Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
Pakistan has been an important partner on wide-ranging mutual interests for nearly 75 years and we value our relationship. The United States congratulates newly elected Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and we look forward to continuing our long-standing cooperation with Pakistan’s government.
The United States views a strong, prosperous, and democratic Pakistan as essential for the interests of both of our countries.
- Commending the European Union’s Sanctions Actions Against Wagner Group and Affiliates
December 14, 2021
- Foreign Assistance: Reporting of Defense Articles and Services Provided through Drawdowns Needs to Be Improved
August 23, 2021Since 1961, the President has had special statutory authority to order the “drawdown” of defense articles–such as aircraft, vehicles, various weapons, and spare parts–and services or military education and training from Department of Defense (DOD) and military service inventories and transfer them to foreign countries or international organizations. Drawdowns give the President the ability to respond to U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives, such as counternarcotics efforts, peacekeeping needs, and unforeseen military and nonmilitary emergencies, by providing military assistance without first seeking additional legislative authority or appropriations from Congress. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s reports to Congress on the costs and delivery status of drawdowns are inaccurate and incomplete. Two principal problems contribute to the agency’s inability to meet the reporting requirements. First, its information system for recording drawdown data is outmoded and difficult to use–service drawdown reports are in different formats, and any conversion errors have to be manually corrected. Second, the services do not regularly provide updates to the agency on drawdown costs and deliveries, and available information sometimes does not get into the system. Drawdowns benefit the United States and foreign recipients primarily by providing the President the flexibility to address foreign policy and national security objectives quickly. Drawdowns also allow the President to provide defense articles and services to improve foreign recipients’ capability to conduct military and police missions in support of U.S. foreign policy. Other benefits cited include improved military-to-military relations between the U.S. military services and the foreign recipients and expanded markets for U.S. defense firms. According to U.S. and foreign military officials, the use of drawdowns presents some concerns. Because drawdowns are used to quickly address U.S. national interests and emergencies, the costs associated with a drawdown, such as refurbishment and transportation, are not budgeted for by the services and are not reimbursed.
- U.S. Citizens Released in Haiti
December 17, 2021Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
- Peacekeeping: Observations on Costs, Strengths, and Limitations of U.S. and UN Operations
August 31, 2021As of June 2007, more than 100,000 military and civilian personnel are engaged in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations in 15 locations in Africa, Europe, Asia, the Americas, and the Middle East. In 2006, the United States provided the UN with about $1 billion to support peacekeeping operations. Given that thousands of U.S. troops are intensively deployed in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, UN peacekeeping operations are an important element in maintaining a secure international environment. As requested, this testimony discusses (1) the costs of the current UN mission in Haiti compared with the estimated cost of a hypothetical U.S. operation and (2) the strengths and limitations of the United States and the UN in leading peace operations. This testimony is based on our prior report and information we updated for this hearing. To estimate U.S. costs, we developed parameters for a U.S. mission similar to the UN mission in Haiti, which the Joint Staff validated as reasonable. We then applied DOD’s official cost estimating model. However, it is uncertain whether the United States would implement an operation in Haiti in the same way as the UN.We estimate that it would cost the United States about twice as much as it would the UN to conduct a peacekeeping operation similar to the UN mission in Haiti. The UN budgeted $428 million for the first 14 months of the mission. A similar U.S. operation would have cost an estimated $876 million. Virtually the entire cost difference can be attributed to cost of civilian police, military pay and support, and facilities. First, civilian police costs are less in a UN operation because the UN pays police a standard daily allowance, while U.S. police are given salaries, special pay, and training. Second, U.S. military pay and support reflect higher salaries and higher standards for equipment, ammunition, and rations. Third, U.S. facilities-related costs would be twice those of the UN and reflect the cost of posting U.S. civilian personnel in a secure embassy compound. When we varied specific factors, such as increasing the number of reserve troops deployed, the estimated cost for a U.S. operation increased. Cost is not the sole factor in determining whether the United States or the UN should lead a peacekeeping operation. Each offers strengths and limitations. Traditionally, the United States’ strengths have included rapid deployment, strong command and control, and well-trained and equipped personnel. However, ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have reduced personnel and equipment readiness levels and resulted in shortfalls for military police, engineers, and civil affairs experts. The UN provides broad multinational support for its missions, with a UN Security Council mandate and direction for its operations. The UN also has access to international civil servants, police, and senior officials who have nation-building experience and diverse language skills. Finally, the UN has fostered a network of agencies and development banks to coordinate international assistance with peacekeeping missions. However, the UN has traditionally had difficulties in rapidly deploying its forces and ensuring unified command and control over its peacekeeping forces.
