Mexico Travel Advisory

Reconsider travel to Mexico due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Mexico due to crime and kidnapping. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Mexico due to COVID-19.  

Mexico has lifted stay at home orders in some areas and resumed some transportation and business operations. Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Mexico.

Do Not Travel To:

  • Colima state due to crime.
  • Guerrero state due to crime.
  • Michoacán state due to crime.
  • Sinaloa state due to crime.
  • Tamaulipas state due to crime and kidnapping.

Reconsider Travel To:

  • Chihuahua state due to crime.
  • Coahuila state due to crime.
  • Durango state due to crime.
  • Jalisco state due to crime.
  • Mexico state due to crime.
  • Morelos state due to crime.
  • Nayarit state due to crime.
  • Nuevo Leon state due to crime.
  • San Luis Potosi state due to crime.
  • Sonora state due to crime.
  • Zacatecas state due to crime.

For detailed information on all states in Mexico, please see below.

Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread. Armed criminal groups have been known to target and rob commercial vessels, oil platforms, and offshore supply vessels in the Bay of Campeche.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico, as travel by U.S. government employees to certain areas is prohibited or significantly restricted.

U.S. government employees may not travel between cities after dark, may not hail taxis on the street, and must rely on dispatched vehicles, including from app-based services like Uber or from regulated taxi stands. U.S. government employees may not drive from the U.S.-Mexico border to or from the interior parts of Mexico, with the exception of daytime travel within Baja California, between Nogales and Hermosillo on Mexican Federal Highway 15D, and between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey on Highway 85D (during daylight hours and with prior Consulate authorization only).

Read the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Mexico:

  • See the U.S. Embassy’s web page regarding COVID-19.
  • Visit the CDC’s web page on Travel and COVID-19.  
  • Keep your traveling companions and family back home informed of your travel plans. If separating from your travel group, send a friend your GPS location. If taking a taxi alone, take a photo of the taxi number and/or license plate and text to a friend.
  • Use toll roads when possible and avoid driving alone or at night. In many states, police presence and emergency services are extremely limited outside the state capital or major cities.
  • Exercise increased caution when visiting local bars, nightclubs, and casinos.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Reports for Mexico.
  • Mariners planning travel to Mexico should check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at  https://www.maritime.dot.gov/msci-alerts, which include instructions on reporting suspicious activities and attacks to Mexican naval authorities.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Aguascalientes state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees.

Baja California state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

Criminal activity and violence occur throughout the state. Particularly notable is the number of homicides in non-tourist areas of Tijuana. Most homicides appeared to be targeted; however, criminal organization assassinations and turf battles can result in bystanders being injured or killed.

Due to poor cellular service and hazardous road conditions, U.S. government employees may only travel on Highway 2D between Mexicali and Tijuana during daylight hours.

There are no additional restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Baja California, which includes tourist areas in: Ensenada, Rosarito, and Tijuana.

Baja California Sur state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

Criminal activity and violence occur throughout the state, including in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Bystanders have been injured or killed in shooting incidents related to criminal organization turf battles. Petty crime occurs frequently in tourist areas.  

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Baja California Sur, which includes tourist areas in: Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, and La Paz.

Campeche state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime. Police presence and emergency response are extremely limited outside of the state capital.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Campeche state, which includes tourist areas in: Campeche City, Calakmul, Edzna, and Palizada.

Chiapas state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Chiapas state, which includes tourist areas in: Palenque, San Cristobal de las Casas, and Tuxtla Gutierrez.

Chihuahua state – Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime.

Violent crime and gang activity are common. The vast majority of homicides are targeted assassinations against members of criminal organizations. Battles for territory between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens and U.S. government employees, including restaurants and malls during daylight hours. Bystanders have been injured or killed in shooting incidents.

