Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, I congratulate the Commonwealth of The Bahamas as you celebrate your independence.
The longstanding partnership between the United States and The Bahamas has never been stronger. While the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged both our countries, our people have risen to that challenge. There is still much to do, in The Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean, and the United States will remain a steadfast and reliable partner as we work together to advance our shared priorities.
We will stand with you as you continue to address the pandemic, as you rebuild from Hurricane Dorian, and as you work to support human rights in the region. Efforts such as the U.S.-Caribbean Resilience Partnership, the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, and the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative are testament to our willingness to bolster cooperation on renewable energy, regional security, and resilience to the climate crisis.
On the occasion of your 48th year as an independent nation, the United States and its people wish the people of The Bahamas prosperity and happiness over the year to come.
- U.S. Delegation Meeting with Senior Taliban Representatives in DohaBy Sam NewsOctober 10, 2021
- Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan and IraqBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021U.S.-led Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) are designed to help improve stability in Afghanistan and Iraq by increasing the host nation's capacity to govern; enhancing economic viability; and strengthening local governments' ability to deliver public services, such as security and health care. PRTs are a means of coordinating interagency diplomatic, economic, reconstruction, and counterinsurgency efforts among various U.S. agencies in Afghanistan and Iraq. PRTs are intended to be interim structures; after a PRT has achieved its goal of improving stability, it may be dismantled to allow traditional development efforts to occur. In Afghanistan, the first PRTs were created in 2002 with the mission of facilitating security and reconstruction by helping the central government extend its authority to the provinces. Since then, PRTs have expanded their purpose to include strengthening local governance and community development. In Iraq, PRTs were initiated in 2005 with the mission to increase the capacity of provincial and local governments to govern effectively and, for newer embedded PRTs (ePRT), to support moderates and assist in the military's counterinsurgency efforts. To accomplish their missions, PRTs engage in and fund a variety of activities, such as developing the capacity of local governments through engagement with local stakeholders; promoting budget execution, business development, agriculture, public health initiatives, and governance; and supporting the delivery of basic social services. This report describes (1) the organization, staffing, and funding for PRTs in Afghanistan and (2) the organization, staffing, and funding for PRTs in Iraq. It excludes information marked "Sensitive but Unclassified" in our September 26, 2008, report on PRTs. Due to broad congressional interest in issues related to Iraq and Afghanistan, we completed this report under the Comptroller General's authority to conduct evaluations on his own initiative.Afghanistan, as of May 2008, the United States was leading 12 of 26 PRTs and 13 other coalition countries were leading the remaining 14 PRTs. All PRTs in Afghanistan are under ISAF's operational command, but individual nations, including the United States, lead PRTs and determine their size and structure. U.S.-led PRTs in Afghanistan are led by DOD and are composed primarily of U.S. military personnel. As of April 2008, 10 of the 12 U.S.-led PRTs included 88 or more military personnel--the majority of whom provide security and other support for the PRTs--and 3 civilian personnel from State, USAID, and USDA. The total number of U.S. government personnel assigned to U.S. PRTs in Afghanistan increased slightly from 1,023 personnel in 2007 to 1,055 personnel in 2008--which includes 1,021 military personnel from DOD and 34 civilian personnel from State, USAID, and USDA. DOD is responsible for paying nearly all of the costs associated with operating PRTs, such as providing their security and life support. However, DOD officials reported that DOD does not track PRT operating costs separately from other operational costs for Afghanistan. State, USAID, and USDA do not reimburse DOD for its support to civilian PRT officials in Afghanistan. PRTs have one source of programmatic funding available for projects in Afghanistan. PRT commanders can approve the use of funds for projects under DOD's Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP) up to $25,000 per project. PRTs in Afghanistan may also coordinate with other U.S.-funded programs, including other commanders' CERP projects and USAID programs, such as the Local Governance and Community Development project. In Iraq, as of August 2008, the United States was leading 28 of 31 PRTs and other coalition countries were leading 3 PRTs. As of August 2008, three types of U.S.