Office of the Spokesperson
The text of the following statement was agreed by Special Envoys and Special Representatives of the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States of America on the occasion of the signing of the U.S.-Taliban Agreement on February 29 in Qatar.
Representatives of the United States of America, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations met on March 1 in Doha, Qatar and:
- Welcomed the important steps, enabled by the United States – Taliban agreement and the United States – Afghanistan joint declaration of February 29, towards ending the war and opening the door to intra-Afghan negotiations scheduled for March 10.
- Expressed their readiness to work towards a comprehensive and sustainable peace agreement that ends the war, contributes to regional stability and global security, respects the internationally-recognized rights of all Afghans also reflected in the Afghan Constitution, and is honored by all Afghans, including the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, political leaders, civil society and the Taliban.
- Reiterated that a comprehensive and sustainable peace can be achieved only through an inclusive negotiated political settlement among Afghans, in which, notably, women participate meaningfully, and by respecting Afghanistan’s integrity and sovereignty.
- Reaffirmed that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is not recognized by the international community, and furthermore, the international community will not accept or support the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
- Welcomed the Taliban committing to join a political process and their prospective role in a new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan negotiations.
- Appreciated the February 22-28 reduction of violence and urged all sides to further decrease violence in order to create an environment conducive to intra-Afghan negotiations.
- Called on the Taliban and other Afghan armed groups to take concrete steps to ensure that the territory of Afghanistan should not be used by either them or al-Qa-ida, Daesh, or other international terrorist groups to threaten or attack other countries.
- Stated their expectations that all sides will observe a ceasefire for the duration of intra-Afghan negotiations to enable participants to reach agreement on a political roadmap for Afghanistan’s future and the modalities of a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.
- Called on all Afghans to begin discussions immediately on issues of mutual concern, such as prisoner releases and a ceasefire.
- Reaffirmed existing commitments to provide political support and economic and development assistance to a future Afghan government, provided that it preserves and respects the internationally-recognized rights of all Afghans also reflected in the Afghan Constitution, including for women, youth and minorities, and responds to the desire of Afghans to build on the gains achieved since 2001.
- Reaffirmed existing commitments to continue assistance to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces on a sustainable basis.
- Took note of the readiness of the United States upon the commencement of the intra-Afghan negotiations to engage with other members of the United Nations Security Council and Afghanistan to review the status of sanctions designations in order to support the peace process, noting that Taliban action to further reduce violence, make sustained efforts to advance intra-Afghan negotiations, and otherwise cease to engage in or support activities that threaten the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan or other countries will affect the review.
- Encouraged all countries to support the Afghan people and contribute to a lasting peace settlement in the interest of all.
- Welcomed all international efforts that support the Afghan peace process.
Greetings I’m Sam.
I edit, report and maintain this site. If you have any questions You can mail below me but it could be a while before I get back to you.
- Bhutan Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020Do not travel to Bhutan [Read More…]
- Ongoing Protests in NigeriaBy Sam NewsOctober 22, 2020
- Request Denied for Preliminary Injunction on the Administration’s Landmark New Regulations Implementing under the National Environmental Policy ActBy Sam NewsSeptember 12, 2020On Friday, Sept. 11, Judge James T. Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia denied a request for a preliminary injunction against the Administration’s landmark new regulations implementing under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which will modernize environmental review, enhance the information-gathering process, and facilitate more meaningful public participation in the protection of our environment. These regulations had not been subject to a major revision since 1978, when they were first promulgated, and they were in need of modernization to improve the infrastructure permitting process.[Read More…]
- Former Raytheon Engineer Sentenced for Exporting Sensitive Military Related Technology to ChinaBy Sam NewsNovember 18, 2020Today, Wei Sun, 49, a Chinese national and naturalized citizen of the United States, was sentenced to 38 months in prison by District Court Judge Rosemary Marquez. Sun previously pleaded guilty to one felony count of violating the Arms Export Control Act (AECA).[Read More…]
- North Carolina Return Preparers Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud the IRSBy Sam NewsDecember 3, 2020Two Durham, North Carolina, return preparers pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin of the Middle District of North Carolina.[Read More…]
- Imposing Sanctions Related to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and Iranian Shipping EntitiesBy Sam NewsJanuary 15, 2021
- Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the WorldBy Sam NewsFebruary 5, 2021
- New Jersey Man Sentenced to Prison for Tax Fraud ConspiracyBy Sam NewsNovember 2, 2020A New Jersey man was sentenced to 78 months in prison today for conspiring to defraud the United States, filing false claims, and obstructing the internal revenue laws, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.[Read More…]
- Briefing with Senior State Department Officials on Diplomacy to Constrain Iran’s Nuclear ProgramBy Sam NewsFebruary 19, 2021
- Courts Making Juror Safety a Top PriorityBy Sam NewsSeptember 10, 2020A small group of judges around the country have presided over jury trials during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number is growing as the backlog of criminal cases becomes an increasing concern among courts acutely aware that defendants are entitled to a fair, impartial, and timely trial.[Read More…]
- Victims of Identity Theft, 2018By Sam NewsIn Justice NewsMay 2, 2021(Publication)
This report describes the number of persons age 16 or older who experienced identity theft in 2018.
