Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
On behalf of the Government of the United States of America and the American people, I congratulate the people of Tajikistan on 30 years of independence on September 9, 2021.
Our three decades of partnership have been built on our shared goal of a sovereign, independent, and prosperous Tajikistan and flourishing Central Asian region. Through our bilateral and multilateral cooperation, including through the C5+1 diplomatic platform, we are forging a relationship that supports regional security, economic prosperity, and integration. We are also working with the Tajik people to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including through measures such as our recent donation of 1.5 million doses of vaccine through the COVAX facility. Over the coming years, we look forward to continued collaboration with our Tajik partners to reinforce border security and regional stability, combat the climate crisis, spur economic growth, increase the effectiveness of democratic institutions, and promote respect for human rights.
The United States remains committed to the future stability and prosperity of Tajikistan and its people, and we look forward to enhancing our partnership in the years ahead.
- Attorney General Garland and Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Clarke Commemorate the 31st Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities ActBy Sam NewsJuly 26, 2021Today, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Kristen Clarke issued the following statements to mark the 31st Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the nation’s preeminent civil rights law that provides equal opportunity for people with disabilities.[Read More…]
- Remarks by Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband on the Announcement of Olmstead Settlement with the State of North DakotaBy Sam NewsDecember 14, 2020Good afternoon and thank you for joining us. Today, we are pleased to announce that the Department of Justice and the State of North Dakota have reached a comprehensive settlement agreement to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The agreement commits North Dakota to expand services for individuals with disabilities so, when appropriate, they will be able to choose to remain in their own homes, near family and friends, while receiving the services they need, instead of entering or remaining in nursing facilities to receive care.[Read More…]
- Mortality in State and Federal Prisons, 2001-2018 – Statistical TablesBy Sam NewsIn Justice NewsMay 2, 2021(Publication)
This report presents detailed statistical tables on mortality in state and federal prisons. It provides information on cause of death; decedent characteristics, and mortality rates of inmate populations.
4/29/2021, NCJ 255970, E. Ann Carson [Read More…]
- Man Arrested in Connection with Alleged Role in Twitter HackBy Sam NewsJuly 21, 2021A citizen of the United Kingdom was arrested today in Estepona, Spain, by Spanish National Police pursuant to a U.S. request for his arrest on multiple charges in connection with the July 2020 hack of Twitter that resulted in the compromise of over 130 Twitter accounts, including those belonging to politicians, celebrities and companies.[Read More…]
- Presidential Election in MongoliaBy Sam NewsJune 11, 2021
- GAO Audits Involving DOD: Status of Efforts to Schedule and Hold Timely Entrance ConferencesBy Sam NewsAugust 14, 2020GAO began 42 new audits that involved the Department of Defense (DOD) in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020. Of the 42 requested entrance conferences (i.e., initial meetings between agency officials and GAO staff) for those audits, DOD scheduled 41 within 14 days of notification and held all 42 entrance conferences within 30 days of notification. Scheduling was delayed for one entrance conference, which was scheduled 21 days after notification, because DOD and GAO were working to reach agreement on the primary action officer, which is the appropriate office or component within the department that coordinates DOD's response to the audit. The entrance conference was held 8 days after it was scheduled. Entrance conferences allow GAO to communicate its audit objectives and enable agencies to assign key personnel to support the audit work. GAO's agency protocols govern GAO's relationships with audited agencies. These protocols assist GAO in scheduling entrance conferences with key agency officials within 14 days of receiving notice of a new audit. The ability of the Congress to conduct effective oversight of federal agencies is enhanced through the timely completion of GAO audits. In past years, DOD experienced difficulty meeting the protocol target for the timely facilitation of entrance conferences. In Senate Report 116-48 accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, the Senate Armed Services Committee included a provision for GAO to review DOD's scheduling and holding of entrance conferences. In this report, GAO's agency protocols govern GAO's relationships with audited agencies. These protocols assist GAO in scheduling entrance conferences with key agency officials within 14 days of receiving notice of a new audit. The ability of the Congress to conduct effective oversight of federal agencies is enhanced through the timely completion of GAO audits. In past years, DOD experienced difficulty meeting the protocol target for the timely facilitation of entrance conferences. In Senate Report 116-48 accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, the Senate Armed Services Committee included a provision for GAO to review DOD's scheduling and holding of entrance conferences. In this report, GAO evaluates the extent to which DOD scheduled entrance conferences within 14 days of receiving notice of a new audit, consistent with GAO's agency protocols, and held those conferences within 30 days. This is the third of four quarterly reports that GAO will produce on this topic for fiscal year 2020. In the first two quarterly reports, GAO found that DOD had improved its ability to meet the protocol target. GAO analyzed data on GAO audits involving DOD and initiated in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020 (April 1, 2020, through June 30, 2020). Specifically, GAO identified the number of notification letters requesting entrance conferences that were sent to DOD during that time period. GAO determined the number of days between when DOD received the notification letter for each new audit and when DOD scheduled the entrance conference and assessed whether DOD scheduled entrance conferences within 14 days of notification, which is the time frame identified in GAO's agency protocols. GAO also determined the date that each requested entrance conference was held by collecting this information from the relevant GAO team for each audit and assessed whether DOD held entrance conferences for new audits within 30 days of notification, which was the time frame identified in the mandate for this review For more information, contact Elizabeth Field at (202) 512-2775 or Fielde1@gao.gov.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken Before Virtual Meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru KenyattaBy Sam NewsApril 27, 2021
