The United States and Canada have entered into formal negotiations for a bilateral agreement under the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act, to enhance the existing robust law enforcement cooperation between the two allies.
Attorney General Merrick Garland welcomed the opening of negotiations.
“The United States looks forward to working with the Government of Canada on negotiating this agreement,” said Attorney General Garland. “Such an agreement, if finalized and approved, would pave the way for more efficient cross-border disclosures of data between the United States and Canada so that our governments can more effectively fight serious crime, including terrorism, while safeguarding the privacy and civil liberties values that we both share. By increasing the effectiveness of investigations and prosecutions of serious crime, including terrorism, in both countries, we seek to enhance the safety and security of citizens on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border.”
The United States enacted the CLOUD Act in 2018 to streamline access to electronic information held by providers that is critical to investigations of serious crime, including terrorism, while maintaining strong protections for the rule of law, privacy, and civil liberties. The act creates a new paradigm: an efficient, privacy and civil liberties-protective approach to ensure effective access to electronic information through executive agreements between the United States and trusted foreign partners. Pursuant to such agreements, legal barriers prohibiting service providers subject to U.S. laws from responding to lawful orders to disclose electronic evidence that are issued by the other party will be lifted, and reciprocal access will be permitted under the laws of the trusted foreign partner.
While such electronic information can currently be sought through the mutual legal assistance (MLA) process, the CLOUD Act provides an alternative expedited framework for obtaining it while protecting privacy and civil liberties. The number of MLA requests for electronic information held by service providers in the United States has increased dramatically in recent years, straining resources and slowing response times under the current MLA process. The CLOUD Act addresses delays in that process by providing an additional path for trusted partner countries to obtain electronic information.
For more information on the CLOUD Act, visit: https://www.justice.gov/dag/cloudact and https://www.justice.gov/dag/page/file/1153466/download.
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March 18, 2022A federal court in the District of Columbia today unsealed two separate indictments charging Aler Baldomero Samayoa-Recinos, aka Chicharra, and his son-in-law Freddy Arnoldo Salazar Flores, aka Fredy, Freshco, Boyca, Boyka, Torojo, Flaquillo, and Flaco, with conspiracy to distribute five kilograms of cocaine for importation to the United States. Salazar Flores is a representative of the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN).
- Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Recent Workforce Trends and Wage Distribution
February 8, 2022What GAO Found The federal government controls immigration for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), including administration of a foreign worker permit program that is specific to the CNMI. Under this program, the ratio of U.S. to foreign workers in the CNMI remained close to 50 percent from 2016 through 2018. U.S. workers increased to 56 percent in 2019 and 59 percent in 2020, partly because the CNMI government identified persons lawfully admitted for permanent residence (LPRs) in the total of U.S. workers. The size of the overall workforce grew from 2016 to 2017 before contracting by about 2,000 workers in 2018, and dropped by more than 5,000 workers from 2016 to 2020. The Department of Homeland Security approved about 11,600 CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) foreign worker permits for 2019 and about 5,400 for 2021, dropping from a high of 13,685 in fiscal year 2017. Employed Workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Calendar Years 2016–2020 Notes: For 2016 to 2018, U.S. workers include U.S. citizens and nationals, and citizens of the FAS—the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Foreign workers include all other workers, potentially including LPRs because the data provided to GAO did not identify LPR workers. For 2019 and 2020, U.S. workers include LPRs identified by the CNMI. Foreign workers include all other workers who are not U.S. workers. According to the Prevailing Wage Study (PWS), an annual study of employers in the CNMI, the reported number of employees earning less than $8 per hour declined by 68 percent from 2019 to 2021. The decline is largely due to economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic and to lower study participation by private businesses. Because of the decline in the number of low-wage workers, 94 percent of CNMI workers in the PWS currently earn above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, an increase from 73 percent in 2019. GAO also illustrated how various hypothetical minimum wage levels would affect workers. For example, at current wage levels, a minimum wage increase to $10 per hour could directly affect 50 percent of workers included in the PWS. Why GAO Did This Study The Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, which amended the 1976 Covenant between the U.S. and the CNMI, established federal control of CNMI immigration beginning in 2009. Under the act, the Department of Homeland Security began implementing a foreign worker permit program that was specific to the CNMI. The Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018 extended the CW-1 program for 10 additional years, through the end of 2029. In addition, as required by a 2007 law, the CNMI minimum wage was increased over time to match the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 by 2018. The Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018 included a provision for GAO to biennially examine the ratio of United States workers to other workers in the CNMI over the 5 previous calendar years. GAO was also asked to examine the structure of wages for workers in the CNMI. This report examines (1) recent trends in composition of the CNMI workforce, including the ratio of U.S. workers to foreign workers in the CNMI during the previous 5 calendar years, and (2) the distribution of wages for workers in the CNMI from 2019 through 2021. GAO analyzed CNMI government and U.S. agency data and prior GAO reports, and interviewed officials from the CNMI government and the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, and the Interior. For more information, contact Latesha Love at (202) 512-4409 or LoveL@gao.gov.
