Reconsider travel to Nepal due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Nepal due to the potential for isolated political violence.
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 Nepal due to COVID-19.
Nepal has lifted stay at home orders, and resumed some transportation options and business operations. Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Nepal.
Political demonstrations intended to be peaceful can sometimes escalate into violence and may be met with force by Nepali authorities.
Read the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Nepal:
Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.
- Justice Department Reaches Agreement with the City of Killeen, Texas to Improve Access for Individuals with DisabilitiesBy Sam NewsJune 30, 2021The Justice Department announced a settlement with the City of Killeen, Texas, to provide equal access in its programs, services, facilities and activities to individuals with disabilities, including veterans.[Read More…]
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- Justice Department Settles Claim Against California-Based Staffing Company for Favoring Temporary Visa Workers Over U.S. WorkersBy Sam NewsAugust 17, 2020The Department of Justice announced today that it signed a settlement agreement with AllianceIT, a provider of IT staffing services based in Pleasanton, California. This is the tenth settlement under the Civil Rights Division’s Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative, which is aimed at targeting, investigating, and taking enforcement actions against companies that discriminate against U.S. workers in favor of temporary foreign visa workers.[Read More…]
- Peter Fay, One of Three Judges in Florida Who Served 50 Years, Dies at 92By Sam NewsIn U.S CourtsFebruary 4, 2021Peter T. Fay, one of three federal judges from Florida who each served more than 50 years after being confirmed the same day in 1970, died Sunday in Miami at the age of 92.[Read More…]
- Physical Infrastructure: Preliminary Observations on Options for Improving Climate Resilience of Transportation InfrastructureBy Sam NewsMay 13, 2021What GAO Found GAO's Disaster Resilience Framework serves as a guide for analysis of federal actions to facilitate and promote resilience to natural disasters and changes in the climate across many policy areas, including transportation. The framework is organized around three guiding principles—information, integration, and incentives—and a series of questions that can help identify opportunities to enhance federal efforts to promote disaster resilience. Specifically, the integration principle states that integrated analysis and planning can help decision makers take coherent and coordinated actions to promote resilience. For example, in October 2019, GAO reported that no federal agency, interagency collaborative effort, or other organizational arrangement has been established to implement a strategic approach to climate resilience investment that includes periodically identifying and prioritizing projects. Such an approach could supplement individual agency climate resilience efforts and help target federal resources toward high-priority projects. GAO recommended that Congress consider establishing a federal organizational arrangement to periodically identify and prioritize climate resilience projects for federal investment. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has taken steps to encourage states to enhance the climate resilience of federally funded roads by developing agency policy, providing technical assistance to states, and supporting climate resilience research funding, among other actions. In addition, as part of ongoing work on FHWA's federal-aid highway program, GAO identified options that could further enhance the climate resilience of federally funded roads, based on a literature review and interviews with knowledgeable stakeholders (see table). Some of these options are similar to recommendations made previously by GAO. Further, according to FHWA officials, some of these options would likely require additional congressional direction or authority to implement. Options to further enhance resilience of federally funded roads, as suggested by relevant literature and knowledgeable stakeholders Option Integrate climate resilience into Federal Highway Administration policy and guidance. Update design standards to account for climate change and resilience best practices. Provide authoritative, actionable, forward-looking climate information. Add climate resilience funding eligibility requirements, conditions, or criteria to formula grant programs. Expand the availability of discretionary funding for climate resilience improvements. Alter the Emergency Relief (ER) program by providing incentives for, or conditioning funding on, pre-disaster resilience actions. Expand the availability of ER funding for post-disaster climate resilience improvements. Establish additional climate resilience planning or project requirements. Link climate resilience actions or requirements to incentives or penalties. Condition eligibility, funding, or project approval on compliance with climate resilience policy and guidance. Source: GAO analysis of literature and interviews with knowledgeable stakeholders. | GAO-21-561T Why GAO Did This Study Since 2013, GAO has included Limiting the Federal Government's Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks in its High Risk List. In addition, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a changing climate threatens the performance of the U.S. transportation system across all modes, including roads. Congress authorized approximately $43 billion of fiscal year 2021 formula funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation's FHWA's federal-aid highway program, which primarily funds highway planning and construction. This testimony discusses (1) GAO's framework for identifying opportunities to enhance the climate resilience of transportation infrastructure; and (2) preliminary observations on actions taken and options to further enhance the climate resilience of federally funded roads. This work is based on GAO reports issued from 2014 through 2019, a review of literature, and interviews conducted with FHWA officials and knowledgeable stakeholders conducted as part of on-going work. GAO expects to issue a report on the results of its ongoing work in summer 2021.[Read More…]
