Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
On behalf of the Government of the United States and the American people, I send our best wishes to the people of Chile as you celebrate your Independence Day on September 18.
As long-standing partners with shared democratic values, Chile and the United States collaborate closely on a wide range of shared priorities for our hemisphere, and we both benefit from deep economic and people-to-people ties. This past year has been especially challenging as we faced the impact of the global pandemic, but we are proud to partner with Chile to help our nations and the world combat COVID-19. We value the strong partnerships between our governments, companies, universities, and people, and look forward to working together as we move into the next year.
The United States wishes all Chileans “Felices Fiestas Patrias” and a prosperous year to come.
- Statement on Misinformation on Social Media Regarding the Office of the Pardon AttorneyBy Sam NewsJanuary 9, 2021“Please be advised that the information circulating on social media claiming to be from Acting Pardon Attorney Rosalind Sargent-Burns is inauthentic and should not be taken seriously. "The Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney does not have a social media presence and is not involved in any efforts to pardon individuals or groups involved with the heinous acts that took place this week in and around the U.S. Capitol."[Read More…]
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- [Request for Reconsideration of Dismissed Protest of CIA Contract Award]By Sam NewsAugust 6, 2021A firm requested reconsideration of its dismissed protest challenging a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) contract award for support of its Records Declassification Program, contending that GAO wrongly concluded that it was not an interested party to challenge the award. In addition to the reconsideration request, the protester contended that CIA improperly failed to disclose funding limitations in the solicitation. GAO held that: (1) the protester lacked sufficient interest to protest the contract award, since its proposed and evaluated costs exceeded the available project funding level, and at least one other bidder was below the funding limitation; and (2) there was no requirement for agencies to reveal budgetary information in solicitations. Accordingly, the request for reconsideration and the protest were denied.[Read More…]
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- Follow-up on 2011 Report: Status of Actions Taken to Reduce Duplication, Overlap, and Fragmentation, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance RevenueBy Sam NewsAugust 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.[Read More…]
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- College Closures: Many Impacted Borrowers Struggled Financially Despite Being Eligible for Loan DischargesBy Sam NewsSeptember 30, 2021Why This Matters When a college closes, it can derail the education of many students, leaving them with loans but no degree. Those who cannot complete their education may be eligible to have their federal student loans forgiven through a “closed school discharge” from the Department of Education, but this process has changed in recent years. We examined what happens to borrowers after colleges closed. Key Takeaways About 246,000 borrowers were enrolled at over 1,100 colleges that closed from 2010 through 2020. 43% of impacted borrowers did not complete their program before their college closed or transfer to another college—showing that closures are often the end of the road for a student's education. Over 80,000 of these borrowers had their loans forgiven through a closed school discharge. The majority of borrowers who had loans forgiven applied for it, but over 27,600 received relief through a new process that took effect in 2018 which automatically discharged loans for eligible borrowers 3 years after a closure. The automatic discharge process has provided relief to many borrowers struggling to repay their loans. More than 70% of borrowers who eventually received an automatic discharge were in default or past due on their loans. These borrowers were facing severe financial consequences (e.g., wage garnishments, reduced tax refunds, credit score drops), but may not have been aware that they were eligible for loan forgiveness. Education eliminated the automatic process in July 2020, so borrowers impacted by future closures will have to apply for forgiveness. Outcomes for Borrowers Who Attended Colleges That Closed and Their Eligibility for Loan Discharges aBorrowers refers to students who borrowed federal student loans and met certain eligibility criteria. bBorrowers are not eligible for a discharge if they are completing or have completed a comparable program at another college. Borrowers who transferred but did not complete their program are eligible for a discharge. How GAO Did This Study We analyzed Education data on federal student loan borrowers who were enrolled at colleges that closed from 2010-2020. We reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and agency documents. We also interviewed Education officials and subject matter experts. For more information, contact Melissa Emrey-Arras at (617) 788-0534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
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- Michigan Insurance Salesman Indicted for Tax and Bankruptcy FraudBy Sam NewsMay 27, 2021A federal grand jury in Detroit, Michigan, returned an indictment charging a Michigan man with filing false tax returns, making false statements to a bankruptcy court, and making a false statement to the Department of Justice.[Read More…]
- U.S. Postal Service: Further Analysis Could Help Identify Opportunities to Reduce Injuries Among Non-Career EmployeesBy Sam NewsSeptember 16, 2021What GAO Found The United States Postal Service (USPS) uses both career employees and non-career employees to accomplish its mission. Career employees are considered permanent and are entitled to a range of benefits and privileges; non-career employees receive lower pay and fewer benefits and are often hired on renewable contracts that offer a pathway to a career position. GAO found that non-career employees' turnover rates were significantly higher than career turnover rates, both before and after GAO controlled for numerous factors such as employee tenure. GAO found that non-career status was the most significant factor associated with turnover. Postal employee groups identified features, including unpredictable hours, of non-career positions that may contribute to turnover, though USPS officials noted some of these features are governed by negotiated agreements. USPS has taken steps, and described other initiatives in its March 2021 strategic plan, to reduce non-career turnover rates. With regard to injuries, non-career employees had higher injury rates in the study period, for both definitions of injury used in GAO's analyses (see figure), but USPS does not analyze injury data by career status. USPS officials attributed higher rates of injuries among non-career employees to differences other than career status such as less tenure among non-career employees. However, GAO analysis controlled for tenure and other factors and found that non-career employees had higher injury rates than career employees by about 16 percent and 22 percent, depending on the definition of injury used. Moreover, average workers' compensation costs were higher for non-career employees than for career employees with limited tenure, driven primarily by differences in injury rates. USPS regularly collects and analyzes workplace accident and injury data across its workforce and has taken steps in recent years to improve safety through training and other actions. However, USPS does not identify key differences between career and non-career employees in its analyses. Without conducting analyses by career status, USPS may be unable to identify some causes of non-career employee injuries and miss opportunities to reduce them. Rates of Reported Injuries and of Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) Injuries by Career Status, Fiscal Years 2016 through 2020 Note: FECA injuries refer to USPS employee incidents associated with workers' compensation claims, regardless of whether the claims have been determined to be eligible. Why GAO Did This Study From fiscal year 2016 through 2018, USPS saved an estimated $6.6 billion by increasing its use of non-career employees; this increase is an important accomplishment given USPS's financial challenges. Compared to career employees, non-career employees are compensated less and USPS has more flexibility in setting their schedules. GAO was asked to review the effects of USPS's increased use of non-career employees. This report examines the rates of non-career employees: (1) turnover and (2) injuries, as well as factors and costs associated with each and USPS's efforts to manage these issues. GAO analyzed USPS data from fiscal years 2016 through 2020 to determine turnover and injury rates, conducted analyses to determine associated factors, and calculated costs, including workers compensation costs using Department of Labor data. GAO also interviewed officials representing USPS, postal unions, postal management associations, and the USPS Office of Inspector General.[Read More…]
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- Former Army Special Forces Officer Charged in Russian Espionage ConspiracyBy Sam NewsAugust 21, 2020A Gainesville, Virginia, man was arrested today for conspiring with Russian intelligence operatives to provide them with United States national defense information.[Read More…]
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