-led PRTs were operating in Iraq: 11 PRTs at the provincial level of government; 13 ePRTs embedded with U.S. brigade combat teams and operating in local governments in Baghdad, Anbar, Babil, and Diyala provinces; and 4 Provincial Support Teams (PST), which are smaller PRTs that cannot be based in the intended province due to security concerns. According to State and DOD officials, the number of personnel assigned to PRTs and ePRTs in Iraq increased from an estimated 100 to 125 personnel in early 2007 to about 450 in July 2008. This increase was the result of the Administration's decision in January 2007 to create ePRTs and to increase the size of PRTs in support of The New Way Forward. DOD and civilian agencies have staffed the PRTs with a mix of U.S. government employees--permanent and temporary--and contractors. State reimburses DOD for some operating costs of ePRTs and most PRTs, based on a quarterly estimate for each PRT member. State's reimbursements do not cover the costs of PRT security and transportation provided by the U.S. military. According to DOD, as of April 2008, State had reimbursed $11 million to DOD for operating costs--$5.9 million for fiscal year 2007 and $5.1 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2008. State had also obligated $125 million for PRT movement security from September 2005 through May 2008 for PRTs in Iraq that are not embedded with U.S. military units or do not have access to military movement assets.[Read More…]
- Readout of Roundtable with Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta and State and Local Law Enforcement LeadersBy Sam NewsOctober 15, 2021In honor of Police Week, Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta hosted a roundtable discussion Thursday with various leaders from state and local law enforcement to discuss the importance of health and wellness.[Read More…]
- Three Defendants Sentenced to Prison in Multi-State Dog Fighting ConspiracyBy Sam NewsOctober 7, 2021Three defendants have been sentenced for their roles in an interstate dog fighting network across the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey.[Read More…]
- Cryptocurrency Fraudster Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud and Money Laundering Charges in Multi-Million Dollar Investment SchemeBy Sam NewsMarch 4, 2021A citizen of Sweden pleaded guilty to securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering charges that defrauded more than 3,500 victims of more than $16 million.[Read More…]
- Department of Energy Contracting: Improvements Needed to Ensure DOE Assesses Its Full Range of Contracting Fraud RisksBy Sam NewsJanuary 13, 2021GAO identified nine categories of contracting fraud schemes that occurred at the Department of Energy (DOE), including billing schemes, conflicts of interest, and payroll schemes. For example, a subcontractor employee at a site created fraudulent invoices for goods never received, resulting in a loss of over $6 million. In another scheme, a contractor engaged in years of widespread time card fraud, submitting inflated claims for compensation. The contractor agreed to pay $18.5 million to settle the case. DOE reported that it identified nearly $15 million in improper payments due to confirmed fraud in fiscal year 2019. However, due to the difficulty in detecting fraud, agencies—including DOE—incur financial losses related to fraud that are never identified or are settled without admission to fraud and are not counted as such. Fraud can also have nonfinancial impacts, such as fraudsters obtaining a competitive advantage and preventing legitimate businesses from obtaining contracts. DOE has taken some steps and is planning others to demonstrate a commitment to combat fraud and assess its contracting fraud risks, consistent with the leading practices in GAO's Fraud Risk Framework. However, GAO found that DOE has not assessed the full range of contracting fraud risks it faces. Specifically, GAO found DOE's methods for gathering information about its fraud risks captures selected fraud risks—rather than all fraud risks—facing DOE programs. As shown in the figure, DOE's risk profiles for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 did not capture four of nine fraud schemes that occurred at DOE. For example, one entity did not include any fraud risks in its risk profiles, yet GAO identified six types of fraud schemes that occurred at the entity's site. DOE plans to expand its risk assessment process, but officials expect the new process will continue to rely on a methodology that gathers information on selected fraud risks. The Fraud Risk Framework states that entities identify specific tools, methods, and sources for gathering information about fraud risks. Without expanding its methodology to capture, assess, and document all fraud risks facing its programs, DOE risks remaining vulnerable to these types of fraud. Fraud Risks Identified in Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 Risk Profiles Compared with Types of Fraud Schemes That Have Occurred at DOE DOE is planning to develop an antifraud strategy in fiscal year 2022 and has taken some steps to evaluate and adapt to fraud risks, consistent with leading practices in GAO's Fraud Risk Framework. Part of DOE's effort to manage fraud risks includes adapting controls to address emerging fraud risks. Additionally, DOE is planning to expand its use of data analytics to detect contracting fraud, beginning in fiscal year 2022. DOE relies primarily on contractors to carry out its missions at its laboratories and