Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
The United States welcomes and strongly supports the declaration today by the Government of Ethiopia of an indefinite humanitarian truce, effective immediately, and the commitment to work in collaboration with humanitarian organizations to expedite the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance to all those in need. We expect this declaration to be quickly followed by the movement of life-saving assistance.
This commitment to a cessation of hostilities should be a critical step towards the resumption and sustainment of humanitarian assistance to the people in Tigray and all Ethiopian regions and communities in need. It should also serve as an essential foundation of an inclusive political process to achieve progress towards common security and prosperity for all the people of Ethiopia. In the context of this commitment, we reiterate our call for an immediate end to the violence committed against civilians by all parties to the conflict and underscore that any lasting solution to the conflict must involve accountability for those responsible for atrocities.
The United States urges all parties to build on this announcement to advance a negotiated and sustainable ceasefire, including necessary security arrangements. The United States will continue to do everything possible to assist and to help the people of Ethiopia to advance a peaceful future.
- DHS Annual Assessment: Most Acquisition Programs Are Meeting Goals Even with Some Management Issues and COVID-19 Delays
March 9, 2022What GAO Found The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) invests billions of dollars annually to acquire systems that help secure the border, increase marine safety, screen travelers, enhance cybersecurity, improve disaster response, and execute a wide variety of other operations. As of September 2021, 23 of the 29 programs GAO selected for this review had developed a DHS-approved acquisition program baseline—establishing how the system being acquired will perform, when it will be delivered, and what it will cost—and 20 of those 23 programs were meeting their goals. However, five programs exceeded their cost or schedule goals, or both, at some point during fiscal year 2021. Reasons for the breaches included external factors, such as COVID-19, and an underestimation of program complexity. While two of these five programs restructured their baseline goals to get back on track, the remaining three were still in breach status as of September 2021 (see table). DHS Major Acquisition Programs in Breach of Approved Cost or Schedule Goals (or both) as of September 2021 Program (baseline life-cycle cost) Breach type Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology ($3.9 billion) Cost and schedule Medium Range Surveillance Aircraft ($15.2 billion) Schedule National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility ($1.3 billion) Schedule Source: GAO analysis of Department of Homeland Security data | GAO-22-104684 Additionally, GAO found that nine programs that were meeting their currently established goals rebaselined or were in the process of doing so in fiscal year 2021 due to scope changes, such as a change in quantities, an extended life cycle, or additional funding from Congress. As of September 2021, GAO found that four programs used a DHS policy allowing programs to adjust schedule milestones up to 6 months due to the effects of COVID-19. These effects included workforce absences due to stay-at-home orders and supply chain delays for needed parts. In most cases, programs were able to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 without baseline adjustments. Why GAO Did This Study In 2015, a Senate report included a provision for GAO to review DHS’s major acquisitions. This is GAO’s seventh review of the cost and schedule performance of selected major DHS acquisition programs. This report examines the extent to which these programs are meeting baseline goals and describes efforts to mitigate COVID-19–related effects on delivery of capabilities to end users. GAO assessed 29 acquisition programs, including DHS’s largest programs and those that GAO identified as at risk of poor outcomes, to determine program status as of September 30, 2021. GAO assessed progress in meeting cost and schedule goals; reviewed policy, memorandums, and information about the cost and schedule effects of COVID-19; and interviewed DHS officials. For more information, contact Marie M. Mak at (202) 512-4841 or email@example.com.