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- Program Evaluation: Key Terms and ConceptsBy Sam NewsMarch 22, 2021Both the executive branch and congressional committees need evaluative information to help them make decisions about the programs they oversee—information that tells them whether, and why, a program is working well or not. The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) and GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) established a framework for performance management and accountability within the federal government. Building on that foundation, Congress has since passed, among other laws, the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (Evidence Act) to strengthen the evidence-building efforts of executive branch agencies. This product updates our previous glossary (GAO-11-646SP) to highlight different types of evaluations for answering questions about program performance, as well as relevant issues to ensure study quality. This glossary can help agency officials better understand fundamental concepts related to evaluation and enhance their evidence-building capacity. For more information, contact Lawrance Evans, Jr. at 202-512-2700 or EvansL@gao.gov.[Read More…]
- Designations of Four PRC and Hong Kong Officials Threatening the Peace, Security, and Autonomy of Hong KongBy Sam NewsNovember 9, 2020Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
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- Higher Education: Office of Federal Student Aid Is Beginning to Identify and Address Its Workforce NeedsBy Sam NewsSeptember 20, 2021What GAO Found The Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) recently began its first formal workforce review to identify staffing needs and skills gaps, according to officials. Without a workforce review, officials told GAO that FSA staffing levels and expertise had not sufficiently adjusted as student aid programs grew in size and complexity. GAO’s analysis found that staffing remained relatively flat from fiscal year 2010 through 2019, and FSA officials said that staffing levels have not kept pace with loan portfolio growth. For example, FSA’s Direct Loan volume increased approximately 450 percent and the number of borrowers increased almost 150 percent from fiscal years 2010 through 2019, while the number of FSA staff increased 6 percent. In 2020, FSA began taking steps to review its workforce by identifying staffing needs and skills gaps. These steps included: Workforce requirements assessment. FSA recently completed an assessment that compared the office’s fiscal year 2020 staffing levels to its employees’ workload. According to the assessment, FSA is understaffed in many of its program and operational offices. Consequently, staff did not complete almost 20 percent of FSA’s workload in fiscal year 2020, despite staff working overtime and supervisors completing extra work. In fiscal year 2021, FSA plans to begin incorporating information from the workforce requirements assessment into its staffing process and plans to update each office’s staffing requirements annually. Skills gaps assessment. FSA is currently assessing the capabilities of its workforce to identify gaps in existing staff’s skills. Preliminary FSA recommendations from analyses of five offices focus on increasing training and improving staff’s leadership, technical skills, and soft skills. According to officials, the results will be used to inform future staff training. GAO did not independently evaluate the findings and recommendations identified through FSA’s workforce assessment activities. While conducting its workforce review, FSA took more immediate steps to address indications that staff lacked certain skills and some offices were understaffed, including: Prioritized hiring. FSA program offices worked with the Human Capital Group to prioritize hiring certain positions in critical areas in fiscal year 2020 which, according to officials, eased workload distribution across the organization. Increased hiring. FSA increased hiring in fiscal year 2020 by 17 percent compared to the previous fiscal year to 1,462 employees, according to FSA data, and primarily relied on staffing flexibilities unique to FSA to fill those positions. Reorganized the agency. On March 29, 2020, FSA reorganized to meet current workforce needs and create a more agile organization, according to officials. Officials said the reorganization was also intended to address staff concerns about having more work than they could handle. Why GAO Did This Study FSA manages all federal student aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. FSA’s responsibilities have grown significantly in recent years and its loan portfolio now exceeds $1.5 trillion, making it the largest consumer lender in the country. However, little is known about how FSA has adjusted the size and composition of its workforce in response to the office’s increased responsibilities. To examine how FSA has identified and addressed its staffing needs, GAO interviewed FSA officials who develop staffing policies and manage the staffing process, and conducted two group interviews with Human Capital staff who implement staffing policies. In addition, GAO reviewed documentation on FSA’s workforce assessment efforts and hiring, recruitment, and retention activities. GAO also analyzed FSA human capital data on FSA’s federal employees from fiscal years 2010 through 2020, and determined it to be reliable for our purposes. For more information, contact Melissa Emrey-Arras at (617) 788-0534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
