Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
On International Day of the Girl Child, the United States joins the global community in recognizing an inherent truth: all girls around the world deserve to live safe, healthy, and empowered lives. Girls are critical participants in our local and global communities, poised to be at the forefront of the world’s greatest challenges, including ending gender-based violence, addressing the climate crisis, and advancing racial and gender equity and equality.
The United States recognizes that girls face a unique set of challenges and barriers that impede the realization of their aspirations and full potential, including unequal access to education and healthcare, fear of violence, and challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States recognizes that we must do more to support girls, in all their diversity, because when they are fully empowered, we are all better for it.
From the promotion of girls’ education and leadership to the prevention and response to all forms of gender-based violence, the United States is partnering with girls and their communities to advance gender equity and equality and the participation of girls in all aspects of society. Disruptions in access to education due to COVID-19 will have lasting impacts on the most marginalized girls, with 20 million more secondary-aged girls likely to be out of school post-pandemic. Education is essential, and we are committed to ensuring that girls have equitable access to education through the enactment of reforms to eliminate educational disparities.
We also recognize that gender-based violence, inside and outside of schools, can impede a girl’s ability to learn. That is why we’re working to strengthen responses to sexual harassment and abuse in education and disincentivize child, early, and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation, practices that keep countless girls out of school. Through our diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility efforts, the United States strives to ensure that the aspirations of girls are limitless and that they see themselves represented in the highest levels of government because we know that diversity is our strength.
We are proud to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child, and today, like every day, the United States stands firm in its long-standing commitment to the empowerment and rights of girls, in all their diversity, because we know that societies in which girls are enabled to be full and free participants are safer, more secure, and more prosperous.
- [Protest of Forest Service Contract Award for Publication Support Services]By Sam NewsSeptember 10, 2021A firm protested a Forest Service contract award for publication support services, contending that the Forest Service conducted improper post-best and final offer (BAFO) discussions with the awardee. GAO held that the: (1) Service's consideration of the awardee's subcontracting approach constituted discussions and therefore it should have reopened discussions and allowed bidders to resubmit BAFO; and (2) Service conducted improper discussions with only the awardee after BAFO submission. Accordingly, the protest was sustained and GAO recommended that the Forest Service: (1) reopen discussions and request best and final offers; (2) make award to the bidder whose bid is determined to be the most advantageous to the government; and (3) reimburse the protester for its protest costs.[Read More…]
- Defense Health Care: DOD Needs to Fully Assess Its Non-clinical Suicide Prevention Efforts and Address Any Impediments to EffectivenessBy Sam NewsApril 26, 2021What GAO Found The Department of Defense (DOD) has a variety of suicide prevention efforts that are implemented by the military services (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps). These include clinical prevention efforts that are generally focused on individual patient treatment and interventions, as well as non-clinical efforts that are intended to reduce the risk of suicide in the military population. This includes, for example, training servicemembers to recognize warning signs for suicide and encouraging the safe storage of items such as firearms and medications. Officials with DOD's Defense Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO) told GAO that most ongoing non-clinical efforts are evidence based. Officials added that a suicide prevention effort is considered to be evidence based if it has been assessed for effectiveness in addressing the risk of suicide in the military population, which has unique risk factors such as a higher likelihood of experiencing or seeing trauma. These officials stated that newer efforts are generally considered to be “evidence informed,” which means that they have demonstrated effectiveness in the civilian population, but are still being assessed in the military population. DSPO officials further explained that assessments of individual prevention efforts can be challenging because suicide is a complex outcome resulting from many interacting factors. In 2020, DSPO published a framework for assessing the collective effect of the department's suicide prevention efforts by measuring outcomes linked to specific prevention strategies, such as creating protective environments. However, this framework does not provide DOD with information on the effectiveness of individual non-clinical prevention efforts. Having a process to assess individual efforts would help DOD and the military services ensure that their non-clinical prevention efforts effectively reduce the risk of suicide and suicide-related behaviors. GAO also identified impediments that hamper the effectiveness of DOD's suicide prevention efforts, including