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  • Introductory Remarks of Deputy Attorney General at Announcement of Civil Antitrust Lawsuit Filed Against Google
    In Crime News
    This morning, the Department of Justice and eleven states filed an antitrust civil lawsuit against Google, for unlawfully maintaining a monopoly in general search services and search advertising in violation of section two of the Sherman Act.
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  • Stabilizing Iraq: Preliminary Observations on Budget and Management Challenges of Iraq’s Security Ministries
    In U.S GAO News
    In November 2005, the President issued the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq. According to the strategy, victory will be achieved when Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, secure, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terror. To help Iraq achieve this, the U.S. is, among other efforts, helping strengthen the capabilities of the Iraq Ministries of Defense and Interior (police forces) so they can assume greater responsibility for the country's security. The United States has provided about $15.4 billion to develop Iraqi security forces and institutions. In this testimony, GAO discusses preliminary observations on (1) U.S. and Iraqi funding to develop and sustain the Iraqi security forces, and (2) key challenges the United States and Iraq face in improving the security ministries' operations and management. This statement is based on prior GAO reports, recent fieldwork in Iraq and Department of Defense, U.S. Treasury and Embassy budget documents. GAO added information to this statement in response to comments from Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq. We completed the work in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.In March 2007, DOD reported that Iraq will increase its 2007 security budget from $5.4 billion to $7.3 billion (a 37-percent increase). DOD states this increase provides evidence of the country's growing self-sufficiency and commitment to security. However, our analysis shows that some of this increase is due to the appreciation of the Iraqi dinar against the dollar. Using a constant exchange rate, Iraq's 2007 security budget grows by 15 percent. Also, Iraq faced problems spending its 2006 security budget. As of November 2006, the Iraq Ministry of Defense had spent only about 1 percent of its capital goods budget for weapons, ammunition, and vehicles. DOD has requested $5.8 billion in additional U.S. funds to help purchase these items for Iraq and provide assistance to its security ministries. The United States and Iraq face personnel and logistical challenges in developing ministries that can sustain Iraq's growing security forces. For example, the ministries have inadequate systems to account for personnel and inexperienced staff with limited budgeting and technology skills. Also, both security ministries have difficulties acquiring, distributing, and maintaining weapons, vehicles, and equipment. The U.S.-led coalition has provided significant resources to develop Iraq's security forces and has 215 military and civilian advisors at the ministries. The United States signed a foreign military sales agreement with Iraq that, according to U.S. officials, allows Iraq to bypass its ineffective procurement systems to purchase equipment directly from the United States. Iraq has deposited $1.9 billion into its account for foreign military sales. However, it is unclear whether this program will help improve the ministries' procurement and contracting capacity.
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  • International Trade: Foreign Sourcing in Government Procurement
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The U.S. government awarded contracts valued at about $12 billion to foreign-located firms, of which about $5 billion went to firms with reported locations in the other six main parties to the World Trade Organization Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (see figure). Conversely, government procurement databases indicated the central governments of these parties awarded an estimated $7 billion to foreign sources, out of which about $2 billion was U.S.-sourced. Canada and Mexico awarded most of the U.S.-sourced contracts. GAO was able to determine that the U.S. government awarded more, by contract value, to foreign-owned firms located abroad than to foreign-owned, U.S.-located firms. Moreover, more than 80 percent of U.S. government contracts awarded to foreign-owned firms located abroad were Department of Defense contracts performed abroad. Overall, while available contract data enable broad cross-country comparisons, they do not necessarily show where the goods are produced, where the services are delivered, or where the profits go, among other economic effects. Estimated Bilateral Procurement Flows between Central Governments of the United States and the Other Six Main Parties to Selected International Procurement Agreements, 2015 Foreign sourcing by the seven GPA and NAFTA parties within the scope of the study, using two alternative methods, is less than 20 percent of overall central government procurement. Foreign sourcing by central governments, estimated from government procurement databases of the United States and the other six main parties, varied in value by party from about 2 to 19 percent of overall central government procurement. Foreign sourcing by all levels of government, estimated from data on trade and public sector purchases, showed that the governments' imports likely ranged from about 7 to 18 percent of the goods and services the governments purchased. In addition, contract data show that U.S., South Korean, and Mexican central government foreign sourcing was greater in value under contracts covered by GPA and NAFTA than under noncovered contracts, but the opposite was true for Canada and Norway. For the European Union and Japan, GAO found little difference or could not calculate an estimate. Why GAO Did This Study Globally, government procurement constitutes about a $4 trillion market for international trade. However, little is known about foreign sourcing in government procurement—how much governments procure from foreign-located suppliers or how much they acquire in foreign-made goods. GAO was asked to review the extent of foreign sourcing in government procurement across countries. GAO focused on the United States and the other six main parties to the GPA and NAFTA, selected international agreements that open procurement markets on a reciprocal basis. This report, the fourth of a related series, (1) provides broad estimates of foreign sourcing by the U.S. government and central governments of the other six main parties, and (2) assesses foreign sourcing as a share of estimated central government procurement and of estimated procurement by all levels of government, and the extent to which central government contracts that are covered under selected international procurement agreements are foreign-sourced. GAO analyzed the most recent comparable data available from two sources: (1) government procurement databases used in Canada, the European Union, South Korea, Mexico, Norway, and the United States, for 2015, and (2) 2014 trade data merged with data on the types of goods and services purchased by the public sector. Since Japan does not have a government procurement database, data for Japan were based on its 2015 GPA submission of 2013 data. GAO also interviewed cognizant government officials in Washington, D.C.; Ottawa, Canada; Mexico City, Mexico; Seoul, South Korea; and Tokyo, Japan. For more information, contact Kimberly Gianopoulos at (202) 512-8612 or gianopoulosk@gao.gov.