4/1/2021, NCJ 256085, Erika Harrell [Read More…]
- Federal Contractor Agrees to Pay $18.98 Million for Alleged False Claims Act Caused by Overcharges and Unqualified LaborBy Sam NewsNovember 20, 2020Cognosante LLC has agreed to pay the United States $18,987,789 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by using unqualified labor and overcharging the United States for services provided to government agencies under two General Services Administration (GSA) contracts, the Justice Department announced today. Cognosante, which is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, provides health care and IT services and solutions to federal agencies.[Read More…]
- NASA Maps Beirut Blast DamageBy Sam NewsIn SpaceSeptember 26, 2020Scientists are using [Read More…]
- COVID-19: Brief Update on Initial Federal Response to the PandemicBy Sam NewsAugust 31, 2020As of August 20, 2020, the U.S. had over 5.5 million cumulative reported cases of COVID-19, and 158,000 reported deaths, according to federal agencies. The country also continues to experience serious economic repercussions and turmoil. Four relief laws, including the CARES Act, were enacted between March and July 2020 to provide appropriations for the response to COVID-19. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to report bimonthly on its ongoing monitoring and oversight efforts related to COVID-19. This second report examines federal spending on the COVID-19 response; indicators for monitoring public health and the economy; and the status of matters for congressional consideration and recommendations from GAO’s June 2020 report (GAO-20-625). GAO reviewed data through June 30, 2020 (the latest available) from USAspending.gov, a government website with data from government agencies. GAO also obtained, directly from the agencies, spending data, as of July 31, 2020, for the six largest spending areas, to the extent available. To develop the public health indicators, GAO reviewed research and federal guidance. To understand economic developments, GAO reviewed data from federal statistical agencies, the Federal Reserve, and Bloomberg Terminal, as well as economic research. To update the status of matters for congressional consideration and recommendations, GAO reviewed agency and congressional actions. In response to the national public health and economic threats caused by COVID-19, four relief laws making appropriations of about $2.6 trillion had been enacted as of July 31, 2020. Overall, federal obligations and expenditures government-wide of these COVID-19 relief funds totaled $1.5 trillion and $1.3 trillion, respectively, as of June 30, 2020. GAO also obtained preliminary data for six major spending areas as of July 31, 2020 (see table). COVID-19 Relief Appropriations, Obligations, and Expenditures for Six Major Spending Areas, as of July 2020 Spending area Appropriationsa ($ billions) Preliminary obligationsb ($ billions) Preliminary expendituresb ($ billions) Business Loan Programs 687.3 538.1 522.2c Economic Stabilization and Assistance to Distressed Sectors 500.0 30.4 19.2c Unemployment Insurance 376.4 301.1 296.8 Economic Impact Payments 282.0 273.5 273.5 Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund 231.7 129.6 95.9 Coronavirus Relief Fund 150.0 149.5 149.5 Total for six spending areas 2,227.4 1,422.2 1,357.0 Source: GAO analysis of data from the Department of the Treasury, USAspending.gov, and applicable agencies. | GAO-20-708 aCOVID-19 relief appropriations reflect amounts appropriated under the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020, Pub. L. No. 116-123, 134 Stat. 146; Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Pub. L. No. 116-127, 134 Stat. 178 (2020); CARES Act, Pub. L. No. 116-136, 134 Stat. 281 (2020); and Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, Pub. L. No. 116-139, 134 Stat. 620 (2020). These data are based on appropriations warrant information provided by the Department of the Treasury as of July 31, 2020. These amounts could increase in the future for programs with indefinite appropriations, which are appropriations that, at the time of enactment, are for an unspecified amount. In addition, this table does not represent transfers of funds that federal agencies may make between appropriation accounts or transfers of funds they may make to other agencies. bObligations and expenditures data for July 2020 are based on preliminary data reported by applicable agencies. cThese expenditures relate to the loan subsidy costs (the loan’s estimated long-term costs to the United States government). The CARES Act included a provision for GAO to assess the impact of the federal response on public health and the economy. The following are examples of health care and economic indicators that GAO is monitoring. Health care. GAO’s indicators are intended to assess the nation’s immediate response to COVID-19 as it first took hold, gauge its recovery from the effects of the pandemic over the longer term, and determine the nation’s level of preparedness for future pandemics, involving subsequent waves of either COVID-19 or other infectious diseases. For example, to assess the sufficiency of testing—a potential indicator of the system’s response and recovery—GAO suggests monitoring the proportion of tests in a given population that are positive for infection. A higher positivity rate can indicate that testing is not sufficiently widespread to find all cases. That is higher positivity rates can indicate that