sexual harassment of tenants and housing applicants for more than 15 years.
- Deputy Secretary Biegun’s Meeting with the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency
November 20, 2020
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud
January 4, 2022
- Houston woman admits to smuggling liquid meth in gas tank
In Justice NewsMay 6, 2021A 24-year-old Houston [Read More…]
- Iran Travel Advisory
September 26, 2020Do not travel to Iran [Read More…]
- Man Sentenced for Covid-19 Relief Fraud Scheme
August 10, 2021A Washington State man was sentenced today to two years in prison for perpetrating a scheme to fraudulently obtain COVID-19 disaster relief loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
- Supreme Court Fellows Set to Begin New Term
In U.S CourtsSeptember 3, 2020Four new Supreme Court Fellows are set to begin their 2020-2021 fellowships in September working virtually, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
- American Darknet Vendor and Costa Rican Pharmacist Charged with Narcotics and Money Laundering Violations
August 4, 2020A dual U.S.-Costa Rican citizen and a Costa Rican citizen, both of whom reside in Costa Rica, were indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia for their illegal sales of opioids on the darknet.
- Biodefense: After-Action Findings and COVID-19 Response Revealed Opportunities to Strengthen Preparedness
August 4, 2021What GAO Found Key federal agencies, including the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Defense (DOD), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Agriculture (USDA), developed a range of interagency response plans to prepare for nationally significant biological incidents. These strategic, operational, and tactical level plans address responding to a broad spectrum of biological threats, including those that are intentional, accidental, or naturally occurring. DHS, DOD, HHS, and USDA conducted numerous interagency exercises to help prepare for and respond to a wide variety of biological incidents, such as anthrax attacks, influenza pandemics, and diseases affecting plants and animals. Specifically, GAO identified 74 interagency biological incident exercises conducted from calendar years 2009 through 2019. Number of Interagency Biological Incident Exercises Conducted, Calendar Years 2009 through 2019 GAO’s analysis of after-action reports for selected interagency biological incident exercises and real-world incidents, as well as the COVID-19 response, identified long-standing biodefense challenges. GAO found that the nation lacked elements necessary for preparing for nationally significant biological incidents, including a process at the interagency level to assess and communicate priorities for exercising capabilities. Further, it determined that agencies do not routinely work together in monitoring results from exercises and real-world incidents to identify patterns and root causes for systemic challenges. Assessing and communicating exercise priorities and routinely monitoring the results of the exercises and incidents will help ensure the nation is better prepared to respond to the next biological threat. Why GAO Did This Study The COVID-19 pandemic shows how catastrophic biological incidents can cause substantial loss of life, economic damage, and require a whole-of-nation response involving multiple federal and nonfederal entities. The 2018 National Biodefense Strategy outlines specific goals and objectives to help prepare for and respond to such incidents. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to conduct monitoring and oversight of federal efforts to prepare for, respond to, and recover from COVID-19. This report addresses: (1) interagency plans key federal agencies developed, and exercises they conducted, to help prepare for biological incidents; and (2) the extent to which exercises and real-world incidents revealed opportunities to better achieve National Biodefense Strategy objectives. GAO reviewed biological incident plans and after-action reports from exercises and real-world incidents from calendar years 2009 through 2019, including a non-generalizable sample of 19 reports selected based on threat scenario and other factors. GAO interviewed federal and state officials to obtain their perspectives on plans, exercises, and the COVID-19 response.
- Health Care Funding: Federal Obligations to and Funds Received by Certain Organizations Involved in Health-Related Services, 2016 through 2018
January 21, 2021GAO reviewed federal funding provided to various organizations that offer health-related services, such as voluntary family planning and activities related to the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDs. In total, the organizations in our review received almost $16 billion through grants or cooperative agreements from the Department of Health and Human Services or U.S. Agency for International Development from 2016 through 2018; nearly all of this funding was received by federally qualified health centers. (See table.) Reported Amounts of Funds Received through Federal Grants or Cooperative Agreements by Organizations in GAO’s Review, 2016-2018 Dollars in millions Federal agency 2016 2017 2018 Total Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Federally qualified health centers (FQHC) 4,891.03 5,251.93 5,291.81 15,434.77 Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) 94.86 106.12 103.51 304.49 International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) 2.30 2.05 1.20 5.55 Marie Stopes International (MSI) 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 Total HHS 4,988.19 5,360.10 5,396.52 15,744.81 U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) FQHC 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 PPFA 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 IPPF 2.13 5.48 7.80 15.41 MSI 36.64 34.20 15.62 86.46 Total USAID 38.77 39.68 23.42 101.87 Total (HHS and USAID) 5,026.96 5,399.78 5,419.94 15,846.68 Source: GAO analysis of HHS, PPFA and USAID, data. | GAO-21-188R We provided a draft of this report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the USAID Administrator for comment. HHS did not have any comments. USAID provided technical comments, which we incorporated as appropriate. GAO is not making any recommendations. In order to achieve their programmatic goals, federal agencies provide funding to various organizations that, in turn, use those funds to implement programs and activities aligned with those goals. For example, federal agencies may award funding through grants or cooperative agreements for programs. The organizations that are awarded the funding receive and spend the funds over a period of time. GAO was asked to report on federal funding for certain organizations that provide health-related services. This report describes the extent of federal funding through grants and cooperative agreements for federally qualified health centers, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, International Planned Parenthood Federation, and Marie Stopes International from 2016 through 2018. GAO obtained and reviewed information on federal funding from the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Agency for International Development—the primary sources of federal funds to the organizations in our review. GAO also obtained available information from each of the organizations. For more information, contact James Cosgrove at 202-512-7114 or email@example.com.
- G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on Arrest and Detention of Alexey Navalny
January 26, 2021