Senior Administration Officials Preview of National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken’s Trip to Anchorage, Alaska

Office of the Spokesperson

VIA TELECONFERENCE

MODERATOR:  Hi, everyone.  Good evening.

Our call today is going to be attributed to senior administration officials.  Our speakers today are and .  Again, on background, to SAOs, and the contents of this call are embargoed until its conclusion.

With that, I will turn it over to to open us up.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE:  Well, thanks so much, , and thanks to all of you for joining us on the line this evening.  I want to start off by situating the Anchorage meeting in the context of our broader Indo-Pacific Strategy, which many of you have seen that we’ve been rolling out on quite rapidly.

But starting on our approach to China as part of that broader Indo-Pacific Strategy, we’ve been clear from the beginning that there are three main pieces to our approach to China.  The first is strengthening ourselves at home, and we see the – addressing the economic recovery, pandemic response, enhancing our competitiveness as absolutely critical and key to that.  We’ve now seen in the 50-odd days under our belts here the American Recovery Act passed.  We’ve seen vaccine distribution accelerated on a pretty significant scale.  We’ve seen a lot of positive trend lines on what we can do at home on core domestic sources of strength.  We’ve got more work to do, but we feel like we are off to a pretty good start with the domestic efforts that are going to give us the sources of strength that we need to compete with China and to have an affirmative approach to the Indo-Pacific region.

The second piece of it is our allies and partners and our work in international institutions.  I think that all of you will have seen – and, of course, you’ve got the Secretary of State currently in the region, which I’ll leave to to speak to – but we have had early and intensive engagements, virtually and now in person, to move out aggressively with our allies and partners.  And this is about working with our allies and partners on our shared interests and our shared values, but also in terms of understanding where we face similar challenges, including from China.

I think sometimes folks think of our allies and partners piece here as just being about choreography, that somehow we just need to talk to our allies before we talk to China.  And I want to stress that that’s actually not the case.  Obviously, that sequencing is part of the equation here, but we’re working actually with allies and partners to strengthen our hand.  I think that the Quad last week was probably the most important very clear illustration in practical terms of exactly what we’re trying to achieve here, bringing together the four leaders in a virtual summit for the first time to actually do something together that we couldn’t do individually, particularly on the vaccine distribution deliverable.  That was big and affirmative for the region.  This isn’t just about something that is here to counter China; this is about something that’s actually about doing something that enhances our leverage, enhances the quality of life in the region in meaningful ways.

And so that work is well underway.  I’d also just note that our diplomacy as it relates to the Indo-Pacific is not limited just to the Indo-Pacific.  We have been engaged in some pretty intensive diplomacy with our European partners and allies on the Indo-Pacific region, including on China.  We’ve had a series of engagements at all levels with European partners and allies.  We’ve been doing a bit of a virtual roadshow with a number of different capitals, having interagency conversations with key interlocutors there to really compare notes.

And two, we’ve always said that the domestic piece, strengthening ourselves at home, and then working with allies, partners, and international institutions to strengthen ourselves globally is really key to setting up how we are going to both confront China where it is undermining our interests and values, and where we’re going to cooperate with China where we have an interest in doing so.  I think that it’s really important that that is the backdrop for our conversations in Anchorage.  We are coming in with what we feel like is an increasing – increasingly strong hand to come to the table with our Chinese interlocutors.

I think that the conversations in Anchorage are very much intended as an initial discussion to understand one another’s interests – sorry, our interests, intentions, and priorities, and frankly, to get a bit of an understanding of where the Chinese are at.

We think it’s really important that our Chinese interlocutors hear from Secretary Blinken and from National Security Advisor Sullivan directly about our priorities and about our intentions.  We know that sometimes there is a sense, potentially a perception, or maybe it’s a hope, in Beijing that our public message is somehow different than our private message.  And we think it’s really important that we dispel that idea very early and that we’re very clear with delivering the same messages in private that you have heard from us in public.  That includes making very clear our deep concerns about a range of issues, whether it’s Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Chinese economic coercion of our allies and partners, China’s increasingly aggressive activities across the Taiwan Strait.  We will absolutely make those points very clear.  But this is really about having a broader strategic conversation, it’s about communicating the areas where we intend to take steps, and it’s about understanding where our Chinese interlocutors are at.

Let me just make a couple of other specific points on the meeting itself and the goals around it.  I know you’ve heard this from folks already, but just to reinforce it, that this really is a one-off meeting.  This is not the resumption of a particular dialogue mechanism or the beginning of a dialogue process.  This is very much about sitting down, getting an understanding of each other, and then taking that back and taking stock.  Many of you know that we are in the middle of a pretty extensive China strategy development process, and the inputs that we’re getting from our allies and partners are really core to that understanding where we have some opportunities to work together and where we can best build shared leverage.  But in putting where our Chinese interlocutors are at as well, what we will hear from Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi in this conversation will be important to informing where we go in our China strategy going forward.  And so we think it’s really important to get that.

I also want to underscore one point, which I know that this is a little bit of a unique configuration.  We’ve not had the national security advisor and secretary of state meet together with their Chinese interlocutors previously, and we actually think that this is really important, not just in terms of something for show; but rather, we’ve seen a track record from China in the past of attempting to try to play favorites within an administration and, in particular, to play the secretary of state and national security advisor off each other.  I’ve worked on China at both the State Department and the NSC previously, and I’ve seen this in action.  And we felt it was really important to underscore from the get-go that this administration is unified and coordinated when it comes to China policy, and that the President’s two closest foreign policy and national security advisors were going to be sitting down together to have this conversation, that there is not going to be daylight, and that the games that China has played in the past to divide us or attempt to divide us are simply not going to work here.  And so this is a very deliberate and visual demonstration of that from the get-go that we think is really important for helping to inform and shape how China seeks to engage with us.

The last thing I would say before turning it over to is that I know there is a lot of questions from folks about whether we’re going to get into detail of negotiating some of the specific issues that are outstanding in the U.S.-China relationship.  And our own view is that we’re simply not there yet.  We need to have more detailed conversations with our allies and partners, that it’s really important that we take this deliberate time to understand actually sort of what the landscape is and how to best position the United States for success in this competition.  And that means getting inputs from a variety of places and putting it in a hopper and understanding actually what’s going to give us the best hand.

And so the conversation in Anchorage is really going to be at that broader strategic level, where we will touch on some specific issues but aren’t expecting to come out with specific negotiated deliverables that will answer the questions.  Rather, this is just the beginning of that process.

So with that, let me hand it over to my colleague over at the State Department.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO:  Thank you so much, .  Let me just point out, as you – mentioned all the great diplomacy that is happening all over the world but particularly here in the East Asia region.  As folks probably are tracking, Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin had superb meetings with their Japanese counterparts yesterday and today the team is looking forward to a full day of engagement with our Korean counterparts.  I think it’s worth pointing out that we’re receiving extraordinary hospitality from these two allies of ours in the midst of a pandemic, which I think really goes quite a ways to showing how important these alliances are.  And of course, the fact that these are the first overseas trips by Biden Cabinet officials I think also makes very clear the point that was making earlier about how much we’re focusing on conversations and getting ourselves aligned with our partners and allies.

I think did a great job of laying out what we expect to get out of Anchorage.  The only point I would add on that is the – Beijing has been talking about its desire to change the tone of the relationship, and of course, we’re going to be looking at deeds, not words on that front.  And we’re of course coming to these discussions with a very clear-eyed view about the PRC’s pretty poor track record of keeping its promises.

So with that, I’m happy to turn it over, , for Qs and As.  Thanks.

MODERATOR:  Thanks very much, everyone.  Operator, if you could please open the lines for our first question.

OPERATOR:  Absolutely.  Ladies and gentlemen, if you do have questions, press 1 then 0 on your touch tone phone.  You’ll hear an indication that you’ve been placed into queue, and you may remove yourself from queue by repeating the 1 then 0 command.  If you’re using a speaker phone, please pick up your handset before pressing any buttons and make certain your phone is unmuted before asking your question.

We’ll go first to the line of Nick Schifrin with PBS.  Go ahead, please.

QUESTION:  Hey, .  Hey, .  Thank you for doing this.  Two questions.  The last time the U.S. met Yang Jiechi, the administration asked that there would be no follow-on meetings specifically until there was a behavior change from Beijing.  Is that the same approach that you’re taking?  And a 30,000-foot question:  Do you believe that Xi Jinping is willing to change his behavior based on U.S. pressure?  Thanks.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE:  Hi, operator, are you there?  I think we might have muted the speaker.

OPERATOR:  Yes, we’ll go —

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE:  I’m – oh, I’m sorry.  That was me muting myself.  I apologize.