those related to the reporting of suicide data. Definitions. The military services use different definitions for key suicide-related terms, such as suicide attempt, which may result in inconsistent classification and reporting of data. These data are used to develop the department's annual suicide event report. DOD officials stated that this could negatively affect the reliability and validity of the reported data, which may impede the department's understanding of the effectiveness of its suicide prevention efforts and limit its ability to identify and address any shortcomings. Annual suicide reports. DOD publishes two yearly suicide reports through two different offices that are based on some of the same data and provide some of the same information, resulting in the inefficient use of staff. While these reports serve different purposes, improved collaboration between the two offices could help minimize duplication of effort and improve efficiency, potentially freeing resources for other suicide prevention activities. Why GAO Did This Study Suicide is a public health problem facing all populations, including the military. From 2014 to 2019, the rate of suicide increased from 20.4 to 25.9 per 100,000 active component servicemembers. Over the past decade, DOD has taken steps to address the growing rate of suicide in the military through efforts aimed at prevention. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 included a provision for GAO to review DOD's suicide prevention programs. This report examines DOD's suicide prevention efforts, including, among other objectives, (1) the extent to which non-clinical efforts are assessed for being evidence based and effective and (2) any impediments that hamper the effectiveness of these efforts. GAO examined suicide prevention policies, reports, and assessments and interviewed officials from DOD, the military services, and the Reserve components. GAO also interviewed officials at four installations and a National Guard site selected for variety in military service, location, and size.[Read More…]
- Survivors of Childhood Cancer: Factors Affecting Access to Follow-up CareBy Sam NewsJuly 31, 2020Stakeholders GAO interviewed and studies GAO reviewed identified three factors that affect access to follow-up care for childhood cancer survivors—individuals of any age who were diagnosed with cancer from ages 0 through 19. These factors are care affordability, survivors' and health care providers' knowledge of appropriate care, and proximity to care. Childhood cancer survivors need access to follow-up care over time for serious health effects known as late effects—such as developmental problems, heart conditions, and subsequent cancers—which result from their original cancer and its treatment. Affordability: Survivors of childhood cancer may have difficulty paying for follow-up care, which can affect their access to this care. For example, one study found that survivors were significantly more likely to have difficulty paying medical bills and delay medical care due to affordability concerns when compared to individuals with no history of cancer. Knowledge: Survivors' access to appropriate follow-up care for late effects of childhood cancer can depend on both survivors' and providers' knowledge about such care, which can affect access in various ways, according to stakeholders GAO interviewed and studies GAO reviewed: Some survivors may have been treated for cancer at an early age and may have limited awareness of the need for follow- up care. Some primary or specialty care providers may not be knowledgeable about guidelines for appropriate follow-up care, which can affect whether a survivor receives recommended treatment. Follow-up care may include psychosocial care (e.g., counseling), and palliative care (e.g., pain management). Proximity: Survivors may have difficulty reaching appropriate care settings. Stakeholders GAO interviewed and studies GAO reviewed noted that childhood cancer survivors may have to travel long distances to receive follow-up care from multidisciplinary outpatient clinics—referred to as childhood cancer survivorship clinics. The lack of proximity may make it particularly difficult for survivors with limited financial resources to adhere to recommended follow-up care. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that conduct activities specific to childhood cancer survivors, including research about access to care—have taken steps to implement three provisions in the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research Act of 2018 (Childhood Cancer STAR Act) relevant to access to care for survivors. For example, CDC has awarded a contract to develop software to improve the collection of information on individuals with childhood cancer, and NCI has funded three research projects focused on interventions aimed at addressing adverse outcomes among childhood cancer survivors. NCI has also funded research to study the health status and use of follow-up services of 2,000 young adult survivors. Stakeholders have raised questions about the ability of childhood cancer survivors to access needed follow-up care. According to the most recent data available, approximately 465,000 childhood cancer survivors—children, adolescents, and adults—were alive in the United States as of January 1, 2017. Although the 5-year survival rate for childhood cancer has increased from about 62 percent in the mid-1970s to about 86 percent in the mid-2010s, childhood cancer survivors may face late effects, which could require follow-up care across multiple stages of their lives. The conference report accompanying Public Law 115-245 included a provision for GAO to report on barriers to obtaining medical care for