U.S. government employees may only travel to the following locations within the state of Chihuahua and with the noted restrictions:

  • Ciudad Juarez: They may travel at any time to the area of Ciudad Juarez bounded to the east by Bulevar Independencia; to the south by De los Montes Urales/Avenida Manuel J Clouthier/Carretera de Juarez; to the west by Via Juan Gabriel/Avenida de los Insurgentes/Calle Miguel Ahumada/Francisco Javier Mina/Melchor Ochampo; and to the north by the U.S.-Mexico border.

Additionally, direct travel to the Ciudad Juarez airport and the factories (maquilas) located along Bulevar Independencia and Las Torres is permitted. Travel to the factory and cattle inspection station in San Jeronimo is permitted only through the United States via the Santa Teresa port of entry; travel via Anapra is prohibited.

  • Chihuahua City: Employees may travel at any time to the area of Chihuahua City bounded to the north by Avenida Transformación; to the east by Avenida Tecnológico/Manuel Gómez Morin; to the west by the city limit boundary; and to the south by Route 16/Calle Tamborel.

U.S. government employees may only travel from Ciudad Juarez to Chihuahua City during daylight hours via Highway 45, with stops permitted only at the Federal Police station, the overlook, the border inspection station at KM 35, and the shops and restaurants on Highway 45 in the town of Villa Ahumada.

Additionally, travel is permitted to factories (maquilas) outside this area via the most direct route. Direct travel to Abraham Gonzales International Airport is also permitted.

  • Nuevo Casas Grandes Area (including Nuevo Casas Grandes, Casas Grandes, Mata Ortiz, Colonia Juarez, Colonia LeBaron, and Paquime): U.S. government employees may only travel to the Nuevo Casas Grandes area during daylight hours through the United States, entering Mexico at the Palomas Port of Entry on New Mexico Route 11 before connecting to Mexico Highway 2 to Nuevo Casas Grandes. Employees are permitted to stay overnight in the cities of Nuevo Casas Grandes and Casas Grandes only.
  • Ojinaga: U.S. government employees must travel to Ojinaga via U.S. Highway 67 through the Presidio, Texas Port of Entry.
  • Palomas: U.S. government employees must travel to Palomas via U.S. highways through the Palomas Port of Entry in Columbus, New Mexico.

Mexican authorities in Chihuahua occasionally operate at a heightened level of security, sometimes referred to as “Alerta Roja” (Red Alert). During those periods, U.S. government personnel must receive prior approval and exercise increased caution when visiting Mexican law enforcement offices or installations.

Travel by U.S. government employees to all other areas of the state of Chihuahua, including Copper Canyon, is prohibited.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Coahuila state – Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime.

Violent crime and unpredictable gang activity are common in parts of Coahuila state.

Travel for U.S. government employees is limited to the following areas with the noted restrictions:

  • Piedras Negras and Ciudad Acuña: U.S. government employees must travel directly from the United States and observe a midnight to 6:00 a.m. curfew in both cities.
  • Highway 40 and areas south within Coahuila state.

U.S. government employees may not travel to other areas of Coahuila.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Colima state – Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime.

Violent crime and gang activity are widespread.

U.S. government employees may not travel to:

  • Tecoman
  • Within 20 km of the Colima/Michoacan border
  • Highway 110 from the town of La Tecomaca to the Jalisco border

In Manzanillo, U.S. government employees are limited to the tourist and port areas.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Durango state – Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime.

Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Durango state.

U.S. government employees may not travel to the area west and south of Highway 45.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Guanajuato state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

Gang-related violence occurs in Guanajuato, primarily in the south of the state, near the border with Michoacán. This violence is often linked to the organized theft of petroleum and natural gas from the state oil company and other suppliers.

The U.S. Embassy has updated its travel restrictions for U.S. personnel visiting Guanajuato state. U.S. government employees may not travel to the area south of and including Highway 45D, Celaya, Salamanca, and Irapuato.

Guerrero state – Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime.

Crime and violence are widespread. Armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence towards travelers.  