- Alabama Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty to Filing False Tax Returns
October 15, 2020A Birmingham, Alabama, tax return preparer pleaded guilty to aiding and assisting in 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 for the Northern District of Alabama Prim F. Escalona.
- Covid-19: Data Quality and Considerations for Modeling and Analysis
July 30, 2020The rapid spread and magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic have underscored the importance of having quality data, analyses, and models describing the potential trajectory of COVID-19 to help understand the effects of the disease in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is using multiple surveillance systems to collect data on COVID-19 in the U.S. in collaboration with state, local, and academic and other partners. The data from these surveillance systems can be useful for understanding the disease, but decision makers and analysts must understand their limitations in order to interpret them properly. For example, surveillance data on the number of reported COVID-19 cases are incomplete for a number of reasons, and they are an undercount the true number of cases, according to CDC and others. There are multiple approaches to analyzing COVID-19 data that yield different insights. For example, some approaches can help compare the effects of the disease across population groups. Additional analytical approaches can help to address incomplete and inconsistent reporting of COVID-19 deaths as well. For example, analysts can examine the number of deaths beyond what would normally be expected in the absence of the pandemic. Examining higher-than-expected deaths from all causes helps to address limitations in the reporting of COVID-19 deaths because the number of total deaths is likely more accurate than the numbers of deaths from specific causes. The figure below shows actual deaths from the weeks ending January 1 through June 27, 2020, based on data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, compared with the expected deaths based on prior years’ data. Deaths that exceeded this threshold starting in late March are considered excess deaths that may be related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher-Than-Expected Weekly Mortality for 2020, as of July 14, 2020 Analysts have used several forecasting models to predict the spread of COVID-19, and understanding these models requires understanding their purpose and limitations. For example, some models attempt to predict the effects of various interventions, whereas other models attempt to forecast the number of cases based on current data. At the beginning of an outbreak, such predictions are less likely to be accurate, but accuracy can improve as the disease becomes better understood. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant loss of life and profoundly disrupted the U.S. economy and society, and the Congress has taken action to support a multifaceted federal response on an unprecedented scale. It is important for decision makers to understand the limitations of COVID-19 data, and the uses and limitations of various methods of analyzing and interpreting those data. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) includes a provision for GAO to, in general, conduct monitoring and oversight of the authorities and funding provided to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the effect of the pandemic on the health, economy, and public and private institutions of the U.S. This technology assessment examines (1) collection methods and limitations of COVID-19 surveillance data reported by CDC, (2) approaches for analyzing COVID-19 data, and (3) uses and limitations of forecast modeling for understanding of COVID-19. In conducting this assessment, GAO obtained publicly available information from CDC and state health departments, among other sources, and reviewed relevant peer reviewed and preprint (non-peer-reviewed) literature, as well as published technical data on specific models. For more information, contact Timothy M. Persons, PhD at (202) 512-6888 or PersonsT@gao.gov, SaraAnn Moessbauer at (202) 512-4943, or MoessbauerS@gao.gov, or Mary Denigan-Macauley, PhD at (202) 512-7114 or DeniganMacauleyM@gao.gov.
- Former Deputy Jailer Sentenced to 48 Months for Violating the Civil Rights of an Inmate
August 17, 2020A former Shelby County Deputy Jailer, William Anthony Carey, 31, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gregory F. VanTatenhove to serve 48 months in federal prison for violating the civil rights of an inmate in his custody.
- Judiciary Releases Annual Report and Judicial Business 2020
In U.S CourtsMarch 16, 2021Along with the rest of America, the Judiciary confronted significant challenges in 2020, led by the need to meet its constitutional obligations amid a deadly global pandemic. Federal courts learned to keep operations going, despite restricted access to courthouses, with a quickly evolving reliance on technology and the resilience of a 30,000-strong workforce, according to the Annual Report of the Director Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO).
