Exercise increased caution in Micronesia due to COVID-19 and Embassy Kolonia’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens.
Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.
Micronesia continues to have transportation options, with limited flights into the country (including airport operations and re-opening of borders) and business operations (including day cares and schools). However, no passengers are able to disembark in the country. Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Micronesia.
Read the country information page.
If you decide to travel to the FSM:
Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.
- Businessman Indicted for Not Reporting Foreign Bank Accounts and Filing False Documents with the IRSBy Sam NewsMarch 3, 2021A federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, returned an indictment on March 3, 2021, charging a Virginia man with failing to file Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBARs) and filing false documents with the IRS. According to the indictment, Azizur Rahman of Herndon, had a financial interest in and signature authority over more than 20 foreign financial accounts, including accounts held in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Singapore, and Bangladesh. From 2010 through 2016, Rahman allegedly did not disclose his interest in all of his financial accounts on annual FBARs, as required by law. Rahman also allegedly filed false individual tax returns for the tax years 2010 through 2016 that did not report to the IRS all of his foreign bank accounts and income.[Read More…]
- Deputy Assistant Attorney General Michael Murray Delivers Remarks at University of Michigan Law SchoolBy Sam NewsOctober 14, 2020I am here today to speak about the intersection of the antitrust laws and the financial sector of our economy. The financial markets and the financial services industry are currently undergoing massive transformation. New technologies are disrupting how we do business, how we transact with each other, and how the economy functions. Much of this change benefits consumers with innovative, low cost, and convenient products and services. But with rapid change also comes the opportunity for anticompetitive conduct and its attendant harm. Incumbents may predict and resist their demise and seek to slow innovation and the growth of rivals, and market participants who should compete against each other can agree to act jointly to the detriment of the American consumer.[Read More…]
- Meet the People Behind NASA’s Perseverance RoverBy Sam NewsIn SpaceSeptember 26, 2020These are the scientists [Read More…]
- Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Robert A. Zink Delivers Remarks at Virtual GIR Live Interactive: Regional Spotlight-North AmericaBy Sam NewsDecember 9, 2020It’s wonderful to speak with you here this morning. And I’m sorry we can’t do this in person. But I’m still delighted to have the opportunity to be here to say a few words about white-collar criminal enforcement, albeit virtually.[Read More…]
- Philadelphia Man and Woman Convicted of Tax FraudBy Sam NewsJuly 16, 2021A federal judge convicted two Philadelphia residents at a bench trial of conspiring to defraud the United States and aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns.[Read More…]
- Sexual Harassment: NNSA Could Improve Prevention and Response Efforts in Its Nuclear Security ForcesBy Sam NewsApril 19, 2021What GAO Found The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)—within the Department of Energy (DOE)—and its contractors may have limited information on the prevalence of sexual harassment within the nuclear security forces. NNSA's nuclear security forces include federal agents in NNSA's Office of Secure Transportation (OST), which is responsible for transporting nuclear materials, and contracted guard forces at four of its sites. Federal officials at NNSA and contractor representatives at four NNSA sites that process weapons-usable nuclear material reported very few cases of sexual harassment from fiscal years 2015 through 2020. Research shows that the least common response to harassment is to report it or file a complaint. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—which enforces federal laws prohibiting harassment—suggests organizations survey employees to assess the extent to which harassment is a problem in their organization. NNSA does not survey employees on this topic, nor does NNSA call for such surveys in its contracts for security forces. Because NNSA relies solely on reported incidents, it may not have full knowledge into the nature or extent of sexual harassment in OST or by its contractors at its sites. Surveying employees would better position them to identify actions to effectively prevent and respond to harassment. To varying degrees, NNSA and its contractors follow EEOC's recommended practices to prevent and respond to sexual harassment in their nuclear security forces. For example, with respect to recommended training practices, NNSA and its contractors provide antiharassment training to all employees, but only one force offers workplace-specific training that addresses sexual harassment risk factors relevant to the security forces. Because NNSA has not formally reviewed EEOC's practices and considered which to adopt for its nuclear security forces, or made similar considerations for its security force contractors, the agency may be missing opportunities to prevent and respond to sexual harassment. Selected EEOC Practices for Effective Training to Prevent and Respond to Sexual Harassment and Number of NNSA's Nuclear Security Forces That Reflect Those Practices in Training EEOC Promising Practice Number of forces that reflect the practice Provided to employees at