U.S. government employees may not travel to the entire state of Guerrero, including Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, Ixtapa, and Taxco.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Hidalgo state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees.

Jalisco state – Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime.

Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Jalisco state. In metropolitan Guadalajara, battles for territory control between criminal groups take place in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents between criminal groups have injured or killed innocent bystanders.

U.S. government employees may not travel to:

  • Within 20 km (12 miles) of the Jalisco/Michoacán border, south of Route 120
  • Highway 80 south of Cocula
  • Highway 544 from Mascota to San Sebastian del Oeste

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S government employees to: Guadalajara Metropolitan Area, Riviera Nayarit (including Puerto Vallarta), Chapala, and Ajijic.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Mexico City – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

Both violent and non-violent crime occur throughout Mexico City. Use additional caution, particularly at night, outside of the frequented tourist areas where police and security patrol more routinely. Petty crime occurs frequently in both tourist areas and non-tourist areas.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees.

Mexico state (Estado de Mexico) – Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime.

Both violent and non-violent crime are common throughout Mexico state. Use caution in areas outside of the frequented tourist areas, although petty crime occurs frequently in tourist areas as well.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S government employees.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Michoacán state – Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime.

Crime and violence are widespread in Michoacán state. Travel for U.S. government employees is limited to the following areas with the noted restrictions:

  • Highway 15D: U.S. government employees may travel on Federal Toll Highway (cuota) 15D to transit the state between Mexico City and Guadalajara.
  • Morelia: U.S. government employees may travel by air and by land using Highways 43 or 48D from Highway 15D.
  • Lazaro Cardenas: U.S. government employees must travel by air only and limit activities to the city center or port areas.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Morelos state – Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime.

Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Morelos state.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Nayarit state – Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime.

Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Nayarit state. U.S. government employees may not travel to:

  • Tepic
  • San Blas

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S government employees to: Riviera Nayarit (including Nuevo Vallarta, Punta Mita, and Bahia de Banderas), and Santa Maria del Oro.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Nuevo Leon state – Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime.

Violent crime and unpredictable gang activity are common in parts of Nuevo Leon state. There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Oaxaca state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

U.S. government employees may not travel to:

  • Isthmus region of Oaxaca, defined by Highway 185D to the west, Highway 190 to the north, and the Oaxaca/Chiapas border to the east. This includes the towns of Juchitan de Zaragoza, Salina Cruz, and San Blas Atempa.
  • Highway 200 northwest of Pinotepa.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees to other parts of Oaxaca state, which include tourist areas in: Oaxaca City, Monte Alban, Puerto Escondido, and Huatulco.

Puebla state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

Gang-related violence occurs in Puebla state, and is often linked to the organized theft of petroleum and natural gas from the state oil company and other suppliers.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees.

Queretaro state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees.

Quintana Roo state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

Criminal activity and violence, including homicide, occur throughout the state. Most homicides appear to be targeted; however, criminal organization assassinations and turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Bystanders have been injured or killed in shooting incidents.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Quintana Roo state, which include tourist areas in: Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and the Riviera Maya.

San Luis Potosi state – Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime.

Violent crime and unpredictable gang activity are common in parts of San Luis Potosi state.  There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Sinaloa state – Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime.

Violent crime is widespread. Criminal organizations are based and operating in Sinaloa state.

Travel for U.S. government employees is limited to the following areas with the noted restrictions:

  • Mazatlan: U.S. government employees may travel by air or sea only. U.S. government employees are limited to the Zona Dorada and historic town center, and must use direct routes when traveling to and from those locations and the airport and cruise terminals.
  • Los Mochis and Topolobampo: U.S. government employees may travel by air or sea only. U.S. government employees are restricted to the city and the port, and must use direct routes when traveling between these locations and to and from the airport.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Sonora state – Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime.

Sonora is a key location used by the international drug trade and human trafficking networks.