testing has focused on those most likely to be infected and seeking testing because they have symptoms, and may not be detecting COVID-19 cases among individuals with no symptoms. Although there is no agreed-upon threshold for the test positivity rate, governments should target low positivity rates. The World Health Organization recommends a test positivity rate threshold of less than 5 percent over a 14-day period. As of August 12, 2020, 12 states and the District of Columbia had met this threshold (38 states had not). Resolve to Save Lives, another organization, recommends a threshold of less than 3 percent over a 7-day period, and 11 states and the District of Columbia had met this threshold (39 states had not) as of August 12, 2020. GAO also suggests monitoring mortality from all causes compared to historical norms as an indicator of the pandemic’s broad effect on health care outcomes. Mortality rates have tended to be consistent from year to year. This allows an estimation of how much mortality rose with the onset of the pandemic, and provides a baseline by which to judge a return to pre-COVID levels. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, about 125,000 more people died from all causes January 1–June 13 than would normally be expected (see figure). CDC Data on Higher-Than-Expected Weekly Mortality, January 1 through June 13, 2020 Note: The figure shows the number of deaths from all causes in a given week that exceeded the upper bound threshold of expected deaths calculated by CDC on the basis of variation in mortality experienced in prior years. Changes in the observed numbers of deaths in recent weeks should be interpreted cautiously as this figure relies on provisional data that are generally less complete in recent weeks. Data were accessed on July 16, 2020. Economy. GAO updated information on a number of indicators to facilitate ongoing and consistent monitoring of areas of the economy supported by the federal pandemic response, in particular the COVID-19 relief laws. These indicators suggest that economic conditions—including for workers, small businesses, and corporations—have improved modestly in recent months but remain much weaker than prior to the pandemic. In June and July initial regular unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed weekly averaged roughly 1.4 million (see figure), which was six and a half times higher than average weekly claims in 2019, but claims have decreased substantially since mid-March, falling to 971,000 in the week ending August 8, 2020. Increasing infections in some states and orders to once again close or limit certain businesses are likely to pose additional challenges for potentially fragile economic improvements, especially in affected sectors, such as the leisure and hospitality sector. National Weekly Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims, January 2019–July 2020 Note: See figure 5 in the report. As GAO reported in June, consistent with the urgency of responding to serious and widespread health issues and economic disruptions, federal agencies gave priority to moving swiftly where possible to distribute funds and implement new programs designed to help small businesses and the newly unemployed, for example. However, such urgency required certain tradeoffs in achieving transparency and accountability goals. To make mid-course corrections, GAO made three recommendations to federal agencies: To reduce the potential for duplicate payments from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)—a program that provides guaranteed loans through lenders to small businesses—and unemployment insurance, GAO recommended that the Department of Labor (DOL), in consultation with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury), immediately provide information to state unemployment agencies that specifically addresses PPP loans, and the risk of improper unemployment insurance payments. DOL issued guidance on August 12, 2020, that, among other things, clarified that individuals working full-time and being paid through PPP are not eligible for UI. To recoup economic impact payments totaling more than $1.6 billion sent to decedents, GAO recommended that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) consider cost-effective options for notifying ineligible recipients of economic impact payments how to return payments. IRS has taken steps to address this recommendation. According to a Treasury official, nearly 70 percent of the payments sent to decedents have been recovered. However, GAO was unable to verify that amount before finalizing work on this report. GAO is working with Treasury to determine the number of payments sent to decedents that have been recovered. Treasury was considering sending letters to request the return of remaining outstanding payments but has not moved forward with this effort because, according to Treasury, Congress is considering legislation that would clarify or change payment eligibility requirements. To reduce the potential for fraud and ensure program integrity, GAO recommended that SBA develop and implement plans to identify and respond to risks in PPP to ensure program integrity, achieve program effectiveness, and address potential fraud. SBA has begun developing oversight plans for PPP but has not yet finalized or implemented them. In addition, to improve the government’s response efforts, GAO suggested three matters for congressional consideration: GAO urged Congress to take legislative action to