every level and location of the organization 5 of 5 Tailored to the specific workplace and workforce 1 of 5 Explains the complaint process, as well as any voluntary alternative dispute resolution processes 2 of 5 Explains the range of possible consequences for engaging in prohibited conduct 1 of 5 Source: GAO comparison of National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and protective force contractor information with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) November 2017 Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment . | GAO-21-307 EEOC has found that NNSA and DOE do not meet all EEOC requirements relevant to preventing and responding to sexual harassment. For example, NNSA does not have an antiharassment program or a compliant antiharassment policy. According to EEOC officials, NNSA and DOE efforts to date have improved some aspects of their EEO programs, but because the agencies have not fully implemented their plans to address deficiencies identified by EEOC, DOE and NNSA may be missing opportunities to establish and maintain effective programs that include protection from and response to sexual harassment. Why GAO Did This Study Federal law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. Besides being harmful to those harassed, sexual harassment can decrease organizational performance and increase turnover. In January 2019, public allegations of sexual harassment in NNSA's nuclear security forces drew attention to this issue. House Report 116-120 provided that GAO review sexual harassment in NNSA's nuclear security force. This report examines (1) what NNSA and its contractors know about the prevalence of sexual harassment in their nuclear security forces, (2) the extent to which NNSA and its contractors implement EEOC recommendations to prevent and respond to sexual harassment, and (3) the extent to which EEOC found that NNSA and DOE meet its requirements relevant to sexual harassment. GAO reviewed information on sexual harassment and programs to address such harassment at DOE and NNSA from fiscal years 2015 through 2020. GAO analyzed documents and data, conducted a literature review, interviewed NNSA officials, and compared NNSA and contractor actions with EEOC-recommended practices for preventing harassment.[Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Colombian Foreign Minister BlumBy Sam NewsJanuary 29, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
- Operation Legend: Case of the DayBy Sam NewsOctober 7, 2020An Indiana man has been charged with a federal firearm offense for allegedly illegally selling dozens of handguns and assault rifles in the Chicago area.[Read More…]
- Judges Focus on Diversity in Clerkship, Internship HiringBy Sam NewsIn U.S CourtsApril 29, 2021Federal judges are working to make highly sought-after law clerkships and judicial internships more accessible to a diverse pool of law students.[Read More…]
- Public Designation of Albanian Sali Berisha Due to Involvement in Significant CorruptionBy Sam NewsMay 19, 2021
- Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance: Overarching Guidance Is Needed to Advance Information SharingBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021The Department of Defense (DOD) has numerous intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems--including manned and unmanned airborne, space-borne, maritime, and terrestrial systems--that play critical roles in support of current military operations. The demand for these capabilities has increased dramatically. Today's testimony addresses (1) the challenges the military services and defense agencies face processing, exploiting, and disseminating the information collected by ISR systems and (2) the extent to which the military services and defense agencies have developed the capabilities required to share ISR information. This testimony is based on GAO's January 2010 report on DOD's ISR data processing capabilities. GAO reviewed and analyzed documentation, guidance, and strategies of the military services and defense agencies in regard to processing, exploiting, and disseminating ISR data as well as information-sharing capabilities. GAO also visited numerous commands, military units, and locations in Iraq and the United States.The military services and defense agencies face long-standing challenges with processing, exploiting, and disseminating ISR data, and DOD has recently begun some initiatives to address these challenges. First, since 2002, DOD has rapidly increased its ability to collect ISR data in Iraq and Afghanistan, although its capacity for processing, exploiting, and dissemination is limited. Second, transmitting data from ISR collection platforms to ground stations where analysts process, exploit, and then disseminate intelligence to users requires high-capacity communications bandwidth. However, bandwidth can be limited in a theater of operations by the satellite and ground-based communication capacity, and this in turn affects the ability to send, receive, and download intelligence products that contain large amounts of data. Third, shortages of analytical staff with the required skill sets hamper the services' and defense agencies' abilities to exploit all ISR information being collected, thus raising the risk that important information may not be available to commanders in a timely manner. DOD is developing and implementing initiatives to enhance its processing, exploitation, and dissemination capabilities, such as increasing personnel, but its initiatives are in the early stages of implementation and it is too soon to tell how effective they will be in addressing current challenges. DOD is taking steps to improve the sharing of intelligence information across the department, but progress