OPERATOR:  No worries.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE:  (Laughter.)  Nick, I was giving you a great answer there.  Great to hear from you.  So on your question, what I would say is that as just made clear, we believe particularly as Beijing is professing an interest in a change in tone in the relationship, what we’re looking for is deed more than word.  I think said that exactly right.  And that, of course, does mean that we’re going to lay down some specific areas where we believe that Beijing does need to take some steps to change course.  And you’ve probably seen some comments specifically about China’s economic coercion in some of our allies, including Australia, that we do believe need to change before we can take substantial steps forward in the relationship.  And so that is absolutely one of the factors that we are looking at here as we map out the way forward, but I agree with ’s point on being very clear-eyed and realistic about what that might mean.

OPERATOR:  We will go next to the line of Christina Ruffini with CBS News.

QUESTION:  Hi, everybody.  Greetings from Japan.  I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how this meeting came about – who reached out to whom, who initiated it, how the venue was chosen, and what kind of format we’re going to see in Anchorage.  Thanks so much.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE:  Hey, thanks for the question.  So what I would say is that the U.S. felt that, number one, the timing of the meeting needed to occur after we had taken some of those steps to really strengthen ourselves that I laid out at the top – domestic renewal and reinvestment and some substantial engagement with allies and partners – and that it was very important to us that we had some of that work meaningfully underway before we had an engagement with our Chinese interlocutors at a senior level.  And we’ve made clear to them from the get-go that the lines of communication are open.  We think that’s important.  But again, in terms of a high-level meeting, that that needed to wait until we had some of those other steps in motion.

The other thing I’d say is that we also felt it was really important that we host the meeting on U.S. soil.  We just felt for a variety of reasons that being on our own territory was extremely important for this meeting and of not attempting to meet in China.  And so that’s – and then I guess the last piece of it is in terms of the venue.  A lot of it was sort of practicality involving travel and COVID protocols and challenges of meeting in different places, and so we sort of landed here for a variety of reasons, but that’s kind of how we ended up with that.

But I do just want to underscore the point again of feeling very important, and I think Jen Psaki had said this from the podium previously, of actually hosting on U.S. soil as a key piece of this.  I don’t know if wants to add anything on that.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO:  Yeah, thanks, .  You hit the point about the way the travel arrangements worked out.  So, of course, Secretary Blinken and company will be traveling back from Korea and then – and Alaska makes a pretty good midpoint stop.  And clearly, the fact that Director Yang is willing to come out to the States again, I think that we certainly welcome that.  He made two visits in the last years of the previous administration.  I think he was both in New York and in Honolulu, so happy that we’ll be able to welcome him to Alaska.  Over.

OPERATOR:  We will go next to Owen Churchill with the South China Morning Post.  Go ahead, please.

QUESTION:  Hi there.  Can you hear me?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE:  Yep.

QUESTION:  Great, thanks so much for doing this.  A couple of quick questions.  Just a broad one first about how you would characterize success and failure, respectively, when it comes to your expectations for this meeting.  And then a second question about logistics:  Are you anticipating releasing a joint statement after this, or would there be separate readouts from either side?  Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE:  There will not be a joint statement.  I’m happy to take that one first.  I guess in terms of the question of what does success look like, I want to situate this again in terms of a process.  And I recognize that that is not necessarily the glitziest of a headline, but we really see this meeting, again, as both part of the broad Indo-Pacific diplomatic work underway and very much one piece of a continued ongoing – and there will be more to come after this, right?

And so I see this as being one data point in that overarching strategy and approach that we are running right now, and so I think the – frankly, a failure would be if somehow this meeting were to be seen to somehow be divorced from that overall strategy.  And that’s why I think it’s really important for us that these conversations be situated – by the way, including the conversations we will have in the room in Anchorage – will be situated in what we are trying to achieve in our broader priorities across this administration.

And so for us, our China strategy fits within our broader Indo-Pacific Strategy, sits within our broader approach to national security.  And you could see that in the Interim Strategic Guidance document that the administration released a couple weeks ago.  And so I think that’s a really critical piece of this.

And I think success – again, put this really well, so I just – I’m going to just keep quoting him back here, which is this is about understanding will there actually be any change indeed, but I think our expectations are really realistic there.  And so for me, that’s not necessarily where my focus is going to be.  It’s going to be much more understanding over time how do we – how do we shape that behavior change that we’re trying to seek.  probably has other even more insightful thoughts on this.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO:  Hey, don’t raise the bar on me like that, .  No, actually, I would say, look, success – , you said it up front.  I mean, we don’t have any unrealistic expectations for sure, but we do think it’s an opening to open up these lines of communication and for our principals to be very, very blunt with their principals about the long list of concerns, quite a few of which ticked off at the top.  We don’t want them to be operating under illusions about our tough-minded approach to their very problematic behavior.  And on the other hand, of course, it’s an opportunity for our guys to hear from them.  So without raising expectations unduly, I think we’re looking to have a nice, robust, and very frank conversation with a power that is going to be a major competitor of ours.  So it’s good that we’re opening up these channels of communication.  Over.

OPERATOR:  We’ll go to the line of Lara Jakes with New York Times.  Go ahead, please.

QUESTION:  Hi, good morning from Japan.  It’s a beautiful day here.  I wanted to pick up on what you just said, .  And I’m wondering, as the United States’ principals are just as blunt about your expectations, what happens if the Chinese come to the table and they are just as blunt about their expectations?  They’ve been very clear in saying the United States should not be meddling in what they see as internal issues for China.  What does that portend for the future of the relationship if they come to the table and they say, no, these are our principles, and we don’t expect to move from that?

And then also, , I was wondering if you could just very quickly elaborate a little bit on what you said about how this may be the first time that a secretary of state and a national security advisor have sat down jointly with their Chinese counterparts.  Are you making reference to the previous administration or to the Obama administration or going back to the Bush administration?  How far back does that go?  Thank you so much.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO:  Guess I’ll try the first part there.  Look, Secretary Blinken has said that the relationship with China, we – it’s going to be competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be.  And if we get to issues where we just have very different views, it’ll be good to – it’ll be good for both sides to hear one another out.

But our view is, listen, we’re not asking the PRC to do anything other than abide by the international rules of the road, to honor its obligations, and to take – as said, take actions consonant with their words.  They talk about being a responsible champion of the multilateral system, but their deeds fall far short of that in many, many respects.

So yeah, clearly, if we happen to have some serious disagreements in Anchorage, I’m not very confident that we’re going to be able to persuade the Chinese of the error of their ways and the righteousness of ours just over the course of a couple of hours’ worth of talks.  But I think it is important that each side know where the other does stand.  Over.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE:  Yeah, I think put that really well.  The only thing I would just add on that point is that many of the things that China professes are internal matters of concern are of concern to a great number of countries, not just the United States.  And so we see these not just as issues in the bilateral context, but as issues of global concern, and in some cases, growing global concern.  We see that in particular on Xinjiang.  We see that on Hong Kong, where you’re seeing mounting not only condemnation but action by a number of countries to really make clear that China’s violation of international rules, norms, and universal values does have consequences for its relationships and its engagements with other countries.

On the history, I think we’d have to actually take that and get back to you on that, in terms of has a national security advisor and secretary of state ever sat in the room together.  My point is largely in terms of a meeting like this, a standalone meeting like this where there is this kind of configuration.  We’d have to go back and check if there’s ever been a previous instance where one or the other joined them in a meeting in Washington, D.C. or something like that.

OPERATOR:  We will go to the line of Andrea Mitchell from NBC.  One moment, please, while we open your line.  Your line is open.  Go ahead, please.

QUESTION:  When you said you were going to raise – when you said you were going to raise all these issues, can you highlight what you think are the most critical issues that you definitely plan to raise?  And what role will the cyber issue and Microsoft play in any expectations of actions, impending actions against China?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE:  Thanks, Andrea.  I’m going to confess that I don’t want to give the Chinese our whole playbook in advance.  So I’m going to save some of the answers of the most important issues that we plan to raise until we can read out things to you guys afterwards.  I hope you’ll be understanding of that.  But obviously, some of the pieces that I mentioned earlier – Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, economic coercion of allies that you’re well familiar with, our concerns about China’s actions to impinge on freedom of navigation – it’s taking increasingly aggressive actions with respect to some of those spaces as well, but of course we have concerns about – in the technology space, in the economic space.  So – but we will in our readouts afterwards be able to give you a little bit more of a prioritized sense and a little bit more on maybe the nature of how we’ve raised those things when we’re not going to be tipping our hand quite so much.

But cyber is absolutely an issue that we plan to discuss.  Our U.S. concerns about Beijing’s malicious cyber activity is not new, but it’s a continued and ongoing concern and reports about recent activity only heighten that.  And so this is definitely an issue where I think that we will be making a very clear point about our concerns and I think we’ll have more for you, again, on that after the – after the meeting.

OPERATOR:  For our last question we will go to Paris Huang with Voice of America.  Go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hi, can you hear me?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE:  Mm-hmm.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO:  Yes.

QUESTION:  So, yes, thank you for doing this.  My question is you talked about before this meeting, United States had talked with allies and partners in Asia and Europe.  So where do you see Russia’s role play in the United States and China relationship?

