Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong Before Their Meeting

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Seoul, Republic of Korea

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

FOREIGN MINISTER CHUNG:  (Via interpreter.) I’d like to sincerely welcome Secretary Blinken on his visit to Korea.

The Korea-U.S. Alliance is the backbone of our diplomacy as well as the linchpin of peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia and across the world.  We see the continued development of the Korea-U.S. Alliance as the most important task of our diplomacy.

In this regard, we would like to extend our special welcome to the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense of the Biden-Harris Administration who are visiting Korea in the very beginning of their terms in office.  It clearly shows the new U.S. administration’s emphasis on its allies.

In particular, the fact that we concluded negotiations for the Special Measures Agreement (SMA), which was a long-pending issue, just before the visit by Secretary Blinken reaffirms the strength of the Korea-U.S. Alliance.

President Moon Jae-in also appreciates the direction of Korea-U.S. relations since the inauguration of the Biden-Harris Administration.  Particularly, the President highly appreciates that we are holding the ROK-U.S. Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meeting for the first time in five years.

During his phone conversation with President Biden last February, President Moon mentioned that Korea has full trust in the leadership of America, and as an ally that shares values, we will actively cooperate not only on Korean Peninsula and regional issues but also on global affairs.

Following the ROK-U.S. Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meeting, I hope the Korea-U.S. Summit can be held in the near future so that we can carry on the momentum for developing Korea-U.S. relations.

On account of today’s meeting, I hope that today’s meeting will serve as an opportunity to advance Korea-U.S. relations in a sound, mutually-beneficial, and comprehensive way.  I also look forward to building the momentum towards the firm establishment and substantive progress on the Korean Peninsula peace process with the outcomes of today’s meeting

Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, Mr. Minister, Eui-yong, thank you.  And it is so wonderful to be here with you.  We’ve had the opportunity to speak on the phone, and I was so looking forward to being here in person and to spending time with you and your team and our team.

If you’ll allow me, just before we begin today’s meeting, I want to mention the attacks that happened just a few hours ago in Atlanta, in which several women were killed, including, we believe, four women of Korean descent.  We’re horrified by this violence, which has no place in America or anywhere, for that matter.  And I want to offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who died and to everyone in the Korean community who is shaken and deeply disturbed by this incident.  We are as well, and we will stand up for the right of our fellow Americans and Korean Americans to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect.

That’s a sentiment that I know my counterpart shares, because we are united, ultimately, by shared values.  And that’s really one of the fundamental reasons that I’m so glad to be back in Seoul as part of my first trip overseas as Secretary of State.  Mr. Minister, I want to congratulate you on your appointment.  Since our first conversation on February 11th, we’ve already become partners.  I’m looking forward to working very closely together to continue to strengthen what is an indispensable alliance between our countries.

As you know, I’m joined on this visit, as you referenced, by Secretary of Defense Austin.  We’ll be here tomorrow for the 2+2 ministerial meeting with the – with you and with minister of defense, and, of course, to witness the initialing of the SMA.  It’s no accident that we chose the Republic of Korea for the first Cabinet-level overseas travel of the Biden-Harris administration, along with Japan.  This alliance between us is, as we’ve said, the linchpin for peace, for security and prosperity, not just for our two nations but for the Indo-Pacific region and, indeed, for the world.  The alliance is unwavering, it’s ironclad, and it’s rooted in friendship, in mutual trust, and in shared values.

Secretary Austin and I are here to reaffirm the United States commitment to the alliance but also to build on it with you.  We want to achieve our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, anchored by respect for human rights, for democracy, for the rule of law.  And we’ll work together to address what are daunting challenges that we both face, including, of course, a pandemic that has affected literally billions of people and devastated economies; warming temperatures and rising seas; more sophisticated and harmful cyber attacks.  None are challenges that any one nation can effectively confront alone.  To deal with them effectively, we need to work together, and we need to work together ever more closely.  That’s why we’re committed to deepening our cooperation across the board, whether it’s stopping COVID-19 and preventing future pandemics, investing in clean energy transformation, shoring up our cyber capability, readiness and resilience.

Another shared challenge, of course, is North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program, which are a threat to the region and to the world.  We’ll continue to work together with the ROK and other allies and partners, including Japan, toward denuclearization of the DPRK.

And, of course, we’re standing together in support of our shared values.  We believe in democracy because we’ve seen how it makes our own country stronger and because democracies are more likely to be stable, secure, open, committed to human rights, all of which is in the interests of the American people and the Korean people.

It’s critical that we stand up for these values, especially now, because we are witnessing a dangerous erosion of democracy around the world, including in this region.  In Burma, the military is attempting to overturn the results of a democratic election, brutally repressing peaceful protesters, gunning down youth who are simply demanding a say in their country’s future.  China is using coercion and aggression to systematically erode autonomy in Hong Kong, undercut democracy in Taiwan, abuse human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet, and assert maritime claims in the South China Sea that violate international law.  And the authoritarian regime in North Korea continues to commit systemic and widespread abuses against its own people.  We must stand with people demanding their fundamental rights and freedoms and against those who repress them.

