Secretary Antony J. Blinken on National Land Use, Land Cover, and Ecosystems Monitoring System (SIMOCUTE) Initiative

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

San Jose, Costa Rica

Rutas Naturbanas

MODERATOR: Good afternoon. For Costa Rica it’s an honor to host the official visit of His Excellency Antony Blinken, Secretary of the United States of America. Also we are pleased to receive his distinguished delegation. For the Ministry of Environment and Energy, it’s a pleasure to host this event regarding nature-based solution for climate action in cities and its links with information systems. We give special thanks to the Central Bank of Costa Rica for being our meeting venue today. As mentioned before, we also greet Mrs. Claudia Dobles, first lady of the republic; Mrs. Andrea Meza, minister of environment and energy; Mr. Rodolfo Solano, minister of foreign affairs and worship; Mr. Andres Valenciano, minister of foreign trade; Mr. Rodrigo Cubero, president of the Central Bank of Costa Rica; and, of course, all the high authorities, members of diplomatic missions, private sector, non-state actors, ladies and gentlemen. With this, please now let’s hear our welcoming remarks from Mrs. Andrea Meza, minister of environment and energy. (Speaks in Spanish.)

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER MEZA: Good morning. Good morning to everyone here, and I will start by saying that all protocol is observed, so let’s feel free, in a comfortable place. We are between friends. Good morning, Secretary Blinken – (speaks in Spanish) – which is more than our first lady. She’s our team leader in sustainable mobility and green cities. (Speaks in Spanish) Rodolfo Solano, minister of foreign affairs; Andres Valenciano, minister of foreign trade; Rodrigo Cubero, thank you for hosting us, for hosting this event; deputy ministers, diplomatic representatives, U.S. delegation, friends, thank you for being here.

Secretary and friends, we’re so pleased to be sharing this wonderful setting where we can see the seeds of how we can be transforming our cities, making them greener, embracing nature with more public spaces, with sustainable buildings – cities planned for our citizens and not for our cars. And this is the vision for the future. This is the city that we want and the city that we are fighting for right now.

Yesterday, Secretary Blinken, we mentioned that Costa Rica wants to be a strategic partner to catalyze a more inclusive green resilient development model for the Central American region. And let me elaborate a little bit more of what we understand is this green resilient model. We understand that it needs a transformational change that will take us to a net zero emission and a nature-positive economy. We need to move from just trying to create growth to a more systemic approach to generate welfare for our citizens, to boost our economies, to generate jobs but within the planetary boundaries, and addressing inequalities, generating solutions that offer justice to the countries and communities that have done little to create the climate problem.

And we know we can achieve that vision, and it is critical to do it fast. This is what the science is telling us. But the good news is that we have the technology, we have the resources, and right now we have the political will. And this is what makes everything happen for this transformational change. We recognized yesterday that we need to put people in the center of our development model, and I would just add that it is people and nature.

This pandemic is showing us how interconnected we are. If we want to see and if we want to have healthy economics, we need – and healthy societies, we need healthy ecosystems. And if we want to address the climate crisis, we need nature-based solutions.

But this is also a matter of opportunities, and to build the economy of the future, which within is circular, green, and blue. We must acknowledge that nature is an asset, and that we’re doing a terrible job right now in managing this portfolio.

Let me just share one report, one data from the Dasgupta report. It says that between 1992 and 2014, produced capital per person doubled, and human capital per person increased by about 30 percent globally. But the stock of natural capital per person declined by nearly 40 percent.

Nature-related risk matters to the business community. And do you know why? There we have representatives from the business community here. Because over half of the world’s total GDP is moderately or highly dependent on nature. And a nature-positive economy could create more than 400 million jobs by 2030, and we want those jobs for this region. And this is why we’re creating all this. We’re launching our decarbonization plan. We’re having specific packages of policies for short, medium, and long-term actions for strategic sectors – transport, energy, industry, construction, circular economy, agriculture, and nature-based solutions.

But the implementation of these measures needs a whole-of-government approach, and a whole-of-society approach. This is why we’re working with the different sectorial ministries – transport, agriculture. We’re working with the central bank. We’re working with foreign trade. Because we need alignment in these policies. And we are committed with the goals of the Paris Agreement. And we are also clear that we need to generate these good enabling conditions to facilitate engagement of the private sector and civil society in this agenda.

