Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, I would like to congratulate the people of the Federated States of Micronesia in recognition of its 34th anniversary of independence on November 3.
Our two countries enjoy a warm friendship, strengthened by our cooperation in advancing our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific with other democracies in the region. Our people continue to enjoy close ties, and we recognize the service and sacrifice of many citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia in the United States Armed Forces. Their service helps preserve global peace, security, and stability. As we overcome the challenges of 2020, we are confident that our shared commitment to security and prosperity will further strengthen our bonds.
As a close friend and partner, we wish all citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia a peaceful and prosperous year.
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Youth Moderated Discussion on Democracy and Human RightsBy Sam NewsJune 25, 2021
- Management Report: Continued Improvements Needed in the Processes Used to Prepare the U.S. Consolidated Financial StatementsBy Sam NewsAugust 13, 2021What GAO Found GAO's audit of the fiscal year 2020 consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government (CFS) found continuing control deficiencies in the Department of the Treasury's (Treasury) and the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) processes used to prepare the CFS. These control deficiencies contributed to material weaknesses in internal control that involve the federal government's inability to adequately account for intragovernmental activity and balances between federal entities; reasonably assure that the consolidated financial statements are (1) consistent with the underlying audited entities' financial statements, (2) properly balanced, and (3) in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles; and reasonably assure that the information in the (1) Reconciliations of Net Operating Cost and Budget Deficit and (2) Statements of Changes in Cash Balance from Budget and Other Activities is complete, properly supported, and consistent with the underlying information in the audited entities' financial statements and other financial data. As of the completion of GAO's fiscal year 2019 CFS audit, 15 recommendations were open from GAO's prior reports related to control deficiencies in the processes used to prepare the CFS. Treasury, in coordination with OMB, implemented corrective actions that resolved control deficiencies related to three of the 15 recommendations. As a result, GAO closed these three recommendations. These corrective actions included establishing effective processes and procedures to reasonably assure that appropriate information regarding legal contingency losses is reported in the CFS; implementing additional reviews and improved procedures to reasonably assure that restatements, reclassifications, and adjustments to beginning net position are properly supported and accurately reported; and improving corrective action plans for certain areas by including sufficient steps to effectively address related control deficiencies. While progress was made, 12 of the 15 recommendations remained open as of March 17, 2021, the date of GAO's report on its audit of the fiscal year 2020 CFS. GAO will continue to monitor the status of corrective actions taken to address the 12 open recommendations from prior years as part of its fiscal year 2021 CFS audit. Why GAO Did This Study The Secretary of the Treasury, in coordination with the Director of OMB, prepares the Financial Report of the United States Government, which contains the CFS. Since GAO's first audit of the CFS, for fiscal year 1997, certain material weaknesses and other limitations have prevented GAO from expressing an opinion on the accrual-based consolidated financial statements. As part of the fiscal year 2020 CFS audit, GAO identified continuing material weaknesses and other control deficiencies in the processes used to prepare the CFS. The objective of this report is to provide the status of corrective actions that Treasury and OMB have taken to address GAO's prior recommendations related to the processes used to prepare the CFS that remained open as of the completion of GAO's fiscal year 2019 audit.[Read More…]
- Office for Victims of Crime Awards Nearly $4 Million to Support Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner ProgramsBy Sam NewsOctober 22, 2020The Office of Justice [Read More…]
- Security Force Assistance: More Detailed Planning and Improved Access to Information Needed to Guide Efforts of Advisor Teams in AfghanistanBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021What GAO FoundDOD and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have defined the mission and broad goals for Security Force Assistance (SFA) advisor teams; however, teams varied in the extent to which their approaches for developing their Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) units identified activities based on specific objectives or end states that were clearly linked with established goals. SFA guidance states that to be successful, advisors must have an end or goal in mind, and establish objectives that support higher-command plans. Theater commanders have outlined goals aimed at strengthening specific capabilities such as logistics, and it is largely left to the teams to then develop their approach for working with their counterparts. GAO found some advisor teams