Office of the Spokesperson
The following is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Omani Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi. The Secretary thanked Oman for its support on a range of issues and especially on Yemen. The Secretary encouraged further efforts to build support for a truce leading to a ceasefire in Yemen. The UN truce proposal could serve as a first step towards a comprehensive ceasefire and a new, more inclusive political process.
- Egypt Travel Advisory
March 24, 2022Do not travel to Egypt [Read More…]
- Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke Gives Remarks at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Legislative Summit
November 4, 2021Good afternoon. Thank you so much, Ben Williams, for that kind introduction. I just want to take a brief moment before I start to thank NCSL for their efforts in putting together this important conference. It’s great to be here.
- Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Kerry’s Travel to Philadelphia
March 9, 2022Office of the [Read More…]
- Justice Department Sues Town of Wolcott, Connecticut, for Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities
December 7, 2020The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit alleging that the Town of Wolcott, Connecticut, has discriminated against persons with disabilities in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
- Three Men Sentenced for $2.7 Million COVID-19 Relief Fraud Scheme
February 15, 2022Three men were sentenced yesterday in the Middle District of North Carolina for fraudulently seeking over $2.7 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
- Justice Department Files Retaliation Lawsuit Against Wilson County, North Carolina, Emergency Communications
July 28, 2021The Justice Department announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against Wilson County, North Carolina, alleging that Wilson County Emergency Communications (WCEC) engaged in unlawful retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it terminated an employee after she disclosed to supervisors that she had been sexually harassed while on the job.
- FBI Report on Crime Shows Decline in Violent Crime Rate for Third Consecutive Year
September 28, 2020Today, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its 2019 edition of Crime in the United States, which showed that violent crime decreased nationwide for the third consecutive year. After decreases in both 2017 and 2018, the violent crime rate dropped an additional one percent this past year and the property crime rate decreased 4.5 percent.
- Imposter Nurse Sentenced to Prison for Fraud and Tax Evasion
October 28, 2020A nurse formerly employed by an Ann Arbor, Michigan, health care consultancy was sentenced to 65 months in prison for defrauding employers of over $2.2 million and evading more than $697,000 in taxes, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Schneider for the Eastern District of Michigan.
- GAO 2022-2027 Strategic Plan: Goals and Objectives for Serving Congress and the Nation
March 15, 2022GAO’s Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives form the foundation of the agency’s strategic plan and lay out our long-term strategies to accomplish our goals. For more information, contact Stephen Sanford at (202) 512-9715 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Maritime Infrastructure: Public Ports Engage in an Extensive Range of Activities beyond Freight Movement
December 15, 2021What GAO Found Public ports across the U.S. pursue an extensive range of activities unrelated to freight movement. Examples of such non-freight activities include cruise ship and ferry terminals, commercial fishing, recreation, and commercial and residential development. In a GAO survey of ports, 67 of the 80 respondents reported being involved in non-freight activities in the last 10 years, with most respondents having a mix of freight and non-freight activities. Port officials said they pursue non-freight activities to diversify lines of business, find new uses for underused facilities, and address unmet community development needs, among other reasons. Non-freight activities can also have economic impacts including creating jobs, according to port stakeholders and economic impact studies. For example, one study estimated that commercial fishing activity at the Port of Seattle accounted for 11,300 jobs and generated $1.4 billion in total business output in 2017. Ports most commonly reported funding their non-freight activities with port revenues (55 survey respondents) or state funds (53 survey respondents). Waterfront Park Area and Development, Port of San Diego Federal grant programs GAO reviewed have provided some funding to ports for non-freight projects but have largely focused on freight. According to GAO’s analysis of federal grant award data for fiscal years 2010 through 2020, agencies provided at least $141 million to ports for non-freight projects during this time, or about 8 percent of the almost $1.9 billion in total funding these programs awarded to ports, in fiscal year 2020 dollars. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) provided the majority of funding to ports for both freight and non-freight projects. DOT-funded non-freight projects include ferry-, cruise-, and fishing-related projects, among others. Stakeholders reported that ports, especially small ports, face challenges with federal grant programs. For example, stakeholders and federal officials said that many grant programs GAO reviewed are consistently oversubscribed and that smaller ports may lack the resources to develop a competitive application. Stakeholders GAO spoke with differed on the need for additional federal funding for non-freight activities. Why GAO Did This Study The nation’s coastal, Great Lakes, and inland ports have long been recognized as critical to the national and local economies. Ports can contribute not only by moving freight but also, for example, through activities related to tourism, transportation, or real estate. Nationwide port studies have typically focused on the impact of freight, and less attention has been paid to these non-freight activities. House Report 116-452 included a provision for GAO to examine ports’ non-freight activities. This GAO report describes (1) what is known about the nature of and funding for non-freight activities at public ports, and (2) the extent to which federal discretionary grant programs have provided funds to public ports for non-freight and freight projects, and stakeholders’ views on this federal assistance. To address the two objectives above, GAO conducted a non-generalizable survey of 80 ports and interviewed officials at 15 ports and 14 port industry stakeholders. GAO selected ports for variety based on their level of non-freight activity, freight traffic, and location, and whether they have applied for DOT funding. GAO also interviewed officials within DOT; the Departments of Commerce (Commerce), Defense, and Homeland Security; and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In addition, GAO (1) reviewed port documentation, such as economic impact studies and (2) analyzed DOT, Commerce, and EPA grant award data from fiscal year 2010 through fiscal year 2020. For more information, contact Andrew Von Ah at (202) 512-2834 or email@example.com.