- Texas Woman Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Facilitate Adoptions from Uganda Through Bribery and Fraud
September 26, 2020U.S. Department of [Read More…]
- Telecommunications: FCC Should Enhance Performance Goals and Measures for Its Program to Support Broadband Service in High-Cost Areas
October 30, 2020The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a program, known as the high-cost program, to promote broadband deployment in unserved areas. Although the performance goals for the high-cost program reflect principles in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, not all of the goals are expressed in a measurable or quantifiable manner and therefore do not align with leading practices. Furthermore, FCC’s measures for its performance goals do not always align with leading practices, which call for measures to have linkage with the goal they measure and clarity, objectivity, and measurable targets, among other key attributes. For example, as shown below for two of FCC’s five goals, GAO found that FCC’s measures met most, but not all, of the key attributes. By establishing goals and measures that align with leading practices, FCC can improve the performance information it uses in its decision-making processes about how to allocate the program’s finite resources. Leading practices also suggest that agencies publicly report on progress made toward performance goals. FCC does so, however, only in a limited fashion which may lead to stakeholder uncertainty about the program’s effectiveness. Examples of FCC’s Performance Measures Compared with a Selection of Key Attributes of Successful Performance Measures According to stakeholders GAO interviewed, FCC faces three key challenges to accomplish its high-cost program performance goals: (1) accuracy of FCC’s broadband deployment data, (2) broadband availability on tribal lands, and (3) maintaining existing fixed-voice infrastructure and attaining universal mobile service. For example, although FCC adopted a more precise method of collecting and verifying broadband availability data, stakeholders expressed concern the revised data would remain inaccurate if carriers continue to overstate broadband coverage for marketing and competitive reasons. Overstating coverage impairs FCC’s efforts to promote universal voice and broadband since an area can become ineligible for high-cost support if a carrier reports that service already exists in that area. FCC has also taken actions to address the lack of broadband availability on tribal lands, such as making some spectrum available to tribes for wireless broadband in rural areas. However, tribal stakeholders told GAO that some tribes are unable to secure funding to deploy the infrastructure necessary to make use of spectrum for wireless broadband purposes. Millions of Americans do not have access to broadband. Within the Universal Service Fund, FCC’s high-cost program provided about $5 billion in 2019 to telecommunications carriers to support broadband deployment in unserved areas where the cost to provide broadband service is high. In 2011, FCC established five performance goals and related measures for the high-cost program. GAO was asked to review the high-cost program’s performance goals and measures. This report examines: (1) the extent to which the program’s performance goals and measures align with leading practices to enable the effective use of performance information and (2) the key challenges selected stakeholders believe FCC faces in meeting the program’s goals. GAO reviewed FCC’s program goals and measures and assessed them against applicable criteria, including GAO’s leading practices for successful performance measures. GAO interviewed FCC officials and representatives from industry, tribal carriers, consumer advocates, and other stakeholders, to obtain a variety of non-generalizable viewpoints. GAO is making four recommendations, including that FCC should ensure its high-cost program’s performance goals and measures align with leading practices and publicly report on progress measured toward the goals. FCC concurred with all four recommendations. For more information, contact Andrew Von Ah at (202) 512-2834 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Operation Legend: Case of the Day
September 25, 2020A Bates City, Missouri, man was charged in federal court after law enforcement officers seized nearly two dozen firearms and illegal drugs from his residence.
- Six Language Recruiters Indicted for Recruiting Unqualified Linguists for Deployment with U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan
April 22, 2021A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia returned an indictment Wednesday charging six former employees of a government contractor for their role in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a U.S. government contract to recruit and deploy qualified linguists to Afghanistan where they would provide language services in Dari and Pashto to the U.S. military, including interacting with Afghan civilians and military forces.
- Colorado Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Hate Crime and Explosives Charges for Plotting to Blow up Synagogue
October 15, 2020The Justice Department announced that Richard Holzer, 28, pleaded guilty today to federal hate crime and explosives charges for plotting to blow up the Temple Emanuel Synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado.