is uneven among the military services. DOD began plans for its Distributed Common Ground/Surface System (DCGS), an interoperable family of systems that will enable users to access shared ISR information in 1998. DOD subsequently directed the military services to transition their service-unique intelligence data processing systems into DCGS and each of the military services is at a different stage. While the Air Force and the Navy each plan to have a fully functional version of DCGS by the end of fiscal years 2010 and 2013, respectively, the Army does not expect to have a fully functional system until 2016. The Marine Corps has not yet established a completion date for the full operational capability of its DCGS. To facilitate the sharing of ISR data on this system, DOD developed the DCGS Integration Backbone, which provides common information standards and protocols. Although the services are responsible for managing their DCGS programs and conforming to information-sharing standards, according to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and military service officials, DOD has not developed overarching guidance, such as a concept of operations that provides direction and priorities for sharing intelligence information within the defense intelligence community. Without this overarching guidance, the services lack direction to set their own goals and objectives for prioritizing and sharing ISR information and therefore have not developed service-specific implementation plans that describe the prioritization and types of ISR data they intend to share. Moreover, the inability of users to fully access existing information contributes to the increasing demand for additional ISR collection assets.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at a Joint Press AvailabilityBy Sam NewsJuly 28, 2021
- Bangladeshi National Sentenced for Conspiracy to Bring Aliens to the United StatesBy Sam NewsJanuary 7, 2021A Bangladeshi national formerly residing in Monterrey, Mexico, was sentenced to 46 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his role in a scheme to smuggle aliens from Mexico into the United States.[Read More…]
- Facial Recognition Technology: Privacy and Accuracy Issues Related to Commercial UsesBy Sam NewsAugust 11, 2020Market research and other data suggest that the market for facial recognition technology has increased in the number and types of businesses that use it since GAO's 2015 report on the topic (GAO-15-621 ). For example, newer functions of the technology identified by stakeholders and literature included authorizing payments and tracking and monitoring attendance of students, employees, or those attending events. Functions of Facial Recognition Technology Accuracy. Although the accuracy of facial recognition technology has increased dramatically in recent years, differences in performance exist for certain demographic groups. National Institute of Standards and Technology tests found that facial recognition technology generally performs better on lighter-skin men and worse on darker-skin women, and does not perform as well on children and elderly adults. These differences could result in more frequent misidentification for certain demographics, such as misidentifying a shopper as a shoplifter when comparing the individual's image against a data set of known shoplifters. There is no consensus on what causes performance differences, including physical factors (such as lighting) or factors related to the creation or operation of the technology. However, stakeholders and literature identified various methods that could help mitigate differences in performance among demographic groups. Privacy. Stakeholders and literature identified concerns related to privacy, such as the inability of individuals to remain anonymous in public or the use of the technology without individuals' consent. Facial recognition technology may collect or store facial images, posing varying levels of risk. Some federal and state laws and the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation impose requirements on U.S. companies related to facial recognition technology. However, as we reported in 2015, there is no comprehensive federal privacy law governing the collection, use, and sale of personal information by private-sector companies. Some stakeholders, including privacy and industry groups, have developed voluntary frameworks that seek to address privacy concerns. Most of these frameworks were consistent with internationally recognized principles for protecting the privacy and security of personal information. However, U.S. companies are not required to follow these voluntary frameworks. Facial recognition technology can verify or identify an individual from a facial image. Advocacy groups and others have raised privacy concerns related to private companies' use of the technology, as well as concerns that higher error rates among some demographic groups could lead to disparate treatment. GAO was asked to review the commercial use of facial recognition technology and related accuracy and privacy issues. Among other issues, this report examines how companies use the technology, its accuracy and how accuracy differs across demographic groups, and how privacy issues are addressed in laws and industry practices. GAO analyzed laws; reviewed literature and company documentation; interviewed federal agency officials; and interviewed representatives from companies, industry groups, and privacy groups. GAO also reviewed selected privacy frameworks, chosen based on expert recommendations and research. GAO reiterates its previous suggestion from a 2013 report ( GAO-13-663 ) that Congress consider strengthening the consumer privacy framework to reflect changes in technology and the marketplace. For more information, contact Alicia Puente Cackley at (202) 512-8678 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- U.S. Manager of Money Laundering Ring in a Nigerian Romance Scam SentencedBy Sam NewsSeptember 10, 2021An Oklahoma man was sentenced today in the Northern District of Oklahoma to four years in prison for managing a group of money launderers in an online Nigerian romance scam that defrauded multiple victims, including elderly individuals across the United States, and caused losses of at least $2.5 million.[Read More…]
