Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
On behalf of the United States of America, I congratulate the people of North Macedonia as you celebrate 30 years of independence.
We proudly welcomed North Macedonia as the 30th NATO Ally last year, a testament to your country’s firm dedication to regional and global peace and security. Your participation in Alliance missions, including in Afghanistan, reflect your dedication and commitment to shared values.
The United States stands with you as you continue to make great strides toward increasing the prosperity of all your citizens, improving the rule of law, and strengthening your democratic institutions. North Macedonia also has our unwavering support as it works to realize its aspirations to join the European Union.
Best wishes on this special day.
- Removing the Cuban Military’s Grip from Cuba’s Banking SectorBy Sam NewsJanuary 1, 2021Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- Assistant Attorney General Beth A. Williams Delivers Remarks at Columbia Law School Virtual Event on Combating the Online Exploitation of ChildrenBy Sam NewsOctober 28, 2020Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us today for a conversation on one of the most pressing challenges we face – the continuing fight against the online exploitation of children. I want to thank Berit Berger and Columbia Law School for hosting us virtually, and for putting together this event on such an important subject.[Read More…]
- Attorney General Merrick Garland Addresses the 115,000 Employees of the Department of Justice on His First DayBy Sam NewsMarch 11, 2021Former Acting U.S. Attorney General Monty Wilkinson’s Remarks Good morning. It's my honor to welcome Merrick Garland back to the Department of Justice as the 86th Attorney General of the United States. I'd also like to recognize the Attorney General's wife Lynn, his brother-in-law Mitchell and his nieces Laura and Andrea. In many respects, this is a welcome home ceremony for the Attorney General. Before his appointment to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, he served with distinction in a number of positions here at Main Justice and as an Assistant U. S. Attorney in the District of Columbia.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Sues To Block Geisinger Health’s Transaction With Evangelical Community HospitalBy Sam NewsAugust 5, 2020The U.S. Department of Justice sued today to block Geisinger Health’s partial acquisition of its close rival, Evangelical Community Hospital. The complaint alleges that the agreement fundamentally alters the relationship between the parties, raising the likelihood of coordination and reducing Defendants’ incentives to compete aggressively against each other. As a result, the transaction is likely to lead to higher prices, lower quality, and reduced access to high-quality inpatient hospital services for patients in central Pennsylvania. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.[Read More…]
- Additions of Cuban Military-Owned Companies to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons ListBy Sam NewsDecember 21, 2020Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Los Angeles Towing Company for Illegally Selling a Car Owned by a U.S. MarineBy Sam NewsJuly 20, 2021The Justice Department today announced that it reached an agreement with Los Angeles towing company Black and White Towing Inc. to resolve allegations that it illegally auctioned off an active-duty U.S. Marine’s car, in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).[Read More…]
- Weapon Systems Cybersecurity: Guidance Would Help DOD Programs Better Communicate Requirements to ContractorsBy Sam NewsMarch 4, 2021Since GAO's 2018 report, the Department of Defense (DOD) has taken action to make its network of high-tech weapon systems less vulnerable to cyberattacks. DOD and military service officials highlighted areas of progress, including increased access to expertise, enhanced cyber testing, and additional guidance. For example, GAO found that selected acquisition programs have conducted, or planned to conduct, more cybersecurity testing during development than past acquisition programs. It is important that DOD sustain its efforts as it works to improve weapon systems cybersecurity. Contracting for cybersecurity requirements is key. DOD guidance states that these requirements should be treated like other types of system requirements and, more simply, “if it is not in the contract, do not expect to get it.” Specifically, cybersecurity requirements should be defined in acquisition program contracts, and criteria should be established for accepting or rejecting the work and for how the government will verify that requirements have been met. However, GAO found examples of program contracts omitting cybersecurity requirements, acceptance criteria, or verification processes. For example, GAO found that contracts for three of the five programs did not include any cybersecurity requirements when they were awarded. A senior DOD official said standardizing cybersecurity requirements is difficult and the department needs to better communicate cybersecurity requirements and systems engineering to the users that will decide whether or not a cybersecurity risk is acceptable. Incorporating Cybersecurity in Contracts DOD and the military services have developed a range of policy and guidance documents to improve weapon systems cybersecurity, but the guidance usually does not specifically address how acquisition programs should include cybersecurity requirements, acceptance criteria, and verification processes in contracts. Among the four military services GAO reviewed, only the Air Force has issued service-wide guidance that details how acquisition programs should define cybersecurity requirements and incorporate those requirements in contracts. The other services could benefit from a similar approach in developing their own guidance that helps ensure that DOD appropriately addresses cybersecurity requirements in contracts. DOD's network of sophisticated, expensive weapon systems must work when needed, without being incapacitated by cyberattacks. However, GAO reported in 2018 that DOD was routinely finding cyber vulnerabilities late in its development process. A Senate report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 included a provision for GAO to review