And also, China have influence over Africa and Latin America as well; for example, the One Belt and One Road Initiative has extended over there as well.  Did the United States talk to the countries over there before this meeting?  Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE:  I’m going to defer – those are largely, I think, areas.  Why don’t I defer to on that.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO:  Sure, that’s a great question.  Thanks very much.  And yes, look, the State Department is absolutely practicing the same diplomatic outreach that was referring to with our partners and allies across the globe.  We have been in very, very close contact with capitals in Latin American and Africa, Central and Southeast Asia about all of our common agenda, whether it’s things like addressing the COVID pandemic, climate, and, of course, resisting coercion and aggressive behavior by powers like China and Russia.  So those conversations are global in scope.

You asked about in particular the role of Russia vis-a-vis China.  I mean, neither nor I are Russia experts, but I would say to our colleagues that do cover Russia, in many ways I think Russia poses a similar set of challenges, perhaps not quite on the same scope and scale that China does, but ones that we feel the best way to push back on is by making a common cause, again, with our close allies and partners and making sure that we’re holding them accountable when they take actions that run counter to sort of the international rules of the road, the international system that for seven or eight decades now has helped enable the entire planet to enjoy great levels of peace and prosperity.  So I think probably a question that our Europe colleagues could answer in more detail, but I think the same general approach.  Thanks.  Over.

MODERATOR:  Great.  Thanks, everyone, for joining us tonight, and for our friends in Asia, have a good morning.  Reminder, again, we are on background, attributed to senior administration officials, and with the conclusion of this call, the embargo is lifted.  Thank you.

 