U.S. government employees traveling to and from Hermosillo may travel between the border crossing points of DeConcini and Mariposa in Nogales only during daylight hours and only on Highway 15, including stops at restaurant/restroom facilities along Highway 15.

U.S. government employees may travel to Puerto Peñasco via the Lukeville/Sonoyta crossing during daylight hours on Federal Highway 8. U.S. government employees may also travel directly from the nearest U.S. Ports of Entry to San Luis Rio Colorado, Cananea, and Agua Prieta but may not go beyond the city limits without official Consulate Nogales clearance.

U.S. government employees may not travel to:

  • The triangular region west of the Mariposa Port of Entry, east of Sonoyta, and north of Altar Municipality.
  • The district within Nogales that lies to the north of Avenida Instituto Tecnologico and between Periferico (Bulevar Luis Donaldo Colosio) and Corredor Fiscal (Federal Highway 15D), and the residential areas to the east of Plutarco Elias Calles.
  • The eastern edge of the state of Sonora, which borders the state of Chihuahua: all points along that border east of Federal Highway 17, the road between Moctezuma and Sahuaripa, and State Highway 20 between Sahuaripa and the intersection with Federal Highway 16.
  • All points south of Federal Highway 16 and east of Highway 15 (south of Hermosillo), as well as Empalme, Guaymas, and all points south, including Obregon and Navojoa. U.S. government employees may travel to Alamos by air only and may not go beyond the city limits.

In addition, U.S. government employees may not use taxi services in Nogales.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Tabasco state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees.

Tamaulipas state – Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime and kidnapping.

Organized crime activity – including gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, forced disappearances, extortion, and sexual assault – is common along the northern border and in Ciudad Victoria. Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments. Heavily armed members of criminal groups often patrol areas of the state in marked and unmarked vehicles and operate with impunity particularly along the border region from Reynosa northwest to Nuevo Laredo. In these areas, local law enforcement has limited capability to respond to crime incidents. There are greater law enforcement capabilities in the tri-city area of Tampico, Ciudad Madero, and Altamira, which has a lower rate of violent criminal activity compared to the rest of the state.

U.S. government employees may only travel within a limited radius around and between the U.S. Consulates in Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, their homes, the respective U.S. Ports of Entry, and limited downtown sites. U.S. government employees may not travel between cities in Tamaulipas using interior Mexican highways and they must observe a curfew between midnight and 6:00 a.m. in the cities of Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo. U.S. government employees can travel between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey on Highway 85D only during daylight hours and with prior Consulate authorization.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Tlaxcala state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees.

Veracruz state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees.

Yucatan state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime. Police presence and emergency response are extremely limited outside of the state capital.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Yucatan state, which includes tourist areas in: Chichen Itza, Merida, Uxmal, and Valladolid.

Zacatecas state – Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime.

Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Zacatecas state. U.S. government employees may not travel to the zone south of Highway 45 and west of Highway 23. U.S. government employees may not travel to the entire municipality of Fresnillo, though they may transit both highways through Fresnillo without stopping.

There are no other restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.