And this is why we selected this place, because Rutas Naturbanas, the project behind this, it’s an example of how we can integrate these kind of visions. Rutas Naturbanas is a grassroots, citizen-led initiative that was started in 2016 by a group of people and organizations committed to climate action and urban renewal, with the mandate – and this is so nice; I love the mandate – to connect people to the city through nature. And here we have Federico Cartin, who is one of the leaders. And we also have Daniel Mikoski as our representative from some of the private sector that it is supporting the initiative.

What I will say is that this project is showing us that it is possible to have public-private partnerships to be transforming the city and to be implementing decarbonization visions.

We also have other good examples through the different, nice stories that we have with CRUSA and the support with a lot of different entrepreneurs, SMEs, so they can adopt green practices, and with other of our strategic partners, such as AED. They are here.

And the other element that has been very interesting with Rutas Naturbanas is that many of the partners are (inaudible) members. And crowdfunding by the foundation has been majorly made possible through American contributions. So we want to thank these.

And the other element for this transformation is to have a robust, good, technical information. We strongly believe in science and data-based policy-making processes. And this is why we’re celebrating the launch of the formalization of the Costa Rica Comprehensive National Land Use, Land Cover, and Ecosystem Monitoring System, SIMOCUTE, with the official announcement of the executive decree that was signed by the president, the minister of agriculture, justice, and by myself – again, another instrument that is showing that it is possible to have this integrated approach.

But this is – this was possible because of the long-term presence and sustained funding from the U.S. Government, and alongside other international agencies like FAO, so thank you very much for the support.

This is the other element that it is critical: whole of government, whole of society, good information. So Secretary Blinken, thank you for all the support the U.S. has given us at the national level. Thank you for continuing your leadership in mobilizing climate finance for nature-based solutions.

As we mentioned yesterday, we welcome the LEAF Coalition presented by the United Kingdom, the U.S., and Norway. We’re working to submit a proposal soon. Count on us to accelerate climate action. Count on us in the multilateral arena to continue raising ambition on our way to Glasgow. We want to have a success COP and we are committed to that. Count on us to work in the Central American region. We’re partners that share values. Thank you. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Muchas gracias, Minister. Thank you, Minister Meza.

We invite His Excellency Antony Blinken, Secretary of State of the United States of America to give his remarks. Excellency.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, good afternoon, everyone, and first, Madam Minister, thank you. Thank you for not just your good words, but your important words, and also thank you for the partnership that we have, the United States and Costa Rica, on maybe the most critical issue of our times, and that is preserving and protecting our environment, combating climate change, and saving our planet. We value this partnership and we look to it, I think, more and more in the years ahead.

And let me say, first of all, greetings to everyone. Madam Minister, First Lady, thank you for honoring us with your presence today, and I very much enjoy the opportunity to speak as we were walking down this extraordinary corridor that I think is an example, really, to the world of how you bring people together with their cities through nature. It’s a very powerful idea, but it’s not – it’s more than an idea. We see it realized right here.

And as we were discussing, there is a powerful impact on all of our lives when we have an opportunity, especially those of us who live in cities, to spend some time surrounded by green, to be near the water and the extraordinary rivers that you have, to hear that sound. It has a profound, positive effect, I think, on all of us, and it’s wonderful to see this realized in a practical way right here.

But to both of you, to my colleague Rodolfo, and to all of the ministers here today, I think your presence speaks to Costa Rica’s recognition that all parts of government and all parts of our society, including the private sector, have a role to play in tackling the climate crisis – and more than tackling it, bringing nature and people together in meaningful ways.

I’m also delighted to celebrate the launch of Costa Rica’s National Land Use, Land Cover, and Ecosystems Monitoring System, as the minister mentioned, SIMOCUTE.

This system will make it possible for Costa Rica to collect and integrate high-quality data on natural, agricultural, and biodiversity resources across the entire country. And the aim is not just to measure the impact of greenhouse gas emissions but also to inform better decision making when it comes to managing forests and lands.

Its origins can be traced back to a partnership between Costa Rican experts, a U.S. Government climate fellow, Dr. Randy Hamilton, and several Costa Rican and U.S. Government agencies including, I’m pleased and proud to say, the United States Department of State. And the effort incorporated a range of partners including from the UN Food and Agricultural Organizations and 25 Costa Rican institutions – some of whom I know are represented here today.