had developed structured advising approaches drawing from these goals, such as identifying monthly objectives and milestones for their team. Other teams GAO met with used less structured approaches, such as relying on interactions with ANSF counterparts to identify priorities and using this input to develop activities on an ad hoc basis, rather than as part of a longer-term, more structured approach to achieve broad goals. Officials from several teams stated that the guidance they received lacked specificity regarding desired end states for the development of their ANSF counterpart units. Without a more structured approach with clear linkages between end states, objectives, and milestones that are in support of broad goals for ANSF units, theater commanders cannot be assured that the advisor team activities are making progress toward these goals.The Army and Marine Corps have been able to fill requests for SFA advisor teams, using various approaches such as tasking non-deployed brigades to form advisor teams or creating teams using personnel already deployed in Afghanistan. According to Army and Marine Corps officials, the ability to substitute an individual at one rank above or below the request has helped the services meet rank and skill requirements. The Army's reliance on brigades to provide a portion of their personnel to form advisor teams has enabled them to meet requirements but resulted in leaving large numbers of personnel at the brigades' home stations. To manage these large rear detachments, brigades undertook significant planning to ensure that enough stay-behind leadership existed to maintain a sufficient command structure and provide certain training.The Army and Marine Corps have developed training programs for SFA advisor teams, but teams varied in the extent to which they had specific information to help prepare them for their mission prior to deployment. SFA guidance states that an in-depth understanding of the operational environment and of foreign security force capabilities is critical to planning and conducting effective SFA. Advisor teams may access such information from a variety of sources such as conducting video teleconferences with the teams they will replace, using secure networks to gather information, or sending personnel on predeployment site surveys, although teams varied in the extent to which they were actually able to gain access to these sources. For example, GAO found that while teams had access to a certain secure network at training sites, only some had access at home station, enabling them to shape their training and mission analysis earlier in predeployment training or after training but prior to deploying. Having limited access to this information prior to arriving in Afghanistan may result in advisor teams needing more time after deploying to maximize their impact as advisors.Why GAO Did This StudyISAF's mission in Afghanistan has shifted from a combat role to focus more on preparing ANSF units to assume lead security responsibility by the end of 2014. A key element in advising and assisting the ANSF is SFA advisor teams, provided by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. A House Armed Services Committee report accompanying its version of the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act directed GAO to review DOD's establishment and use of SFA advisor teams. Specifically, GAO evaluated the extent to which (1) DOD, in conjunction with ISAF, has defined SFA advisor team missions, goals, and objectives; (2) the Army and Marine Corps have been able to provide teams; and (3) the Army and Marine Corps have developed programs to train teams for their specific missions. GAO reviewed doctrine and guidance, analyzed advisor requirements, reviewed training curricula, and interviewed Army, Marine Corps, theater command, and SFA advisor team officials in the U.S. and Afghanistan.[Read More…]
- Pharmacist Charged in $4 Million Health Care Fraud and Kickback SchemeBy Sam NewsMarch 17, 2021A New York man was arrested today for his role in a conspiracy to commit health care fraud and to pay kickbacks and bribes to customers for expensive prescription orders in connection with more than $4 million in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.[Read More…]
- Estonia Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsIn TravelSeptember 26, 2020Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
- Second Member Of “Boogaloo Bois” Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to HamasBy Sam NewsMay 4, 2021A Minnesota man pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to provide material support and resources, namely property, services and weapons, to what he believed was Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization, for use against Israeli and U.S. military personnel overseas.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Chris Wallace of Fox News SundayBy Sam NewsJune 13, 2021
- Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister JaishankarBy Sam NewsMay 30, 2021
- Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with UK Prime Minister JohnsonBy Sam NewsMay 6, 2021
- MS-13 Member Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy Involving Murder and Attempted MurderBy Sam NewsMay 6, 2021A Maryland man pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise by murdering a suspected rival gang member and attempting to murder two other victims, in connection with his MS-13 gang activities.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken At the Atlantic Council’s Front Page Pride Edition Virtual Conversation with Jonathan Capehart on “Pressing for Equality: Engaging on LGBTQI Issues Around the World”By Sam NewsJune 23, 2021