childhood cancer survivors, including psychosocial services and palliative care. This report identifies factors reported to affect access to follow-up care for this population. GAO spoke with officials from NCI and CDC and interviewed stakeholders such as providers who care for childhood cancer survivors, professional associations, and advocacy groups. Additionally, GAO reviewed peer-reviewed studies related to access to care for survivors, outcomes of treatment they may receive, and factors that may affect their access to follow-up care. To supplement this work, GAO reviewed the status of selected HHS activities to support access to care for childhood cancer survivors, including steps taken to implement selected provisions in the Childhood Cancer STAR Act. GAO provided a draft of this report to HHS for review and comment. HHS provided technical comments, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Jessica Farb at (202) 512-7114 or FarbJ@gao.gov.[Read More…]
- Presentation of the Sherman Award to the Honorable Judge Douglas H. GinsburgBy Sam NewsOctober 23, 2020Welcome to the Conference Center of the historic Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building. It is an honor to present the Sherman award to Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg this afternoon. We’re joined today by Judge Ginsburg’s wife Deecy and many of Judge Ginsburg’s colleagues and admirers. We’re particularly honored by the presence of Justice Gorsuch, a champion of liberty, who in his short time on the Supreme Court has reconfirmed his reputation for brilliance, clarity of thought and expression, and for holding the government to its word, whether in the statutes that it enacts or the treaties that it makes. I also welcome the distinguished guests who are with us virtually.[Read More…]
- Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited Agrees to Pay Over $18 Million to Resolve Charges Related to Bribery Scheme in BrazilBy Sam NewsJune 25, 2021Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited (Amec Foster Wheeler or the Company), a subsidiary of John Wood Group plc (Wood), a United Kingdom-based global engineering company, has agreed to pay $18,375,000 to resolve criminal charges stemming from a scheme to pay bribes to officials in Brazil in exchange for an approximately $190 million contract to design a gas-to-chemicals complex.[Read More…]
- Local man sentenced after shop owner shot in violent armed robbery attemptBy Sam NewsIn Justice NewsOctober 6, 2021A 41-year-old Corpus [Read More…]
- Justice Department Enters Agreement to Ensure Public Transportation for Passengers with Disabilities in the County of HawaiiBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021The Justice Department entered into a settlement agreement with the County of Hawaii and the County’s Mass Transit Agency (MTA) to resolve an investigation conducted under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).[Read More…]
- Warsaw Process Humanitarian Issues and Refugees Working Group Convenes in BrasiliaBy Sam NewsSeptember 27, 2020Office of the [Read More…]
- University of Miami to Pay $22 Million to Settle Claims Involving Medically Unnecessary Laboratory Tests and Fraudulent Billing PracticesBy Sam NewsMay 10, 2021The University of Miami (UM) has agreed to pay $22 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by ordering medically unnecessary laboratory tests, and submitting false claims through its laboratory and off campus hospital based facilities (“Hospital Facilities”).[Read More…]
- Designation of Republic of Guatemala Congressperson Boris España Cáceres Due to Involvement in Significant CorruptionBy Sam NewsJune 17, 2021Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
- On the Passing of Former Papua New Guinean Prime Minister MorautaBy Sam NewsDecember 30, 2020Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- DA investigator indicted on drug and money laundering chargesBy Sam NewsIn Justice NewsMay 2, 2021An investigator with the [Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Republic of Cyprus Foreign Minister ChristodoulidesBy Sam NewsJune 1, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
- Operational Contract Support: Actions Needed to Enhance the Collection, Integration, and Sharing of Lessons LearnedBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021What GAO Found The Department of Defense's (DOD) geographic combatant commands are improving efforts to collect operational contract support (OCS) issues from operations and exercises needed to develop lessons learned, but the military services are generally not collecting them. Currently, four of the six geographic combatant commands—U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Northern Command, and U.S. Southern Command—have identified OCS as a critical capability in their joint training plans and have incorporated it into planning, execution, and assessment of exercises, while U.S. European Command and U.S. Pacific Command continue to make progress doing so. However, with the exception of the Army, the military services and their component commands are not generally collecting OCS issues to develop lessons learned. Officials from the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy stated that the lack of OCS awareness caused by not having (1) service-wide guidance on collecting OCS issues and (2) an OCS training requirement for senior leaders hinders their ability to develop lessons learned. Without guidance and a training requirement for senior leaders to improve OCS awareness, it will be difficult for DOD to ensure consistent collection of OCS issues and build on efficiencies that the services have identified to adequately plan for the use of contractor