Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco, and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta today applauded the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA was reauthorized as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, which President Joe Biden signed into law this week.
- Two Charged as Co-Conspirators for Nearly $1 Million COVID-19 Relief Fraud Scheme and Money Laundering
June 11, 2021A New York man and an Oklahoma woman were arrested Wednesday in Buffalo, New York and Altus, Oklahoma, respectively, on a criminal complaint filed in the Western District of New York charging them for their roles in fraudulently obtaining and laundering nearly $1 million in funds from the COVID-19 relief Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
- Newport News Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty to Preparing False Return
August 7, 2020A Newport News, Virginia, tax preparer pleaded guilty today to aiding and assisting the preparation of a false tax return, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia.
- Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE)
December 6, 2021
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Sudanese Prime Minister Hamdok
October 26, 2021
- Secretary Blinken’s Participation in Ministerial on Libya
September 22, 2021
- National Weather Service: Additional Actions Needed to Improve the Agency’s Reform Efforts
October 12, 2021What GAO Found The Department of Commerce’s National Weather Service (NWS) initiated the Evolve Program in 2017 to carry out a series of agency reforms to help it achieve its strategic vision of strengthening the nation’s readiness and responsiveness to extreme weather events. The program has 20 reform initiatives that are in varying stages of completeness and are intended to free up staff time and improve service to the agency’s partners, among other things. NWS has substantially followed five of eight leading reform practices. Extent to Which NWS Has Followed Selected Leading Practices for Effective Agency Reforms Practice Extent followed Establishing goals and outcomes ◒ Involving employees and key stakeholders ◒ Using data and evidence ● Addressing fragmentation, overlap, and duplication ● Leadership focus and attention ◒ Managing and monitoring ● Strategic workforce planning ● Employee performance management ● Legend: ● Substantially followed —NWS took actions that addressed most or all aspects of the selected key questions GAO examined for the practice. ◒ Partially followed —NWS took actions that addressed some, but not most, aspects of the selected key questions GAO examined for the practice. Source: GAO analysis of National Weather Service (NWS) documents and interviews with NWS officials. | GAO-21-103792 However, the agency has only partially followed the other three practices, resulting in gaps. Establishing goals and outcomes. NWS has established goals for the Evolve Program but has not established performance measures for key elements of the program’s reform efforts. Involving employees and key stakeholders. NWS has engaged its employees in a number of ways in developing the Evolve reforms, including by sending quarterly email updates to all employees. However, the agency has not developed a two-way communications strategy for the program that listens and responds to employee concerns about the proposed reforms. Leadership focus and attention. NWS has designated three leadership positions as having primary responsibility for leading the implementation of the reforms. However, the agency has not established a dedicated implementation team that has the capacity to manage the reform process. Instead, the agency has primarily relied on rotating leaders and part-time staff for the Evolve Program, an approach that has not provided adequate leadership and staff continuity for the program. By addressing gaps in these areas, NWS would have better assurance that its Evolve reform efforts will succeed. Why GAO Did This Study Extreme weather events, such as tornadoes and hurricanes, have caused major damage and loss of life in the United States. NWS is responsible for developing weather forecasts and issuing warnings to help protect life and property from such events. NWS has determined that it needs to reform its operations and workforce to effectively carry out this responsibility and to improve its provision of services to emergency managers and other partners. GAO was asked to review NWS’s reform efforts under the Evolve Program. This report examines, among other things, the actions NWS has taken under the Evolve Program and the extent to which it has followed selected leading practices for effective agency reforms. GAO reviewed relevant NWS documents, interviewed officials, and assessed the Evolve reform efforts against selected leading practices.
- Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Singaporean Foreign Minister Balakrishnan
January 7, 2021
- Security Assistance: State and DOD Need to Assess How the Foreign Military Financing Program for Egypt Achieves U.S. Foreign Policy and Security Goals
August 25, 2021Since 1979, Egypt has received about $60 billion in military and economic assistance with about $34 billion in the form of foreign military financing (FMF) grants that enable Egypt to purchase U.S.-manufactured military goods and services. In this report, GAO (1) describes the types and amounts of FMF assistance provided to Egypt; (2) assesses the financing arrangements used to provide FMF assistance to Egypt; and (3) evaluates how the U.S. assesses the program’s contribution to U.S. foreign policy and security goals.Egypt is currently among the largest recipients of U.S. foreign assistance, along with Israel, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Egypt has received about $1.3 billion annually in U.S. foreign military financing (FMF) assistance and has purchased a variety of U.S.-manufactured military goods and services such as Apache helicopters, F-16 aircraft, and M1A1 tanks, as well as the training and maintenance to support these systems. The United States has provided Egypt with FMF assistance through a statutory cash flow financing arrangement that permits flexibility in how Egypt acquires defense goods and services from the United States. In the past, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) accumulated large undisbursed balances in this program. Because the flexibilities of cash flow financing permit Egypt to pay for its purchases over time, Egypt currently has agreements for U.S. defense articles and services worth over $2 billion–some of which are not due for full payment until 2011. The Departments of State (State) and Defense (DOD) have not conducted an assessment to identify the risks and impacts of a potential shift in FMF funding. Officials and many experts assert that the FMF program to Egypt supports U.S. foreign policy and security goals; however, State and DOD do not assess how the program specifically contributes to these goals. U.S. and Egyptian officials cited examples of Egypt’s support for U.S. interests, such as maintaining Egyptian-Israeli peace and providing access to the Suez Canal and Egyptian airspace. DOD has not determined how it will measure progress in achieving key goals such as interoperability and modernizing Egypt’s military. For example, the U.S. Central Command, the responsible military authority, defines modernization as the ratio of U.S.-to-Soviet equipment in Egypt’s inventory and does not include other potentially relevant factors, such as readiness or military capabilities. Achieving interoperability in Egypt is complicated by the lack of a common definition of interoperability and limitations on some types of sensitive equipment transfers. Given the longevity and magnitude of FMF assistance to Egypt, evaluating the degree to which the program meets its goals would be important information for congressional oversight, particularly as Congress assesses the balance between economic and military assistance to Egypt as well as the impact on U.S. foreign policy interests.
- Financial Services Industry: Factors Affecting Careers for Women with STEM Degrees
June 16, 2021What GAO Found Several factors affect women’s participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) degree programs and subsequent careers in the financial services industry, according to research and stakeholders GAO interviewed. These factors include young girls’ early exposure to STEM topics, access to resources such as computers and high-speed internet, and a sense of whether they belong in STEM degree programs. Women’s interest in a financial services career also may be affected by the presence of role models and awareness of job opportunities. In recent years, women have represented roughly 30 percent of financial services industry workers with STEM degrees (see figure). Financial Services Industry Workers with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) by Gender, Fiscal Years 2014-2019 To encourage elementary and high school girls to learn about STEM, selected financial services firms provide funding and other support to nonprofit organizations that focus on increasing girls’ participation in STEM. With this support, nonprofit organizations introduce girls to coding, basic programming, and other activities that may inspire interest in STEM education. Similarly, to encourage college women to pursue STEM degrees, selected firms sponsor conferences for women in STEM, offer scholarships to women studying STEM, and work with nonprofit organizations to help increase students’ awareness of careers in the financial services industry. Selected financial services firms recruit women with STEM degrees by collaborating with organizations that work with women STEM majors and sponsoring conferences for women in technology, among other efforts. Some firms have employee retention practices that are tailored to women with STEM expertise. For example, selected firms offer leadership training or employee resource groups for women in technology. Why GAO Did This Study The financial services industry is highly dependent on technology and more than one-fifth of industry employees have STEM degrees. Women continue to be underrepresented in management positions in the financial services industry and in STEM degree programs. As a result, some financial services firms have made efforts to promote interest among women in both STEM and financial services. GAO was asked to review factors affecting financial services careers for women with STEM degrees. This report examines (1) factors that affect the participation of women in STEM degree programs and subsequent participation in financial services careers, (2) how selected financial services firms encourage girls and women to participate in STEM education programs, and (3) how selected financial services firms recruit and retain women with STEM backgrounds. GAO analyzed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Department of Education data from 2014 through 2018 and Census Bureau data from 2014 through 2019. At the time of analysis, these were the most recent data available. GAO also reviewed studies on financial services and STEM education. GAO interviewed representatives of financial services firms, industry associations, and nonprofit organizations. GAO selected organizations and representatives based on their participation in previous work and a literature review. EEOC and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System provided technical comments on a draft that GAO incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Alicia Puente Cackley at (202) 512-8678 or CackleyA@gao.gov.
