September 28, 2021

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Switzerland Travel Advisory

15 min read

Reconsider travel to Switzerland due to COVID-19.

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for the Switzerland due to COVID-19.

Improved conditions have been reported within Switzerland. Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Switzerland.

Read the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Switzerland:

Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.

News Network

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  • [Protest of Army Rejection of Bid for Cleaning Flue Gas Research]
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    A firm protested an Army contract award for innovative research into cleaning flue gas, contending that the Army improperly evaluated the proposals. GAO held that the: (1) protester failed to provide evidence that the Army's actions were motivated by bad faith, violated any applicable regulations, or were inconsistent with the terms of the solicitation; and (2) evaluation and award decision were consistent with the solicitation's criteria. Accordingly, the protest was denied.
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  • COVID-19: HHS’s Collection of Hospital Capacity Data
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made frequent and significant changes to the collection of hospital capacity data. In April 2020, HHS created a new data ecosystem—HHS Protect—to capture, among other things, national- and state-level data on inpatient and intensive care beds in use, supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), and COVID-19 treatments. Subsequently, HHS changed the methods through which data could be reported to HHS Protect and also changed reporting requirements. According to HHS officials, this was done to capture more complete data and to capture more information, such as data on influenza-related hospitalizations and COVID-19 vaccines administered. Reporting entities said they experienced multiple challenges implementing the changes, including a lack of clarity on the requirements and logistical challenges such as having to adapt their systems to provide the data. As HHS made changes, HHS issued updated guidance to clarify reporting requirements. HHS uses hospital capacity data to identify and address resource shortages and to inform the public. For example, according to HHS officials, HHS has used the data to provide assistance such as staff resources or supplies in 40 states. Additionally, HHS has shared the hospital capacity data to inform the public. However, public health stakeholders told GAO they have relied on state and local data for their purposes rather than data from HHS Protect. For example, epidemiological association officials said their members relied on state and local data for case investigation because they contained more detailed information and did not use HHS Protect data on hospital capacity. According to HHS officials, some states that may not be collecting their own data rely on HHS Protect capacity data to inform their public health response to the pandemic. HHS agency officials and stakeholders identified the need for stakeholder engagement and improved communication among key lessons learned to better ensure the collection of quality hospital capacity data during a public health emergency. For example, HHS officials told GAO that there is a need for dialogue and external validation to ensure data quality and accuracy. They also noted that the need for a system like HHS Protect will continue beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials GAO interviewed from stakeholder organizations and selected states noted that increased collaboration and communication—as well as more time to implement changes—would have facilitated the implementation of the changes to the data collection process. These lessons learned are consistent with GAO's January 2021 recommendation that HHS engage with stakeholders to review and inform the alignment of ongoing data collection and reporting standards through establishing an expert committee. HHS agreed with the recommendation, but as of June 2021, the department has not implemented it. Why GAO Did This Study The magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of having quality data to help the federal government understand the health care system's capacity to provide care and to inform the allocation of resources. HHS launched HHS Protect in April 2020 to capture hospital capacity data. Throughout the public health emergency HHS has made changes to how information is collected and used. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to report on its ongoing COVID-19 monitoring and oversight efforts. GAO was asked to examine HHS's implementation of HHS Protect. In this report, GAO describes (1) HHS's implementation of HHS Protect hospital capacity reporting requirements and the challenges experienced by reporting entities; (2) HHS's and stakeholders' use of the data, if at all; and (3) lessons learned about ensuring the collection of quality hospital capacity data during a public health emergency. GAO reviewed agency guidance and HHS Protect hospital capacity dashboards and reports, and interviewed HHS officials as well as officials from three states that report or reported directly to HHS Protect on behalf of their hospitals. These states were selected for variation in geography and the mix of rural and non-rural hospital facilities. GAO also interviewed officials from public health stakeholder groups including hospital associations, epidemiological associations, and local health organizations. GAO provided a draft of this report to HHS for review and comment. HHS had no comments on the report. For more information, contact Jessica Farb at (202) 512-7114 or farbj@gao.gov.
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    In U.S GAO News
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  • Department of State: Foreign Service Midlevel Staffing Gaps Persist Despite Significant Increases in Hiring
    In U.S GAO News
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  • Federal Contracting: Noncompetitive Contracts Based on Urgency Need Additional Oversight
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Departments of Defense (DOD) and State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) used the urgency exception to a limited extent, but the reliability of some federal procurement data elements is questionable. For fiscal years 2010 through 2012, obligations reported under urgent noncompetitive contracts ranged from less than 1 percent to about 12 percent of all noncompetitive contract obligations. During that time, DOD obligated $12.5 billion noncompetitively to procure goods and services using the urgency exception, while State and USAID obligated $582 million and about $20 million respectively, almost exclusively to procure services. Among the items procured were personal armor, guard services and communications equipment to support missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. GAO found coding errors that raise concerns about the reliability of federal procurement data on the use of the urgency exception. Nearly half—28 of the 62 contracts in GAO's sample—were incorrectly coded as having used the urgency exception when they did not. GAO found that 20 of the 28 miscoded contracts were awarded using procedures that are more simple and separate from the requirements related to the use of the urgency exception. Ensuring reliability of procurement data is critical as these data are used to inform procurement policy decisions and facilitate oversight. For the 34 contracts in GAO's sample that were properly coded as having used the urgency exception, agencies cited a range of urgent circumstances, primarily to meet urgent needs for combat operations or to avoid unanticipated gaps in program support. The justifications and approvals—which are required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to contain certain facts and rationale to justify use of the urgency exception to competition—generally contained the required elements; however, some were ambiguous about the specific risks to the government if the acquisition was delayed. Ten of the 34 contracts in GAO's sample had a period of performance of more than one year—8 of which were modified after award to extend the period of performance beyond 1 year. The FAR limits contracts using the urgency exception to one year in duration unless the head of the agency or a designee determines that exceptional circumstances apply. Agencies did not make this determination for the 10 contracts. The FAR is not clear about what steps agencies should take when a contract is modified after award to extend the period of performance over 1 year. Some contracting officials noted that these modifications are treated as separate contract actions and would not require the determination by the head of the agency or designee. Others considered them cumulative actions requiring the determination. Standards for Internal Controls in the Federal Government calls for organizations to maintain proper controls that ensure transparency and accountability for stewardship of government resources. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP)—which provides governmentwide policy on federal contracting procedures—is in a position to clarify when the determination of exceptional circumstances is needed to help achieve consistent implementation of this requirement across the federal government. Further, under the urgency exception, the FAR requires agencies to seek offers from as many vendors as practicable given the circumstances. For some contracts in GAO's sample, lack of access to technical data rights and reliance on contractor expertise prevented agencies from obtaining competition. Why GAO Did This Study Competition is a critical tool for achieving the best return on the government's investment. Federal agencies are generally required to award contracts competitively but are permitted to award noncompetitive contracts under certain circumstances, such as when requirements are of such an unusual and compelling urgency that the government would suffer serious financial or other injury. Contracts that use the urgency exception to competition must generally be no longer than one year in duration. The conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2013 mandated GAO to examine DOD's, State's, and USAID's use of this exception. For the three agencies, GAO assessed (1) the pattern of use, (2) the reasons agencies awarded urgent noncompetitive contracts and the extent to which justifications met FAR requirements; and (3) the extent to which agencies limited the duration. GAO analyzed federal procurement data, interviewed contracting officials, and analyzed a non-generalizable sample of 62 contracts with a mix of obligation levels and types of goods and services procured across the three agencies.
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