- Kingdom of Bahrain Signs the Artemis Accords
March 7, 2022
- Immigration: Information on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
January 12, 2022What GAO Found In 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published guidance explaining that it would not proactively provide information from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) requests to immigration enforcement agencies for the purpose of immigration enforcement, unless the DACA requestor met certain criteria. For example, USCIS may refer certain DACA cases to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a possible criminal investigation if the requestor represents a potential public safety risk based on the individual’s criminal history or to identify fraudulent claims. USCIS has shared information with ICE for immigration enforcement purposes on a small number of DACA requestors and recipients who engaged in activities that disqualified them from DACA. Specifically, of the 106,000 DACA requests that USCIS denied, it referred fewer than 900 cases (less than 1 percent) to ICE (see fig.). Outcomes for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Requests and Approximate Number of Referrals to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, June 2012 through June 2021 Since 2012, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and ICE enforcement practices related to DACA recipients and individuals who might qualify for DACA have generally aligned with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) immigration enforcement priorities. While DHS’s immigration enforcement priorities have varied since 2012, the department has generally not considered DACA recipients to be immigration enforcement priorities unless they met specific criteria, such as having engaged in certain types of fraud or activities that posed a threat to national security or public safety. While DACA recipients are to be provided temporary protection from removal, individuals who might qualify to receive DACA but who have not yet submitted a request, or are awaiting approval, do not have such protection. However, CBP and ICE officials stated that they have generally extended prosecutorial discretion considerations to individuals who may have potentially qualified for DACA as long as they had not engaged in activities that would disqualify them from a favorable exercise of such discretion. Why GAO Did This Study In June 2012, DHS established the DACA initiative. Under DACA, DHS has the discretion to provide temporary protection from removal from the U.S. (or, deferred action) for certain noncitizens who came to the U.S. before age 16. DACA recipients are neither granted lawful immigration status nor put on a pathway to lawful status. Rather, they are considered to be lawfully present in the U.S. during the 2-year period of deferred action. USCIS has granted DACA to more than 800,000 noncitizens. In July 2021, a federal court ruled that USCIS may not approve first-time DACA requests but temporarily permitted USCIS to continue to approve renewals of previously approved requests. GAO was asked to review the extent to which USCIS shares information on DACA requestors and recipients with immigration enforcement agencies. This report describes (1) the circumstances under which USCIS shares information on DACA requestors with immigration enforcement agencies and (2) how CBP and ICE have applied DHS’s immigration enforcement priorities to DACA recipients and those who may have potentially qualified for DACA since 2012. GAO analyzed USCIS, CBP, and ICE policies and guidance; analyzed USCIS data on adjudication outcomes and the circumstances under which USCIS shared information on DACA requestors with ICE from June 2012 through June 2021; and interviewed relevant headquarters and field officials. For more information, contact Rebecca Gambler at (202) 512-8777 or email@example.com.
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks at Top of Meeting with European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and European Commission Vice-President Josep Borrell
October 14, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- Russian Project Lakhta Member Charged with Wire Fraud Conspiracy
September 10, 2020A criminal complaint was filed today charging a Russian national for his alleged role in a conspiracy to use the stolen identities of real U.S. persons to open fraudulent accounts at banking and cryptocurrency exchanges.
- Department of Justice Announces DEA Seizures of Historic Amounts of Deadly Fentanyl-Laced Fake Pills in Public Safety Surge to Protect U.S. Communities
September 30, 2021Today, at a press conference, Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco and DEA Administrator Anne Milgram announced a significant law enforcement surge to protect American communities from the flood of fentanyl and fentanyl-laced pills across the United States. Illicit fentanyl, a synthetic opioid found in most of the fake pills that were seized, is the primary driver of the recent increase in U.S. overdose deaths.