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    What GAO Found The military departments have not fully defined, tracked, and assessed wartime medical skills for enlisted medical personnel. The departments have defined these skills for 73 of 77 occupations. However, among other issues, the Army and the Air Force have not defined skills for numerous highly-skilled subspecialties that require additional training and expertise, such as Army Critical Care Flight Paramedics. Subspecialty personnel are key to supporting lifesaving medical care during deployed operations. The Army does not consistently track wartime medical skills training for enlisted medical personnel in its official system. The military departments are not able to fully assess the preparedness of enlisted medical personnel because, according to officials, they have not developed performance goals and targets for skills training completion. As a result, the military departments lack reasonable assurance that all enlisted medical personnel are ready to perform during deployed operations. The Department of Defense (DOD) has not fully developed plans and processes to sustain the wartime medical skills of enlisted medical personnel. While the Defense Health Agency (DHA) has initiated planning efforts to assess how the military departments' three primary training approaches sustain readiness (see figure), these efforts will not fully capture needed information. For example, DHA's planned metrics to assess the role of military hospitals and civilian partnerships in sustaining readiness would apply to a limited number of enlisted occupations. As a result, DHA is unable to fully assess how each training approach sustains readiness and determine current and future training investments. Approaches to Train Enlisted Medical Personnel's Wartime Medical Skills DOD officials have identified challenges associated with implementing its training approaches. For example, DOD relies on civilian partnerships to sustain enlisted medical personnel's skills, but DOD officials stated that licensing requirements and other issues present challenges to establishing and operationalizing civilian partnerships. DOD has not analyzed or responded to such risks, and may therefore be limited in its ability to sustain wartime medical skills. Why GAO Did This Study DOD has over 73,000 active-duty enlisted medical personnel who must be ready to provide life-saving care to injured and ill servicemembers during deployed operations, using their wartime medical skills. Senate Report 116-48 accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 included a provision for GAO to review DOD's efforts to maintain enlisted personnel's wartime medical skills. This report examines, among other objectives, the extent to which (1) the military departments have defined, tracked, and assessed enlisted personnel's wartime medical skills, and (2) DOD has developed plans and processes to sustain these skills and assessed risks associated with their implementation. GAO analyzed wartime medical skills checklists and guidance; reviewed plans for skills sustainment; and interviewed officials from DOD and military department medical commands and agencies, and nine inpatient military medical treatment facilities.
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  • Drug Safety: FDA’s Future Inspection Plans Need to Address Issues Presented by COVID-19 Backlog
    In U.S GAO News
    Fiscal year 2015 was the first time that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted more inspections of foreign drug manufacturers than domestic manufacturers, with the majority conducted in China and India. However, in June 2020, GAO reported that from fiscal year 2016 through fiscal year 2018, both foreign and domestic inspections decreased, in part due to staffing vacancies. While foreign inspections increased in 2019, since March 2020, FDA has largely paused foreign and domestic inspections due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, conducting only those deemed mission critical. In January 2021, GAO reported that FDA conducted three foreign inspections in fiscal year 2020 following the pause—significantly less than in recent years. Number of FDA-Conducted Foreign Drug Manufacturing Establishment Inspections, Fiscal Years 2019–2020, by Month FDA has used alternative inspection tools to maintain some oversight of drug manufacturing quality while inspections are paused. These tools include relying on inspections conducted by foreign regulators, requesting and reviewing records and other information, and sampling and testing drugs. FDA has determined that inspections conducted by certain European regulators are equivalent to and can be substituted for an FDA inspection. Other tools provide useful information but are not equivalent. In addition, FDA was unable to complete more than 1,000 of its planned fiscal year 2020 inspections and will likely face a backlog of inspections in future years. In January 2021, GAO recommended that FDA ensure that inspection plans for future fiscal years respond to the issues presented by the backlog and that FDA fully assess the agency's alternative inspection tools. FDA concurred with both recommendations. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, FDA faced persistent challenges conducting foreign inspections. GAO found in December 2019 that there continued to be vacancies among the investigators who conduct foreign inspections. GAO further found that FDA's practice of preannouncing foreign inspections up to 12 weeks in advance could give manufacturers the opportunity to fix problems ahead of the inspection and raised questions about their equivalence to domestic inspections. In light of COVID-19, FDA is now preannouncing both foreign and domestic inspections for the safety of its staff and manufacturers. GAO also found that language barriers can create challenges during foreign inspections as FDA generally relies on the establishment for translation services. The outbreak of COVID-19 has called greater attention to the United States' reliance on foreign drug manufacturers. FDA reports that 74 percent of establishments manufacturing active ingredients and 54 percent of establishments manufacturing finished drugs for the U.S. market were located overseas, as of May 2020. FDA is responsible for overseeing the safety and effectiveness of all drugs marketed in the United States, regardless of where they are produced, and it conducts inspections of both foreign and domestic manufacturing establishments. GAO has had long-standing concerns about FDA's ability to oversee the increasingly global pharmaceutical supply chain, an issue highlighted in GAO's High Risk Series since 2009. This statement is largely based on GAO's Drug Manufacturing Inspections enclosure in its January 2021 CARES Act report, as well as GAO's December 2019 and June 2020 testimonies. Specifically, it discusses (1) the number of FDA's foreign inspections, (2) FDA's response to the COVID-19 pandemic pause in inspections, and (3) persistent foreign inspection challenges. For that work, GAO examined FDA data from fiscal years 2012 through 2020, interviewed FDA investigators, and reviewed documents related to drug oversight during the COVID-19 pandemic, among other things. For more information, contact Mary Denigan-Macauley at (202) 512-7114 or deniganmacauleym@gao.gov.
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    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Education (Education), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) manage six key federal grant programs that can support drug prevention activities in schools. The flexibility of these grants supports a variety of drug prevention education programs. The agencies generally monitor grantees' compliance with grant requirements through periodic reporting. The aim of the National Drug Control Strategy (Strategy) is to reduce drug misuse, but HHS, and ONDCP have not fully defined how several key grant programs support the Strategy. ONDCP's guidance directs agencies to report, for each grant program, performance measures that relate to the Strategy's goals. However, some performance measures for several programs did not relate to drug prevention, did not link directly to the Strategy's prevention goals, or were not reported at all. For example: A $372 million set-aside for HHS's Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program must be used on drug prevention, but HHS did not link the program's performance measures to the Strategy's prevention education goal.   ONDCP did not report on any performance measures in the Strategy or document how its $100 million Drug-Free Communities Support program contributes to achieving specific goals in the Strategy. GAO also found that the approximately $10 million grants to states component of Education's School Climate Transformation Grant program could more fully provide performance information related to the Strategy's prevention education goal. Fully understanding these programs' contributions to the goals of the National Drug Control Strategy could help Congress and the public better understand and assess how the nation's significant investments in drug prevention education programs help address the drug crisis. Most people who develop a substance use disorder begin using substances as adolescents. To reach adolescents, drug prevention programs are frequently provided in schools. Education, HHS, and ONDCP manage most federal programs that support school-based drug prevention activities. This report (1) describes how Education, HHS, and ONDCP support drug prevention activities in schools, and monitor those efforts and (2) examines the extent to which these agencies identify how their prevention activities support the National Drug Control Strategy. GAO reviewed agency documentation, the 2019 and 2020 National Drug Control Strategy documents which ONDCP identified as being most relevant to our review including the fiscal year 2019 drug control budget, ONDCP guidance, relevant federal laws, and GAO's prior work on attributes of successful performance measures that can help achieve agency goals. GAO also interviewed federal and state officials. GAO is making four recommendations, including that Education, HHS, and ONDCP clarify how grants that can include drug prevention education programs support related goals of the National Drug Control Strategy. HHS and ONCP agreed with the recommendation and Education partially concurred, saying it would explore collecting and reporting related performance data. For more information, contact Jacqueline M. Nowicki at (617) 788-0580 or nowickij@gao.gov.
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  • GPS Modernization: DOD Continuing to Develop New Jam-Resistant Capability, But Widespread Use Remains Years Away