This is precisely the kind of collaboration and knowledge sharing across borders, public and private institutions that’s essential to effectively tackling the climate challenge and the climate crisis.

The data it generates will be available online for all to access allowing experts and citizens alike to study them, to track whether government and private actors are actually meeting their commitments. That degree of transparency – and engagement of the citizens – I think is a model that others can and should aspire to.

Of course, SIMOCUTE program is just a small part of Costa Rica’s longstanding global leadership on climate. That’s evident in the targets that Costa Rica has set to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Its proactive role in international climate change negotiations is pioneering use of debt-for-nature swaps.

And of course, what we know too is the powerful use and reliance on renewable energy here also sets a very, very strong example. Protecting nature by creating additional value for forests is at the heart of a new initiative the United States recently announced together with the United Kingdom, Norway, and nine leading companies at the climate summit that President Biden convened in April. And the minister referred to it – the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance Coalition. It’s a mouthful but the acronym, LEAF, is quite wonderful. It aims to mobilize at least a billion dollars this year to support tropical and subtropical countries in their efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

The concept is straightforward: generating verified emissions reductions can be rewarded with payments. These are the kinds of emissions SIMOCUTE is well placed to track. And given Costa Rica’s longstanding efforts to reduce deforestation and restore forests, we hope this is another area where indeed we can work together.

With nearly one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions today coming from forests, from agriculture, and other lands, this is an area where we must make significant and swift progress if we are going to avert a climate catastrophe.

I’d also like to thank Ambassador Lyster-Binns from the UK who I think is here today – somewhere – Ambassador. Good to see you. Thank you for your government’s partnership on this initiative.

I think we both know that this is not a battle that countries like Costa Rica can wage alone. Big emitters have their part to do.

The United States is prepared to lead by example, as President Biden demonstrated in the recent targets that he set for our country to cut emissions by at least half in 2030; to double the public international climate finance we provide, to $5.7 billion annually, by 2024.

And that brings me to my last point, which is why we are making such massive investments. Efforts to reduce emissions and build climate resilience are sometimes, maybe even often, presented as an impediment to growth, a strain on economies. But we believe that the climate crisis should be seen differently – as a once-in-generations opportunity to generate good-paying, sustainable jobs, something the minister also alluded to.

Every country in the world needs to reduce emissions, invest in climate resilience, capture more carbon dioxide. That’s an open space for innovation and broad-based growth – if only we seize it.

And I think that’s been Costa Rica’s experience, as Minister Meza pointed out at the climate summit, when she highlighted the millions of dollars in revenue that Costa Rica’s protected areas generate for communities, and the sustainable livelihoods that they support.

It is, as I said at the start, both a pleasure but also I think important that we are partnered in this effort. This is not just a once-in-a-generations opportunity, it’s in a sense a once-in-a-lifetime obligation that we have before us to try to get this right. We’re only going to succeed if we do it together, if we work in partnership, if we all meet our responsibilities and, in doing that, finding incredible opportunity in those responsibilities. So thank you so much for the warm welcome, but more important, thank you for what we’re doing, the United States and Costa Rica, every day to make progress for our people and for our planet. Thank you. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Thank you, your excellency. With this, now invite to the stage Mrs. Claudia Dobles, our first lady of the republic, to give her closing speech. Claudia.

MRS DOBLES: Good day to everybody. Your excellency, Mr. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State of the United States, thank you so much for your visit for you and your team. Good day to all the ministers, vice ministers, and everybody from the government, from civil society, from all the institutions that work with us as a team. Thank you for being here today.

I would like to start saying that Costa Rica, it’s very well known for pioneering innovative policies, like abolishing the army more than 70 years ago, for investing and focusing on our health care which is universal and is free. That has been a enormous pillar in fighting this sanitary crisis. Also, that we invested in our people. That is the best resources that we have in Costa Rica is the talent of our people. So we don’t have oil, we don’t have other natural resources possibly; we don’t even want to explore that because we are pretty much focusing on our people and our human talent.

President Alvarado when we started this administration said very accurately that climate crisis is a challenge of this generation and that we really need to act and we need to act now. And we are in a pivotal point to make decisions for the future. That’s why we focusing on how to make a more equitable society, how to put our communities in the center, how to put our people in the center, how to put the services that we needed to provide in the center while lowering our carbon emissions, transitioning in a very just and fair transition towards a decarbonized economy; how to provide a new system, a new paradigm. So that’s why facing that we launch a little bit more than two years ago our national decarbonization plan. And it is important to say that while this is going to tackle climate crisis, it’s more of a social economical development based on sustainability and based on our people that we are talking about. So that is very important and this is something that we keep saying to our communities, that these type of interventions, that providing this type of quality of life, this is decarbonization, this is our national decarbonization plan. It’s part of it.