- Washington Tech Executive Sentenced for Covid-19 Relief Fraud Scheme
August 24, 2021A Washington state tech executive was sentenced today in the Western District of Washington to two years in prison for perpetrating a scheme to fraudulently obtain COVID-19 disaster relief loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
- Violence and Threats to Free Speech in El Salvador
April 10, 2022
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Haitian Prime Minister Henry
September 21, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
- Rhode Island Man Sentenced to Over 33 Years in Federal Prison for Leadership Role in International Drug Trafficking Organization
October 14, 2021A Rhode Island man was sentenced today to 400 months in prison for his role in an international fentanyl distribution conspiracy.
- Joint Statement from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security Assessing the Impact of Foreign Interference During the 2020 U.S. Elections
March 16, 2021The Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), released today key findings and recommendations from a joint report to the President issued last month on the impact of foreign governments and their agents on the security and integrity of the 2020 U.S. federal elections.
- Security Force Assistance: More Detailed Planning and Improved Access to Information Needed to Guide Efforts of Advisor Teams in Afghanistan
August 24, 2021What GAO FoundDOD and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have defined the mission and broad goals for Security Force Assistance (SFA) advisor teams; however, teams varied in the extent to which their approaches for developing their Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) units identified activities based on specific objectives or end states that were clearly linked with established goals. SFA guidance states that to be successful, advisors must have an end or goal in mind, and establish objectives that support higher-command plans. Theater commanders have outlined goals aimed at strengthening specific capabilities such as logistics, and it is largely left to the teams to then develop their approach for working with their counterparts. GAO found some advisor teams had developed structured advising approaches drawing from these goals, such as identifying monthly objectives and milestones for their team. Other teams GAO met with used less structured approaches, such as relying on interactions with ANSF counterparts to identify priorities and using this input to develop activities on an ad hoc basis, rather than as part of a longer-term, more structured approach to achieve broad goals. Officials from several teams stated that the guidance they received lacked specificity regarding desired end states for the development of their ANSF counterpart units. Without a more structured approach with clear linkages between end states, objectives, and milestones that are in support of broad goals for ANSF units, theater commanders cannot be assured that the advisor team activities are making progress toward these goals.The Army and Marine Corps have been able to fill requests for SFA advisor teams, using various approaches such as tasking non-deployed brigades to form advisor teams or creating teams using personnel already deployed in Afghanistan. According to Army and Marine Corps officials, the ability to substitute an individual at one rank above or below the request has helped the services meet rank and skill requirements. The Army’s reliance on brigades to provide a portion of their personnel to form advisor teams has enabled them to meet requirements but resulted in leaving large numbers of personnel at the brigades’ home stations. To manage these large rear detachments, brigades undertook significant planning to ensure that enough stay-behind leadership existed to maintain a sufficient command structure and provide certain training.The Army and Marine Corps have developed training programs for SFA advisor teams, but teams varied in the extent to which they had specific information to help prepare them for their mission prior to deployment. SFA guidance states that an in-depth understanding of the operational environment and of foreign security force capabilities is critical to planning and conducting effective SFA. Advisor teams may access such information from a variety of sources such as conducting video teleconferences with the teams they will replace, using secure networks to gather information, or sending personnel on predeployment site surveys, although teams varied in the extent to which they were actually able to gain access to these sources. For example, GAO found that while teams had access to a certain secure network at training sites, only some had access at home station, enabling them to shape their training and mission analysis earlier in predeployment training or after training but prior to deploying. Having limited access to this information prior to arriving in Afghanistan may result in advisor teams needing more time after deploying to maximize their impact as advisors.Why GAO Did This StudyISAF’s mission in Afghanistan has shifted from a combat role to focus more on preparing ANSF units to assume lead security responsibility by the end of 2014. A key element in advising and assisting the ANSF is SFA advisor teams, provided by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. A House Armed Services Committee report accompanying its version of the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act directed GAO to review DOD’s establishment and use of SFA advisor teams. Specifically, GAO evaluated the extent to which (1) DOD, in conjunction with ISAF, has defined SFA advisor team missions, goals, and objectives; (2) the Army and Marine Corps have been able to provide teams; and (3) the Army and Marine Corps have developed programs to train teams for their specific missions. GAO reviewed doctrine and guidance, analyzed advisor requirements, reviewed training curricula, and interviewed Army, Marine Corps, theater command, and SFA advisor team officials in the U.S. and Afghanistan.