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- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Changes in Global Hawk’s Acquisition Strategy Are Needed to Reduce Program RisksBy Sam NewsAugust 31, 2021Global Hawk offers significant military capabilities to capture and quickly transmit high-quality images of targets and terrain, day or night, and in adverse weather--without risk to an onboard pilot. Global Hawk first flew in the late 1990s as a demonstrator and supported recent combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2001, the Air Force began an acquisition program to develop and produce improved Global Hawks. In 2002, the Department of Defense (DOD) restructured and accelerated the program to include a new, larger and more capable air vehicle. GAO was asked to review the program and discuss (1) the restructuring's effect on the Air Force's ability to deliver new capabilities to the warfighter and (2) whether its current business case and management approach is knowledge-based and can help forestall future risks.The restructuring of the Global Hawk program impacts the acquisition program in multiple ways. More and accelerated funding: Funding, which previously spanned 20 years, now is compressed in about half the time. The restructured plan requires $6.3 billion through fiscal year 2012; the original plan would have needed $3.4 billion by that time. The budget request is now three times higher for some years. Immature technologies: Several critical technologies needed to provide the advanced capabilities are immature and will not be tested on the new air vehicle until late in the program, after which most of the air vehicles will already have been bought. New requirements, new costs: DOD's desire to add additional Global Hawk capabilities tripled development costs. The program acquisition unit cost increased 44 percent since program start, yet fewer vehicles are to be produced than originally planned. Challenges, trade-offs, and delays: The addition of new capabilities has led to space, weight, and power constraints for the advanced Global Hawk model. These limitations may result in deferring some capabilities. Some key events and activities--many related to testing issues--have been delayed. Global Hawk's highly concurrent development and production strategy is risky and runs counter in important ways to a knowledge-based approach and to DOD's acquisition guidance. The restructuring caused gaps in product knowledge, increasing the likelihood of unsuccessful cost, schedule, quality, and performance outcomes. Because the restructured program is dramatically different from the initial plan for the basic model, the business case now seems out of sync with the realities of the acquisition program.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi Before Their MeetingBy Sam NewsMay 25, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- Incyte Corporation to Pay $12.6 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations for Paying KickbacksBy Sam NewsMay 4, 2021A pharmaceutical company headquartered in Delaware has agreed to pay $12.6 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks.[Read More…]
- Force Structure: Improved Strategic Planning Can Enhance DOD’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicles EffortsBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021The current generation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has been under development for defense applications since the 1980s. UAVs were used in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002 and 2003 to observe, track, target, and strike enemy forces. These successes have heightened interest in UAVs within the Department of Defense (DOD) and the services. GAO was asked to (1) determine how much funding DOD requested, was appropriated, and was obligated for major UAV development efforts during fiscal years 1999-2003 and (2) assess whether DOD's approach to planning for UAVs provides reasonable assurance that its investment in UAVs will facilitate their integration into the force structure.During the past 5 fiscal years, Congress provided more funding for UAV development and procurement than requested by DOD, and to date the services have obligated most of these funds. To promote rapid employment of UAVs, Congress has provided nearly $2.7 billion for UAV development and procurement compared with the $2.3 billion requested by DOD. Because Congress has appropriated more funds than requested, the services are able to acquire systems at a greater rate than planned. For example, in fiscal year 2003, the Air Force requested $23 million to buy 7 Predator UAVs, but Congress provided over $131 million--enough to buy 29 Predators. DOD's approach to planning for developing and fielding UAVs does not provide reasonable assurance that its investment in UAVs will facilitate their integration into the force structure efficiently, although DOD has taken positive steps to improve the UAV program's management. In 2001 DOD established a joint Planning Task Force in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. To communicate its vision and promote commonality of UAV systems, in 2002, the Task Force published the UAV Roadmap, which describes current programs, identifies potential missions, and provides guidance on emerging technologies. While the Roadmap identifies guidance and priority goals for UAV development, neither it nor other key documents represent a comprehensive strategic plan to ensure that the services and DOD agencies develop systems that complement each other, perform all required missions, and avoid duplication. Moreover, the Task Force serves in an advisory capacity to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, but has little authority to enforce program direction. Service officials indicated that their service-specific planning documents were developed to meet their own needs and operational concepts without considering those of other services. Without a strategic plan and an oversight body with sufficient authority to enforce program direction, DOD risks fielding a poorly integrated UAV force structure, which could increase costs and the risk of future interoperability problems.[Read More…]