It’s important to say that Costa Rica, it’s pretty well-known – I was saying to Secretary Blinken that Costa Rica, it’s pretty much well-known for our biodiversity, our beaches, our mountains, our rivers. And we have done a very good job on nature-based solutions, on carbon capture, on reforestation, conservation. But if we really wanted to achieve the goals that we have in our national decarbonization plan, we really needed to focus on our urban agenda and we really need to start talking about urban planning, territorial planning. We need to start talking about how can we interconnect the public services that we provide to our people in order to provide better quality of life in order to enhance public transportation to incorporate the concepts of sustainable mobility. How can we work with the national government and the local governments and the rest of our society to provide answers bottom-up?

If we really want to tackle our goals, we need to focus on this urban agenda. That’s why under the leadership of the wonderful minister of environment, which I really want to thank you for your leadership, I have to say that this has been a team work, a whole government that is completely committed, that shared a vision, that really is working to achieve that vision and to create enabling conditions to continue this transition while – before we move to the next administration so the next administration can continue this transformation.

So thank you to all the government and the staff members that have been – made this possible. I really – I really have to say that this is teamwork. It’s even more important when we think about the recovery plans that we need to provide in a post-COVID era, and that we really need to focus on a green recovery, and when we – when we were talking about our national decarbonization plan, we provided specific actions that provided investment plans for a resilient infrastructure that will create new jobs, that will create new markets, that will create new industries based on new, clean technologies, based on the culture of knowledge, and based on sustainability. So I think our national decarbonization plan is also our green recovery plan post-COVID.

And Secretary Blinken said something that I think is very important. Costa Rica cannot do it alone. We have a strong voice and I am very proud to say that Costa Rica has a strong voice on sustainability. But we are not fighting this fight alone. We know that this is a global fight and we know that we have strategic partners in this, and we are very, very happy and I think the world is very happy to see that under President Biden’s administration, the U.S. has a strong commitment, a huge commitment in climate – in climate change and climate crisis.

So thank you very much, Secretary Blinken, for you and your team, and I am sure that we will keep working together. As the Minister Meza said, count on us because we’re committed, and we share the vision, and we share the values. Thank you so much for your visit, and we’ll keep working. Thank you so much. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Muchas gracias, Dona Claudia. Ladies and gentlemen, with this we have concluded the event. Thank you for being here and have a great afternoon.

