Office of the Spokesperson
At a historic groundbreaking ceremony highlighting the enduring bilateral friendship and partnership between the United States and Nigeria, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu joined U.S. Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard and U.S. Consul General Claire Pierangelo on Thursday to officially mark the beginning of construction of a new, modern U.S. Consulate General in Lagos.
Located on a 12.2-acre site in the rapidly developing Eko Atlantic City on Victoria Island, the new U.S. Consulate General in Lagos will support diplomatic and commercial relations between the United States and Nigeria and will provide U.S. and Nigerian Consulate employees with a safe, secure, sustainable, and modern workplace. The construction project will take approximately five years, with completion expected in 2027.
Ennead Architects LLP of New York is the design architect, Pernix Federal, LLC of Lombard, Illinois, is the design/build contractor, and EYP, Inc. of Albany, New York, is the architect of record. A variety of energy efficiency strategies will be incorporated into the site and building design to address varied seasonal conditions and to significantly reduce energy demand.
The new Consulate construction project will directly benefit the Nigerian people. Over the course of construction, an estimated $95 million will be invested in the local economy through local subcontractors, and suppliers. Overall, the project will employ approximately 2,500 Nigerian citizens, including engineers, architects, artisans, construction workers, and administrative staff.
Since the start of the Department’s Capital Security Construction Program in 1999, OBO has completed 171 new diplomatic facilities. OBO currently has more than 50 active projects either in the design phase or under construction worldwide.
OBO provides safe, secure, functional, and resilient facilities that represent the U.S. government to the host nation and that support U.S. diplomats in advancing U.S. foreign policy objectives abroad.
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- Space Acquisitions: DOD Faces Challenges and Opportunities with Acquiring Space Systems in a Changing Environment
May 24, 2021What GAO Found The Department of Defense (DOD) is making changes to its space-related processes and organization that will present both opportunities and challenges to the way it acquires its space systems. GAO has reported over the past decades on challenges DOD faces in its space acquisitions—including schedule delays, multibillion-dollar cost increases, significant reductions in capabilities, and in some cases cancelation—and made recommendations that have improved program outcomes. For example, DOD took actions to implement a GAO recommendation to use an incremental approach to acquiring space launch services. DOD’s modified approach reduced risk by allowing it to incorporate knowledge gained from early launch competitions to inform subsequent competitions. Many of the most troubled programs are nearing completion, and DOD is starting new programs to develop the next generation of capabilities, some of which are being acquired under a streamlined acquisition process known as the middle-tier of acquisition pathway (see table below). Starting new programs is an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and take measures to put programs on successful paths. GAO’s work has shown that in many cases, DOD is attempting to do so. Selected New DOD Space Programs and Near-Term Estimated Costs Dollars in billions New program Current estimated costs for 5-year middle-tier effort Evolved Strategic SATCOM (ESS) Protected satellite communications $1.4 Future Operationally Resilient Ground Evolution (FORGE) Ground control for Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared satellites $3.0 Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) Block 0 Missile warning, infrared intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance $8.4 Protected Tactical SATCOM (PTS) Protected satellite communications $1.0 Source: Department of Defense (DOD) data. | GAO-21-520T However, DOD faces challenges because it will be starting these new programs amid significant changes to the acquisition environment. Some of these changes are external to DOD, such as increased threats to on-orbit space systems. But over the past several years, DOD also initiated substantial organizational and acquisition process changes. While the Space Force offers an important opportunity to streamline lines of authority, accountability, and decision-making and avoid duplication of effort, many details will require careful consideration. In addition, adopting leading practices for acquisition, as previously recommended, could help DOD achieve faster delivery of new capabilities, especially if DOD balances new, streamlined acquisition processes with sufficient oversight to help ensure program success. Why GAO Did This Study DOD space systems provide critical capabilities that support military and other government operations. Space systems can be expensive to acquire and field, costing billions of dollars each year. The U.S. Space Force was recently established as the sixth branch of the U.S. military. As planned, the Space Force will consolidate leadership, planning, and management for some DOD space programs, as appropriate and authorized. This statement discusses the challenges and opportunities DOD faces as it acquires space systems amid changes to the acquisition environment. This statement is based on GAO reports issued over the past 10 years on DOD space programs. It also draws on recent work supporting GAO’s 2021 annual report on the progress of major defense acquisition programs.