support. DOD has made progress resolving some OCS issues, but does not have a focal point for integrating OCS issues identified through the Joint Lessons Learned Program (JLLP). The combatant commands and services are to use the JLLP to develop lessons learned related to joint capabilities from operations and exercises to improve areas such as doctrine and training. Currently, there are multiple organizations across DOD that are working on separate and sometimes disjointed OCS lessons-learned efforts. DOD has undertaken initial efforts to assign an OCS joint proponent with lessons-learned responsibilities. A joint proponent is an entity intended to lead collaborative development and integration of joint capability. However, DOD has not determined whether the joint proponent will be responsible for providing formal oversight and integration of OCS issues from the JLLP. As it develops the joint proponent, including such roles and responsibilities will help better position DOD to integrate all OCS issues from the JLLP, thereby addressing any gaps in its efforts. DOD organizations do not consistently use the Joint Lessons Learned Information System (JLLIS) to share OCS issues and lessons learned due to the system's limited functionality. JLLIS is the JLLP's system of record and is to facilitate the DOD-wide collection and sharing of lessons learned. However, GAO found that geographic combatant commands and the Army use JLLIS to varying degrees. Further, DOD is generally not sharing OCS lessons learned in JLLIS because the system is not functional for users searching OCS issues due to, among other reasons, not having an OCS label and not having a designated location for sharing OCS lessons learned. JLLIS's limited functionality impedes information sharing department-wide. Until DOD improves the functionality of JLLIS, it will be difficult for users to search for OCS issues, and DOD runs the risk of not being able to systematically track and share OCS lessons learned department-wide, which could negatively affect joint force development and readiness. Why GAO Did This Study DOD has spent billions of dollars on contract support during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002 and anticipates continuing its heavy reliance on contractors in future operations. Generally, OCS is the process of planning for and obtaining needed supplies and services from commercial sources in support of joint operations. GAO has previously identified long-standing concerns with DOD's efforts to institutionalize OCS. This report examines the extent to which (1) the geographic combatant commands and the services collect OCS issues to develop lessons learned, (2) DOD has a focal point for integrating OCS issues from the JLLP, and (3) DOD organizations use JLLIS to share OCS issues and lessons learned. GAO evaluated OCS and lessons-learned guidance and plans and met with DOD commands and offices responsible for OCS planning, integration, policy, and contractor-management functions.[Read More…]
- Three Former U.S. Intelligence Community and Military Personnel Agree to Pay More Than $1.68 Million to Resolve Criminal Charges Arising from Their Provision of Hacking-Related Services to a Foreign GovernmentBy Sam NewsSeptember 14, 2021On Sept. 7, U.S. citizens, Marc Baier, 49, and Ryan Adams, 34, and a former U.S. citizen, Daniel Gericke, 40, all former employees of the U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) or the U.S. military, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) that restricts their future activities and employment and requires the payment of $1,685,000 in penalties to resolve a Department of Justice investigation regarding violations of U.S. export control, computer fraud and access device fraud laws.[Read More…]
- Government Contractor Admits Scheme to Inflate Costs on Federal Projects and Pays $11 Million to Resolve Criminal and Civil ProbesBy Sam NewsDecember 21, 2020Schneider Electric Buildings Americas Inc. (Schneider Electric), a nationwide provider of electricity solutions for buildings and data centers with its principal place of business in Carrollton, Texas, will pay $11 million to resolve criminal and civil investigations relating to kickbacks and overcharges on eight federally-funded energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs), the Department of Justice announced today. Under the contracts, Schneider Electric was to install a variety of energy savings upgrades, such as solar panels, LED lighting, and insulation, in federal buildings.[Read More…]
- 7 Things to Know About the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover MissionBy Sam NewsIn SpaceSeptember 26, 2020NASA’s next rover [Read More…]
- Justice Department Acts To Shut Down Fraudulent Websites Exploiting The Covid-19 PandemicBy Sam NewsAugust 12, 2020The United States Department of Justice announced today that it has obtained a Temporary Restraining Order in federal court to combat fraud related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The enforcement action, filed in Tampa, Florida, is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts prioritizing the detection, investigation, and prosecution of illegal conduct related to the pandemic. The action was brought based on an investigation conducted by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in coordination with the Vietnam Ministry of Public Security.[Read More…]
- Briefing With Western Hemisphere Affairs Assistant Secretary Brian A. Nichols On the Secretary’s Upcoming Travel to Colombia and EcuadorBy Sam NewsOctober 18, 2021Brian A. Nichols, [Read More…]
- Mongolia Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsIn TravelSeptember 26, 2020Reconsider travel to [Read More…]