More from: Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

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    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and states ensure compliance with the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) primarily through inspections of farms. The states collect some information—such as the number of inspections they conduct—and provide that information to EPA as part of cooperative agreements between EPA and the states. The extent of use of the designated representative provision of the WPS, and its effect on the availability of pesticide information, are not known because EPA does not collect information on the use of the provision and does not coordinate with states to do so. EPA's guidance to states for conducting inspections encourages, but does not require, state inspectors to ask farmers and farmworkers about whether a designated representative has been used. EPA officials said that the agency has not asked states to collect information on the provision because the agency has focused on compliance with other aspects of the WPS. By coordinating with states, through the cooperative agreements or some another mechanism, to collect information on the use of the designated representative provision, EPA would be better positioned to determine whether the provision is serving its intended purpose. Some stakeholders have raised concerns about potential misuse of pesticide information, such as other farmers using the information obtained by a designated representative to gain a competitive advantage. However, EPA officials, state officials, and stakeholders told us they did not know of any instance in which a person serving as a designated representative misused the pesticide information obtained from farmers. Neither EPA's guidance nor its website explain the agency's expectations for appropriate use or describe how such information could be misused. EPA officials said that the agency has not explained what constitutes misuse. By explaining, in the agency's guidance, on its website, or through another mechanism, EPA's expectations about appropriate use of pesticide information obtained by designated representatives, including the misuse of such information, the agency could ensure designated representatives understand the importance of the information in reducing the consequences of pesticide exposure. Farmworkers Picking Strawberries at a Farm The use of pesticides contributes to U.S. agricultural productivity by protecting crops against pests or weeds, but this use may pose risks to human health. To reduce the consequences of pesticide exposure to farmworkers' health, EPA revised the WPS in 2015 to include a provision that allows a farmworker to identify a person who can request, for their benefit, certain pesticide information from their employer—this is called the designated representative provision. This report examines (1) what is known about the extent of use and effect of the designated representative provision on the availability of pesticide information and (2) what is known about any misuse of information obtained through the provision. GAO reviewed laws, regulations, and guidance, and interviewed officials from EPA and 13 selected states about how they implement and oversee compliance with the standard. GAO also interviewed stakeholders, such as farmer groups and farmworker advocacy groups. GAO is making two recommendations to EPA to (1) coordinate with states to collect information on the use of the designated representative provision and (2) take steps to explain, in guidance, on its website, or through another mechanism, the agency's expectations about appropriate use of pesticide information obtained by a designated representative and describe potential misuse of such information. EPA agreed, in part, to both recommendations. For more information, contact Steve D. Morris at (202) 512-3841 or morriss@gao.gov.
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    In U.S GAO News
    GAO identified advantages of, challenges related to, and options for improving the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) current organizational structure, based on GAO's review of prior work and interviews with IRS officials and stakeholders. For example, one advantage of the current structure, according to several interviewees, is that IRS's divisions have developed specialized expertise on different types of taxpayers with similar needs, such as small businesses. Several interviewees also believed that addressing some of IRS's challenges may not require significant changes to IRS's organizational structure. GAO and others have identified challenges and options to improve IRS's structure, processes, and operations in the following areas: (1) customer service; (2) communication and coordination within IRS; (3) technology; and (4) strategic human capital management and training. While developing its reorganization plan required by the Taxpayer First Act, IRS addressed or partially addressed all six of the key practices for agency reforms that GAO reviewed (see table below). GAO Assessment of IRS's Reorganization Planning Process against Key Reform Practices Key reform practice Extent addressed Establishing goals and outcomes ◑ Involving employees and key stakeholders ● Using data and evidence ● Addressing fragmentation, overlap, and duplication ◑ Addressing high-risk areas and long-standing management challenges ◑ Leadership