DOD's implementation of cybersecurity for weapon systems in development. GAO's report addresses (1) the extent to which DOD has made progress in implementing cybersecurity for weapon systems during development, and (2) the extent to which DOD and the military services have developed guidance for incorporating weapon systems cybersecurity requirements into contracts. GAO reviewed DOD and service guidance and policies related to cybersecurity for weapon systems in development, interviewed DOD and program officials, and reviewed supporting documentation for five acquisition programs. GAO also interviewed defense contractors about their experiences with weapon systems cybersecurity. GAO is recommending that the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps provide guidance on how programs should incorporate tailored cybersecurity requirements into contracts. DOD concurred with two recommendations, and stated that the third—to the Marine Corps—should be merged with the one to the Navy. DOD's response aligns with the intent of the recommendation. For more information, contact W. William Russell at (202) 512-4841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- On the Passing of Former Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael SomareBy Sam NewsMarch 3, 2021
- Department of Defense: Use of Neurocognitive Assessment Tools in Post-Deployment Identification of Mild Traumatic Brain InjuryBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has emerged as a serious concern among U.S. forces serving in military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The widespread use of improvised explosive devices in these conflicts increases the likelihood that servicemembers will sustain a TBI, which the Department of Defense (DOD) defines as a traumatically induced structural injury and/or physiological disruption of brain function as a result of an external force. TBI cases within DOD are generally classified as mild, moderate, severe, or penetrating. From 2000 to March 2011 there were a total of 212,742 TBI cases reported by the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center within DOD. A majority of these cases, 163,181, were classified as mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI)--commonly referred to as concussions. Early detection of injury is critical in TBI patient management. Diagnosis of moderate and severe TBI usually occurs in a timely manner due to the obvious and visible nature of the head injury. Identification of mTBI presents a challenge due to its less obvious nature. With mTBI, there may be no observable head injury. In addition, in the combat theater, an mTBI may not be identified if it occurs at the same time as other combat injuries that are more visible or life-threatening, such as orthopedic injuries or open wounds. Furthermore, some of the symptoms of mTBI--such as irritability and insomnia--are similar to those associated with other conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Although the majority of patients with mTBI recover quickly with minimal intervention, a subset of patients develops lingering symptoms that interfere with social and occupational functioning. Accurate and timely identification of mTBI is important as treatment can mitigate the physical, emotional, and cognitive effects of the injury. Neurocognitive deficits associated with mTBI can be identified by neurocognitive assessment tools. These tools generally consist of a series of tests that measure cognitive performance areas that may be impaired by an mTBI such as attention, judgment, and memory. Identification of mTBI in servicemembers who served in Afghanistan and Iraq has been the subject of recent media attention, with particular attention focused on the proper use of neurocognitive assessment tools to screen all servicemembers postdeployment for deficits or symptoms related to mTBI. In this context and in response to congressional request, this report describes (1) DOD's post-deployment policy on the use of neurocognitive assessment tools as a stand-alone initial screen to identify servicemembers who may have sustained an mTBI during deployment; (2) what informed DOD's decisions to establish this post-deployment policy; and (3) mTBI experts' views on the science related to DOD's policy decision.DOD does not require that all servicemembers be screened post-deployment using a neurocognitive assessment tool but does require that all servicemembers be screened using a set of TBI screening questions. According to DOD officials, this policy was informed by findings and recommendations from several task forces and expert panel reports, and scientific studies. Additionally, mTBI experts told us that the scientific evidence supports DOD's policy. For example, these experts told us that neurocognitive assessment tools cannot determine whether low cognitive function is caused by an mTBI. These experts told us, however, that neurocognitive assessment tools can be useful as part of a full clinical evaluation for a person who has already screened positive for a possible mTBI.[Read More…]
- Final Defendant Sentenced in $7 Billion Investment Fraud SchemeBy Sam NewsFebruary 24, 2021The former chief of Antigua’s Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC) was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for his role in connection with a $7 billion Ponzi scheme involving the Stanford International Bank (SIB).[Read More…]
- Joint Statement on Extended “Troika” on Peaceful Settlement in AfghanistanBy Sam NewsMarch 18, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
- Global Entry for UK CitizensBy Sam NewsIn TravelSeptember 27, 2020How to Apply for Global [Read More…]
- Department of Justice Announces Arrests in Conspiracy and Dog Fighting Ring InvestigationBy Sam NewsJanuary 28, 2021An indictment was unsealed today charging 11 individuals on a 136-count federal indictment including violations of drug conspiracy, drug possession, and drug possession with the intent to distribute, and violations of the dog fighting prohibitions of the federal Animal Welfare Act, and conspiracy to commit the same.[Read More…]