require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to work with relevant agencies and stakeholders, such as HHS, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and international organizations, to develop a national aviation-preparedness plan to ensure safeguards are in place to limit the spread of communicable disease threats from abroad, while also minimizing any unnecessary interference with travel and trade. In early July 2020, DOT collaborated with HHS and DHS to issue guidance to airports and airlines for implementing measures to mitigate the public health risks associated with COVID-19, but it has not developed a preparedness plan for future communicable disease threats. DOT has maintained that HHS and DHS should lead such planning efforts as they are responsible for communicable disease response and preparedness planning, respectively. In June 2020, HHS stated that it is not in a position to develop a national aviation-preparedness plan as it does not have primary jurisdiction over the entire aviation sector or the relevant transportation expertise. In May 2020, DHS stated that it had reviewed its existing plans for pandemic preparedness and response activities and determined it is not best situated to develop a national aviation-preparedness plan. Without such a plan, the U.S. will not be as prepared to minimize and quickly respond to future communicable disease events. GAO also urged Congress to amend the Social Security Act to explicitly allow the Social Security Administration (SSA) to share its full death data with Treasury for data matching to help prevent payments to ineligible individuals. In June 2020, the Senate passed S.4104, referred to as the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act. If enacted, the bill would allow SSA to share these data with Treasury's Bureau of the Fiscal Service to avoid paying deceased individuals. Finally, GAO urged Congress to use GAO's Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) formula for any future changes to the FMAP—the statutory formula according to which the federal government matches states' spending for Medicaid services—during the current or any future economic downturn. Congress has taken no action thus far on this issue. GAO incorporated technical comments received the Departments of Labor, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Federal Reserve; Office of Management and Budget; and Internal Revenue Service. The Small Business Administration commented that GAO did not include information on actions taken and controls related to its loan forgiveness program or its plans for loan reviews. GAO plans to provide more information on these topics in its next CARES Act report. For more information, contact A. Nicole Clowers at (202) 512-7114 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Yalda Hakim of “Impact with Yalda Hakim” on BBC World NewsBy Sam NewsFebruary 22, 2021
- Statement by Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall on the Passing of Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgBy Sam NewsSeptember 19, 2020Acting Solicitor General [Read More…]
- Promoting Accountability and Responding to Violence against Protestors in BurmaBy Sam NewsMarch 10, 2021
- Canadian Man Extradited from Spain to Face Charges for Massive Psychic Mail Fraud SchemeBy Sam NewsDecember 22, 2020A Canadian citizen accused of operating a decades-long psychic mail fraud scheme was extradited to the United States and made his initial appearance today in federal court in Central Islip, New York, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced.[Read More…]
- Chief Justice Roberts Issues 2020 Year-End ReportBy Sam NewsDecember 31, 2020Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., has issued his 2020 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary.[Read More…]
- Execution Scheduled for Federal Death Row Inmate Convicted of Murdering a ChildBy Sam NewsSeptember 30, 2020Attorney General William [Read More…]
- Two Former Louisiana Correctional Officers Sentenced for Cover Up Following Death of an InmateBy Sam NewsMarch 11, 2021Two Louisiana women, former jail deputies, were sentenced today to over a year in prison and six months in prison respectively for their roles in covering up a civil rights violation arising out of an inmate’s death at the St. Bernard Parish Prison (SBPP).[Read More…]
- Terrorist Designation of ISIS Leader Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-MawlaBy Sam NewsMarch 17, 2020
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Chung Eui-Yong Before Their MeetingBy Sam NewsMay 3, 2021
- Gangster Disciples Leaders Sentenced to PrisonBy Sam NewsJanuary 22, 2021Two leaders of the national gang the Gangster Disciples were sentenced today for a racketeering conspiracy involving murder.[Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with the United Arab Emirates Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al NahyanBy Sam NewsFebruary 3, 2021
- PRC Military Pressure Against Taiwan Threatens Regional Peace and StabilityBy Sam NewsJanuary 24, 2021Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