focus and attention ● Legend: ● Generally addressed ◑ Partially addressed ○ Not addressed Source: GAO analysis of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) information. | GAO-21-18 IRS established a senior-level team—the Taxpayer First Act Office—to lead the reorganization planning, involved employees and key stakeholders, and used multiple sources of data and evidence to inform its planning. Although IRS has developed preliminary goals for the plan, it has not yet finalized and communicated the goals and performance measures for the plan. IRS has also researched potential actions it could take to address long-standing management challenges at IRS, such as those related to areas of fragmentation, overlap, duplication, and high risk that GAO has identified. However, IRS has not yet decided on specific actions to address those areas in its plan. IRS officials told us that they intend to take these additional steps, but COVID-19 delayed the completion of their reorganization plan to December 2020. As a result, it is still unclear whether the reorganization plan will have outcome-oriented goals and performance measures or whether it will identify specific actions to address long-standing management challenges. Taking these steps could help IRS identify and achieve the intended outcomes of the reorganization plan, and identify reforms that can create long-term gains in efficiency and effectiveness. The Taxpayer First Act required that a comprehensive written plan to redesign IRS be submitted to Congress by September 30, 2020. Reforming and reorganizing a federal agency as large and complex as IRS is not an easy task. However, a potential reorganization could provide IRS with an opportunity to address emerging and long-standing challenges. GAO was asked to review IRS's organizational structure and IRS's plans to reform it. This report examines (1) reported advantages of, challenges related to, and options for potentially improving IRS's organizational structure; and (2) the extent to which IRS's reorganization planning process is consistent with selected leading practices. GAO reviewed documents from IRS and other sources; interviewed IRS officials and stakeholders, including three former IRS commissioners; and assessed IRS's reorganization planning process against selected key practices for agency reform efforts developed by GAO. GAO is making three recommendations to IRS as it finalizes its reorganization plan, including that IRS should finalize goals and performance measures, and identify specific actions to address long-standing management challenges. IRS responded that it plans to implement GAO's recommendations when it submits its final reorganization plan to Congress in December 2020. For more information, contact James R. McTigue, Jr. at (202) 512-9110 or mctiguej@gao.gov.
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    In U.S GAO News
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    In U.S GAO News
    Following a decade of decline, including after the 2007–2009 financial crisis, the national homeownership rate started to recover in 2016 (see figure). Homeownership Rate in the United States, 1990–2018 Note: Shaded areas indicate U.S. recessions. However, not all Americans have benefitted from the recovery, even in housing markets that appear to be thriving. GAO examined homeownership trends during 2010–2018 in nine core-based statistical areas (cities)—Chicago; Cleveland; Columbia, South Carolina; Denver; Houston; Pittsburgh; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington, D.C. In summary, among the nine cities reviewed, GAO found that during 2010–2018: The homeownership rate declined or was flat in all cities. The homeownership rate significantly declined in Chicago, Cleveland, and Houston and remained statistically unchanged in the other cities. Average home prices grew in all cities, but at considerably different rates. For example, real house prices increased significantly in Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle but much less in Chicago, Cleveland, and Columbia. The homeowner vacancy rate dropped in all cities, indicating growing constraints on the housing supply. Most significantly, by 2018, the three cities with the largest house price increases—Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle—all had homeowner vacancy rates below 1 percent and the three lowest rental vacancy rates (below 5 percent), indicating more severe constraints on supply. Most cities became denser, and some also expanded outward. Cities such as Houston and Washington, D.C., both became denser (added more housing units in developed areas) and expanded outward (added housing units in previously undeveloped areas), while cities such as Seattle and Denver grew largely by adding more density to already high-density areas. Chicago, and Pittsburgh became less dense, as limited growth came largely through outward expansion. Homeowners and recent borrowers were increasingly higher-income. All nine cities saw growth in the estimated number and percentage of households reporting annual incomes of $150,000 or more (the highest income category reported by Census). Similarly, with the exception of Columbia, real median incomes of borrowers increased in the selected cities. Homeowners and recent borrowers were increasingly older and more diverse. Most cities saw growth in homeownership among households aged 60 and older, often with corresponding decreases among younger