Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
President Biden today affirmed the United States’ deeply-held commitment to welcoming refugees by issuing the Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions, which raises the refugee admissions target to 125,000 for Fiscal Year 2022. The United States is, and will continue to be, a global leader in international humanitarian response, including in refugee resettlement. Not only are we the largest single humanitarian donor, but we also seek to promote stability in regions experiencing crisis, advance protection and durable solutions for refugees, and facilitate international collaboration to address global refugee and humanitarian crises. In Fiscal Year 2020, the United States provided more than $10.5 billion in humanitarian assistance, including assistance for refugees.
In my consultations with Members of Congress, I underscored that the State Department is committed to rebuilding our U.S. Refugee Admissions Program in line with our long tradition of offering hope and safe haven to those fleeing persecution. We are diligently working to rebuild the infrastructure of the program, including by strengthening our refugee processing systems, providing for new funding at the local and state levels to enhance the capacity of our domestic resettlement partners, and expanding community sponsorship programs.
In our history as a nation, we have resettled more than 3.1 million refugees, and we are now also in the midst of safely welcoming in the United States tens of thousands of previously at-risk Afghans, reflections of our core American values to provide refuge to those in need. We recognize the tremendous social, economic, and cultural contributions refugees make to communities across the United States, and we are committed to rebuilding a robust U.S. Refugee Admissions Program while ensuring its integrity and protecting our national security interests. A robust refugee admissions program is a cornerstone of the President’s commitment to rebuilding a safe, orderly, and humane migration system.
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Armenian Acting Prime Minister PashinyanBy Sam NewsJuly 14, 2021
- Judges, Lawyers Bring Life Skills to Virtual Classroom Activities for Home and SchoolBy Sam NewsIn U.S CourtsAugust 6, 2020High school teachers can bring real-life civics into their virtual lessons when they invite federal judges and volunteer attorneys to facilitate a civil discourse and decision-making simulation with students at home or in the classroom this fall.[Read More…]
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- Improvement Continues in DOD’s Reporting on Sustainable Ranges, but Opportunities Exist to Improve Its Range Assessments and Comprehensive PlanBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021In the midst of the global war on terrorism and recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense (DOD) is working to make U.S. forces more agile and expeditionary. This transformation involves a shift from a Cold War era defense posture to a military that can surge quickly to trouble spots around the globe. In order to accomplish this transformation, it is vital for U.S. forces to train as they intend to fight. New advances in technology, coupled with this shift in force posture, mean that DOD needs to continually update and maintain its training ranges. Military training ranges vary in size from a few acres--for small arms training--to over a million acres for large maneuver exercises and weapons testing, as well as broad open ocean areas that provide for offshore training and testing. These ranges face ever increasing limitations and restrictions on land, water, and airspace as residential, commercial, and industrial development continues to expand around and encroach upon once remote military training and testing installations. Section 366 of the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003, dated December 2, 2002, required that the Secretary of Defense report on several items. First, the Secretary of Defense was required to develop a comprehensive plan for using existing authorities available to the Secretary of Defense and the military services to address training constraints caused by limitations on the use of military lands, marine areas, and airspace--both in the United States and overseas. As part of the preparation of the plan, section 366 required the Secretary of Defense to conduct an assessment of current and future training range requirements and an evaluation of the adequacy of current DOD resources, including virtual and constructive assets, to meet current and future training range requirements. Second, section 366 required the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress, not later than June 30, 2003, on the plans to improve DOD's system to reflect the readiness impact that training constraints caused by limitations on the use of military lands, marine areas, and airspace have on specific units of the military services. Third, section 366 required the Secretary to develop and maintain an inventory that identifies all available operational training ranges, all training range capacities and capabilities, and any training constraints caused by limitations at each training range in fiscal year 2004, and provide an updated inventory to Congress for fiscal years 2005 through 2013. Section 366(d) of the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003 requires GAO to submit to Congress an evaluation of DOD's report regarding its training range comprehensive plan and its readiness reporting improvements within 90 days of receiving the report from DOD. This report is our fourth review in response to our mandate in section 366 of the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003. This report discusses (1) the extent to which DOD's 2007 sustainable ranges report and training range inventory address the elements of section 366 that were required to be in DOD's fiscal year 2004 