- Private Water Utilities: Actions Needed to Enhance Ownership DataBy Sam NewsApril 26, 2021What GAO Found Available information on private for-profit drinking water utilities shows that 14 publicly traded companies served customers in 33 states in 2019. However, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) primary source of publicly available information on U.S. drinking water utilities—the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS)—contains ownership information that is limited by inaccuracies. EPA collects information in SDWIS from states but does not include definitions for utility ownership types in its data entry guidance. In addition, EPA takes actions to verify some of the data, but does not verify or correct ownership data. EPA and others use SDWIS for purposes such as analyzing Safe Drinking Water Act violations by type of utility ownership. Such analysis can help EPA and states build utility capacity to provide safe drinking water. By defining ownership types, and verifying and correcting the data in SDWIS, EPA could help ensure the data are accurate and reliable for users of the data and the public. EPA provided over $500 million in Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) assistance to for-profit utilities for 226 projects to help ensure delivery of safe drinking water from January 2010 through June 2020. EPA's Drinking Water SRF program, created under the Safe Drinking Water Act, provides grants to states for low- or no-interest loans or grants to drinking water utilities for infrastructure projects. The amount provided to for-profit water utilities is small, about 2 percent of the $26.5 billion provided overall from January 2010 through June 2020. States That Provided Private For-Profit Utilities with Assistance from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, since January 2010 Why GAO Did This Study The roughly 50,000 drinking water utilities in the United States face steep costs—more than $470 billion over the next 20 years, according to EPA estimates—to repair and replace drinking water infrastructure. These costs are passed on to customers through water rates. States regulate the rates charged by privately owned water utilities. EPA has responsibilities to implement programs to further the health protection objectives of the Safe Drinking Water Act. GAO was asked to review private for-profit drinking water utilities and rates. This report examines, among other things, (1) information available from EPA and other sources about the number and characteristics of private for-profit water utilities in the United States, and (2) Drinking Water SRF assistance provided to private for-profit water utilities. GAO reviewed EPA SDWIS data, Drinking Water SRF data, and Global Water Intelligence data, as well as EPA's and others' documents. GAO also interviewed EPA and water utility stakeholders.[Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Linde By Sam NewsJanuary 29, 2021
- Former Media Producer Indicted on Charges of Extortion and Obstruction of JusticeBy Sam NewsJanuary 27, 2021A federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment Tuesday charging a former media producer with extortion and obstruction of justice during a federal investigation in San Juan, Puerto Rico.[Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Afghanistan High Council for National Reconciliation Chair Dr. AbdullahBy Sam NewsFebruary 20, 2021
- Iran’s Efforts at Intimidation Must Not Be RewardedBy Sam NewsDecember 11, 2020
- Two Companies and Nine Individuals Indicted for Alleged Large-Scale Visa Fraud Employment SchemeBy Sam NewsApril 20, 2021An indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia has been unsealed charging two businesses and nine of their officers and managers located across the country for their roles in an alleged conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and commit various fraud and criminal immigration offenses for profit.[Read More…]
- Venezuela: Additional Tracking Could Aid Treasury’s Efforts to Mitigate Any Adverse Impacts U.S. Sanctions Might Have on Humanitarian AssistanceBy Sam NewsFebruary 8, 2021The Venezuelan economy's performance has declined steadily for almost a decade and fallen steeply since the imposition of a series of U.S. sanctions starting in 2015. For example, the economy declined from negative 6.2 percent gross domestic product growth in 2015 to negative 35 percent in 2019 and negative 25 percent in 2020. The sanctions, particularly on the state oil company in 2019, likely contributed to the steeper decline of the Venezuelan economy, primarily by limiting revenue from oil production. However, mismanagement of Venezuela's state oil company and decreasing oil prices are among other factors that have also affected the economy's performance during this period. U.S. agencies have sought input from humanitarian organizations to identify the potential negative humanitarian consequences of sanctions related to Venezuela and taken steps to mitigate these issues. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Department of State (State) have solicited input from U.S.