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Mike Allen of Axios on HBO Max
June 7, 2021
- United States Sanctions Five Iranian Entities and Watchlists IRGC Cyber Actors for Interfering in Our Elections
October 23, 2020Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- Follow NASA’s Perseverance Rover in Real Time on Its Way to Mars
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- South Texan handed significant sentence for trafficking cocaine
In Justice NewsMay 14, 2021A 46-year-old Alton man [Read More…]
- Follow-up on 2011 Report: Status of Actions Taken to Reduce Duplication, Overlap, and Fragmentation, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue
August 24, 2021What GAO Found GAO’s specific assessment of progress as of February 10, 2012, showed that 4 (or 5 percent) of the 81 areas GAO identified were addressed; 60 (or 74 percent) were partially addressed; and 17 (or 21 percent) were not addressed. Enclosure I presents GAO’s assessment of the overall progress made in each area. GAO applied the following criteria in making these overall assessments for the 81 areas. We determined that an area was: “addressed” if all actions needed in that area were addressed; “partially addressed” if at least one action needed in that area showed some progress toward implementation, but not all actions were addressed; and “not addressed” if none of the actions needed in that area were addressed. As of February 10, 2012, the majority of 176 actions needed within the 81 areas identified by GAO have been partially addressed. Specifically, 23 (or 13 percent) were addressed; 99 (or 56 percent) were partially addressed; 54 (or 31 percent) were not addressed. Streamlining federal efforts, reducing government costs, and enhancing revenue collections can offer financial and other benefits. Today, and concurrently with this report, GAO issued its second annual report to Congress in response to the statutory requirement that GAO identify federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives with duplicative goals or activities. That report identifies 51 additional issue areas and numerous actions within those issue areas that, if implemented, may further improve programs’ effectiveness and efficiency, achieve cost savings, and enhance revenues. Opportunities exist for the Congress and federal agencies to continue to address the identified actions needed in our March 2011 and February 2012 reports. Collectively, these reports show that, if the actions are implemented, the government could save tens of billions of dollars annually. A number of the issues are difficult to address and implementing many of the actions identified will take time and sustained leadership. Why GAO Did This Study In March 2011, GAO issued its first annual report to the Congress on potential duplication, overlap, and fragmentation in the federal government. The report also identified opportunities to achieve cost savings and enhance revenues. We identified 81 areas—which span a wide range of government missions—with a total of 176 actions that the Congress and the executive branch could take to reduce or eliminate unnecessary duplication, overlap, and fragmentation or achieve other potential financial benefits. We also presented areas where programs may be able to achieve greater efficiencies or become more effective in providing government services. In many areas, we suggested actions— identifying some new options, as well as underscoring numerous existing GAO recommendations—that policymakers could consider. This status report provides an overall assessment of progress in implementing actions for the 81 areas, as well as an assessment of each of the 176 suggested actions. As of February 10, 2012, the Congress and the executive branch had made some progress in addressing the majority of the 81 areas that we identified, including the implementation of all actions in 4 areas; however, additional steps are needed to fully implement the remaining actions to achieve associated benefits. GAO suggested a wide range of actions for the Congress and the executive branch to consider, such as developing strategies to better coordinate fragmented efforts, implementing executive initiatives to improve oversight and evaluation of overlapping programs, considering enactment of legislation to facilitate revenue collection, and examining opportunities to eliminate potential duplication through streamlining, collocating, or consolidating program efforts or administrative services. For more information, contact Janet St. Laurent at (202) 512-4300, or firstname.lastname@example.org and Zina Merritt, at (202) 512-4300 or email@example.com.
- Czech Republic National Day
October 28, 2020Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]