More from: Office of the Spokesperson

Hits: 0

News Network

  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken Virtual Remarks at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Multilateralism
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • U.S. Marshals Operation Results in Recovery of 27 Missing Children in Virginia
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department [Read More…]
  • Joint Statement on Extended “Troika” on Peaceful Settlement in Afghanistan
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Georgia Correctional Officer Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Offense for Assaulting Inmate
    In Crime News
    Brian Ford, 23, a correctional officer at the Valdosta State Prison (VSP) in Valdosta, Georgia, pleaded guilty today to one count of using excessive force against an inmate housed at the facility.
    [Read More…]
  • Tonga Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel [Read More…]
  • Troubled Asset Relief Program: Treasury Continues Winding Down Housing Programs
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) continues to wind down housing assistance programs funded by the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Treasury has extended one program to assist certain program participants who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, although limited program funds remain at this point. As of September 30, 2020, Treasury had disbursed $30.85 billion (95 percent) of the $32.56 billion TARP funds obligated to the three housing programs (see figure). The Making Home Affordable program allowed homeowners to apply for loan modifications to avoid foreclosure. Treasury will continue to provide incentive payments for loan modifications through 2023. The Housing Finance Agency Innovation Fund for the Hardest Hit Housing Markets provided funds to 18 states and the District of Columbia to help struggling homeowners through programs tailored to the state. Treasury extended this program through June 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic's negative economic effects on some program participants. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Short Refinance program allowed eligible homeowners to refinance into an FHA-insured loan. Under this program, Treasury made TARP funds available to provide additional coverage to lenders for a share of potential losses on these loans for borrowers who entered the program by December 31, 2016. Status of Troubled Asset Relief Program Housing Programs, as of September 2020 aAccording to the Department of the Treasury (Treasury), these funds have been committed to future financial incentives for existing Making Home Affordable transactions, as of September 30, 2020. bRepresents the amount of funds that states and the District of Columbia have drawn from Treasury. cIncludes about $11.6 million in administrative expenses and $10 million of reserve funds, as of September 30, 2020. Treasury will be reimbursed for unused reserve amounts. dAmounts do not add up due to rounding. In response to the 2008 housing crisis, Treasury established TARP-funded housing programs to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure and preserve homeownership. Since 2009, Treasury has obligated $32.56 billion for such housing programs. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 provided GAO with broad oversight authorities for actions taken related to TARP. This report provides an update on the status of TARP-funded housing programs, as of September 30, 2020. GAO reviewed Treasury program data and documentation, and interviewed Treasury officials. This report contains the most recently available public data at the time of GAO's review, including obligations, disbursements, and program participation. For more information, contact John H. Pendleton at (202) 512-8678 or pendletonj@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Veterans’ Growing Demand for Mental Health Services
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found This capsule examines how VA plans to meet the need for mental health care among veterans. In this capsule, GAO cites policy considerations and reiterates recommendations to the Department of Veterans Affairs. 
    [Read More…]
  • Department Press Briefing – March 5, 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Superfund: EPA Should Take Additional Actions to Manage Risks from Climate Change Effects
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In October 2019, GAO reported that available federal data on flooding, storm surge, wildfires, and sea level rise suggested that about 60 percent (945 of 1,571) of all nonfederal Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) sites—which have serious hazardous contamination--are located in areas that may be impacted by these potential climate change effects (see figure). In 2019, GAO released an interactive map and dataset, available with its report (GAO-20-73). Nonfederal NPL Sites Located in Areas That May Be Impacted by Flooding, Storm Surge, Wildfires, or Sea Level Rise, as of 2019 Notes: This map does not display all 1,571 active and deleted nonfederal NPL sites GAO analyzed in 2019, which also include six sites in American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, though they are included in the counts above. Learn more at https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-20-73. Storm surge data were not available for the West Coast and Pacific islands other than Hawaii, wildfire data were not available outside the contiguous United States, and sea level rise data were not available for Alaska. GAO also reported in 2019 that the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) actions to manage risks from climate change effects at these sites aligned with three of GAO's six essential elements of enterprise risk management, partially aligned with two, and did not align with one. For example, EPA had not aligned its process for managing risks with agency-wide goals. Without clarifying this linkage, EPA could not ensure that senior officials would take an active role in strategic planning and accountability for managing these risks. In 2019, GAO found that EPA recognized institutional, resource, and technical challenges in managing risks from climate change effects. For example, some EPA officials told us they do not have the direction they need to manage these risks. Insufficient or changing resources may also make it challenging for EPA to manage these risks, according to EPA documents and officials. Why GAO Did This Study Superfund is the principal federal program for addressing sites contaminated with hazardous substances. EPA administers the program and lists some of the most seriously contaminated sites—most of which are nonfederal—on the NPL. At those sites, EPA has recorded over 500 contaminants, including arsenic and lead. Climate change may make some natural disasters more frequent or more intense, which may damage NPL sites and potentially release contaminants, according to the Fourth National Climate Assessment. This testimony summarizes GAO's October 2019 report (GAO-20-73) on the impact of climate change on nonfederal NPL sites. Specifically, it discusses (1) what available federal data suggest about the number of nonfederal NPL sites that are located in areas that may be impacted by selected climate change effects; (2) the extent to which EPA has managed risks to human health and the environment from the potential impacts of climate change effects at nonfederal NPL sites; and (3) challenges EPA faces in managing these risks.
    [Read More…]
  • Three Charged with Illegally Exporting Goods to Iran
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced today that three individuals have been charged in an indictment with conspiracy to export U.S. goods to Iran in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR), as well as conspiracy to smuggle goods from the United States, and conspiracy to engage in international money laundering.
    [Read More…]
  • U.S. Announces Designation of Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Secretary Pompeo’s Video Remarks at the Prague 5G Security Conference 2020
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Settles Claims Against City of Meriden, Connecticut, Involving Denial of Mosque
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut today announced an agreement with the City of Meriden, Connecticut to resolve allegations that the city violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) by denying the application of the Omar Islamic Center to establish a mosque in March 2019, and by maintaining a zoning code that treats religious assemblies and institutions on less than equal terms with nonreligious assemblies and institutions in nine zoning districts.
    [Read More…]
  • North Carolina Woman Sentenced for Production and Distribution of Child Pornography
    In Crime News
    A North Carolina woman was sentenced Monday to 50 years in prison followed by 20 years of supervised release for production and distribution of child pornography.
    [Read More…]
  • Armenian Independence Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Remarks by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers on ISIS Militants Charged with Deaths of Americans in Syria
    In Crime News
    Good morning.  I’m [Read More…]
  • COVID-19: HHS Should Clarify Agency Roles for Emergency Return of U.S. Citizens during a Pandemic
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. returned, or repatriated, about 1,100 U.S. citizens from abroad and quarantined them domestically to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) experienced coordination and safety issues that put repatriates, HHS personnel, and nearby communities at risk. This occurred because HHS component agencies—the Administration for Children and Families, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—did not follow plans or guidance delineating their roles and responsibilities for repatriating individuals during a pandemic—an event these agencies had never experienced. While they had general repatriation plans, there was disagreement as to whether the effort was in fact a repatriation. This led to fundamental problems for HHS agencies and their federal partners, including at the March Air Reserve Base quarantine facility in California where the first repatriated individuals were quarantined prior to widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the U.S. These problems included the following: Lack of clarity as to which agency was in charge when the first repatriation flight from Wuhan, China, arrived at the quarantine facility, which caused confusion among the HHS component agencies. Coordination issues among HHS component agencies resulted in component agencies operating independently of each other, and led to frustration and complications. HHS's delay in issuing its federal quarantine order, during which time a repatriate tried to leave the quarantine facility. HHS personnel's inconsistent use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and HHS officials' disagreement on which agency was responsible for managing infection prevention and control. An HHS official also directed personnel to remove their PPE as it created “bad optics,” according to an HHS report that examined the repatriation effort. The National Response Framework, a guide to how the U.S. responds to disasters and emergencies, instructs agencies to understand their respective roles and responsibilities, know what plans apply, and develop appropriate guidance for emergency responses. Until HHS revises or develops new plans that clarify agency roles and responsibilities during a repatriation in response to a pandemic, it will be unable to prevent the coordination and health and safety issues it experienced during the COVID-19 repatriation response in future pandemic emergencies. HHS also did not include repatriation in its pandemic planning exercises. As a result, agencies lacked experience deploying together to test repatriation plans during a pandemic, which contributed to serious coordination issues. GAO has previously reported that exercises play an important role in preparing for an incident by providing opportunities to test response plans and assess the clarity of roles and responsibilities. Until HHS conducts such exercises, it will be unable to test its repatriation plans during a pandemic and identify areas for improvement. Why GAO Did This Study HHS provides temporary assistance to U.S. citizens repatriated by the Department of State (State) from a foreign country because of destitution, illness, threat of war, or similar crises through the U.S. Repatriation Program. In January and February 2020, HHS assisted State in repatriating individuals from Wuhan, China, and the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan, to the U.S. HHS quarantined repatriates at five Department of Defense (DOD) installations to ensure they did not infect others with COVID-19. GAO was asked to examine HHS's COVID-19 repatriation efforts to ensure the health and safety of those involved in the response. This report examines HHS's coordination and management of its COVID-19 repatriation response. GAO reviewed relevant documentation from HHS, State, and DOD related to repatriation planning, including documentation on pandemic planning exercises. GAO also interviewed officials from HHS, State, and DOD.
    [Read More…]
  • CEO of Financial Firm Pleads Guilty to Running Multi-Million Dollar Securities and Tax Fraud Scheme, and Operating an Unlicensed Money Services Business
    In Crime News
    A California-based man pleaded guilty today to conspiring with others to defraud shareholders of publicly traded companies, transmitting millions of dollars through the operation of an unlicensed money-services business in California, and falsifying multiple years of federal tax returns.
    [Read More…]
  • Brunei Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Exercise increased [Read More…]
  • Former Deputy Campaign Manager Pleads Guilty to Theft of Campaign Funds
    In Crime News
    An Illinois man pleaded guilty today to the theft of more than $115,000 in campaign funds from the McSally for Senate Campaign in 2018 and 2019.