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  • Remarks at the Fifth Session of the UN Environment Assembly Leadership Dialogue
    In Climate - Environment - Conservation
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  • Four Former Minneapolis Police Officers Indicted on Federal Civil Rights Charges for Death of George Floyd; Derek Chauvin Also Charged in Separate Indictment for Violating Civil Rights of a Juvenile
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Minneapolis, Minnesota returned two indictments that were unsealed today. The first indictment charges former Minneapolis Police Department officers Derek Chauvin, 45; Tou Thao, 35; J. Alexander Kueng, 27; and Thomas Lane, 38, with federal civil rights crimes for their roles in the death of George Perry Floyd Jr.
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  • Persian Gulf: U.S. Agencies Need to Improve Licensing Data and to Document Reviews of Arms Transfers for U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security Goals
    In U.S GAO News
    The United States uses arms transfers through government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and direct commercial sales (DCS) to support its foreign policy and national security goals. The Departments of Defense (DOD) and State (State) have authorized arms worth billions of dollars to six Persian Gulf countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The United States established the Gulf Security Dialogue (GSD) to discuss security issues with these countries. GAO was asked to determine (1) the dollar value and nature of U.S. arms transfers authorized for the Gulf countries' governments, (2) the extent to which U.S. agencies documented how arms transfers to Gulf countries advanced U.S. foreign policy and national security goals, and (3) the role of the GSD. To conduct this work, GAO analyzed U.S. government regional plans, arms transfer data from fiscal years 2005 to 2009, case-specific documentation for fiscal years 2008 and 2009, and program guidance; and interviewed officials in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. GAO cannot determine the total value of authorized arms transfers to the governments of Gulf countries in part because State's DCS database also includes arms transfers authorized for U.S. military units stationed in those countries. GAO's review of State's database determined that at least $6 billion of the $21 billion of authorized transfers between fiscal years 2005 and 2009 were for U.S. military units in Gulf countries. In addition, some license values were counted twice. State's database system does not have the capability to separate authorizations by end-user or separate multiple authorizations that cover the same equipment. Consistent with statutory requirements, State included this data in reporting all license authorizations to Congress. In contrast, GAO could determine that the DOD-administered FMS program authorized about $22 billion in arms transfers to the six Gulf countries. Authorized transfers included air and missile defense systems, with the UAE and Saudi Arabia accounting for over 88 percent of total FMS authorizations. State and DOD did not consistently document how arms transfers to Gulf countries advanced U.S. foreign policy and national security goals for GAO selected cases. State assesses arms transfer requests against criteria in the Conventional Arms Transfer policy, including interoperability with the host nation and the impact on the U.S. defense industrial base. Additionally, DOD assesses FMS requests for significant military equipment against criteria in DOD policy, such as the impact on the recipient's force structure and the ability to monitor sensitive technology. GAO's analysis of 28 arms transfer authorizations--15 DCS and 13 FMS--found that State did not document how it applied its criteria to arms transfers, while DOD could not provide documentation on its review of release of technology for 7 of 13 FMS authorizations. Due to a lack of complete documentation, we cannot verify if U.S. agencies consistently reviewed authorizations. When established in 2006, GSD was intended to enable multilateral cooperation on six security-related topics between the United States and six Gulf countries, but it instead operates as a bilateral forum between the United States and five Gulf countries due to the preference of these countries. Saudi Arabia does not participate in GSD, but discusses security concerns at other forums. According to U.S. officials, GSD's agenda has evolved to focus on regional security and other concerns specific to the country participants. GAO recommends that (1) State take steps to improve the clarity and usefulness of DCS license data, and (2) State and DOD document their reviews of arms transfer requests. State and DOD agreed with the recommendations, but State noted that it would need additional resources to improve DCS reporting.