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- Embassy Construction: State Has Made Progress Constructing New Embassies, but Better Planning Is Needed for Operations and Maintenance Requirements
August 25, 2021In response to 2 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, the Department of State embarked on a $21 billion program to replace 201 insecure and dilapidated diplomatic facilities. In November 2004, GAO reported that State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO), which manages the construction program, had implemented reforms to its planning, design, construction, and funding processes designed to expedite the construction process and prevent cost overruns that were common to previous State diplomatic construction programs. This report updates GAO’s earlier report, by discussing OBO’s completion rates and costs for embassy construction projects and the impact the reforms and other factors have on completion rates. It also discusses the changes in the costs for operating and maintaining these new facilities.State has made significant progress constructing new embassy compounds (NEC). The average time to design and construct the 18 embassies and consulates completed from 1999 to 2005 is nearly 3 years faster than for embassies built during the 1980s and 1990s, despite these new facilities being significantly larger and more complex. Although only half of the 18 projects were completed according to planned schedules, 15 of the 18 NECs were opened ahead of, on, or within 1 month after their scheduled move-in dates, and approximately 8,700 U.S. government employees were relocated to these secure and modern facilities. Construction costs for 14 of the 18 completed projects were significantly lower than budget estimates OBO provided to Congress. Strategic and procedural reforms implemented by State, including elevating the former Foreign Buildings Office to bureau status, switching to the design-build contract delivery method, and developing a standard embassy design have had a cumulative positive effect on project cycle times; however, it is still difficult to quantify the effects of any single reform. GAO found that factors specific to individual projects affected OBO’s ability to complete work on time and on budget, including the experience levels of OBO and contractors’ projects teams, unforeseen conditions at construction sites, and weather conditions, among others. Due to increased size and complexity, annual operations and maintenance costs for NECs are significantly greater than the costs for previous locations; once all 201 NECs are completed, annual operations and maintenance costs could increase by at least $111 million, and possibly several times more. These costs include increases in utility usage; the need to hire highly qualified technical staff; new maintenance needs; and costly equipment, supplies, and spare parts. State does not clearly identify the projected operations and maintenance costs for NECs it builds. Thus, there is currently no mechanism that allows decision makers to determine whether NEC operations and maintenance needs are being adequately planned for and funded. A lack of a comprehensive long-term plan that clearly identifies the significant increases in resources that are likely to be needed as more NECs come online could increase the risk of earlier-than-expected deterioration of NECs.
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October 26, 2021The leader of a money laundering network was sentenced today to 15 years in prison for laundering tens of millions of dollars in drug proceeds on behalf of foreign drug trafficking organizations.
- Bankruptcy Filings Fall Sharply for Second Straight Quarter
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- Department of Energy: Improvements Needed to Strengthen Strategic Planning for the Acquisition Workforce
November 16, 2021What GAO Found The Department of Energy (DOE) is one of the largest civilian contracting agencies in the federal government, with about 80 percent of its annual obligations for contracts. Staff in most federal positions in DOE are involved in the acquisition process, according to officials from offices included in GAO’s review—the Office of Science, the Office of Environmental Management (EM), and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Some of these staff, such as contracting officers, hold federal or DOE acquisition certifications. DOE generally requires acquisition-related training only for certified staff—which represent about 15 percent of DOE’s workforce (see figure)—and maintains training requirements for only these staff through the agency’s Acquisition Career Management Program. Numbers of DOE Staff with Acquisition Certifications, as of March 2021 DOE generally does not require acquisition-related training for noncertified staff, many of whom may play a critical role in DOE’s acquisition process. Office of Federal Procurement Policy guidance states that agencies should consider the functions performed by staff members, such as requirements development by a technical expert, and include any significant acquisition-related positions in their acquisition training programs. By reviewing the criteria for inclusion in its Acquisition Career Management Program and developing training requirements for noncertified staff that meet these criteria, DOE can better ensure it has the capacity to oversee its contracts. The three DOE offices included in GAO’s review have each implemented two of the five leading practices for effective strategic planning for their acquisition workforces, and have partially implemented the remaining three practices. For example, these offices have taken some steps to identify workforce need, but have not fully identified skill and competency gaps—including types and numbers of positions required to close gaps—for their acquisition workforces, as recommended by leading practices. Further, senior DOE and NNSA officials have raised concerns that they do not have enough staff or staff with the right skills in the acquisition workforce to properly oversee contracts. However, NNSA has conducted limited evaluations of gaps in skills and competencies for some positions in its acquisition workforce, and the other offices in GAO’s review have not conducted such analyses. With a more complete and thorough understanding of skill and competency gaps for its acquisition workforce, DOE can improve the information it has available to develop its budget and other strategies to build a workforce with the right skills and of the right size to address the agency’s long-standing issues with contract management. Why GAO Did This Study DOE’s federal acquisition workforce is responsible for managing risks throughout the contracting, or acquisition, process. GAO designated DOE contract and project management as a high-risk area because of DOE’s record of inadequate contract management. Senate Report No. 116-48 accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 includes a provision for GAO to review issues affecting DOE’s acquisition workforce. This report examines (1) the positions included in DOE’s acquisition workforce and the extent to which this workforce receives acquisition-related training and (2) the extent to which DOE has implemented leading practices for effective strategic planning for its acquisition workforce. GAO’s review included the Office of Science, EM, and NNSA, which represented over 75 percent of DOE obligations for contracts in fiscal year 2019. GAO reviewed regulations, policies, and workforce planning documents; interviewed officials; and compared information to leading practices on workforce planning.