    [Read More…]
  • The Justice Department Announces Statement of Interest Filed in Lawsuit Challenging Philadelphia’s Moratorium that Cancelled the Veterans Day Parade
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced that a Statement of Interest (SOI) was filed today in a case pending in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that challenges the City of Philadelphia’s “Event Moratorium” that prohibits issuing permits for gatherings of 150 or more people on public property.
    [Read More…]
  • Woman First in the Nation Charged with Misappropriating Monies Designed for COVID Medical Provider Relief
    In Crime News
    A Michigan woman was indicted on allegations that she intentionally misappropriated government funds that were designed to aid medical providers in the treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19 and used them for her own personal expenses.
    [Read More…]
  • On the Reinstatement of State Department Diversity Training
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Deputy Secretary Biegun’s Meetings with Republic of Korea First Vice Foreign Minister Choi and Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Lee
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Whistleblower Protection: Actions Needed to Strengthen Selected Intelligence Community Offices of Inspector General Programs
    In U.S GAO News
    The six Intelligence Community (IC)-element Offices of Inspectors General (OIG) that GAO reviewed collectively received 5,794 complaints from October 1, 2016, through September 30, 2018, and opened 960 investigations based on those complaints. Of the 960 investigations, IC-element OIGs had closed 873 (about 91 percent) as of August 2019, with an average case time ranging from 113 to 410 days to complete. Eighty-seven cases remained open as of August 2019, with the average open case time being 589 days. The number of investigations at each IC-element OIG varied widely based on factors such as the number of complaints received and each OIG's determination on when to convert a complaint into an investigation. An OIG may decide not to convert a complaint into an investigation if the complaint lacks credibility or sufficient detail, or may refer the complainant to IC-element management or to another OIG if the complaint involves matters that are outside the OIG's authority to investigate. Four of the IC-element OIGs—the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) OIG, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) OIG, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) OIG, and the National Security Agency (NSA) OIG—have a 180-days or fewer timeliness objective for their investigations. The procedures for the remaining two OIGs—the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (ICIG) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) OIG—state that investigations should be conducted and reported in a timely manner. Other than those prescribed by statute, the ICIG and NGA OIG have not established timeliness objectives for their investigations. Establishing timeliness objectives could improve the OIGs' ability to efficiently manage investigation time frames and to inform potential whistleblowers of these time frames. All of the selected IC-element OIG investigations units have implemented some quality assurance standards and processes, such as including codes of conduct and ethical and professional standards in their guidance. However, the extent to which they have implemented processes to maintain guidance, conduct routine quality assurance reviews, and plan investigations varies (see table). Implementation of Quality Assurance Standards and Practices by Selected IC-element OIG Investigations Units   ICIG CIA OIG DIA OIG NGA OIG NRO OIG NSA OIG Regular updates of investigation guidance or procedures — — — ✓ — ✓ Internal quality assurance review routinely conducted — — ✓ — — — External quality assurance review routinely conducted — ✓ — — — — Required use of documented investigative plans ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ — ✓ Legend: ✓ = standard or practice implemented; — = standard or practice not implemented. Source: GAO analysis of IC-element OIG investigative policies and procedures. | GAO-20-699 The Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency's (CIGIE) Quality Standards for Investigations states that organizations should facilitate due professional care by establishing written investigative policies and procedures via handbooks, manuals, or similar mechanisms that are revised regularly according to evolving laws, regulations, and executive orders. By establishing processes to regularly update their procedures, the ICIG, CIA OIG, DIA OIG, and NRO OIG could better ensure that their policies and procedures will remain consistent with evolving laws, regulations, Executive Orders, and CIGIE standards. Additionally, CIGIE's Quality Standards for Federal Offices of Inspector General requires OIGs to establish and maintain a quality assurance program. The standards further state that internal and external quality assurance reviews are the two components of an OIG's quality assurance program, which is an evaluative effort conducted by reviewers independent of the unit being reviewed to ensure that the overall work of the OIG meets appropriate standards. Developing quality assurance programs that incorporate both types of reviews, as appropriate, could help ensure that the IC-element OIGs adhere to OIG procedures and prescribed standards, regulations, and legislation, as well as identify any areas in need of improvement. Further, CIGIE Quality Standards for Investigations states that case-specific priorities must be established and objectives developed to ensure that tasks are performed efficiently and effectively. CIGIE's standards state that this may best be achieved, in part, by preparing case-specific plans and strategies. Establishing a requirement that investigators use documented investigative plans for all investigations could facilitate NRO OIG management's oversight of investigations and help ensure that investigative steps are prioritized and performed efficiently and effectively. CIA OIG, DIA OIG, and NGA OIG have training plans or approaches that are consistent with CIGIE's quality standards for investigator training. However, while ICIG, NRO OIG, and NSA OIG have basic training requirements and tools to manage training, those OIGs have not established training requirements for their investigators that are linked to the requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities, appropriate to their career progression, and part of a documented training plan. Doing so would help the ICIG, NRO OIG, and NSA OIG ensure that their investigators collectively possess a consistent set of professional proficiencies aligned with CIGIE's quality standards throughout their entire career progression. Most of the IC-element OIGs GAO reviewed consistently met congressional reporting requirements for the investigations and semiannual reports GAO reviewed. The ICIG did not fully meet one reporting requirement in seven of the eight semiannual reports that GAO reviewed. However, its most recent report, which covers April through September 2019, met this reporting requirement by including statistics on the total number and type of investigations it conducted. Further, three of the six selected IC-element OIGs—the DIA, NGA, and NRO OIGs—did not consistently document notifications to complainants in the reprisal investigation case files GAO reviewed. Taking steps to ensure that notifications to complainants in such cases occur and are documented in the case files would provide these OIGs with greater assurance that they consistently inform complainants of the status of their investigations and their rights as whistleblowers. Whistleblowers play an important role in safeguarding the federal government against waste, fraud, and abuse. The OIGs across the government oversee investigations of whistleblower complaints, which can include protecting whistleblowers from reprisal. Whistleblowers in the IC face unique challenges due to the sensitive and classified nature of their work. GAO was asked to review whistleblower protection programs managed by selected IC-element OIGs. This report examines (1) the number and time frames of investigations into complaints that selected IC-element OIGs received in fiscal years 2017 and 2018, and the extent to which selected IC-element OIGs have established timeliness objectives for these investigations; (2) the extent to which selected IC-element OIGs have implemented quality standards and processes for their investigation programs; (3) the extent to which selected IC-element OIGs have established training requirements for investigators; and (4) the extent to which selected IC-element OIGs have met notification and reporting requirements for investigative activities. This is a public version of a sensitive report that GAO issued in June 2020. Information that the IC elements deemed sensitive has been omitted. GAO selected the ICIG and the OIGs of five of the largest IC elements for review. GAO analyzed time frames for all closed investigations of complaints received in fiscal years 2017 and 2018; reviewed OIG policies, procedures, training requirements, and semiannual reports to Congress; conducted interviews with 39 OIG investigators; and reviewed a selection of case files for senior leaders and reprisal cases from October 1, 2016, through March 31, 2018. GAO is making 23 recommendations, including that selected IC-element OIGs establish timeliness objectives for investigations, implement or enhance quality assurance programs, establish training plans, and take steps to ensure that notifications to complainants in reprisal cases occur. The selected IC-element OIGs concurred with the recommendations and discussed steps they planned to take to implement them. For more information, contact Brenda S. Farrell at (202) 512-3604, farrellb@gao.gov or Brian M. Mazanec at (202) 512-5130, mazanecb@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Opening Remarks at the Virtual Leaders Summit on Climate
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • District Court Orders Washington State Company and its Owner to Stop Distributing Adulterated Juice Products
    In Crime News
    A federal court permanently enjoined a Sunnyside, Washington, company from preparing, processing, and distributing adulterated juice and other food products, the Department of Justice announced today.
    [Read More…]
  • United States Designates Senior Iranian Official in Iraq
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Partners on COVID-19
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • The United States Leads the Fight Against Foreign Bribery and Transnational Corruption
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Cale Brown, Deputy [Read More…]
  • Zambia Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • South Sudan Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Do not travel to South [Read More…]
  • Actions in Turkey’s Parliament
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • University Researcher Sentenced to Prison for Lying on Grant Applications to Develop Scientific Expertise for China
    In Crime News
    An Ohio man and rheumatology professor and researcher with strong ties to China was sentenced to XX months in prison for making false statements to federal authorities as part of an immunology research fraud scheme.
    [Read More…]
  • DHS Office of Inspector General: Preliminary Observations on Long-Standing Management and Operational Challenges
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found GAO's preliminary work has identified a number of management and operational challenges, including frequent leadership turnover, since fiscal year 2015 that have impeded the overall effectiveness of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG). DHS OIG senior leaders have acknowledged that these challenges have contributed to organizational weaknesses, and have taken steps to begin addressing some of them. GAO's preliminary work has identified issues in the following areas, among others: Strategic planning: DHS OIG has not consistently developed strategic plans, which are a necessary input for developing the organization's other guiding documents and governance framework. Specifically, DHS OIG has operated for 4 of the past 6 years without a strategic plan, and the plan it adopted for fiscal years 2018–2019 included some, but not all, of the elements considered standard for federal entities. In 2020, DHS OIG contracted with a nonprofit academy of government experts to develop a strategic plan for fiscal years 2021–2025, with expected delivery in June 2021. Quality assurance: Internal and external reviews have reported on concerns about quality assurance in some of DHS OIG's work. In 2017 and 2018, after an internal review found that some reports issued by DHS OIG may not have adhered to the professional standards cited, DHS OIG retracted 13 audit reports that had been issued over a 5-year period. In 2018, an external review determined that DHS OIG needed to improve its system of quality control. Though DHS OIG concurred with all of the recommendations from that external review, it did not fully implement them. In addition, DHS OIG has not established roles and responsibilities for an organization-wide quality assurance program. Moreover, GAO's preliminary work indicates that current staff allocations may limit DHS OIG's quality assurance reviews to focusing on audit work and not on the other types of work it produces, including inspections, evaluations, special reviews, and management alerts. Timeliness: DHS OIG project time frames for work from its offices of Audits and Special Reviews and Evaluations have increased over the 4 fiscal years GAO assessed. For example, in fiscal year 2017, 79 of 102 Office of Audits projects were completed in 1 year or less and eight of 102 took more than 18 months. In fiscal year 2020, seven of 67 reports were completed in 1 year or less and more than half (35 of 67) took more than 18 months. In addition, DHS OIG has not assessed time frames for work completed by these offices, though timeliness in reporting is a key element of effective oversight and DHS OIG staff considered it an organizational weakness. GAO will complete its evaluation of these and other management and operational areas, and will issue a final report in the coming months. Why GAO Did This Study DHS OIG has a critical role in providing independent and objective oversight of DHS, which encompasses multiple operational and support components. OIGs are expected to maintain high standards of professionalism and integrity in light of their mission, according to quality standards developed by the community of federal Inspectors General. However, DHS OIG has faced a number of challenges that have affected its ability to carry out its oversight mission effectively. This statement is based on GAO's draft report on DHS OIG's management and operations, which is currently at the agency for comment. It provides preliminary observations on DHS OIG's strategic planning processes; quality assurance processes; and reporting time frames for work from DHS OIG's offices of Audits and Special Reviews and Evaluations. To develop these preliminary observations, GAO reviewed relevant federal laws and quality standards for federal OIGs as well as DHS OIG documentation, including organizational policies; internal communications such as emails and memoranda; and DHS OIG's semiannual reports to Congress and published reports. GAO also analyzed DHS OIG project data from fiscal years 2015 through 2020, and interviewed DHS OIG leaders and other staff.