- Technology Assessment Design HandbookBy Sam NewsFebruary 18, 2021The Technology Assessment (TA) Design Handbook identifies tools and approaches GAO staff and others can consider in the design of robust and rigorous technology assessments. The handbook underscores the importance of TA design (Chapter 1), outlines the process of designing TAs (Chapter 2), and describes approaches for mitigating select TA design and implementation challenges (Chapter 3). While the primary audience of this handbook is GAO staff, other organizations may also find portions of this handbook useful as they consider or conduct TAs. This is an update to the handbook published in December 2019, based on the experiences of GAO teams and a review of relevant literature and comments submitted by external experts and the public between December 2019 and December 2020. The handbook identifies three general design stages, as shown in the figure below. The handbook also highlights seven cross-cutting considerations for designing TAs: the iterative nature of TA design, congressional and policymakers' interests, resources, independence, engaging internal and external stakeholders, potential challenges, and communication strategy. In addition, the handbook provides a high-level process for developing policy options, as a tool for analyzing and articulating a range of possible actions a policymaker could consider that may enhance the benefits or mitigate the challenges of a technology. Steps in developing policy options include, as applicable: determining the potential policy objective; gathering evidence; identifying possible policy options and the relevant dimensions along which to analyze them; analyzing policy options; and presenting the results of the analysis. Summary of Key Stages of Technology Assessment Design We found that GAO TAs can use a variety of design approaches and methods. The handbook includes TA design and methodology examples, along with example objectives commonly found in GAO TAs, such as: describe a technology, assess opportunities and challenges of a technology, and assess policy implications or options. For example, some GAO TAs include an objective related to describing the status and feasibility of a technology, which GAO teams have addressed by using methodologies such as expert panels, interviews, literature and document reviews, site visits, and determining the technology readiness level. Also included in the handbook are examples of TA design and implementation challenges, along with possible mitigation strategies. We identified four general categories of challenges: (1) ensuring that the design and implementation of TAs result in useful products for Congress and other policymakers; (2) determining the policy objective and measuring potential effects; (3) researching and communicating complicated issues; and (4) engaging relevant stakeholders. For example, allowing sufficient time for writing, review, and any needed revisions is one potential mitigation strategy that could help teams write simply and clearly about technical subjects and ensure that the design and implementation of TAs result in useful products for Congress and other policymakers. In 2019, GAO created the Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics team to expand its work on cutting-edge science and technology issues, and to provide oversight, insight, and foresight for science and technology. TAs can be used to strengthen decision-making, enhance knowledge and awareness, and provide early insights into the potential effects of technology. Systematically designing a TA can enhance its quality, credibility, and usefulness; ensure independence of the analysis; and ensure effective use of resources. Under Comptroller General Authority, we developed this handbook by generally following the format of the 2012 GAO methodology transfer paper, Designing Evaluations. Below is a summary of the approach we used to affirm and document TA design steps and considerations for this handbook. Reviewed select GAO documents, including Designing Evaluations (GAO-12-208G), published GAO TAs, select GAO products using policy analysis approaches to present policy options, and other GAO reports Reviewed select Office of Technology Assessment reports Reviewed select Congressional Research Service reports Reviewed select English-language literature regarding TAs and related to development and analysis of policy options Consulted with external experts and performed outreach, including holding an expert meeting to gather input on TA design, soliciting comments from external experts who contributed to GAO TAs published since 2015, and soliciting comments from the public Reviewed experiences of GAO teams that have successfully assessed and incorporated policy options into GAO products and TA design, including challenges to TA design and implementation and possible solutions GAO is not making any recommendations. For more information, contact Timothy M. Persons or Karen L. Howard at (202) 512-6888 or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Airborne Electronic Attack: Achieving Mission Objectives Depends on Overcoming Acquisition ChallengesBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021What GAO Found The Department of Defenses (DOD) evolving strategy for meeting airborne electronic attack requirements centers on acquiring a family of systems, including traditional