- Remembering the Victims of PS752By Sam NewsJanuary 9, 2021Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- Protests in IranBy Sam NewsJuly 28, 2021Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
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- Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Virtual Roundtable on Reform and AnticorruptionBy Sam NewsMay 6, 2021
- Afghanistan: Key Oversight Issues for USAID Development EffortsBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021What GAO Found In 2010, the United States pledged to provide at least 50 percent of its development aid directly through the Afghan government budget within 2 years. This direct assistance is intended to help develop the capacity of Afghan government ministries to manage programs and funds. Using bilateral agreements and multilateral trust funds, the United States more than tripled its direct assistance awards to Afghanistan in the first year of the pledge, going from over $470 million in fiscal year 2009 to over $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2010. The U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) most current reporting shows that for fiscal year 2012 the agency provided over $800 million in mission funds through direct assistance. In 2013, GAO reported that while USAID had established and generally complied with various financial and other controls in its direct assistance agreements, it had not always assessed the risks in providing direct assistance before awarding funds. USAID has taken steps in response to GAO's recommendations to help ensure the accountability of direct assistance funds provided to the Afghan government. Recently, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reported that USAID determined that seven ministries were unable to manage direct assistance funds without a risk mitigation strategy in place. However, SIGAR reported that USAID approved assistance for the ministries, but did not mitigate for all identified risks. GAO has previously reported on systemic weaknesses in USAID's monitoring and evaluation of programs carried out by its implementing partners in Afghanistan. For example, although USAID collected progress reports from implementing partners for agriculture and water projects, it did not always analyze and interpret data to, among other things, inform future decisions. USAID has undertaken some efforts to improve its monitoring and evaluation of the billions of dollars invested towards development projects in Afghanistan. GAO and other oversight agencies, however, have highlighted gaps that show USAID continued to inconsistently apply performance management procedures, falls short in maintaining institutional knowledge, and needs to improve oversight of contractors. USAID's ability to conduct its mission and the challenges it has faced in providing oversight and monitoring of its development projects in Afghanistan are likely to be exacerbated by the planned withdrawal of U.S. and coalition combat troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2014. The United States is currently transitioning from counterinsurgency and stability operations toward more traditional diplomatic and development activities. As U.S. combat troops withdraw from Afghanistan, provincial reconstruction teams will continue to decline in number, thus challenging USAID's opportunities to directly monitor and evaluate programs in certain parts of Afghanistan. To prepare for the possible lack of USAID personnel in the field, USAID has undertaken various planning efforts to mitigate against potential challenges. For example, USAID is planning to implement a remote monitoring program that will use contractors to verify activities that implementing partners have completed. As the United States plans for the withdrawal of its combat troops and the transition from an integrated civilian and military effort to a civilian-led presence, GAO believes it is important to have safeguards in place to help ensure sustainment of the gains made by U.S. and coalition investments. Why GAO Did This Study The U.S. government has been engaged in efforts in Afghanistan since declaring a global war on terrorism that targeted al Qaeda, its affiliates, and other violent extremists. The U.S. effort has involved a whole of government approach to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates and strengthen Afghanistan so that it can never again be a haven for terrorists. This approach includes USAID's development assistance and reconstruction efforts, which to date have invested over $15 billion in Afghanistan since 2002. To assist Congress in its oversight, GAO has issued over 50 products in the past 5 years focusing on U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. This testimony summarizes the findings from those products related to USAID efforts in Afghanistan and discusses: (1) levels of U.S. direct assistance and need for continued oversight, (2) the importance of routine monitoring and evaluation of USAID projects in Afghanistan, and (3) the need for mitigation planning for how USAID will continue to operate in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops.[Read More…]