-funded humanitarian organizations on challenges they face, including the impact of sanctions. The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and State have also taken steps to mitigate negative consequences. For example, Treasury issued licenses permitting various types of humanitarian assistance transactions in Venezuela (see figure). Treasury also maintains a call center and email account through which organizations can receive assistance with compliance issues or other challenges related to sanctions. While Treasury officials told GAO they respond to individual inquiries, Treasury does not systematically track and analyze information from these inquiries to identify trends or recurrent issues. Without collection and analysis of this information, Treasury and its interagency partners may be limited in their ability to develop further actions to ensure that U.S. sanctions do not disrupt humanitarian assistance. U.S. Humanitarian Assistance Supplies for Venezuelans U.S. sanctions related to Venezuela have likely had a limited impact, if any, on the U.S. oil industry. Despite an overall lower supply of oil in the U.S. market from the loss of Venezuelan crude oil due to sanctions, crude oil and retail gasoline prices in the U.S. have not increased substantially. Many other factors in addition to the sanctions simultaneously affected the oil market and the price of crude oil and retail gasoline prices, including production cuts in January 2019 by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and decreased demand for energy during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to industry officials to whom GAO spoke, U.S. refineries have adjusted to these changes by shifting to alternative sources and types of crude oil. Venezuela has been experiencing an economic, political, and humanitarian crisis. The U.S. government has imposed sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company, government, and central bank, among others, in response to activities of the Venezuelan government and certain individuals. Treasury and the Department of State lead the implementation of the sanctions program, and USAID is primarily responsible for implementing humanitarian assistance for Venezuelans. GAO was asked to review U.S. sanctions related to Venezuela. This report examines: (1) how the Venezuelan economy performed before and since the imposition of sanctions in 2015; (2) the steps U.S. agencies have taken to identify and mitigate potential negative humanitarian consequences of sanctions related to Venezuela; and (3) what is known about the impact of U.S. sanctions related to Venezuela on the U.S. oil industry. GAO analyzed economic indicators, reviewed documents, interviewed agency officials, and spoke with representatives from selected humanitarian organizations and the U.S oil industry. GAO recommends that Treasury systematically track inquiries made to its call center and email account, including the specific sanctions program and the subject matter of the inquiry to identify trends and recurring issues. Treasury concurred with GAO's recommendation. For more information, contact Kimberly Gianopoulos at (202) 512-8612 or GianopoulosK@gao.gov.[Read More…]
- Department of Justice Awards More Than $458 Million to Fight Violent CrimeBy Sam NewsNovember 2, 2020The Department of [Read More…]
- Seattle Software Developer Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud for COVID-Relief Fraud SchemeBy Sam NewsOctober 22, 2020A Seattle man pleaded guilty today to one count of wire fraud for carrying out a scheme to defraud several COVID-19 relief programs.[Read More…]
- Special Envoy for the Sahel Region Ambassador J. Peter Pham Travel to Burkina FasoBy Sam NewsDecember 27, 2020
- Navy Shipyards: Actions Needed to Address the Main Factors Causing Maintenance Delays for Aircraft Carriers and SubmarinesBy Sam NewsAugust 20, 2020The Navy's four shipyards completed 38 of 51 (75 percent) maintenance periods late for aircraft carriers and submarines with planned completion dates in fiscal years 2015 through 2019, for a combined total of 7,424 days of maintenance delay. For each maintenance period completed late, the shipyards averaged 113 days late for aircraft carriers and 225 days late for submarines. Maintenance Delays at Navy Shipyards for Fiscal Years 2015 through 2019 Unplanned work and workforce factors—such as shipyard workforce performance and capacity (having enough people to perform the work)—were the main factors GAO identified as causing maintenance delays for aircraft carriers and submarines. The Navy frequently cited both factors as contributing to the same days of maintenance delay. Unplanned work—work identified after finalizing maintenance plans—contributed to more than 4,100 days of maintenance delays. Unplanned work also contributed to the Navy's 36 percent underestimation of the personnel resources necessary to perform maintenance. The workforce factor contributed to more than 4,000 days of maintenance delay on aircraft carriers and submarines during fiscal years 2015 through 2019. The Navy has taken steps but has not fully addressed the unplanned work and workforce factors causing the most maintenance delays. First, the Navy updated planning documents to improve estimates and plans to annually update these data, but knowing whether changes improve results may take several years. Second, the Navy has consistently relied on high levels of overtime to carry out planned work. GAO's analysis found that high overtime among certain production shops, such as painting or welding, averaged from 25 to 32 percent for fiscal years 2015 through 2019, with peak overtime as high as 45 percent. Furthermore, shipyard officials told us that production shops at all four shipyards are working beyond their capacity. Overtime at such rates has been noted as resulting in diminished productivity. Third, the Navy initiated the Shipyard Performance to Plan initiative in the fall of 2018 to address the unplanned work and workforce factors, but it has not yet developed 13 of 25 planned metrics that could improve the Navy's understanding of the causes of maintenance delays. In addition, the Shipyard Performance to Plan initiative