- Defense Management: DOD Needs to Reexamine Its Extensive Reliance on Contractors and Continue to Improve Management and Oversight
August 24, 2021The federal government, including the Department of Defense (DOD), is increasingly relying on contractors to carry out its missions. Governmentwide spending on contractor services has more than doubled in the last 10 years. DOD has used contractors extensively to support troops deployed abroad. The department recently estimated the number of contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan to be about 196,000. DOD also relies heavily on contractors for various aspects of weapon system logistics support. While contractors, when properly used, can play an important role in helping agencies accomplish their missions, GAO has identified long-standing problems regarding the appropriate role and management of contractors, particularly at DOD. This testimony highlights the challenges federal agencies face related to the increased reliance on contractors and the specific challenges DOD has had in managing its increased reliance on contractors who support deployed troops and who provide logistics support for weapons systems. This testimony also highlights some of the recommendations GAO has made over the past several years to improve DOD’s management and oversight of contractors, as well as DOD’s actions in response to those recommendations.While there are benefits to using contractors to perform services for the government–such as increased flexibility in fulfilling immediate needs–GAO and others have raised concerns about the increasing reliance on contractors to perform agency missions. GAO’s body of work shows that agencies face challenges with increased reliance on contractors to perform core agency missions, and these challenges are accentuated in contingency operations such as Iraq, in emergency situations such as Hurricane Katrina, or in cases where sufficient government personnel are not available. In making the decision to use contractors, agencies have experienced challenges such as: determining which functions and activities should be contracted out and which should not to ensure institutional capacity; developing a total workforce strategy to address the extent of contractor use and the appropriate mix of contractor and government personnel; identifying and distinguishing the roles and responsibilities of contractors and civilian and military personnel; and ensuring appropriate oversight, including addressing risks, ethics concerns, and surveillance needs. DOD’s increased reliance on contractors to support forces deployed for military operations and to perform maintenance and other logistic support for weapon systems has highlighted challenges that DOD faces in managing this component of its total force. With regard to contractor support for deployed forces, DOD’s primary challenges have been to provide effective management and oversight, including failure to follow planning guidance, an inadequate number of contract oversight personnel, failure to systematically capture and distribute lessons learned, and a lack of comprehensive training for military commanders and contract oversight personnel. These challenges have led to negative operational and monetary impacts at deployed locations. For example, several military commanders GAO met with in 2006 said their pre-deployment training did not provide them with sufficient information on the extent of contractor support that they would be relying on in Iraq and were therefore surprised by the substantial number of personnel they had to allocate to provide on-base escorts, convoy security, and other force protection support to contractors. Although DOD has taken some steps to address these issues, many of these issues remain a concern and additional actions are needed. With respect to weapon system support, the challenges have been to resolve questions about how much depot maintenance and other logistics work needs to be performed in-house and to what extent outsourcing for DOD logistics has been cost-effective. While DOD has a process for defining core maintenance capability, GAO has identified shortcomings with this process and found that core maintenance capability has not always been developed. Finally, although increased contractor reliance for maintenance and other logistics activities was justified by DOD based on the assumption that there would be significant cost savings, it is uncertain to what extent cost savings have occurred or will occur.
- Mozambique Travel Advisory
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- NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Gets Balanced
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- Asphalt Contractor To Pay $4.25 Million To Settle Claims That It Misled The Government As To The Materials Used To Pave Road
September 10, 2020Dave O’Mara Contractor Inc. (DOCI), an Indiana-based asphalt contractor, has agreed to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by misrepresenting to the government the materials that it was using to pave federally-funded roads in the state of Indiana, the Department of Justice announced today. Under the settlement agreement, DOCI has agreed to pay over $4.25 million over a period of four years.
- Afghanistan Virtual Ministerial and Remarks by Secretary Blinken
August 31, 2021
- U.S. Entertainer/Businessman and Malaysian National Charged with Back-Channel Lobbying Campaign to Drop 1MDB Investigation and Remove Chinese Dissident from U.S.
June 11, 2021A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned a superseding indictment Thursday charging a U.S. entertainer and businessman and a Malaysian national with orchestrating an unregistered, back-channel campaign beginning in or about 2017 to influence the then-administration of the President of the United States and the Department of Justice both to drop the investigation of Jho Low and others in connection with the international strategic and development company known as 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), and to send a Chinese dissident back to China.
- Burmese Military Arrests of Civilian Government Leaders
February 1, 2021
- Honduran immigrant convicted of alien smuggling
In Justice NewsMay 2, 2021Read full article at: [Read More…]
- Former Chief Executive Officer of Petrochemical Company Sentenced to 20 Months in Prison for Foreign Bribery Scheme
October 12, 2021A Brazilian man who previously served as the chief executive officer (CEO) of Braskem S.A. (Braskem), a publicly-traded Brazilian petrochemical company, was sentenced today in the Eastern District of New York to 20 months in prison for a scheme to divert hundreds of millions of dollars from Braskem into a secret slush fund and to pay bribes to government officials, political parties, and others in Brazil.
- Promoting Sustainable Peace and Responsive Governance in Somalia
February 8, 2022
- Former Defense Contractor Executive Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion
February 16, 2022An Ashland, Oregon, employee of a defense contractor pleaded guilty today to tax evasion.