For decades, the alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States has ensured the security and well-being of our people, and I think it’s our job not only to maintain our alliance, but to strengthen it so it can continue to provide that foundation for years – indeed, for decades – to come.  That’s why we’re here today, and I’m so grateful to you for this hospitality and look forward to getting down to work.  Thank you.

More from: Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

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    At the state and federal levels, GAO found weaknesses in the oversight of Medicaid managed long-term services and supports (MLTSS), which assist individuals with basic needs like bathing or eating. Through various monitoring approaches, six selected states identified significant problems in their MLTSS programs with managed care organization (MCO) performance of care management, which includes assessing beneficiary needs, authorizing services, and monitoring service provision to ensure quality and access to care. State efforts may not be identifying all care management problems due to limitations in the information they use to monitor MCOs, allowing some performance problems to continue over multiple years. Performance Problems in Managed Care Organization (MCO) Care Management, Identified by Selected States GAO found that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) oversight of state implementation of its 2016 requirements, and of access and quality in MLTSS more broadly, was limited. This hinders the agency's ability to hold states and MCOs accountable for quality and access problems beneficiaries may face. Oversight did not detect quality and access problems. GAO identified cases where CMS learned about problems not through its regular oversight, but instead from beneficiary complaints, media reports, or GAO. CMS officials said that states had not reported these problems to the agency. Lack of national oversight strategy and assessment of problems in MLTSS. Weaknesses in oversight reflect a broader area of concern—namely, that CMS lacks a strategy for oversight. CMS also has not assessed the nature and extent of access and quality problems across states. Without a strategy and more robust information, CMS risks being unable to identify and help address problems facing beneficiaries. As of July 2020, CMS had convened a new workgroup focused on MLTSS oversight, though the goals and time frames for its work were unclear. An increasing number of states are using managed care to deliver long-term services and supports in their Medicaid programs, thus delegating decisions around the amounts and types of care beneficiaries receive to MCOs. Federal guidance requires that MLTSS programs include monitoring procedures to ensure the appropriateness of those decisions for this complex population, which includes adults and children who may have physical, cognitive, and mental disabilities. GAO was asked to review care management in MLTSS programs. Among other things, this report examines state monitoring of care management, and CMS oversight of state implementation of 2016 requirements related to MLTSS quality and access. GAO examined documentation of monitoring procedures and problems identified in six states selected for variation in program age and location. GAO reviewed federal regulations and oversight documents, interviewed state and federal Medicaid officials, and assessed CMS's policies and procedures against federal internal control standards. GAO is making two recommendations to CMS to (1) develop a national strategy for overseeing MLTSS, and (2) assess the nature and prevalence of MLTSS quality and access problems across states. CMS did not concur with the recommendations. GAO maintains the recommendations are warranted, as discussed in this report. For more information, contact at (202) 512-7114 or yocomc@gao.gov.
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    A nurse formerly employed by an Ann Arbor, Michigan, health care consultancy was sentenced to 65 months in prison for defrauding employers of over $2.2 million and evading more than $697,000 in taxes, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Schneider for the Eastern District of Michigan.
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    Assistant Attorney General Beth A. Williams issued the following statement today on the efforts by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to enhance public and litigant access to electronic court records. This year, as part of its access to justice efforts, the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice partnered with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to improve transparency regarding fee exemptions for access to court records in the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. As part of that partnership, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts announced an enhanced PACER website that makes it easier for indigent individuals, as well as pro bono attorneys, academic researchers, and non-profit organizations, to understand how they may access court records for free.
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    ​​​​​​​A former Shelby County Deputy Jailer, William Anthony Carey, 31, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gregory F. VanTatenhove to serve 48 months in federal prison for violating the civil rights of an inmate in his custody.
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  • Science & Tech Spotlight: Agile Software Development
    In U.S GAO News
    Why This Matters Agile software development has the potential to save the federal government billions of dollars and significant time, allowing agencies to deliver software more efficiently and effectively for American taxpayers. However, the transition to Agile requires an investment in new tools and processes, which can be costly and time consuming. The Methodology What is it? Agile is an approach to software development that encourages collaboration across an organization and allows requirements to evolve as a program progresses. Agile software development emphasizes iterative delivery; that is, the development of software in short, incremental stages. Customers continuously provide feedback on the software's functionality and quality. By engaging customers early and iterating often, agencies that adopt Agile can also reduce the risks of funding failing programs or outdated technology. Figure 1. Cycle of Agile software development How does it work? Agile software development is well suited for programs where the end goal is known, but specific details about their implementation may be refined along the way. Agile is implemented in different ways. For example, Scrum is a framework focused on teams, Scaled Agile Framework