does not include goals, milestones, and a monitoring process along with fully developed metrics to address unplanned work and workforce weaknesses. Without fully developing metrics and implementing goals, action plans, milestones, and a monitoring process, the shipyards are not likely to address unplanned work and workforce weaknesses and the Navy is likely to continue facing maintenance delays and reduced time for training and operations with its aircraft carriers and submarines. For fiscal years 2015 through 2019, the Navy spent $2.8 billion in capital investments to address shipyard performance, among other things. However, the shipyards continue to face persistent and substantial maintenance delays that hinder the readiness of aircraft carriers and submarines. The Senate Armed Services Committee, in a report accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, included a provision for GAO to review Navy shipyards' performance. GAO evaluated the extent to which the Navy (1) completed maintenance at its shipyards on time on aircraft carriers and submarines in fiscal years 2015 through 2019, (2) has identified the main factors leading to maintenance delays, and (3) has addressed the main factors affecting any delays in that maintenance. GAO reviewed data related to Navy shipyard maintenance for fiscal years 2015 through 2019, analyzed factors contributing to delays and plans to address them, visited all four Navy shipyards, and met with Navy and shipyard officials. GAO is making three recommendations to the Navy, including updating workforce planning requirements to avoid the consistent use of overtime; completing the development of shipyard performance metrics; and developing and implementing goals, action plans, milestones, and monitoring results. The Navy concurred with all three recommendations. For more information, contact Diana Maurer, (202) 512-9627, MaurerD@gao.gov, or Asif A. Khan, (202) 512-9869, KhanA@gao.gov.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken at the International Women of Courage (IWOC) Awards CeremonyBy Sam NewsMarch 8, 2021
- International Statement: End-To-End Encryption and Public SafetyBy Sam NewsOctober 11, 2020We, the undersigned, [Read More…]
- Justice Department Announces Global Resolution of Criminal and Civil Investigations with Opioid Manufacturer Purdue Pharma and Civil Settlement with Members of the Sackler FamilyBy Sam NewsOctober 21, 2020Today, the Department of Justice announced a global resolution of its criminal and civil investigations into the opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma LP (Purdue), and a civil resolution of its civil investigation into individual shareholders from the Sackler family. The resolutions with Purdue are subject to the approval of the bankruptcy court.[Read More…]
- Ready-Mix Concrete Company Admits to Fixing Prices and Rigging Bids in Violation of Antitrust LawsBy Sam NewsJanuary 4, 2021Argos USA LLC, a producer and seller of ready-mix concrete headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, was charged with participating in a conspiracy to fix prices, rig bids, and allocate markets for sales of ready-mix concrete in the Southern District of Georgia and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today.[Read More…]
- $2.25 Million Fund Available in Justice Department Settlement with AmtrakBy Sam NewsJanuary 29, 2021Today, Amtrak began accepting claims for monetary compensation for people with mobility disabilities who traveled or wanted to travel from or to one of the 78 stations listed below and encountered accessibility issues at the stations. Claims must be submitted by May 29, 2021.[Read More…]
- Morocco Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020
- Negative COVID-19 Test Required for Travel to the United States Beginning January 26By Sam NewsJanuary 25, 2021
- Azerbaijan Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020
- New U.S. Embassy in London Receives Award of Excellence from Council on Tall Buildings and Urban HabitatBy Sam NewsJanuary 21, 2021
- Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Bud Hedinger of Good Morning Orlando on WFLA OrlandoBy Sam NewsOctober 15, 2020
- North Carolina Return Preparer Sentenced to 50 Months in Prison for Multi-Year Tax Fraud SchemeBy Sam NewsFebruary 8, 2021A Rocky Mount, North Carolina, tax return preparer was sentenced to 50 months in prison today for conspiring to defraud the United States, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon Jr. for the Eastern District of North Carolina.[Read More…]
- Judge Testifies at House Hearing on Pandemic ImpactsBy Sam NewsJune 25, 2020Through a combination of advance planning, expanded use of technology, and the dedication of thousands of employees, the federal Judiciary’s response to the pandemic has enabled courts to continue to operate, while ensuring the health and safety of the public and court personnel, U.S. Senior District Judge David G. Campbell told Congress on Thursday.[Read More…]