owners. Additionally, loan originations by minority borrowers increased in all cities. GAO's analysis of homeownership trends in these nine cities during 2010–2018 illustrates two main points: (1) Cities grew differently and accommodated growth to differing degrees, and (2) who owns and who can buy a home differs by location and type of buyer, sometimes substantially. Historically, owning a home has been one of the primary ways Americans built wealth and financial security. This is one reason why the availability and price of housing is consequential to both households and policymakers. GAO was asked to assess the state of the current domestic housing market and this report, one in a series, focuses on homeownership trends. To conduct this work, GAO used data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey and Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data (loan and application data filed by mortgage lenders), among other sources, to identify trends in nine selected cities during 2010–2018, the most current data available at the time of GAO's review. This report examines trends prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and does not account for the profound effect it likely will have on homeowners. GAO has ongoing work that will examine implementation of foreclosure and eviction protections authorized in recent legislation. GAO makes no recommendations in this report. For more information, contact Daniel Garcia-Diaz at (202) 512-8678 or garciadiazd@gao.gov.
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    In U.S GAO News
    The Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) is integral to supporting F-35 aircraft operations and maintenance. However, F-35 personnel at 5 locations GAO visited for its March 2020 report cited several challenges. For example, users at all 5 locations we visited stated that electronic records of F-35 parts in ALIS are frequently incorrect, corrupt, or missing, resulting in the system signaling that an aircraft should be grounded in cases where personnel know that parts have been correctly installed and are safe for flight. At times, F-35 squadron leaders have decided to fly an aircraft when ALIS has signaled not to, thus assuming operational risk to meet mission requirements. GAO found that DOD had not (1) developed a performance-measurement process for ALIS to define how the system should perform or (2) determined how ALIS issues were affecting overall F-35 fleet readiness, which remains below warfighter requirements. DOD recognizes that ALIS needs improvement and plans to leverage ongoing re-design efforts to eventually replace ALIS with a new logistics system. However, as DOD embarks on this effort, it faces key technical and programmatic uncertainties (see figure). Uncertainties about the Future F-35 Logistics Information System These uncertainties are complicated and will require significant planning and coordination with the F-35 program office, military services, international partners, and the prime contractor. For example, GAO reported in March 2020 that DOD had not determined the roles of DOD and the prime contractor in future system development and management. DOD had also not made decisions about the extent to which the new system will be hosted in the cloud as opposed to onsite servers at the squadron level. More broadly, DOD has experienced significant challenges sustaining a growing F-35 fleet. GAO has made over 20 recommendations to address problems associated with ALIS, spare parts shortages, limited repair capabilities, and inadequate planning. DOD has an opportunity to re-imagine the F-35's logistics system and improve operations, but it must approach this planning deliberately and thoroughly. Continued attention to these challenges will help ensure that DOD can effectively sustain the F-35 and meet warfighter requirements. The F-35 Lightning II is DOD's most ambitious and costly weapon system in history, with total acquisition and sustainment costs for the three U.S. military services who fly the aircraft estimated at over $1.6 trillion. Central to F-35 sustainment is ALIS—a complex system that supports operations, mission planning, supply-chain management, maintenance, and other processes. A fully functional ALIS is critical to the more than 3,300 F-35 aircraft that the U.S. military services and foreign nations plan to purchase. Earlier this year, DOD stated that it intends to replace ALIS with a new logistics system. This statement highlights (1) current user challenges with ALIS and (2) key technical and programmatic uncertainties facing DOD as it re-designs the F-35's logistics system. This statement is largely based on GAO's March 2020 report on ALIS ( GAO-20-316 ), as well as previous F-35 sustainment work. GAO previously recommended that DOD develop a performance-measurement process for ALIS, track how ALIS is affecting F-35 fleet readiness, and develop a strategy for re-designing the F-35's logistics system. GAO also suggested that Congress consider requiring DOD to develop a performance-measurement process for its logistics system. DOD concurred with GAO's recommendations and is taking actions to address them. For more information, contact Diana C. Maurer at (202) 512-9627 or maurerd@gao.gov.
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    In U.S GAO News