- Quadrennial Defense Review: 2010 Report Addressed Many but Not All Required ItemsBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021The Department of Defense (DOD) is facing the complex challenge of simultaneously supporting continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and preparing its military forces to meet emerging threats of the new security environment. Congress appropriated $626 billion for DOD's fiscal year 2010 budget and to support current operations. As we have emphasized in previous reports, the federal government is facing serious long-term fiscal challenges, and DOD may confront increased competition over the next decade for federal discretionary funds. The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the fourth since 1997 and the second since the start of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, articulates DOD's strategic plan to rebalance capabilities in order to prevail in current operations and develop capabilities to meet future threats. The QDR acknowledged that the country faces fiscal challenges and that DOD must make difficult trade-offs where warranted. Also, the QDR results are intended to guide the services in making resource allocation decisions when developing future budgets. This letter provides our assessment of the degree to which DOD addressed each of these items in its 2010 report on the QDR and the supplemental information provided to the defense committees.DOD used the 2008 National Defense Strategy as the starting point for the 2010 QDR review. The strategy described an environment shaped by globalization, violent extremist movements, rogue and unstable states, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. For its 2010 QDR analyses, DOD examined forces needed for three different sets of scenarios, each consisting of multiple concurrent operations, chosen to reflect the complexity and range of events that may occur in multiple theaters in overlapping timeframes in the mid-term (5 to 7 years in the future). The range of potential operations included homeland defense, defense support to civil authorities responding to a catastrophic event in the United States, a major stabilization operation, deterring and defeating regional aggressors, and a medium-sized counterinsurgency mission. According to the QDR report, DOD used the results of its analyses to make decisions on how to size and shape the force and to inform its choices on resourcing priorities. For example, according to DOD officials, the proposed fiscal year 2011 defense budget focuses investments toward the priorities outlined in the QDR report, such as rebalancing the force. Our analysis showed that of the 17 required reporting items, DOD addressed 6, partially addressed 7, and did not directly address 4. The items not directly addressed included items addressing the anticipated roles and missions of the reserve component, the advisability of revisions to the Unified Command Plan, the extent to which resources must be shifted among two or more theaters, and the appropriate ratio of combat to support forces. According to DOD officials, these items were not directly addressed for a variety of reasons such as changes in the operational environment, the difficulty of briefly summarizing a large volume of data generated through the QDR analyses, or departmental plans to report on some items separately. The 2010 QDR report presented the results of DOD's review and, together with the supplemental information, addressed many of the reporting items that are required by law. The reasons for not directly addressing four of the required items are varied and include: reporting on items separately; the changing operational environment; or difficulty in succinctly characterizing voluminous data resulting from the scenario analyses.[Read More…]
- Readout of Meeting between the U.S. Department of Justice and EU CommissionBy Sam NewsSeptember 2, 2021U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland met today with European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson in Washington, D.C., to further strengthen the partnership between the United States and the European Union on fighting transnational crime and terrorism.[Read More…]
- Drug Pricing Program: HHS Uses Multiple Mechanisms to Help Ensure Compliance with 340B RequirementsBy Sam NewsDecember 14, 2020The 340B Drug Pricing Program (340B Program) requires drug manufacturers to sell outpatient drugs at a discount to covered entities—eligible hospitals and other entities participating in the program—in order for their drugs to be covered by Medicaid. Participation in the 340B Program has grown from nearly 9,700 covered entities in 2010 to 12,700 in 2020. The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) administers the program and oversees covered entities' compliance with 340B Program requirements through annual audits, among other efforts. If audits identify noncompliance with program requirements, HRSA issues findings to covered entities and requires them to take corrective action to continue participating in the 340B Program (see table). Audit Findings Issued to Covered Entities by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for Fiscal Years 2012-2019, as of September 2020 340B Program findings of noncompliance Number Eligibility of covered entities. Failure to maintain eligibility-related requirements (e.g., covered entities' oversight of their contract pharmacies). 561 Diversion of 340B drugs to ineligible patients. 340B drugs distributed to individuals who are not eligible patients of a covered entity (e.g., patients' health records are not maintained by the covered entity). 546 Duplicate discounts. Prescribed drugs that may have been subject to both the 340B price and a Medicaid rebate. 