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- Military Equipment: Observations on the Transfer of Excess Humvees to Foreign GovernmentsBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021What GAO Found Excess High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV)—commonly pronounced Humvees—are among thousands of items that the Department of Defense (DOD) can transfer to foreign governments at their request through the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program. Twenty-three countries, primarily from the Middle East and Africa, requested 16,005 Humvees for the 7-year period GAO reviewed. DOD approves such requests if it determines: excess U.S. inventory is available at the time of the request, the request aligns with U.S. foreign policy objectives, such as using the vehicles to help combat terrorism, and the U.S. industrial base will not be adversely affected by the transfer. For example, DOD approved a country's request for excess Humvees for border security, counter-smuggling, and counter-terrorism efforts. DOD approved nearly half of the total Humvees requested for fiscal years 2012 through 2018 (see figure). However, DOD has halted further approvals since the start of fiscal year 2017 due to concerns expressed by the Humvee manufacturer and language in the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (2018 NDAA) and conference report that generally says Humvees must be modernized at no cost to DOD. Humvees Approved as Grants through the Foreign Assistance Act, Compared to Total Requested (by fiscal year transfer was requested) Note: The Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act generally requires Humvees be modernized prior to transfer. GAO found that DOD considered the Humvee manufacturer's perspectives on proposed transfers and generally took steps to mitigate concerns about transfers that could siphon potential business from the manufacturer or compete with its sales efforts. Further, GAO found that generally, when the manufacturer objected to a transfer, the manufacturer withdrew its objection after receiving business opportunities to repair or upgrade vehicles for DOD or a requesting government's fleet. DOD officials also noted that most of the countries requesting Humvees through the EDA program find it cost-prohibitive to purchase new Humvees directly from the manufacturer. As a result, these countries rely on EDA Humvees to sustain their military fleets. Why GAO Did This Study DOD can declare defense equipment as excess to U.S. military needs and make it available for transfer as a grant or sale to foreign governments. The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 authorizes these transfers as grants provided that they do not adversely affect the U.S. national technology and industrial base, among other things. In this regard, transfers pursuant to the Act must not limit U.S. companies' ability to sell new or used defense equipment to countries requesting the transfer. The 2018 NDAA generally requires that Humvee transfers be modernized with a new powertrain and armor prior to being transferred. The Act also generally requires GAO to report on proposed and completed Humvee transfers and the process to determine if transfers will adversely affect the industrial base. This report provides information on (1) excess Humvees requested and approved during fiscal years 2012 through 2018 and (2) how the Humvee manufacturer's perspectives on the proposed transfers have been addressed by DOD as part of the determination of any adverse industrial base effects. GAO analyzed the latest DOD data on EDA Humvee transfers from fiscal years 2012 through 2018; reviewed DOD policies, guidance, and documents to gain insight into the process for determining industrial base effects of proposed transfers; and interviewed agency officials and Humvee manufacturer representatives. For more information, contact Marie A. Mak at (202) 512-4841 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Three Operators of Financial Services Firm Charged and Arrested in Alleged $155 Million Investment Fraud SchemeBy Sam NewsSeptember 9, 2021A three-count criminal indictment was unsealed yesterday in federal court in the Eastern District of New York charging Roberto Gustavo Cortes Ripalda, 54, of Madrid, Spain; Fernando Haberer Bergson, 48, of Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Ernesto Heraclito Weisson Pazmino, 53, of Miami, Florida, with conspiring to defraud investors and financial institutions as part of an international fraud scheme stretching through the United States, South America, and Europe. The defendants are each charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Federal agents arrested Weisson in Miami yesterday. Cortes and Haberer were also arrested yesterday in Spain and Argentina, respectively.[Read More…]
- Floridians Charged and Convicted in Connection with International Enterprise that Operated Sexually Exploitive ‘Child Modeling’ WebsitesBy Sam NewsAugust 18, 2021A series of charges and convictions were announced today in connection with an international enterprise based in Florida that operated subscription-based sexually exploitive “child modeling” websites.[Read More…]