- Special Envoy Rayburn Travel to the United Arab Emirates and Jordan
January 3, 2021Joel D. Rayburn, Special [Read More…]
- MOX Services Agrees to Pay $10 Million to Resolve Allegations of Knowingly Presenting False Claims to Department of Energy for Non-Existent Construction Materials
March 7, 2022MOX Services LLC, formerly known as CB&I AREVA MOX Services LLC (MOX), located in South Carolina, has agreed to pay $10 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by knowingly submitting to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) false and fraudulent invoices for non-existent materials and receiving improper kickbacks.
- Indian national admits to role in government impersonation call center scam
In Justice NewsSeptember 13, 2021A 37-year-old Indian [Read More…]
- Economic and Commercial Diplomacy: State and Commerce Implement a Range of Activities, but State Should Enhance Its Training Efforts
December 13, 2021What GAO Found The Departments of State and Commerce implement a range of economic and commercial diplomacy activities domestically and overseas, to promote U.S. commercial interests and support U.S. business efforts to enter or expand in foreign markets. These activities range from engagement with foreign governments and policy advocacy, to information sharing, guidance, and individual services for businesses, and awards for overseas post activities, such as projects to raise intellectual property rights awareness. Over 3,600 State and Commerce personnel on average conducted these activities domestically and in a number of foreign countries in fiscal years 2016 to 2020. These personnel included an annual average of over 900 State and Commerce Foreign Service Officers overseas (see table). Average Annual Number of State and Commerce Foreign Service Officers Overseas with Economic and Commercial Diplomacy Responsibilities and Assignment Locations, Fiscal Years 2016 to 2020 Region State average number of staff State number of countries Commerce average number of staff Commerce number of countries East Asia and the Pacific 148 21 62 11 Europe and Eurasia 201 45 48 20 Near East (Middle East and North Africa) 87 16 17 9 South and Central Asia 70 11 11 3 Sub-Saharan Africa 107 41 12 8 Western Hemisphere 136 29 39 14 Total 748 163 189 65 Source: GAO analysis of Departments of State and Commerce data. | GAO-22-104181 Note: The regions in this table represent State’s six overseas regions. Average numbers may not sum to totals because of rounding. For more details, see figure 2 and table 3 in GAO-22-104181. State offers a range of economic and commercial diplomacy courses for relevant personnel, but GAO found weaknesses in State’s training efforts. State’s training addresses broader economic and commercial issues as well as specific topics, such as intellectual property rights. GAO found that State has incorporated aspects of the four components of an effective federal training program—planning, design, implementation, and evaluation—into its training efforts. For example, on evaluation, State generally obtains participant feedback for all of its courses. However, GAO found that State does not consult with external stakeholders, such as Commerce and private sector entities, on whether its training is achieving the desired impact. GAO has previously identified that incorporating a wide variety of stakeholder perspectives can help agencies to assess such impact. Although State officials noted that they have coordinated with Commerce to share information on training offerings and may obtain indirect input from the private sector on training, State has not established a mechanism to consult with external stakeholders regarding the impact of its training. As a result, State lacks reasonable assurance it is obtaining appropriate stakeholder perspectives and feedback on whether its personnel engaged in economic and commercial diplomacy are adequately equipped to support U.S. businesses overseas. Why GAO Did This Study Supporting U.S. global competitiveness is a longstanding area of U.S. government interest. Increased globalization and recent economic and financial crises have heightened concerns that U.S. businesses may be at a disadvantage in foreign markets. State and Commerce play key roles in the U.S. government’s efforts to support U.S. businesses in foreign markets. The Championing American Business Through Diplomacy Act of 2019 includes provisions focused on improving the efforts of State and Commerce to support U.S. businesses abroad through economic and commercial diplomacy. The act includes a provision for GAO to report on several issues related to these agencies’ efforts in this area. This report describes State’s and Commerce’s activities in support of U.S. businesses abroad and staff resources provided for these efforts; and assesses State’s economic and commercial diplomacy training against GAO criteria for effective federal training programs. GAO reviewed documentation, assessed the reliability of agency data on staff resources and training for fiscal years 2016 through 2020 (the most recently available), and interviewed agency officials.