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (DOD) is closer to being able to use military code (M-code)—a stronger, more secure signal for the Global Positioning System (GPS) designed to meet military needs. However, due to the complexity of the technology, M-code remains years away from being widely fielded across DOD. M-code-capable receiver equipment includes different components, and the development and manufacture of each is key to the modernization effort. These include: special M-code application-specific integrated circuit chips, special M-code receiver cards, being developed under the Air Force Military GPS User Equipment (MGUE) programs, and the next generation of GPS receivers capable of using M-code signals from GPS satellites. DOD will need to integrate all of these components into different types of weapon systems (see figure for notional depiction of integration for one system). Integration across DOD will be a considerable effort involving hundreds of different weapon systems, including some with complex and unique integration needs or configurations. Global Positioning System User Equipment Integration The Air Force is almost finished—approximately one year behind schedule—developing and testing one M-code card for testing on the Marine Corps Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and the Army Stryker vehicle. However, one card intended for use in aircraft and ships is significantly delayed and missed key program deadlines. The Air Force is revising its schedule for testing this card. The M-code card development delays have had ripple effects on GPS receiver modernization efforts and the weapon systems that intend to use them. For example, an Air Force receiver modernization effort that depends on the new technology will likely breach its schedule and incur additional costs because of the delay. In turn, DOD planned to incorporate that receiver into its F/A-18 fighter aircraft, AV-8B strike aircraft, and the MH-53E helicopter, but it no longer plans to do so because of the delay. DOD has not yet determined the full extent of the development effort to widely integrate and field M-code receivers across the department. The amount of additional development and integration work is expected to vary for each weapon system and could range from a few weeks to several years. DOD is taking steps to enable fielding modernized receivers that use M-code cards by working to identify integration and production challenges. DOD has been developing the capability to use its more jam-resistant military-specific GPS signal for 2 decades. The Air Force launched the first GPS satellite capable of broadcasting the M-code signal in 2005, but is only now completing development of the software and other equipment needed to use it. The GPS modernization effort spans DOD and the military services, but an Air Force program office is developing M-code cards for eventual production and integration into weapon systems. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 included a provision that the Air Force provide quarterly reports to GAO on next-generation GPS acquisition programs, and that GAO brief congressional defense committees. Since 2016, GAO has provided briefings and reported on various aspects of GPS. This report discusses DOD's progress and challenges (1) developing M-code receiver cards, and (2) developing receivers and taking other steps to make M-code-capable receivers available for fielding. GAO reviewed schedules and cost estimates for the Air Force's MGUE programs; military service and DOD M-code implementation data; and test and integration plans for aircraft, ships, and ground vehicles. GAO also reviewed strategies for continued access to microelectronics and interviewed officials from the MGUE programs, military services, and DOD, and representatives from microelectronics developers. For more information, contact Jon Ludwigson at (202) 512-4841 or ludwigsonj@gao.gov.
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    Federal agencies' intergovernmental affairs activities advance agency objectives that require coordination with state and local governments. Most of the 24 Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act agencies GAO surveyed reported undertaking similar information-sharing and coordination activities, such as serving as liaisons, conducting outreach, and hosting and attending events. The agencies GAO surveyed also reported taking varied approaches to structuring their intergovernmental affairs operations to conduct these activities. Of the 20 agencies with agency-wide intergovernmental affairs offices, half focused on intergovernmental affairs as their sole function while the other half included multiple functions, such as congressional or legislative affairs. How Agencies Organized Their Intergovernmental Affairs Operations Most agencies also reported that intergovernmental affairs activities and responsibilities were dispersed across their agencies. Regional and program offices perform intergovernmental affairs functions at some agencies, while others have an agency-wide office for them. Responsibilities for consulting with state and local governments under Executive Order (E.O.) 13132 also varied. The order requires that each federal agency designate an official to implement the order. Fourteen agencies reported having such an official; 10 did not report having one. Representatives from state and local associations GAO interviewed reported interacting with federal agency intergovernmental affairs offices for outreach and information-sharing purposes. They also cited coordination and consultation challenges, such as difficulty identifying intergovernmental affairs contacts, limited federal agency knowledge of state and local government, and inconsistent consultation on proposed regulations. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has primary responsibility for implementing E.O. 13132 and related implementation guidance, including a requirement for the designation of a federalism official. However, OMB could not identify any oversight steps it had taken to ensure federal agencies' designation of a federalism official consistent with its guidance for implementation of the executive order. Taking steps to ensure federal agencies' designation of a federalism official could help ensure that agencies have an accountable process in place for appropriately consulting with state and local governments. Federal programs fulfilling national goals in education, health care, transportation infrastructure, and homeland security, among other issues, are implemented through a complex partnership between federal, state, and local governments. E.O. 13132, Federalism, outlines principles and criteria to guide the formulation and implementation of policies and the appropriate division of responsibilities between levels of government. GAO was asked to review intergovernmental affairs activities at executive branch agencies. This report (1) identifies intergovernmental affairs offices' key responsibilities and activities at selected federal agencies and how these offices are organized, and (2) assesses state and local government officials' interaction with intergovernmental affairs offices, including their reported strengths and challenges. GAO examined relevant policies and executive orders and surveyed officials from the 24 CFO Act agencies. GAO also interviewed a nongeneralizable sample of individuals from 10 associations representing state and local government officials. GAO is recommending that OMB ensure that federal agencies implement its guidance on agency adherence to E.O. 13132 requirements, particularly related to designating a federalism official. OMB neither agreed nor disagreed with the recommendation. For more information, contact Michelle Sager at (202) 512-6806 or sagerm@gao.gov.
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  • Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations: DOD Needs to Take Action to Help Ensure Superiority
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The electromagnetic spectrum (the spectrum) consists of frequencies worldwide that support many civilian and military uses, from mobile phone networks and radios to navigation and weapons. This invisible battlespace is essential to Department of Defense (DOD) operations in all domains—air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace. The interruption of U.S. forces' access to the spectrum can result in a military disadvantage, preventing U.S. forces from operating as planned and desired. According to the studies by DOD and others that GAO reviewed for its December 2020 report on military operations in the spectrum, adversaries, such as China and Russia, are also aware of the importance of the spectrum and have taken significant steps to improve their own capabilities that challenge DOD and its operations. For example, studies described how China has formed new military units and fielded new unmanned aerial vehicles with spectrum warfare capabilities, and Russian electromagnetic warfare forces have demonstrated their effectiveness through successful real-world applications against U.S. and foreign militaries. These developments are particularly concerning in the context of challenges to DOD's spectrum superiority. GAO's analysis of the studies highlighted DOD management challenges such as dispersed governance, limited full-time senior-level leadership, outdated capabilities, a lengthy acquisition process, increased spectrum competition and congestion, and a gap in experienced staff and realistic training. GAO found that DOD had issued strategies in 2013 and 2017 to address spectrum-related challenges, but did not fully implement either strategy because DOD did not assign senior leaders with appropriate authorities and resources or establish oversight processes for implementation. DOD published a new strategy in October 2020, but GAO found in December 2020 the department risks not achieving the new strategy's goals because it had not taken key actions—such as identifying processes and procedures to integrate spectrum operations across the department, reforming governance structures, and clearly assigning leadership for strategy implementation. Also, it had not developed oversight processes, such as an implementation plan, that would help ensure accountability and implementation of the 2020 strategy goals (see figure). Actions to Ensure DOD Superiority in the Electromagnetic Spectrum Why GAO Did This Study The spectrum is essential for facilitating control in operational environments and affects operations in the air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace domains. Spectrum use is pervasive across warfighting domains and thus maintaining or achieving spectrum superiority against an adversary is critical to battlefield success. This statement summarizes: (1) the importance of the spectrum; (2) challenges to DOD's superiority in the spectrum; and (3) the extent to which DOD has implemented spectrum-related strategies and is positioned to achieve future goals. This statement is based on GAO's December 2020 report (GAO-21-64) and updates conducted in March 2021. For the report, GAO analyzed 43 studies identified through a literature review, reviewed DOD documentation, and interviewed DOD officials and subject matter experts. For the updates, GAO reviewed materials that DOD provided in March 2021.
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