- Military Airlift: DOD Should Take Steps to Strengthen Management of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet Program
August 24, 2021To move passengers and cargo, the Department of Defense (DOD) must supplement its military aircraft with cargo and passenger aircraft from commercial carriers participating in the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) program. Carriers participating in CRAF commit their aircraft to DOD to support a range of military operations. In the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress required DOD to sponsor an assessment of CRAF and required GAO to review that assessment. GAO briefed congressional staff on its observations. As discussed with the staff, GAO further analyzed some of the issues identified in its review. This report assesses (1) the extent to which DOD has assessed potential risks to the CRAF program, and (2) the extent to which DOD’s management of CRAF supports program objectives. For this engagement, GAO reviewed DOD-sponsored CRAF study reports and interviewed study leadership. GAO also interviewed over 20 of 35 CRAF participating carriers that responded to a request for a meeting, DOD officials, and industry officials.DOD needs to establish the level of risk associated with declining charter passenger capabilities and DOD’s increased need to move very large cargo. Although DOD depends on CRAF charter passenger aircraft to move more than 90 percent of its peacetime needs, there has been nearly a 55 percent decline in this CRAF capacity since 2003. In addition, since 2003, DOD’s large cargo movement needs have increased with the acquisition of over 15,000 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. Since there are no U.S. commercial cargo aircraft capable of moving cargo this size into Iraq and Afghanistan, DOD is using foreign-owned carriers to assist its military aircraft in such movements. However, there are scenarios where foreign-owned carriers may be unwilling or not allowed to fly. As a result, the lack of a commercial U.S. outsized cargo capability might restrict DOD’s ability to meet its large cargo airlift needs in a timely manner. DOD has not quantified the risks these challenges pose to the CRAF program’s ability to meet DOD’s future transportation requirements because DOD has not completed risk assessments as described in the 2008 National Defense Strategy. Until risk assessments are conducted, DOD will not be sufficiently informed about potential risks in the CRAF charter passenger segment and in very large cargo airlift capability that could prevent DOD from managing its future airlift needs and the CRAF program effectively. DOD’s management of CRAF has not provided CRAF participants with a clear understanding, which could strengthen the program’s ability to support its objectives, in some critical areas of the program. Although internal controls such as policies can help meet program objectives, CRAF business partners do not have a clear understanding of DOD’s expectations concerning four CRAF objectives–an enhanced mobilization base, modernization, increased air carrier participation, and communication–because DOD has not developed policies in these four areas. First, DOD has not developed policies regarding the enforcement of its business rules, such as the 60/40 rule that states that participants should fly only 40 percent of their total business for DOD. DOD does not consistently enforce this rule and this may decrease the mobilization base since it is difficult for carriers to size their fleets to meet DOD demands. Second, DOD has not developed policies or economic incentives that promote CRAF modernization and this may hinder CRAF carriers from modernizing their aircraft. Third, DOD has not developed policies regarding oversight of the distribution of its peacetime airlift business, the primary incentive to carriers for participating in CRAF. DOD has no involvement in this distribution, and the perceptions of some carriers that this process is unfair could ultimately reduce carrier participation in CRAF. Fourth, DOD has not developed policy concerning communication with the carriers on CRAF studies or proposed changes to the CRAF program. DOD has not always communicated with carriers prior to implementing changes or completing studies. Until DOD develops policies that provide carriers with a clear understanding of CRAF, DOD cannot provide reasonable assurance that CRAF will meet its primary objective of providing critical airlift.
- Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta Delivers Remarks Via Webinar Announcing Two New Resources for Law Enforcement from Office on Violence Against Women
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