other facilities, spending approximately 80 percent of its total obligations on contracts. GAO and DOE's Inspector General have reported on incidents of fraud by DOE contractors and identified multiple contracting fraud risks. GAO was asked to examine DOE's processes to manage contracting fraud risks. This report examines, for DOE, (1) types of contracting fraud schemes and their financial and nonfinancial impacts, (2) steps taken to commit to combating contracting fraud risks and the extent to which these risks have been assessed, and (3) steps taken to design and implement an antifraud strategy and to evaluate and adapt its approach. GAO reviewed relevant laws and guidance; reviewed agency media releases, Agency Financial Reports, and DOE Inspector General reports to Congress from 2013 through 2019; and reviewed documents and interviewed officials from 42 DOE field and site offices, contractors, and subcontractors, representing a range of sites and programs. GAO is making two recommendations, including for DOE to expand its fraud risk assessment methodology to ensure all fraud risks facing DOE programs are fully assessed and documented in accordance with leading practices. DOE concurred with GAO's recommendations. For more information, contact Rebecca Shea at (202) 512-6722 email@example.com or Allison B. Bawden at (202) 512-3841, firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Australian Foreign Minister PayneBy Sam NewsDecember 17, 2020
- Secretary Blinken to Participate in Christchurch Call to Action Leaders’ SummitBy Sam NewsMay 14, 2021
- United Airlines to Pay $49 Million to Resolve Criminal Fraud Charges and Civil ClaimsBy Sam NewsFebruary 26, 2021United Airlines Inc. (United), the world’s third largest airline, has agreed to pay over $49 million to resolve criminal charges and civil claims relating to fraud on postal service contracts for transportation of international mail.[Read More…]
- Justice Department, EPA and the State of Michigan Reach Clean Air Act Settlement with Arbor Hills Energy LLCBy Sam NewsSeptember 9, 2021Arbor Hills Energy LLC (AHE) has agreed to significantly reduce, if not virtually eliminate, AHE’s sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions at its landfill gas-to-energy facility (Facility) in Northville, Michigan, to resolve alleged Clean Air Act and State law violations.[Read More…]
- Maryland Man Pleads Guilty to Submitting False Claim to Steal Funds Intended for Afghanistan ReconstructionBy Sam NewsDecember 4, 2020A Maryland man pleaded guilty today to filing a false claim for his role in a scheme to divert hundreds of thousands of dollars in State Department funds to his own use.[Read More…]
- Priority Open Recommendations: Federal Deposit Insurance CorporationBy Sam NewsJune 1, 2021What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified three priority recommendations for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Since then, FDIC has implemented two of those recommendations. As of April 2021, the remaining open priority recommendation for FDIC involves the following area: Collaborating with other financial regulators to communicate with banks that have third-party relationships with financial technology lenders about using alternative data in underwriting. FDIC's continued attention to this issue could improve its ability to more effectively oversee risks to consumers and the safety and soundness of the U.S. banking system. We are not adding any additional priority recommendations this year. Why GAO Did This Study Priority open recommendations are GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional 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. For more information, contact Daniel Garcia-Diaz at 202-512-8678 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Texas Physician Found Guilty for Unlawfully Prescribing Over 1.3 Million Doses of OpioidsBy Sam NewsOctober 18, 2021A federal jury convicted a Houston-area physician for unlawfully prescribing more than 1.3 million doses of opioids.[Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with German Foreign Minister Maas By Sam NewsAugust 26, 2021
- Secretary Blinken’s Trilateral Meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi and Republic of Korea Foreign Minister ChungBy Sam NewsSeptember 23, 2021
- Libya Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsIn TravelSeptember 26, 2020Do not travel to Libya [Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod at a Joint Press AvailabilityBy Sam NewsMay 17, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- The Department’s 45-Day Review Following the Revocation of Proclamations 9645 and 9983By Sam NewsMarch 9, 2021Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
- Florida Recording Artist and Pennsylvania Man Charged for Role in $24 Million COVID-Relief Fraud SchemeBy Sam NewsOctober 6, 2020A Florida recording artist and a Pennsylvania towing company owner have been charged for their alleged participation in a scheme to file fraudulent loan applications seeking more than $24 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.[Read More…]
- North Carolina Return Preparers Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud the IRSBy Sam NewsDecember 3, 2020Two Durham, North Carolina, return preparers pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin of the Middle District of North Carolina.[Read More…]