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الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية للبرنامج في السنوات المالية 2015-2019، وذلك اعتباراً من 30 سبتمبر/ أيلول 2020؛ (2) الخطوات التي اتخذتها الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية تجاه المشاريع الجارية ومستويات التوظيف عندما توقفت مساعدات صندوق الدعم الاقتصادي؛ (3) مدى امتثال الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية لسياساتها وإجراءاتها الخاصة بمكافحة الإرهاب للسنوات المالية 2015-2019. وقد راجع مكتب مساءلة الحكومة القوانين وسياسات الوكالة وإجراءاتها ووثائقها وبياناتها وقام بتقييم عيّنة قابلة للتعميم من 245 من الجهات الفرعية الحاصلة على المنح للتأكد من الامتثال لسياسات واجراءات الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية الخاصة بمكافحة الإرهاب. النتائج التي توصل إليها مكتب مساءلة الحكومة قدمت الحكومة الأمريكية مساعدات للفلسطينيين في الضفة الغربية وقطاع غزة لتعزيز السلام في الشرق الأوسط منذ عام 1993، جزئيا من خلال البرامج التي تُديرها الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية ويمولها صندوق الدعم الاقتصادي. وقد توقف هذا التمويل منذ 31 يناير/ كانون الثاني 2019. وبحلول 30 سبتمبر/ أيلول 2020، كانت الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية قد انفقت معظم أموال صندوق الدعم الاقتصادي التي تم تخصيصها لبرنامج الضفة الغربية وقطاع غزة في السنوات المالية 2015-2019. على وجه التحديد، انفقت الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية 487.3 مليون دولار من أصل 540.4 مليون دولار من مساعدات صندوق الدعم الاقتصادي للبرنامج في السنتين الماليتين 2015 و2016. وأعادت إدارة الرئيس ترامب برمجة الـ 230.1 مليون دولار التي كانت مخصصة للسنة المالية 2017 لبرامج أخرى ولم تخصص مبالغ للسنتين الماليتين 2018 و2019. وأعلنت السلطة الفلسطينية في شهر ديسمبر/ كانون الأول 2018 بأنها لن تقبل المساعدة بعد 31 يناير/ كانون الثاني 2019 بسبب مخاوف لديها بشأن قانون توضيح مكافحة الإرهاب (Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act) لعام 2018. ووفقاً لمسؤولين من وزارة الخارجية الأمريكية والوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية فإن القانون يتضمن أحكاماً يمكن أن تجعل الجهات المتلقية للمساعدات من صندوق الدعم الاقتصادي خاضعة لدعاوى قضائية أمريكية. وفي شهر يناير/ كانون الثاني 2021، أعلنت إدارة الرئيس بايدن نيتها إستئناف تقديم المساعدات الأمريكية للبرامج في الضفة الغربية وقطاع غزة. اتخذت الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية عدة خطوات بشأن المشاريع الجارية ومستويات التوظيف في بعثتها في الضفة الغربية وقطاع غزة بعد توقف تقديم المساعدة للبرنامج اعتبارا من 31 يناير/ كانون الثاني 2019. وقد أوقفت الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية 27 مشروعاً جارياً. كما توقفت الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية عن إعادة شغل الوظائف المصرح بها في بعثتها في الضفة الغربية وقطاع غزة، واقترحت تخفيضا في قوة العمل، ووضعت حوالي 50 موظفا في مَهام مؤقتة لأنشطة أخرى. ووفقا للوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية، فإنه اعتبارا من شهر مايو/ أيار 2019، طلبت لجان الكونجرس من الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية تعليق تخفيض الوظائف المُخطط له انتظاراً لاستمرار المداولات. وفي حين أن الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية لم تنهِ عمل موظفيها، إلا أن عدد موظفي البعثة انخفض بنسبة 39 بالمئة من ديسمبر/ كانون الأول 2017 وحتى سبتمبر/ أيلول 2020 بسبب مُغادرة الموظفين للبعثة وعمليات النقل والاستقالات. تُحدد سياسات وإجراءات مكافحة الإرهاب للوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية والخاصة بالضفة الغربية وقطاع غزة ثلاثة متطلبات لمُتلقي التمويل من صندوق الدعم الاقتصادي: الفحص بالنسبة للعديد من الجهات غير الأمريكية التي تتلقى المساعدات، وشهادات مكافحة الإرهاب لمُتلقي المِنَح أو الاتفاقيات التعاونية، وأحكام إلزامية تهدف لمنع الدعم المالي للإرهاب في جميع مِنَح المساعدات للجهات الرئيسية والفرعية. توصل مكتب مساءلة الحكومة إلى أنه بالنسبة للسنوات المالية 2015-2019، امتثلت الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية بشكل كامل لجميع المتطلبات الثلاثة عند منح المساعدات للجهات الرئيسية، غير أنها لم تتأكد بشكل متسق من إمتثال الجهات الفرعية الحاصلة على المساعدات. بالإضافة لذلك، أظهر تحليل مكتب مساءلة الحكومة لعيّنة المنح الفرعية القابلة للتعميم ومراجعات الامتثال الخاصة بالوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية وجود فجوات في الامتثال لمتطلبات الفحص والأحكام الإلزامية على مستوى المنح الفرعية. فعلى سبيل المثال، توصل التحليل الذي أجراه مكتب مساءلة الحكومة لمُراجعات الامتثال الخاصة بالوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية إلى أن 13 من أصل 86 تقريراً كان فيها حالة أو أكثر من عدم قيام الجهة الرئيسية الحاصلة على المنح بتضمين الأحكام الإلزامية، والتي تُغطي 420 من المنح الفرعية. قدمت الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية تدريباً للجهات الرئيسية الحاصلة على المنح سابقاً على تقديم المساعدة حول متطلبات مكافحة الإرهاب بالنسبة للجهات التي تحصل على المنح الفرعية، غير أنها لم تتحقق من أن الجهات الحاصلة على المنح لديها إجراءات للامتثال لهذه المتطلبات. وبالإضافة لذلك، أجرت الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية مراجعات للامتثال لاحقة على تقديم المنح الفرعية تمت بعد انتهاء المنحة الفرعية في بعض الأحيان، حيث كان الأوان قد فات لاتخاذ اجراءات تصحيحية. و في حالة استئناف تمويل صندوق الدعم الاقتصادي، فإن التحقق من أن الجهات الرئيسية الحاصلة على المنح لديها هذه الاجراءات، وإجراء مراجعات للامتثال لاحقة على تقديم المساعدة في وقت يسمح بإجراء التصحيحات من شأنه أن يضع الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية في وضع أفضل بالنسبة لتقليل مخاطر تقديم المساعدة للكيانات أو الافراد المرتبطين بالإرهاب. توصيات مكتب مساءلة الحكومة يوصي مكتب مساءلة الحكومة، في حالة استئناف التمويل، أن تقوم الوكالة الأمريكية للتنمية الدولية بـ (1) التحقق من أن الجهات الرئيسية الحاصلة على المساعدة لديها إجراءات لضمان 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