- Supplemental Security Income: SSA Faces Ongoing Challenges with Work Incentives and Improper PaymentsBy Sam NewsSeptember 21, 2021What GAO Found The Social Security Administration (SSA) has undertaken several efforts to encourage employment for individuals with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and who would like to work, but few benefit from these supports. Work incentives and supports for transition-age youth. SSA administers work incentives and other employment supports for transition-age youth (ages 14 to 17) on SSI. These supports encourage work by allowing these youth to keep at least some of their benefits even if they have earnings. In 2017, GAO analysis of SSA data from 2012 to 2015 found that less than 1.5 percent of SSI youth benefitted from these incentives. According to SSA and other officials, this may be because SSI youth and their families are often unaware of or do not understand the incentives, and may fear that work will negatively affect their benefits or eligibility. Work incentives for working-age adults. The Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program (Ticket) is a voluntary program that was established to assist individuals with disabilities in obtaining and retaining employment, and help reduce dependency on benefits. Preliminary GAO analysis of Ticket indicates that SSI recipients participated more often than other disability beneficiaries, and benefited modestly from the program. GAO analysis of SSA data from 2002 to 2015 found, 5 years after participating in Ticket, about 4 percent of SSI participants had left the disability rolls due to earnings from work, compared with 2 percent of nonparticipants who were similar in characteristics such as age, disability type, and education. However, earnings for SSI Ticket participants remained low. GAO's analysis of data from 2002 to 2018 shows that average earnings for SSI Ticket participants, 5 years after participating, were $3,940 per year, including 57 percent who did not report any earnings at all. GAO's preliminary work also indicates that Ticket participants face a number of challenges to returning to work, including their primary disabling condition, which may not improve sufficiently to allow for fulltime employment, and disincentives to work such as the loss of cash and medical benefits. Prior and ongoing GAO work has identified issues with SSA's efforts to reduce improper payments, including overpayments, to SSI beneficiaries in general and beneficiaries who are working in particular. Overpayments can occur when beneficiaries who work do not timely report earnings to SSA or SSA delays in adjusting their benefit amounts. SSA reported that SSI's overpayment rate in fiscal year 2019 was estimated at 8.13 percent, higher than other SSA programs. Further, SSA reported it made approximately $4.6 billion in SSI overpayments in fiscal year 2019. Overpayments may have to be repaid, which may be burdensome for recipients, especially those who were not aware that they were overpaid and already spent the money. While SSA has taken steps to reduce overpayments, SSA's Office of Inspector General found that SSA had not resolved lags in updating information on beneficiaries' earnings. In addition, SSA has not implemented a 2020 GAO priority recommendation that it develop and implement a process to measure the effectiveness of its corrective actions for improper payments, including overpayments. Why GAO Did This Study SSI is a federal assistance program administered by SSA that provides cash benefits to certain individuals who are elderly, blind, or have a disability. SSI acts as a safety net for individuals who have limited resources and little or no other income. As such, SSI is a means-tested program. As of July 2021, approximately 71 percent of SSI beneficiaries were children or working-age individuals with disabilities. SSA faces longstanding challenges related to administering SSI and its other disability programs. GAO has issued multiple reports with recommendations on how SSA might address these challenges. This testimony describes SSA's challenges with (1) incentivizing employment for SSI recipients who wish to work, and (2) preventing improper payments to SSI recipients, including overpayments. This statement is based primarily on prior GAO reports issued between 2010 and 2021, as well as preliminary observations from an ongoing GAO review of the Ticket program. To conduct the work for these reports and the ongoing review, GAO used a variety of methods including analyzing data; reviewing relevant federal laws, regulations, and guidance; reviewing key agency documents, such as SSA's strategic plan and annual SSI stewardship reports; and interviewing experts and SSA officials. For more information, contact Elizabeth H. Curda at (202) 512-7215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- North Carolina Risk Consultant Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud and Illegally Possessing a FirearmBy Sam NewsAugust 21, 2020A Chapel Hill, N.C., businessman pleaded guilty today to filing a false tax return and being a felon in possession of a firearm, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin for the Middle District of North Carolina.[Read More…]
- Rebuilding and Enhancing U.S. Refugee Resettlement ProgramsBy Sam NewsFebruary 5, 2021
- Briefing with Senior Administration Officials Previewing Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Upcoming Travel to the People’s Republic of ChinaBy Sam NewsJuly 24, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
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- The Bank of Nova Scotia Agrees To Pay $60.4 Million in Connection with Commodities Price Manipulation SchemeBy Sam NewsAugust 19, 2020The Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), a Toronto, Canada-based global banking and financial services firm, has entered into a resolution with the Department of Justice to resolve criminal charges related to a price manipulation scheme involving thousands of episodes of unlawful trading activity by four traders in the precious metals futures contracts markets.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Settles with New Jersey-Based Staffing Company to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination ClaimsBy Sam NewsJanuary 13, 2021The Justice Department announced today that it reached a settlement with Collabera, Inc., a Basking Ridge, New Jersey-based information technology (IT) staffing agency. The settlement resolves the department’s claims that Collabera violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when it discriminated against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens.[Read More…]