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  • This Hopping Robot Could Explore the Solar System’s Icy Moons
    In Space
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  • Justice Department Requires Substantial Divestitures in Zen-Noh Acquisition of Grain Elevators from Bunge to Protect American Farmers
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it will require Zen-Noh Grain Corp. (ZGC) to divest nine grain elevators in nine geographic areas located in five states along the Mississippi River and its tributaries in order to proceed with its proposed $300 million acquisition of 35 operating and 13 idled grain elevators from Bunge North America Inc. 
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  • Defense Logistics: Army Has Not Fully Planned or Budgeted for the Reconstitution of Its Afloat Prepositioned Stocks
    In U.S GAO News
    At various stages throughout the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has withdrawn equipment from its stored, or prepositioned, stock sets around the world, as well as from its afloat stocks, thus depleting a large portion of its prepositioned stocks. The Army prepositions equipment at diverse strategic locations in order to field combat-ready forces in days rather than the weeks it would take if equipment had to be moved from the United States to the location of the conflict. The Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS) program supports the National Military Strategy and is an important part of the Department of Defense's (DOD) overall strategic mobility framework. The APS program depends on prepositioned unit sets of equipment and sustainment stocks to enable troops to deploy rapidly and train with prepositioned equipment before beginning combat operations. As we testified in January 2007 and March 2006, however, sustained continuing operations have taken a toll on the condition and readiness of military equipment, and the Army faces a number of ongoing and long-term challenges that will affect both the timing and cost of equipment repair and replacement, particularly to its prepositioned stocks. Over the past several years, GAO and other audit agencies have reported on numerous long-standing problems facing DOD's and the Army's prepositioning programs, including a lack of centralized operational direction; unreliable reporting on the maintenance condition of equipment; equipment excesses at some prepositioned locations; and systemic problems with requirements determination and inventory management. In September 2005, we recommended that DOD develop a coordinated departmentwide plan and joint doctrine for the department's prepositioning programs. In February 2007, we reported that while the Army expected to finalize its implementation plan for prepositioning stocks by December 31, 2006, DOD would not complete its departmentwide strategy before mid-April 2007. We recommended that the Secretary of Defense direct the Secretary of the Army to take steps to synchronize the Army's prepositioning strategy with the DOD-wide strategy, to ensure that future investments made for the Army's prepositioning program would align with the anticipated DOD-wide prepositioning strategy. In addition, the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 required the department to establish a departmentwide prepositioning strategic policy by April 2007.Army officials stated that its worldwide APS equipment sets, including APS-3, would be reconstituted in synchronization with the Army's overall equipping priorities when properly funded and in accordance with the official Army worldwide APS reconstitution strategy known as Army Prepositioned Strategy 2015 (APS Strategy 2015). According to DOD officials, the Army's equipping priorities will be based on evolving conditions and operations such as the availability of equipment and duration of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example. As of December 2007, the Army had not established its overall equipping priorities. Additionally, the Army's APS reconstitution strategy is not correlated with a DOD-wide APS strategy, because, according to DOD officials, a DOD-wide prepositioning strategy does not exist. DOD officials explained that the services are responsible for equipping strategies and that the Joint Staff, consistent with current policy, conducts assessments of the services' prepositioned programs to determine their relationship within the DOD-wide strategic context. DOD officials do not believe additional synchronization of strategies is required. According to DOD, the War Reserve Materiel Policy provides ample policy guidance on war reserve materiel requirements and war reserve materiel positioning while the allocation process is outlined in the Joint Strategic Capability Plan. DOD officials believe publication of the War Reserve Materiel Policy and Joint Strategic Capability Plan satisfies the congressionally mandated requirement contained in the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. Nonetheless, as we recommended in our September 2005 and February 2007 reports, a DOD-wide strategy would set direction and a shared foundation for the services' prepositioning programs. Synchronizing a DOD-wide strategy with the Army's prepositioning strategy would ensure that future investments made for the Army's prepositioning program would align with the anticipated DOD-wide strategy. Without a DOD-wide prepositioning strategy, DOD risks inconsistencies between the Army's and the other services' prepositioning strategies, which may result in duplication of efforts and resources. We continue to believe a DOD-wide strategy is needed in addition to broad strategic guidance.