    [Read More…]
  • Venezuela: Additional Tracking Could Aid Treasury’s Efforts to Mitigate Any Adverse Impacts U.S. Sanctions Might Have on Humanitarian Assistance
    In U.S GAO News
    The Venezuelan economy's performance has declined steadily for almost a decade and fallen steeply since the imposition of a series of U.S. sanctions starting in 2015. For example, the economy declined from negative 6.2 percent gross domestic product growth in 2015 to negative 35 percent in 2019 and negative 25 percent in 2020. The sanctions, particularly on the state oil company in 2019, likely contributed to the steeper decline of the Venezuelan economy, primarily by limiting revenue from oil production. However, mismanagement of Venezuela's state oil company and decreasing oil prices are among other factors that have also affected the economy's performance during this period. U.S. agencies have sought input from humanitarian organizations to identify the potential negative humanitarian consequences of sanctions related to Venezuela and taken steps to mitigate these issues. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Department of State (State) have solicited input from U.S.-funded humanitarian organizations on challenges they face, including the impact of sanctions. The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and State have also taken steps to mitigate negative consequences. For example, Treasury issued licenses permitting various types of humanitarian assistance transactions in Venezuela (see figure). Treasury also maintains a call center and email account through which organizations can receive assistance with compliance issues or other challenges related to sanctions. While Treasury officials told GAO they respond to individual inquiries, Treasury does not systematically track and analyze information from these inquiries to identify trends or recurrent issues. Without collection and analysis of this information, Treasury and its interagency partners may be limited in their ability to develop further actions to ensure that U.S. sanctions do not disrupt humanitarian assistance. U.S. Humanitarian Assistance Supplies for Venezuelans U.S. sanctions related to Venezuela have likely had a limited impact, if any, on the U.S. oil industry. Despite an overall lower supply of oil in the U.S. market from the loss of Venezuelan crude oil due to sanctions, crude oil and retail gasoline prices in the U.S. have not increased substantially. Many other factors in addition to the sanctions simultaneously affected the oil market and the price of crude oil and retail gasoline prices, including production cuts in January 2019 by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and decreased demand for energy during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to industry officials to whom GAO spoke, U.S. refineries have adjusted to these changes by shifting to alternative sources and types of crude oil. Venezuela has been experiencing an economic, political, and humanitarian crisis. The U.S. government has imposed sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company, government, and central bank, among others, in response to activities of the Venezuelan government and certain individuals. Treasury and the Department of State lead the implementation of the sanctions program, and USAID is primarily responsible for implementing humanitarian assistance for Venezuelans. GAO was asked to review U.S. sanctions related to Venezuela. This report examines: (1) how the Venezuelan economy performed before and since the imposition of sanctions in 2015; (2) the steps U.S. agencies have taken to identify and mitigate potential negative humanitarian consequences of sanctions related to Venezuela; and (3) what is known about the impact of U.S. sanctions related to Venezuela on the U.S. oil industry. GAO analyzed economic indicators, reviewed documents, interviewed agency officials, and spoke with representatives from selected humanitarian organizations and the U.S oil industry. GAO recommends that Treasury systematically track inquiries made to its call center and email account, including the specific sanctions program and the subject matter of the inquiry to identify trends and recurring issues. Treasury concurred with GAO's recommendation. For more information, contact Kimberly Gianopoulos at (202) 512-8612 or GianopoulosK@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Remarks at the “America Is All In” Launch Event
    In Climate - Environment - Conservation
    John Kerry, Special [Read More…]
  • Indictment Charges Alaska Man for Threatening a California Synagogue
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Alaska, returned an indictment charging William Alexander, 49, for threatening to kill the congregants of a California synagogue, the Justice Department announced today.
    [Read More…]
  • Brazilian Partnership to Begin Producing NASA-Designed COVID-19 Ventilator
    In Space
    The Brazilian Health [Read More…]
  • Chinese Man Extradited for Financing Turtle-Trafficking Ring
    In Crime News
    A Chinese citizen was extradited from Malaysia to the United States today to face charges for money laundering.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department and EPA Announce Settlement with Stericycle Inc. to Address Environmental Violations at Medical Waste Incinerator
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a settlement with Illinois-based Stericycle Inc. resolving alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act and Utah air quality regulations at its medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake, Utah.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks at the Virtual Kenya-U.S. Interagency Clean Energy Event
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Concludes Its Investigation of D.C.-Area Private High Schools’ Decision to Stop Offering Advanced Placement Courses
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it has completed its investigation into whether Georgetown Day School, Holton-Arms School, Landon School, Maret School, National Cathedral School, The Potomac School, St. Albans School, and Sidwell Friends School (jointly, “the Schools”) collectively agreed to stop offering Advanced Placement (AP) courses by 2022 in violation of the Sherman Act.  The Schools announced in June 2018 that they would eliminate AP courses from their curricula by 2022. 
    [Read More…]
  • HHS Leverages Public Feedback to Advance Landscape Analysis on Emerging Technologies for Aging, Underserved Populations
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
    February 3, 2021 By: [Read More…]
  • Physical Infrastructure: Preliminary Observations on Options for Improving Climate Resilience of Transportation Infrastructure
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found GAO's Disaster Resilience Framework serves as a guide for analysis of federal actions to facilitate and promote resilience to natural disasters and changes in the climate across many policy areas, including transportation. The framework is organized around three guiding principles—information, integration, and incentives—and a series of questions that can help identify opportunities to enhance federal efforts to promote disaster resilience. Specifically, the integration principle states that integrated analysis and planning can help decision makers take coherent and coordinated actions to promote resilience. For example, in October 2019, GAO reported that no federal agency, interagency collaborative effort, or other organizational arrangement has been established to implement a strategic approach to climate resilience investment that includes periodically identifying and prioritizing projects. Such an approach could supplement individual agency climate resilience efforts and help target federal resources toward high-priority projects. GAO recommended that Congress consider establishing a federal organizational arrangement to periodically identify and prioritize climate resilience projects for federal investment. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has taken steps to encourage states to enhance the climate resilience of federally funded roads by developing agency policy, providing technical assistance to states, and supporting climate resilience research funding, among other actions. In addition, as part of ongoing work on FHWA's federal-aid highway program, GAO identified options that could further enhance the climate resilience of federally funded roads, based on a literature review and interviews with knowledgeable stakeholders (see table). Some of these options are similar to recommendations made previously by GAO. Further, according to FHWA officials, some of these options would likely require additional congressional direction or authority to implement. Options to further enhance resilience of federally funded roads, as suggested by relevant literature and knowledgeable stakeholders Option Integrate climate resilience into Federal Highway Administration policy and guidance. Update design standards to account for climate change and resilience best practices. Provide authoritative, actionable, forward-looking climate information. Add climate resilience funding eligibility requirements, conditions, or criteria to formula grant programs. Expand the availability of discretionary funding for climate resilience improvements. Alter the Emergency Relief (ER) program by providing incentives for, or conditioning funding on, pre-disaster resilience actions. Expand the availability of ER funding for post-disaster climate resilience improvements. Establish additional climate resilience planning or project requirements. Link climate resilience actions or requirements to incentives or penalties. Condition eligibility, funding, or project approval on compliance with climate resilience policy and guidance. Source: GAO analysis of literature and interviews with knowledgeable stakeholders. | GAO-21-561T Why GAO Did This Study Since 2013, GAO has included Limiting the Federal Government's Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks in its High Risk List. In addition, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a changing climate threatens the performance of the U.S. transportation system across all modes, including roads. Congress authorized approximately $43 billion of fiscal year 2021 formula funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation's FHWA's federal-aid highway program, which primarily funds highway planning and construction. This testimony discusses (1) GAO's framework for identifying opportunities to enhance the climate resilience of transportation infrastructure; and (2) preliminary observations on actions taken and options to further enhance the climate resilience of federally funded roads. This work is based on GAO reports issued from 2014 through 2019, a review of literature, and interviews conducted with FHWA officials and knowledgeable stakeholders conducted as part of on-going work. GAO expects to issue a report on the results of its ongoing work in summer 2021.
    [Read More…]
  • Operation Legend: Case of the Day
    In Crime News
    Each weekday, the Department of Justice will highlight a case that has resulted from Operation Legend.  Today’s case is out of the Northern District of Illinois.  Operation Legend launched in Chicago on July 22, 2020, in response to the city facing increased homicide and non-fatal shooting rates.
    [Read More…]
  • Eight Individuals Charged With Conspiring to Act as Illegal Agents of the People’s Republic of China
    In Crime News
    A complaint and arrest warrants were unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging eight defendants with conspiring to act in the United States as illegal agents of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).  Six defendants also face related charges of conspiring to commit interstate and international stalking.  The defendants, allegedly acting at the direction and under the control of PRC government officials, conducted surveillance of and engaged in a campaign to harass, stalk, and coerce certain residents of the United States to return to the PRC as part of a global, concerted, and extralegal repatriation effort known as “Operation Fox Hunt.” 
    [Read More…]
  • Aircraft Carriers: Homeport Changes Are Primarily Determined by Maintenance Requirements