- Economic Adjustment Assistance: Experts’ Proposed Reform Options to Better Serve Workers Experiencing Economic Disruption
April 19, 2021What GAO Found U.S. workers have faced considerable changes in how they work and in the skills they need because of economic changes created by emerging technologies, disruptive business models, and other economic forces. Federal economic adjustment assistance (EAA) programs were established, in part, to help workers adjust to these economic disruptions. Consistent with GAO’s prior work on EAA programs, experts in GAO’s roundtable identified a range of challenges to using EAA programs to effectively respond to economic disruptions workers might experience. In light of these challenges, experts identified reform actions that could better serve workers (see table). The actions fell into six interrelated reform areas. Examples of Potential Reform Actions That Could Better Serve Workers Who Experience Economic Disruption, as Identified by Experts in GAO’s Roundtable Reform area Examples of potential reform actions identified by experts Proactive efforts to address disruption Establish lifelong learning accounts for workers through contributions of individual workers, employers, and government agencies to fund continuous education and training opportunities. Establish a tax credit to help incentivize employers to retrain rather than lay off employees. Access to Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) programs Use the existing unemployment insurance system to better inform dislocated workers about the availability of and their eligibility for EAA programs. Worker training Expand the number of short-term, high-demand skills-based training opportunities. Prompt employers to develop apprenticeship programs. For example, require employers to operate apprenticeship programs of their own or pay a tax to fund the creation of apprenticeship programs. Income and other supports Create more opportunities for workers to co-enroll in training and financial safety-net programs. Develop supportive services programs for dislocated workers at the community colleges in which they are enrolled. EAA service delivery Provide dislocated workers ready access to easy-to-navigate data on high-demand skills, earnings in various occupations, and the number of available jobs in those occupations in their area. Provide community colleges with additional state or federal resources to deliver more career guidance to dislocated workers. Structure of the EAA system Invest in training infrastructure, such as publicly funded regional universities, community colleges, and other institutions. Reduce barriers to accessing existing national datasets to facilitate the evaluation of EAA program effectiveness. Source: GAO analysis of expert statements. | GAO-21-324 Note: These potential reform actions are not listed in any specific rank or order and their inclusion in this report should not be interpreted as GAO endorsing any of them. GAO did not assess how effective the potential reform actions may be or the extent to which program design modifications, legal changes, and federal financial support would be needed to implement any given reform action or combination of reform actions. Why GAO Did This Study Various economic disruptions, such as policy changes that affect global trade or the defense or energy industries and shifts in immigration, globalization, or automation, can lead to widespread job loss among workers within an entire region, industry, or occupation. GAO was asked about options for reforming the current policies and programs for helping workers weather economic disruption. This report describes a range of options, identified by experts, to reform the current policies and programs for helping workers weather economic disruption. With the assistance of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, GAO convened a 2-day, virtual roundtable in August 2020 with 12 experts, selected to represent a broad spectrum of views and expertise and a variety of professional and academic fields. They included academic researchers, program evaluators, labor economists, former federal agency officials, and state and local practitioners. GAO also reviewed relevant federal laws, prior GAO reports, and other research. For more information, contact Cindy S. Brown Barnes at (202) 512-7215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Briefing With Senior U.S. Government Officials On Operation Allies Welcome Relocation Assistance Efforts for Non-SIV Holders
September 15, 2021
- Senate Disbursing Office: Procedures Related to 2021 Cash Count
September 30, 2021What GAO Found GAO performed agreed-upon procedures at the Senate Disbursing Office (SDO) consisting of (1) identifying the authorized and reported amount of cash accountability for the Secretary of the Senate, (2) counting all cash items that support the cash accountability level of the SDO, (3) counting all noncash items that support the cash accountability level of the SDO, and (4) agreeing the total amount counted to the authorized amount and reported amount of cash accountability. The total value of cash and noncash items counted on August 10, 2021, agreed to the cash accountability level that the SDO authorized and reported, except for a difference of $3.06, which SDO officials stated is a known overage that has accumulated over time. The Secretary of the Senate is responsible for the sufficiency of these agreed-upon procedures to meet the SDO’s objectives, and GAO makes no representation in that respect. The report provides the details on the agreed-upon procedures and the results of performing each of the procedures. The Secretary of the Senate in an email response stated that she had no comments on the draft report. Why GAO Did This Study The Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration requested that GAO perform procedures on the cash accountability level that the SDO authorized and reported. The cash accountability level represents the value of cash and noncash items for which the Secretary of the Senate, as disbursing officer for the U.S. Senate, is responsible. For more information, contact Hannah Padilla at (202) 512-5683 or email@example.com.