fixed wing aircraft, low observable aircraft, unmanned aerial systems, and related mission systems and weapons. DOD analyses dating back a decade have identified capability gaps and provided a basis for service investments, but budget realities and lessons learned from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have driven changes in strategic direction and program content. Most notably, DOD canceled some acquisitions, after which the services revised their operating concepts for airborne electronic attack. These decisions saved money, allowing DOD to fund other priorities, but reduced the planned level of synergy among systems during operations. As acquisition plans have evolved, capability limitations and sustainment challenges facing existing systems have grown, prompting the department to invest in system improvements to mitigate shortfalls. DOD is investing in new airborne electronic attack systems to address its growing mission demands and to counter anticipated future threats. However, progress acquiring these new capabilities has been impeded by developmental and production challenges that have slowed fielding of planned systems. Some programs, such as the Navys EA-18G Growler and the Air Forces modernized EC-130H Compass Call, are in stable production and have completed significant amounts of testing. Other key programs, like the Navys Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile, have required additional time and funding to address technical challenges, yet continue to face execution risks. In addition, certain systems in development may offer capabilities that overlap with one anothera situation brought on in part by DODs fragmented urgent operational needs processes. Although services have shared technical data among these programs, they continue to pursue unique systems intended to counter similar threats. As military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan decrease, opportunities exist to consolidate current acquisition programs across services. However, this consolidation may be hampered by DODs acknowledged leadership deficiencies within its electronic warfare enterprise, including the lack of a designated, joint entity to coordinate activities. Furthermore, current and planned acquisitions will not fully address materiel-related capability gaps identified by DODincluding some that date back 10 years. Acquisition program shortfalls will exacerbate these gaps. To supplement its acquisition of new systems, DOD is undertaking other efforts to bridge existing airborne electronic attack capability gaps. In the near term, services are evolving tactics, techniques, and procedures for existing systems to enable them to take on additional mission tasks. These activities maximize the utility of existing systems and better position operators to complete missions with equipment currently available. Longer-term solutions, however, depend on DOD successfully capitalizing on its investments in science and technology. DOD has recently taken actions that begin to address long-standing coordination shortfalls in this area, including designating electronic warfare as a priority investment area and creating a steering council to link capability gaps to research initiatives. These steps do not preclude services from funding their own research priorities ahead of departmentwide priorities. DODs planned implementation roadmap for electronic warfare offers an opportunity to assess how closely component research investments are aligned with the departmentwide priority. Why GAO Did This Study Airborne electronic attack involves the use of aircraft to neutralize, destroy, or suppress enemy air defense and communications systems. Proliferation of sophisticated air defenses and advanced commercial electronic devices has contributed to the accelerated appearance of new weapons designed to counter U.S. airborne electronic attack capabilities. GAO was asked to assess (1) the Department of Defenses (DOD) strategy for acquiring airborne electronic attack capabilities, (2) progress made in developing and fielding systems to meet airborne electronic attack mission requirements, and (3) additional actions taken to address capability gaps. To do this, GAO analyzed documents related to mission requirements, acquisition and budget needs, development plans, and performance, and interviewed DOD officials.[Read More…]
- Former Mississippi Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Excessive Force ChargeBy Sam NewsJuly 27, 2021The Justice Department announced today that a former officer with the Meridian, Mississippi Police Department pleaded guilty to using excessive force against a man during a vehicle stop and arrest.[Read More…]
- Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Foreign Minister Mahuta By Sam NewsNovember 11, 2020
- Three Texas Men Sentenced to Prison for Using Dating App to Target Gay Men for Violent CrimesBy Sam NewsJune 24, 2021Three Texas men were sentenced yesterday for violent crimes.[Read More…]
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- Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Press AvailabilityBy Sam NewsMay 27, 2021
- Maryland Tax Preparers Sentenced to Prison for Conspiring to Defraud the IRSBy Sam NewsSeptember 23, 2021Two Maryland tax return preparers were sentenced to prison for conspiring to defraud the United States and preparing false tax returns. Lenore Worthy was sentenced yesterday to six months in prison and Veronica Fortune was sentenced on Sept. 14 to 12 months and one day in prison.[Read More…]