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Navy has a process for proposing and implementing homeport changes that considers a range of factors. The first key step in this process involves the Navy developing and updating an annual plan, known as the Strategic Laydown and Dispersal Plan, that guides the Navy's positioning of operating forces worldwide. Based on the plan, fleet commanders then identify requirements for any changes to homeports and submit requests to schedule a homeport change. Throughout the process, Navy leadership and a working group of stakeholders from across the Navy provide input and analysis. Among other things , the working group develops and assesses proposed changes among the possible aircraft carrier homeports based on their expertise and evaluates various homeport installation factors, such as maintenance dry docks (see figure) or ship power and maintenance facilities. The Navy also considers local factors including crew support and quality of life, such as schools and morale, and possible impacts to the natural and physical environment. The Navy has strengthened its process by implementing prior GAO recommendations, and has other planned actions underway to further improve and update its guidance. Recent Navy Aircraft Carrier Homeport Locations and Dry Dock at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard The Navy made 15 aircraft carrier homeport changes in fiscal years 2011 through 2020 among the five available homeports. The driving factor for all 15 changes was maintenance. For example, 10 of the 15 changes involved ships moving to or returning from shipyards in Bremerton or Norfolk for planned dry-dock maintenance or midlife refueling. In 2015 and 2019, the Navy decided to homeport aircraft carriers in Bremerton and San Diego because Everett lacked nuclear maintenance facilities, which were available at the Navy's other aircraft carrier homeport locations. Previously, carriers homeported in Everett received regularly scheduled maintenance at the shipyard in Bremerton but did not conduct an official homeport change. The Navy reported that during these maintenance periods that lasted 6 months or more, the crew commuted 3 to 4 hours daily, which negatively affected maintenance and crew morale. As a result, the Navy decided not to return an aircraft carrier to Everett. According to Navy officials, factors in addition to maintenance needs also informed the changes, including a long-held plan to homeport three aircraft carriers in San Diego. Why GAO Did This Study The Navy relies on 11 aircraft carriers homeported on the East and West Coasts and in Japan to support U.S. defense strategic objectives and operations. These nuclear-powered ships require complex infrastructure, technology, and maintenance, some of which may not be available near their homeport. Changing an aircraft carrier's homeport means moving the ship's approximately 3,200 sailors, a fluctuation of 5,000 or more people depending on the number of family members involved. In House Report 116-120, accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, the House Armed Services Committee noted that the Navy reversed previous plans to homeport an aircraft carrier at Naval Station Everett, Washington. The House Report also included a provision for GAO to review the Navy's process to assign aircraft carriers' homeports. This report examines, for Navy aircraft carriers, (1) the extent to which the Navy has a process for making homeport changes, and considers local installation and other factors in the homeporting process, and (2) homeport changes from fiscal years 2011 through 2020 and the reasons for them. GAO analyzed Navy instructions and related policies, laws, and regulations; homeport plans and maintenance schedules; and fiscal years 2011–2020 documentation of homeport changes. GAO also interviewed Navy officials, including from relevant commands and homeports. For more information, contact Diana Maurer at (202) 512-9627 or MaurerD@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Medicaid Program Integrity: Action Needed to Ensure CMS Completes Financial Management Reviews in a Timely Manner
    In U.S GAO News
    Since fiscal year 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has initiated 49 financial management reviews (FMR) to examine state Medicaid agencies' compliance with a variety of federal policies. These 49 FMRs frequently found one or more instances of states' non-compliance. CMS identified instances of non-compliance that had a financial impact totaling about $358 million. CMS identified internal control weaknesses and directed states to make changes to their Medicaid policies. However, FMRs have not always examined topics or states that reflect the areas of highest expenditures. In 2018, GAO recommended that CMS improve its targeting of oversight resources. CMS agreed with this recommendation, but has not yet implemented it. In addition, CMS guidance generally expects draft FMR reports to be completed in the year they began. However, two-thirds of FMRs (26 of 39) initiated in fiscal years 2016 to 2019 were still under review in June 2020, which can delay state actions to address program vulnerabilities. CMS officials said that at least five states would not take actions—such as returning federal funds for unallowable expenditures—until they received a complete report. Status of Financial Management Reviews (FMR) Initiated in Fiscal Years 2016 to 2019, as of June 2020 CMS officials cited competing priorities, decreased staff, and the agency's review process—which involves multiple steps and levels of review—as factors affecting their use of FMRs for oversight. CMS took steps during the course of GAO's review to complete FMRs that had been under review for several years. The agency has not established time frames for the completion of individual review steps or for its overall review of FMR reports. Developing and implementing such time frames would provide a tool to help monitor CMS's progress in completing FMRs and ensure prompt action on FMR findings. Over the last two decades, Medicaid—a joint, federal-state health care financing program for low-income and medically needy individuals—more than tripled in expenditures and doubled in enrollment. CMS estimates the program will continue to grow, exceeding $1 trillion in expenditures and 81 million enrollees in 2028. The size and growth of Medicaid present oversight challenges. CMS is responsible for assuring that states' Medicaid expenditures comply with federal requirements, and FMRs are one of its financial oversight tools. CMS generally directs its regional offices to conduct one focused FMR each year on an area of high risk within their regions, typically within one state. GAO was asked to examine CMS's use of FMRs. In this report, GAO examines the extent to which CMS has used FMRs to oversee state Medicaid programs. GAO reviewed CMS documentation on FMR findings and their status, and resources assigned to FMRs and other financial review functions. GAO also interviewed CMS officials from all 10 regional offices and the central office, and assessed CMS's FMR policies and procedures against federal internal control standards. CMS should develop and implement time frames to ensure the timely completion of FMRs. The Department of Health and Human Services concurred with our recommendation. For more information, contact Carolyn L. Yocom at (202) 512-7114 or yocomc@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Covid-19: Data Quality and Considerations for Modeling and Analysis
    In U.S GAO News
    The rapid spread and magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic have underscored the importance of having quality data, analyses, and models describing the potential trajectory of COVID-19 to help understand the effects of the disease in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is using multiple surveillance systems to collect data on COVID-19 in the U.S. in collaboration with state, local, and academic and other partners. The data from these surveillance systems can be useful for understanding the disease, but decision makers and analysts must understand their limitations in order to interpret them properly. For example, surveillance data on the number of reported COVID-19 cases are incomplete for a number of reasons, and they are an undercount the true number of cases, according to CDC and others. There are multiple approaches to analyzing COVID-19 data that yield different insights. For example, some approaches can help compare the effects of the disease across population groups. Additional analytical approaches can help to address incomplete and inconsistent reporting of COVID-19 deaths as well. For example, analysts can examine the number of deaths beyond what would normally be expected in the absence of the pandemic. Examining higher-than-expected deaths from all causes helps to address limitations in the reporting of COVID-19 deaths because the number of total deaths is likely more accurate than the numbers of deaths from specific causes. The figure below shows actual deaths from the weeks ending January 1 through June 27, 2020, based on data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, compared with the expected deaths based on prior years’ data. Deaths that exceeded this threshold starting in late March are considered excess deaths that may be related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher-Than-Expected Weekly Mortality for 2020, as of July 14, 2020 Analysts have used several forecasting models to predict the spread of COVID-19, and understanding these models requires understanding their purpose and limitations. For example, some models attempt to predict the effects of various interventions, whereas other models attempt to forecast the number of cases based on current data. At the beginning of an outbreak, such predictions are less likely to be accurate, but accuracy can improve as the disease becomes better understood. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant loss of life and profoundly disrupted the U.S. economy and society, and the Congress has taken action to support a multifaceted federal response on an unprecedented scale. It is important for decision makers to understand the limitations of COVID-19 data, and the uses and limitations of various methods of analyzing and interpreting those data. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) includes a provision for GAO to, in general, conduct monitoring and oversight of the authorities and funding provided to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the effect of the pandemic on the health, economy, and public and private institutions of the U.S. This technology assessment examines (1) collection methods and limitations of COVID-19 surveillance data reported by CDC, (2) approaches for analyzing COVID-19 data, and (3) uses and limitations of forecast modeling for understanding of COVID-19. In conducting this assessment, GAO obtained publicly available information from CDC and state health departments, among other sources, and reviewed relevant peer reviewed and preprint (non-peer-reviewed) literature, as well as published technical data on specific models. For more information, contact Timothy M. Persons, PhD at (202) 512-6888 or PersonsT@gao.gov, SaraAnn Moessbauer at (202) 512-4943, or MoessbauerS@gao.gov, or Mary Denigan-Macauley, PhD at (202) 512-7114 or DeniganMacauleyM@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Escalating Violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Financial Company Bankruptcies: Congress and Regulators Have Updated Resolution Planning Requirements
    In U.S GAO News
    Since 2015, Congress has not changed parts of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code (Code) related to financial companies or the Orderly Liquidation Authority (OLA). However, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Federal Reserve) have updated the resolution planning process to better match resolution planning requirements to the risks of companies. OLA is a regulatory alternative to bankruptcy for resolving failed, systemically important financial institutions, and resolution plans describe how a financial company may be resolved in an orderly manner if it fails. In November 2019, FDIC and the Federal Reserve finalized amendments to the Resolution Plans Required rule, establishing different filing cycles and content requirements for resolution plans based on the asset size and risk profile of companies. Regulators also finalized other rules related to OLA and resolution planning and proposed several additional rules. The 2007–2009 financial crisis and the failures of large, complex financial companies led some financial and legal experts to question the adequacy of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code for effectively reorganizing or liquidating these companies. These experts, government officials, and members of Congress responded by proposing changes to the Code and the supervisory process leading to a bankruptcy filing. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) established OLA as a regulatory alternative to bankruptcy. Under OLA, the Secretary of the Treasury may appoint FDIC as a receiver to resolve systemically important financial institutions. In addition to OLA, the Dodd-Frank Act requires financial companies to file periodic resolution plans with the Financial Stability Oversight Council, Federal Reserve and FDIC describing how they could be resolved in an orderly manner in the event of material financial distress or failure. The Dodd-Frank Act also includes a provision for GAO to study, at specified intervals, the effectiveness of the Code in facilitating the orderly liquidation or reorganization of financial companies and ways to make the orderly liquidation process under the Code more effective. This report examines (1) proposed or enacted changes to the Code related to financial companies and OLA since 2015, and (2) regulatory actions related to resolution planning and OLA. GAO reviewed proposed legislation, regulations, prior GAO reports, and agency reports and presentations on financial company bankruptcies, OLA, and resolution planning. GAO also reviewed comment letters to the 2019 proposed Resolution Plans Required rulemaking. GAO interviewed officials from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, FDIC, and the Federal Reserve. GAO also interviewed six industry stakeholders, including academics, a consumer group, industry associations, and former regulatory officials, about the 2019 Resolution Plans Required Rule. For more information, contact Michael Clements at (202) 512-8678 or ClementsM@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Covid-19 Housing Protections: Moratoriums Have Helped Limit Evictions, but Further Outreach Is Needed