- Department of State Announces Online Publication of 2020 Digest of United States Practice in International Law
August 20, 2021
- Palau Travel Advisory
September 26, 2020Exercise increased [Read More…]
- Joint Statement on Troika Plus Meeting, 11 November 2021, Islamabad
November 11, 2021
- Quadrennial Defense Review: Future Reviews Could Benefit from Improved Department of Defense Analyses and Changes to Legislative Requirements
August 25, 2021The Department of Defense (DOD) is required by law to conduct a comprehensive examination of the national defense strategy, force structure, modernization plans, infrastructure, and budget every 4 years including an assessment of the force structure best suited to implement the defense strategy at low-to-moderate level of risk. The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), completed in February 2006, represents the first comprehensive review that DOD had undertaken since the military forces have been engaged in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. GAO was asked to assess (1) the strengths and weaknesses of DOD’s approach and methodology for the 2006 QDR and (2) what changes, if any, in the QDR legislation could improve the usefulness of the report, including any changes that would better reflect 21st century security conditions. To conduct its review, GAO analyzed DOD’s methodology, QDR study guidance, and results from key analyses and also obtained views of defense analysts within and outside of DOD.DOD’s approach and methodology for the 2006 QDR had several strengths, but several weaknesses significantly limited the review’s usefulness in addressing force structure, personnel requirements, and risk associated with executing the national defense strategy. Key strengths of the QDR included sustained involvement of senior DOD officials, extensive collaboration with interagency partners and allied countries, and a database to track implementation of initiatives. However, GAO found weaknesses in three key areas. First, DOD did not conduct a comprehensive, integrated assessment of different options for organizing and sizing its forces to provide needed capabilities. Without such an assessment, DOD is not well positioned to balance capability needs and risks within future budgets, given the nation’s fiscal challenges. Second, DOD did not provide a clear analytical basis for its conclusion that it had the appropriate number of personnel to meet current and projected demands. During its review, DOD did not consider changing personnel levels and instead focused on altering the skill mix. However, a year after the QDR report was issued, DOD announced plans to increase Army and Marine Corps personnel by 92,000. Without performing a comprehensive analysis of the number of personnel it needs, DOD cannot provide an analytical basis that its military and civilian personnel levels reflect the number of personnel needed to execute the defense strategy. Third, the risk assessments conducted by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which are required by the QDR legislation, did not fully apply DOD’s risk management framework because DOD had not developed assessment tools to measure risk. Without a sound analytical approach to assessing risk, DOD may not be able to demonstrate how it will manage risk within current and expected resource levels. As a result, DOD is not in the best position to demonstrate that it has identified the force structure best suited to implement the defense strategy at low-to-moderate risk. Through discussions with DOD officials and defense analysts, GAO has identified several options for refining the QDR legislative language that Congress could consider to improve the usefulness of future QDRs, including changes to encourage DOD to focus on high priority strategic issues and better reflect security conditions of the 21st century. Congress could consider options to clarify its expectations regarding what budget information DOD should include in the QDR and eliminate reporting elements for issues that could be addressed in different reports. For example, the requirement to assess revisions to the unified command plan is also required and reported under other legislation. Further, some reporting elements such as how resources would be shifted between two conflicts could be eliminated in light of DOD’s new planning approach that focuses on capabilities to meet a range of threats rather than on the allocation of forces for specific adversaries. GAO also presents an option to have an advisory group work with DOD prior to and during the QDR to provide DOD with alternative perspectives and analyses.
- Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy
November 3, 2021
- Justice Department Announces Multi-Million Dollar Civil Settlement in Principle in Mother Emanuel Charleston Church Mass Shooting
October 28, 2021Today, the Department of Justice announced that it has reached an agreement in principle to settle the civil cases arising out of the June 2015 Mother Emanuel AME Church mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.