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  • The United States Condemns Houthi Attack Against Saudi Arabia   
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • National Health Care Fraud Enforcement Action Results in Charges Involving over $1.4 Billion in Alleged Losses
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today criminal charges against 138 defendants, including 42 doctors, nurses, and other licensed medical professionals, in 31 federal districts across the United States for their alleged participation in various health care fraud schemes that resulted in approximately $1.4 billion in alleged losses.
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  • Financial Company Bankruptcies: Congress and Regulators Have Updated Resolution Planning Requirements
    In U.S GAO News
    Since 2015, Congress has not changed parts of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code (Code) related to financial companies or the Orderly Liquidation Authority (OLA). However, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Federal Reserve) have updated the resolution planning process to better match resolution planning requirements to the risks of companies. OLA is a regulatory alternative to bankruptcy for resolving failed, systemically important financial institutions, and resolution plans describe how a financial company may be resolved in an orderly manner if it fails. In November 2019, FDIC and the Federal Reserve finalized amendments to the Resolution Plans Required rule, establishing different filing cycles and content requirements for resolution plans based on the asset size and risk profile of companies. Regulators also finalized other rules related to OLA and resolution planning and proposed several additional rules. The 2007–2009 financial crisis and the failures of large, complex financial companies led some financial and legal experts to question the adequacy of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code for effectively reorganizing or liquidating these companies. These experts, government officials, and members of Congress responded by proposing changes to the Code and the supervisory process leading to a bankruptcy filing. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) established OLA as a regulatory alternative to bankruptcy. Under OLA, the Secretary of the Treasury may appoint FDIC as a receiver to resolve systemically important financial institutions. In addition to OLA, the Dodd-Frank Act requires financial companies to file periodic resolution plans with the Financial Stability Oversight Council, Federal Reserve and FDIC describing how they could be resolved in an orderly manner in the event of material financial distress or failure. The Dodd-Frank Act also includes a provision for GAO to study, at specified intervals, the effectiveness of the Code in facilitating the orderly liquidation or reorganization of financial companies and ways to make the orderly liquidation process under the Code more effective. This report examines (1) proposed or enacted changes to the Code related to financial companies and OLA since 2015, and (2) regulatory actions related to resolution planning and OLA. GAO reviewed proposed legislation, regulations, prior GAO reports, and agency reports and presentations on financial company bankruptcies, OLA, and resolution planning. GAO also reviewed comment letters to the 2019 proposed Resolution Plans Required rulemaking. GAO interviewed officials from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, FDIC, and the Federal Reserve. GAO also interviewed six industry stakeholders, including academics, a consumer group, industry associations, and former regulatory officials, about the 2019 Resolution Plans Required Rule. For more information, contact Michael Clements at (202) 512-8678 or ClementsM@gao.gov.
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  • Department of State Announces Online Publication of 2019 Digest of United States Practice in International Law
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Global Entry for Citizens of Switzerland
    In Travel
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  • NASA’s ASTER Sees Arizona’s Bighorn Fire Burn Scar From Space
    In Space
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  • The U.S. Reaches $1.5 Billion Settlement with Daimler AG Over Emissions Cheating in Mercedes-Benz Diesel Vehicles
    In Crime News
    The U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced today a proposed settlement with German automaker Daimler AG and its American subsidiary Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC (collectively, “Daimler”) resolving alleged violations of the Clean Air Act and California law associated with emissions cheating. 
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  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Czech Prime Minister Babiš
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Priority Open Recommendations: U.S. Department of Agriculture
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified 12 priority recommendations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Since then, USDA has implemented two of those recommendations. The department publicized information on state agencies’ use of data matching to reduce recipient fraud. USDA also ensured its workforce data are more reliable. In July 2021, GAO identified one additional priority recommendation for USDA, bringing the total number to 11. These recommendations involve the following areas: protecting the safety of the food supply. reducing improper payments. strengthening protections for wage earners. improving oversight of federal assistance and awards. improving cybersecurity. USDA’s continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations. Why GAO Did This Study Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015, GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations. For more information, contact Mark Gaffigan at (202) 512-3841 or gaffiganm@gao.gov.  
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  • Florida Man Charged with COVID Relief Fraud, Health Care Fraud and Money Laundering
    In Crime News
    A Florida man has been charged regarding allegations that he fraudulently obtained a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), and that he orchestrated a conspiracy to submit false and fraudulent claims for reimbursement to Medicare and CareCredit, and to defraud his own patients by charging them thousands of dollars for chiropractic services under false pretenses.
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  • Condemning the Houthis’ Disregard for Civilian Protection and Humanitarian Access in Abdiya, Yemen
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
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