focuses on scaling Agile to larger groups, and DevOps extends the Agile principle of collaboration and unites the development and operation teams. Scrum, one of the most common Agile frameworks, organizes teams using defined roles, such as the product owner, who represents the customer, prioritizes work, and accepts completed software. In Scrum, development is broken down into timed iterations called sprints, where teams commit to complete specific requirements within a defined time frame. During a sprint, teams meet for daily stand-up meetings. At the end of a sprint, teams present the completed work to the product owner for acceptance. At a retrospective meeting following each sprint, team members discuss lessons learned and any changes needed to improve the process. Sprints allow for distinct, consistent, and measurable progress of prioritized software features. How mature is it? Organizations have used versions of incremental software development since the 1950s, with various groups creating Agile frameworks in the 1990s, including Scrum in 1995. In 2001, a group of software developers created the Agile Manifesto, which documents the guiding principles of Agile. Following this, Agile practitioners introduced new frameworks, such as Kanban, which optimizes work output by visualizing its flow. The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), enacted in 2014, includes a provision for the Office of Management and Budget to require the Chief Information Officers of covered agencies to certify that IT investments are adequately implementing incremental development. This development approach delivers capabilities more rapidly by dividing an investment into smaller parts. As a result, more agencies are now adopting an incremental, Agile, approach to software development. For example, in 2016, the Department of Homeland Security announced five Agile pilot programs. In 2020, at least 22 Department of Defense major defense acquisition programs reported using Agile development methods.  As the federal government continues to adopt Agile, effective oversight of these programs will be increasingly crucial. Our GAO Agile Assessment Guide, released in 2020, takes a closer look at the following categories of best practices: Agile adoption. This area focuses on team dynamics, program operations, and organization environments. One best practice for teams is to have repeatable processes in place such as continuous integration, which automates parts of development and testing. At the program operations level, staff should be appropriately trained in Agile methods. And at an organizational level, a best practice is to create a culture that supports Agile methods. Requirements development and management. Requirements—sometimes called user stories—are important in making sure the final product will function as intended. Best practices in this area include eliciting and prioritizing requirements and ensuring work meets those requirements. Acquisition strategy. Contractors may have a role in an Agile program in government. However, long timelines to award contracts and costly changes are major hurdles to executing Agile programs. One way to clear these hurdles is for organizations to create an integrated team with personnel from contracting, the program office, and software development. Clearly identifying team roles will alleviate bottlenecks in the development process. Figure 2. Different roles come together to make an Agile software development team. Program monitoring and control. Many Agile documents may be used to generate reliable cost and schedule estimates throughout a program’s life-cycle. Metrics. It is critical that metrics align with and prioritize organization-wide goals and objectives while simultaneously meeting customer needs. Such metrics in Agile include the number of features delivered to customers, the number of defects, and overall customer satisfaction.  Opportunities Flexibility. An Agile approach provides flexibility when customers’ needs change and as technology rapidly evolves. Risk reduction. Measuring progress during frequent iterations can reduce technical and programmatic risk. For example, routine retrospectives allow the team to reflect upon and improve the development process for the next iteration. Quicker deliveries. Through incremental releases, agencies can rapidly determine if newly produced software is meeting their needs. With Agile, these deliveries are typically within months, instead of alternative development methods, which can take years. Challenges GAO has previously reported on challenges the federal government faces in applying Agile methods; for the full report see GAO-12-681. Lack of organizational commitment. For example, organizations need to create a dedicated Agile team, which is a challenge when there is an insufficient number of staff, or when staff have several simultaneous duties. Resources needed to transition to Agile. An organization transitioning to Agile may need to invest in new tools, practices, and processes, which can be expensive and time consuming. Mistrust in iterative solutions. Customers who typically see a solution as a whole may be disappointed by the delivery of a small piece of functionality. Misaligned agency practices. Some agency practices, such as procurement, compliance reviews, federal reporting, and status tracking are not designed to support Agile software development. Policy and Context Questions In what ways can Agile help the federal government improve the management of IT acquisitions and operations, an area GAO has identified as high risk for the federal government? How can policymakers implement clear guidance about the use of Agile software development, such as reporting metrics, to better support Agile methods? How might resources need to shift to accommodate the adoption of Agile in federal agencies? What risks could those shifts pose? What updates to agency practices are worth pursuing to support Agile software development? For more information, contact Tim Persons at (202) 512-6888 or personst@gao.gov.
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    The Justice Department today announced that it reached a settlement agreement with Service Minds Inc., dba Mister Sparky (Service Minds), a company that provides contract electrical services to residential customers in Florida and Alabama. The settlement resolves a claim that the company retaliated against a work-authorized job applicant, in violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), when he and his wife challenged a U.S. citizens-only hiring rule that a recruiter had wrongly claimed was the company’s policy.
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  • Two Doctors Charged in Illegal Opioid Distribution and Health Care Fraud Conspiracy
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