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Eviction moratoriums at the federal, state, and local levels reduced eviction filings during the COVID-19 pandemic; however, some eligible renters may not have benefitted from a recent federal moratorium. GAO's analysis of 63 jurisdictions found that the median rate of eviction filings was about 74 percent lower in the last week of July 2020—when a moratorium included in the CARES Act expired—than in the same week in 2019. Eviction filings remained lower throughout 2020 (relative to 2019) but gradually increased during a separate moratorium ordered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in September 2020 (see fig.). During this moratorium, jurisdictions without separate state or local moratoriums experienced larger increases in eviction filings, which suggests that some renters may not fully understand how to use the CDC moratorium (completing required documentation). CDC extended its moratorium through March 31, 2021, but has taken few steps to promote awareness and understanding of the moratorium and its requirements. Clear, accurate, and timely information is essential to keep the public informed during the pandemic. Without a communication and outreach plan, including federal coordination, CDC will be missing an opportunity to ensure that eligible renters avoid eviction. Year-over-Year Percentage Change in Eviction Filings in 63 Jurisdictions Note: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) moratorium is active through March 31, 2021. Local moratoriums include separate state or local eviction moratoriums. Unlike the CARES Act, CDC's moratorium does not prohibit eviction filings, which could explain some increases. By late January 2021, Treasury had disbursed 99 percent of the $25 billion in Emergency Rental Assistance funds to state and other eligible grantees responsible for making rent and utility payments to recipients. Treasury's initial program guidance issued that month did not fully define some program requirements and included requirements that could have delayed the delivery of funds or deter participation. In late February 2021, Treasury updated its guidance to address several of these concerns, such as by providing grantees with flexibility for prioritizing lower income applicants and allowing written attestation of income. Although the guidance did not clarify certain data collection and spending requirements, officials said they will continue to update guidance to address stakeholder concerns and strike a balance between accountability and administrative efficiency. GAO will continue to actively monitor these efforts. Why GAO Did This Study Millions of renters and property owners continue to experience housing instability and financial challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. To address these concerns, Congress and CDC created eviction moratoriums, and Congress appropriated $25 billion to Treasury to disburse to state and local grantees to administer emergency rental assistance programs to help those behind on their rent. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to monitor federal efforts related to COVID-19. This report examines, among other objectives, (1) how eviction moratoriums have contributed to housing stability during the pandemic and (2) Treasury's implementation of the Emergency Rental Assistance program. GAO analyzed data on eviction filings and local policies in a sample of 63 jurisdictions (selected based on data availability) from January to December 2020. GAO also analyzed Census Bureau survey data on rental payments and data from federal housing entities on mortgage forbearance. GAO interviewed officials from CDC, Treasury, and organizations representing renters, property owners, and rental assistance grantees.
    [Read More…]
  • Concrete Contractor Agrees to Settle False Claims Act Allegations for $3.9 Million
    In Crime News
    COLAS Djibouti SARL (Colas Djibouti) ¬has agreed to resolve for $3.9 million civil allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by selling substandard concrete used to construct U.S. Navy airfields in the Republic of Djibouti, the Department of Justice announced today. Colas Djibouti, a French limited liability company, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Colas SA, a French civil engineering company.
    [Read More…]
  • Financial Stability: Agencies Have Not Found Leveraged Lending to Significantly Threaten Stability but Remain Cautious Amid Pandemic
    In U.S GAO News
    In the years before the economic shock from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) and others assessed the potential risks to financial stability that leveraged loans and collateralized loan obligation (CLO) securities may pose. Generally, leveraged loans are those made to businesses with poor credit and high debt, and CLO securities are backed by these loans. FSOC and others found that riskier borrower profiles and looser underwriting standards left leveraged lending market participants vulnerable to losses in the event of a downturn. After the COVID-19 shock in March 2020, loans suffered record downgrades and increased defaults, but the highest-rated CLO securities remained resilient. Although regulators monitoring the effects of the pandemic remain cautious, as of September 2020, they had not found that leveraged lending presented significant threats to financial stability. Based on regulators' assessments, leveraged lending activities had not contributed significantly to the distress of any large financial entity whose failure could threaten financial stability. Large banks' strong capital positions have allowed them to manage their leveraged lending exposures, and the exposure of insurers and other investors also appeared manageable. Mutual funds experienced redemptions by investors but were able to meet them in part by selling leveraged loan holdings. While this may have put downward pressure on already-distressed loan prices, based on regulators' assessments, distressed leveraged loan prices did not pose a potential threat to financial stability. Present-day CLO securities appear to pose less of a risk to financial stability than did similar securities during the 2007–2009 financial crisis, according to regulators and market participants. For example, CLO securities have better investor protections, are more insulated from market swings, and are not widely tied to other risky, complex instruments. FSOC monitors leveraged-lending-related risks primarily through its monthly Systemic Risk Committee meetings, but opportunities exist to enhance FSOC's abilities to respond to financial stability threats. FSOC identified leveraged lending activities as a source of potential risk to financial stability before the COVID-19 shock and recommended continued monitoring and analysis. However, FSOC does not conduct tabletop or similar scenario-based exercises where participants discuss roles and responses to hypothetical emergency scenarios. As a result, FSOC is missing an opportunity to enhance preparedness and test members' coordinated response to financial stability risks. Further, as GAO reported in 2016, FSOC does not generally have clear authority to address broader risks that are not specific to a particular financial entity, such as risks from leveraged lending. GAO recommended that Congress consider better aligning FSOC's authorities with its mission to respond to systemic risks, but Congress had not done so as of September 2020. GAO maintains that changes such as broader designation authority would help FSOC respond to risks from activities that involve many regulators, such as leveraged lending. The market for institutional leveraged loans grew from an estimated $0.5 trillion in 2010 to $1.2 trillion in 2019, fueled largely by investor demand for CLO securities. Some observers and regulators have drawn comparisons to the pre-2008 subprime mortgage market, noting that loan origination and securitization may similarly spread risks to the financial system. These fears are being tested by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly affected leveraged businesses. This report examines assessments by regulators, FSOC, and others—both before and after the COVID-19 shock to the economy—of the potential risks to financial stability stemming from leveraged lending activities, and the extent to which FSOC monitors and responds to risks from broad-based activities like leveraged lending, among other objectives. GAO examined agency and private data on market size and investor exposures; reviewed agency, industry, and international reports; and interviewed federal financial regulators and industry participants. GAO recommends that the Secretary of the Treasury, as Chairperson of FSOC, conduct scenario-based exercises intended to evaluate capabilities for responding to crises. GAO also reiterates its 2016 recommendation (GAO-16-175) that Congress consider legislative changes to align FSOC's authorities with its mission. FSOC neither agreed nor disagreed with the recommendation, but said that it would take further actions if it determined necessary. For more information, contact Michael E. Clements at (202) 512-8678 or ClementsM@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Warfighter Support: DOD Needs a Complete Picture of the Military Services’ Prepositioning Programs
    In U.S GAO News
    The services preposition combat and support assets ashore and afloat worldwide, including in the Indo-Pacific region. Prepositioned assets include combat vehicles, equipment sets for engineering and construction, and protective gear for chemical or biological attacks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Defense (DOD) used prepositioned medical assets for personnel in Guam, South Korea, and Germany. All of the services have reported some shortfalls in their prepositioned assets from 2015 through 2019—including mortars, combat vehicles, and medical equipment. In the Indo-Pacific region, for example, the Army reported shortfalls in equipment to construct bridges over difficult terrain. All services also cited challenges, such as insufficient storage space, storage facilities located far away from intended points of use, and the perishability of some assets. In some cases, the services are taking actions to address these shortfalls and challenges. In others, the services are accepting risk because, according to officials, not all shortfalls and challenges can be fully addressed. Sailors and Marines Offload Assets from a Prepositioning Ship during the COVID-19 Response in Guam DOD has taken steps to implement a joint oversight framework but does not have a complete view of the services' prepositioning programs. DOD revised two guidance documents—an instruction in 2019 and a strategic implementation plan in 2020—to establish a joint oversight framework. However, DOD has focused much of its joint efforts to date on preparing a required annual report to Congress on the status of the services' prepositioning programs. While the report provides some useful information, GAO found inaccurate and inconsistent information in multiple annual reports, which hinder their utility. DOD does not have a reporting mechanism or information-collection tool to develop a complete picture of the services' prepositioning programs. The current annual reporting requirement expires in 2021, which provides DOD with an opportunity to create a new reporting mechanism, or modify existing mechanisms or tools, to enable a complete picture of the services' prepositioning programs. By doing so, DOD could better identify gaps or redundancies in the services' programs, make more informed decisions to mitigate asset shortfalls and challenges, reduce potential duplication and fragmentation, and improve its joint oversight. The U.S. military services preposition critical assets at strategic locations around the world for access during the initial phases of an operation. DOD uses these prepositioned assets for combat, support to allies, and disaster and humanitarian assistance. For many years, GAO has identified weaknesses in DOD's efforts to establish a joint oversight framework to guide its ability to assess the services' prepositioning programs. This has led to fragmentation and the potential for duplication. Senate Report 116-48 included a provision for GAO to evaluate the services' prepositioning programs and associated challenges. This report (1) describes the types of assets the services preposition worldwide, as well as asset shortfalls and challenges the services have identified, and (2) assesses the extent to which DOD has made progress in implementing a joint oversight framework for the services' programs. To conduct this work, GAO reviewed DOD prepositioning documents and interviewed DOD and State Department officials from over 20 offices. This is a public version of a sensitive report that GAO issued in December 2020. Information that DOD deemed sensitive has been omitted. GAO recommends that DOD develop a reporting mechanism or tool to gather complete information about the military services' prepositioning programs for joint oversight and to reduce duplication and fragmentation. DOD concurred with the recommendation. For more information, contact Cary B. Russell at (202) 512-5431 or russellc@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • The United States and Japan Expand Indo-Pacific Economic Cooperation
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Again to Monitor Compliance with the Federal Voting Rights Laws on Election Day
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today announced its plans for voting rights monitoring in jurisdictions around the country for the Nov. 3, 2020 general election. The Justice Department historically has monitored in jurisdictions in the field on election day, and is again doing so this year. The department will also take complaints from the public nationwide regarding possible violations of the federal voting rights laws through its call center.  
    [Read More…]
  • Department Press Briefing – March 9, 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]