- Remote Interview Pilot for Trusted Traveler Programs
June 2, 2021*/ Eligible Trusted [Read More…]
- Combating Terrorism: Increased Oversight and Accountability Needed over Pakistan Reimbursement Claims for Coalition Support Funds
August 31, 2021The United States has reimbursed Pakistan, a key ally in the global war on terror, about $5.56 billion in Coalition Support Funds (CSF) for its efforts to combat terrorism along its border with Afghanistan. The Department of Defense (Defense) provides CSF to 27 coalition partners for costs incurred in direct support of U.S. military operations. Pakistan is the largest recipient of CSF, receiving 81 percent of CSF reimbursements as of May 2008. This report focuses on (1) the extent to which Defense has consistently applied its guidance to validate the reimbursements claimed by Pakistan and (2) how the Office of the Defense Representative to Pakistan’s (ODRP) role has changed over time. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed CSF oversight procedures, examined CSF documents, and interviewed Defense officials in Washington, D.C., U.S. Central Command in Florida, and Pakistan.Defense Comptroller issued new guidance in 2003 to enhance CSF oversight. The guidance calls for, among other things, CSF reimbursement claims to contain quantifiable information that indicates the incremental nature of support (i.e., above and beyond normal operations), validation that the support or service was provided, and copies of invoices or documentation supporting how the costs were calculated. While Defense generally conducted macro-level analytical reviews called for in its guidance, such as determining whether the cost is less than that which would be incurred by the United States for the same service, for a large number of reimbursement claims Defense did not obtain detailed documentation to verify that claimed costs were valid, actually incurred, or correctly calculated. GAO found that Defense did not consistently apply its existing CSF oversight guidance. For example, as of May 2008, Defense paid over $2 billion in Pakistani reimbursement claims for military activities covering January 2004 through June 2007 without obtaining sufficient information that would enable a third party to recalculate these costs. Furthermore, Defense may have reimbursed costs that (1) were not incremental, (2) were not based on actual activity, or (3) were potentially duplicative. GAO also found that additional oversight controls were needed. For example, there is no guidance for Defense to verify currency conversion rates used by Pakistan, which if performed would enhance Defense’s ability to monitor for potential overbillings. Defense’s guidance does not specifically task ODRP with attempting to verify Pakistani military support and expenses, despite recognition by Defense officials that such verification is best performed by U.S. officials in Pakistan, who have access to Pakistani officials and information. As such, ODRP did not try to verify Pakistan CSF claims from January 2004 through August 2006. Beginning in September 2006, without any formal guidance or directive to do so from U.S. Central Command or the Defense Comptroller, ODRP began an effort to validate Pakistani military support and expenses. This increased verification effort on the part of ODRP contributed to an increase in the amount of Pakistani government CSF claims disallowed and deferred. Prior to ODRP’s increased verification efforts, the average percentage of Pakistani claims disallowed or deferred for January 2004 through August 2006 was a little over 2 percent. In comparison, the average percentage of Pakistani claims disallowed or deferred for September 2006 through February 2007 was 6 percent and for the most recent claims (March 2007 through June 2007) processed in February 2008, was approximately 22 percent. However, ODRP’s continued oversight activity is not assured, as Defense had not developed formal guidance delineating how and to what degree ODRP should attempt to verify Pakistani claims for reimbursement. GAO recognizes that Defense may not be able to fully verify every Pakistani claim without the ability to access Pakistani records or do onsite monitoring. However, such ability would enhance CSF oversight.
- Four Ohio Individuals Charged with Gambling and Tax Offenses
May 19, 2021A federal grand jury in Cleveland, Ohio, returned a superseding indictment on May 13, 2021, that was unsealed yesterday, charging three Ohio men and one woman with conspiring to operate illegal gambling businesses and to defraud the IRS, among other criminal offenses.
- German National Day
October 3, 2020Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- Four Russian Government Employees Charged in Two Historical Hacking Campaigns Targeting Critical Infrastructure Worldwide
March 24, 2022The Department of Justice unsealed two indictments today charging four defendants, all Russian nationals who worked for the Russian government, with attempting, supporting and conducting computer intrusions that together, in two separate conspiracies, targeted the global energy sector between 2012 and 2018. In total, these hacking campaigns targeted thousands of computers, at hundreds of companies and organizations, in approximately 135 countries.
- Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken’s Meeting with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and Israeli Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid
October 18, 2021Office of the [Read More…]