- USAJOBS Website: OPM Has Taken Actions to Assess and Enhance the User ExperienceBy Sam NewsOctober 13, 2020The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) uses a variety of sources to assess the user experience with USAJOBS, the central website for posting federal job openings. GAO found that OPM's assessments generally track key measures in accordance with selected government-wide guidance. Specifically, OPM collects data on most of the website performance measures recommended by selected guidance from Digital.gov, including the number of times pages were viewed, the percentage of users who use the USAJOBS search box, and overall customer experience. Additionally, consistent with guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), OPM surveys USAJOBS users about their experiences with the site. OPM also assesses user experience through usability testing, focus groups, and analysis of data on questions submitted to the USAJOBS help desk. Through these assessments, OPM found variations in user experience across the job search and application process, including variations in how people find job announcements and how long it takes them to complete job applications. Since the agency's redesign of USAJOBS in 2016, OPM has taken a number of actions in an effort to address feedback from these assessments and improve the USAJOBS user experience. For example, in 2017, OPM created a set of categories, called Hiring Paths, that describe who is eligible to apply for specific federal jobs and guide job seekers to positions for which they are eligible. Other OPM actions taken from 2016 to 2020 include implementing a new process for logging in to the system to improve website security; updating job search filters and adding a keyword autocomplete function, which suggests search terms as a job seeker types in the search box; revising its job announcement template for hiring agencies to help eliminate duplicative language, increase clarity, and avoid jargon; adding guidance to help job seekers complete federal applications and understand federal hiring authorities; and highlighting jobs related to COVID-19 response. OPM continues to update and refine these efforts. OPM also expects to take a number of additional actions intended to help enhance the USAJOBS website. For example, according to OPM officials, in early fiscal year 2021 they expect to add a “job status” indicator for each job announcement posted on USAJOBS. The job status indicator would provide information such as the number of applicants and when the job has been filled. According to OPM, this would improve transparency and accountability and also provide applicants with updates at each stage of the hiring process. GAO provided a draft of this report to OPM for review and comment. OPM stated that it did not have comments. The USAJOBS website, which is managed by OPM, is the entry point to the federal hiring process for most agencies. It facilitates hiring of new employees as well as the movement of talent across government through merit-based promotions and transfers. OPM uses USAJOBS to help achieve the agency's mission to recruit and retain a world-class government workforce. OPM is responsible for ensuring the usability of USAJOBS and collecting feedback on the user experience. Hiring agencies are responsible for the content of job opportunity announcements. Report language accompanying the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill, 2020, and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 included provisions for GAO to review the user experience on USAJOBS. This report examines (1) the extent to which OPM assesses the user experience with USAJOBS and the results of OPM's assessments; and (2) actions OPM has taken to improve the user experience with USAJOBS. GAO reviewed OPM data and documentation, interviewed OPM officials, and compared OPM's assessments of user experience to OMB guidance for federal service providers and selected guidance from Digital.gov on performance measures for federal websites. For more information, contact Michelle B. Rosenberg at (202) 512-6806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Reframing Disarmament DiscourseBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020Dr. Christopher Ashley [Read More…]
- United States to Host World Data System’s International Program OfficeBy Sam NewsJanuary 14, 2021
- Finland Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020
- Reducing Violence Against Religious Minority Communities in BrazilBy Sam NewsNovember 29, 2020Bureau of Democracy, [Read More…]
- Secretary Michael R. Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBy Sam NewsNovember 19, 2020
- U.S. Trustee Program Reaches Agreements with Three Mortgage Servicers Providing More than $74 Million in Remediation to Homeowners in BankruptcyBy Sam NewsDecember 7, 2020The Department of Justice’s U.S. Trustee Program (USTP announced today that it has entered into national agreements with three mortgage servicers to address past mortgage servicing deficiencies impacting homeowners in bankruptcy.[Read More…]
- The Justice Department Unveils Proposed Section 230 LegislationBy Sam NewsSeptember 23, 2020Today, on behalf of the [Read More…]
- NASA Announces Mini Payload Challenge WinnersBy Sam NewsIn SpaceSeptember 26, 2020The winners for the [Read More…]
- Syria Sanctions Designations on the Anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 2254By Sam NewsDecember 22, 2020
- Gilead Agrees To Pay $97 Million To Resolve Alleged False Claims Act Liability For Paying KickbacksBy Sam NewsSeptember 23, 2020Pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Gilead), based in Foster City, California, has agreed to pay $97 million to resolve claims that it violated the False Claims Act by illegally using a foundation as a conduit to pay the copays of thousands of Medicare patients taking Gilead’s pulmonary arterial hypertension drug, Letairis, the Justice Department announced today.[Read More…]