- Owner of Jet Charter Company Settles False Claims Act Allegations Regarding Misappropriation of Payment Protection Program LoanBy Sam NewsAugust 26, 2021Seth A. Bernstein, the owner of jet charter company All in Jets LLC dba JetReady, located in Florida, has agreed to pay $287,055 to settle allegations that he misappropriated Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan proceeds for his personal expenses. JetReady is a jet charter operator with its principal place of business in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.[Read More…]
- Facial Recognition Technology: Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Should Have Better Awareness of Systems Used By EmployeesBy Sam NewsJuly 13, 2021What GAO Found In June 2021, GAO reported the results of its survey of 42 federal agencies that employ law enforcement officers about their use of facial recognition technology. Twenty reported owning systems with the technology or using systems owned by other entities, such as state, local, and non-government entities (see figure). Ownership and Use of Facial Recognition Technology Reported by Federal Agencies that Employ Law Enforcement Officers Note: For more details, see figure 1 in GAO-21-105309. Agencies reported using the technology to support several activities (e.g., criminal investigations) and in response to COVID-19 (e.g., verify an individual's identity remotely). Six agencies reported using the technology on images of the unrest, riots, or protests following the killing of Mr. George Floyd in May 2020. Three agencies reported using it on images of the U.S. Capitol attack on January 6, 2021. Agencies said the searches used images of suspected criminal activity. Fourteen of the 42 agencies reported using the technology to support criminal investigations. However, only one had a mechanism to track what non-federal systems were used by employees. By having a mechanism to track use of these systems and assessing the related risks (e.g., privacy and accuracy-related risks), agencies can better mitigate risks to themselves and the public. Why GAO Did This Study Federal agencies that employ law enforcement officers use facial recognition technology to assist criminal investigations, among other activities. For example, the technology can help identify an unknown individual in a photo or video surveillance. This statement describes (1) the ownership and use of facial recognition technology by federal agencies that employ law enforcement officers, (2) the types of activities these agencies use the technology to support, and (3) the extent that these agencies track employee use of facial recognition technology owned by non-federal entities, including the potential privacy and accuracy implications. This statement is based on GAO's June 2021 report on federal law enforcement's use of facial recognition technology (GAO-21-518). To conduct that prior work, GAO administered a survey questionnaire to 42 federal agencies that employ law enforcement officers regarding their use of the technology. GAO also reviewed relevant documents and interviewed agency officials. The June 2021 report was a public version of a sensitive report that GAO issued in April 2021. Information that agencies deemed sensitive was omitted from the June 2021 report and this statement.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, and Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton At a Joint Press AvailabilityBy Sam NewsSeptember 16, 2021
- [Request for Reconsideration of Protest of Army Bid Rejection]By Sam NewsAugust 12, 2021A firm requested reconsideration of its dismissed protest against the Army's rejection of its bid for whip antennas. GAO had held that the Army's corrective action rendered the protest academic. In its request for reconsideration, the protester contended that: (1) the Army enjoyed an improper relationship with the awardee and would improperly evaluate the protester's bid; and (2) it was entitled to reimbursement for its protest costs. GAO held that the: (1) protester's anticipation that the Army would act improperly did not constitute a valid basis for protest; and (2) protester was not entitled to reimbursement for its protest costs, since the Army acted promptly upon the protest. Accordingly, the request for reconsideration was denied and the claim was denied.[Read More…]
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- Priority Open Recommendations: Office of Science and Technology PolicyBy Sam NewsJuly 15, 2021What GAO Found As of June 2021, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) had 11 open recommendations. We are identifying three recommendations from our prior work as priorities for implementation by OSTP. These three recommendations relate to strengthening interagency collaboration on science and technology issues. As the challenges of the 21st century grow, it is increasingly important for executive agencies to consider how the federal government can maximize performance and results through improved collaboration. Our prior work has shown that many issues, including those in science and technology, cut across multiple agencies. In this regard, OSTP plays a critical role in bringing agencies together under the committees and subcommittees of the National Science and Technology Council. This mechanism provides a valuable opportunity for agencies to coordinate on implementing an administration's research and development priorities and to address cross-cutting science and technology issues, such as scientific integrity, public access to federally funded research results, reliability of research results, supply chains for critical materials, and others. Strengthening interagency coordination in these areas could help amplify the synergistic effects of related research conducted by different agencies, avoid unnecessary overlapping or duplicative research and development efforts, and share lessons learned or coordinate actions to address science and technology issues. Why GAO Did This Study Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015 GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations. This is the first year that we are providing a priority recommendation letter to OSTP. For more information, contact John Neumann at (202) 512-6888 or email@example.com.[Read More…]