429 Total 1,536 Source: GAO analysis of information received from HRSA. | GAO-21-107 HRSA officials told GAO that, beginning in fall 2019, the agency started issuing findings only when audit information presents a clear and direct violation of the requirements outlined in the 340B Program statute. HRSA officials explained that guidance, which is used to interpret provisions of the 340B statute for the purposes of promoting program compliance among covered entities, does not provide the agency with appropriate enforcement capability. For example, HRSA officials reported that there were instances among fiscal year 2019 audits in which the agency did not issue findings for a failure to comply with guidance related to contract pharmacies in part because the 340B statute does not address contract pharmacy use and, therefore, there may not have been a clear statutory violation. In addition to audits, HRSA provides education to covered entities about 340B Program requirements and has implemented other efforts to identify noncompliance. For example, HRSA requires all covered entities to recertify their eligibility to participate in the 340B Program annually (e.g., self-attesting to compliance); and uses a self-disclosure process through which covered entities can disclose and correct self-identified instances of noncompliance. Covered entities can realize substantial savings through 340B Program price discounts, enabling them to stretch federal resources to reach more eligible patients and provide more comprehensive services. GAO was asked to provide information on HRSA's efforts to oversee covered entities' compliance with 340B Program requirements. This report describes (1) the audit findings that HRSA issued to address covered entity noncompliance with 340B Program requirements; and (2) other efforts HRSA uses to help ensure that covered entities comply with 340B Program requirements. GAO reviewed documentation, including relevant federal laws and regulations and HRSA's policies, procedures, and guidance, related to 340B Program oversight. GAO also reviewed HRSA data on the number and type of audit findings made from audits finalized during fiscal years 2012 through 2019 as of September 2020—the latest data available at the time of the audit. GAO also interviewed officials from HRSA, agency contractors, and 340B Program stakeholders. GAO provided a draft of this report to HHS for review. The agency provided written and technical comments on the draft, both of which were incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Debra A. Draper at (202) 512-7114 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Comparative Effectiveness Research: Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and HHS Continue Activities and Plan New EffortsBy Sam NewsNovember 18, 2020GAO found that the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)—a federally funded, nonprofit corporation—and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have continued to perform comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) activities required by law since our prior report issued in 2015. CER evaluates and compares health outcomes, risks, and benefits of medical treatments, services, or items. The requirements direct PCORI and HHS to, among other things, fund CER and disseminate and facilitate the implementation of CER findings. GAO's analysis of PCORI and HHS documents show that they allocated a total of about $3.6 billion for CER activities and program support during fiscal years 2010 through 2019 from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund (Trust Fund). Specifically, PCORI allocated about $2 billion for research awards and another $542 million for other awards, to be paid over multiple years. HHS allocated about $598 million for activities such as the dissemination and implementation of CER findings. PCORI and HHS also allocated about $470 million for program support. PCORI and HHS Allocations for Comparative Clinical Effectiveness Research (CER) Activities, Fiscal Years 2010 through 2019 aTotals may not add up due to rounding. bPCORI and HHS allocated $457 million and $13 million for program support, respectively. PCORI assessed the effectiveness of its activities using performance measures and targets. Since fiscal year 2017, when early CER projects were completed, PCORI officials reported that the institute met its performance targets, such as an increased number of research citations of its CER findings in news and online sources. HHS described accomplishments or assessed the effectiveness of its dissemination and implementation activities. PCORI and HHS officials told GAO they are planning comprehensive evaluations of their CER dissemination and implementation activities as part of their strategic plans for the next 10 years. The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) authorized establishment of PCORI to conduct CER and improve its quality and relevance. PPACA also established new requirements for HHS to, among other things, disseminate findings from federally funded CER and coordinate federal programs to build data capacity for this research. To fund CER activities, PPACA established the Trust Fund, which provided a total of about $3.6 billion to PCORI and HHS for CER activities during fiscal years 2010 through 2019. The Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, added new CER requirements and extended funding at similar levels through fiscal year 2029. PPACA and the Appropriations Act 2020 included provisions that GAO review PCORI and HHS's CER activities. This report describes (1) the CER activities PCORI and HHS carried out to meet legislative requirements, (2) how PCORI and HHS allocated funding to those CER activities, and (3) PCORI and HHS efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of their CER dissemination and implementation activities, such as changes in medical practice. GAO reviewed legislative requirements and PCORI and HHS documentation and data for fiscal years 2010-2019. GAO also interviewed PCORI and HHS officials and obtained information from nine selected stakeholder groups that were familiar with PCORI's or HHS's CER activities. These groups included payer, provider, and patient organizations. GAO incorporated technical comments from PCORI and HHS as appropriate. For more information, contact John Dicken at (202) 512-7114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Meet and Greet with U.S. Tri-Mission ItalyBy Sam NewsJune 27, 2021
- Justice Department Settles Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit Securing $342,500 for Two Female Firefighters and Changes to the Houston Fire Department’s Training PracticesBy Sam NewsOctober 26, 2020The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement with the City of Houston resolving allegations that personnel at Houston Fire Department (HFD) Station 54 discriminated and retaliated against former firefighter Jane Draycott in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII is a federal statute that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and religion.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at a Joint Press AvailabilityBy Sam NewsSeptember 8, 2021