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- Program Evaluation: Key Terms and Concepts
March 22, 2021Both the executive branch and congressional committees need evaluative information to help them make decisions about the programs they oversee—information that tells them whether, and why, a program is working well or not. The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) and GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) established a framework for performance management and accountability within the federal government. Building on that foundation, Congress has since passed, among other laws, the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (Evidence Act) to strengthen the evidence-building efforts of executive branch agencies. This product updates our previous glossary (GAO-11-646SP) to highlight different types of evaluations for answering questions about program performance, as well as relevant issues to ensure study quality. This glossary can help agency officials better understand fundamental concepts related to evaluation and enhance their evidence-building capacity. For more information, contact Lawrance Evans, Jr. at 202-512-2700 or EvansL@gao.gov.
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April 14, 2021Pour la version française de cette page, voir GAO-21-484. What GAO Found As of March 31, 2020, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had obligated a combined total of more than $1.2 billion and disbursed about $1 billion for global health security (GHS) activities, using funds appropriated in fiscal years 2015 through 2019. USAID and CDC supported activities to help build countries’ capacities in 11 technical areas related to addressing infectious disease threats. The obligated funding supported GHS activities in at least 34 countries, including 25 identified as Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) partner countries. U.S.-Supported Activities in Ethiopia to Strengthen Global Health Security U.S. officials’ assessments of 17 GHSA partner countries’ capacities to address infectious disease threats showed that at the end of fiscal year 2019, most countries had some capacity in each of the 11 technical areas but faced various challenges. U.S. interagency country teams produce biannual capacity assessments that USAID and CDC headquarters officials use to track the countries’ progress. According to fiscal year 2019 assessment reports, 14 countries had developed or demonstrated capacity in most technical areas. In addition, the reports showed the majority of capacities in each country had remained stable or increased since 2016 and 2017. The technical area antimicrobial resistance showed the largest numbers of capacity increases—for example, in the development of surveillance systems. GAO’s analysis of the progress reports found the most common challenges to developing GHS capacity were weaknesses in government institutions, constrained resources, and insufficient human capital. According to agency officials, some challenges can be overcome with additional U.S. government funding, technical support, or diplomatic efforts, but many other challenges remain outside the U.S. government’s control. This is a public version of a sensitive report that GAO issued in February 2021. Information that USAID and CDC deemed sensitive has been omitted. Why GAO Did This Study The outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in December 2019 demonstrated that infectious diseases can lead to catastrophic loss of life and sustained damage to the global economy. USAID and CDC have led U.S. efforts to strengthen GHS—that is, global capacity to prepare for, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats and to reduce or prevent their spread across borders. These efforts include work related to the multilateral GHSA initiative, which aims to accelerate progress toward compliance with international health regulations and other agreements. House Report 114-693 contained a provision for GAO to review the use of GHS funds. In this report, GAO examines, for the 5 fiscal years before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, (1) the status of USAID’s and CDC’s GHS funding and activities and (2) U.S. agencies’ assessments, at the end of fiscal year 2019, of GHSA partner countries’ capacities to address infectious disease threats and of challenges these countries faced in building capacity. GAO analyzed agency, interagency, and international organization documents. GAO also interviewed agency officials in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, Georgia, and in Ethiopia, Indonesia, Senegal, and Vietnam. GAO selected these four countries on the basis of factors such as the presence of staff from multiple U.S. agencies. In addition, GAO analyzed interagency assessments of countries’ capacities to address infectious disease threats in fiscal year 2019 and compared them with baseline assessments from 2016 and 2017. For more information, contact David Gootnick at (202) 512-3149 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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