sustainable ranges report and (2) an opportunity for DOD to improve its comprehensive plan within the sustainable ranges report to better address the elements of section 366.Although DOD's 2007 sustainable ranges report and inventory still do not fully address all of the elements of section 366 required for DOD's original fiscal year 2004 report and inventory, DOD has continued to improve them and the current report and inventory represent an improvement over those from previous years. First, in an effort to improve the annual report and inventory, DOD has taken initial steps to provide the results of an assessment of current and future training range requirements and an evaluation of the adequacy of current DOD resources. These assessments also help improve the training range inventory by helping to identify all training capacities and capabilities available at each training range and to identify training constraints caused by limitations on the use of military lands, marine areas, and airspace at each training range. Until better criteria and a more standardized methodology are developed, DOD and the services will not be presenting a consistent and accurate picture of range capabilities and needs, and will therefore be unable to identify shortfalls or gaps in their capabilities or make informed decisions about where to invest sustainment dollars DOD-wide. Second, like previous years' reports, DOD's 2007 report does not provide new recommendations for legislative or regulatory changes to address training constraints, although DOD's original 2004 report was required by section 366 to include any recommendations that the Secretary may have for legislative or regulatory change to address training constraints identified pursuant to section 366. Third, although DOD's readiness reporting system does not yet include training ranges, DOD's 2007 sustainable ranges report describes DOD's plans to improve its reporting system to reflect the readiness impact that training constraints have on the services. DOD officials told us that workshops had been scheduled to develop the system and that it should be initially operational by the end of calendar year 2008. Even with these improvements in the sustainable range report and inventory, DOD has the opportunity to improve its comprehensive plan presented within its sustainable ranges report by including projected funding requirements for implementing planned actions. We asked the services for information about their range sustainment funding, and each service was able to provide us with an estimate of its budget for range sustainment for fiscal year 2008. According to DOD officials, this information was not included in the report because it presents only a partial picture of the money being spent on range sustainment. We believe, however, that even this partial information is important to include in the report because without it, Congress will have difficulty making informed decisions about funding range sustainment activities.[Read More…]
- Former Boeing 737 MAX Chief Technical Pilot Indicted for FraudBy Sam NewsOctober 14, 2021A federal grand jury in the Northern District of Texas returned an indictment today charging a former Chief Technical Pilot for The Boeing Company (Boeing) with deceiving the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Evaluation Group (FAA AEG) in connection with the FAA AEG’s evaluation of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplane, and scheming to defraud Boeing’s U.S.‑based airline customers to obtain tens of millions of dollars for Boeing.[Read More…]
- Hypersonic Weapons: DOD Should Clarify Roles and Responsibilities to Ensure Coordination across Development EffortsBy Sam NewsMarch 22, 2021What GAO Found GAO identified 70 efforts to develop hypersonic weapons and related technologies that are estimated to cost almost $15 billion from fiscal years 2015 through 2024 (see figure). These efforts are widespread across the Department of Defense (DOD) in collaboration with the Department of Energy (DOE) and, in the case of hypersonic technology development, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). DOD accounts for nearly all of this amount. Hypersonic Weapon-related and Technology Development Total Reported Funding by Type of Effort from Fiscal Years 2015 through 2024, in Billions of Then-Year Dollars The majority of this funding is for product development and potential fielding of prototype offensive hypersonic weapons. Additionally, it includes substantial investments in developing technologies for next generation hypersonic weapons and a smaller proportion aimed at countering hypersonic threats. Hypersonic weapon systems are technically complex, and DOD has taken several steps to mitigate some of the challenges to developing them. For example, DOD has attempted to address challenges posed by immature technologies and aggressive schedules by pursuing multiple potential technological solutions so that it has options. Other challenges DOD is addressing relate to industrial base and human capital workforce investments needed to support large-scale production and the availability of wind tunnels and open-air flight test ranges needed to test hypersonic weapons. DOE and NASA have agreements with DOD on supporting roles, but DOD itself has not documented the roles, responsibilities, and authorities of the multitude of its organizations, including the military services, that are working on hypersonic weapon development. Such governing documentation would provide for a level of continuity when leadership and organizational priorities inevitably change, especially as hypersonic weapon development efforts are expected to continue over at least the next decade. Without clear leadership roles, responsibilities, and authorities, DOD is at risk of impeding its progress toward delivering hypersonic weapon capabilities and opening up the potential for conflict and wasted resources as decisions over larger investments are made in the future. Why GAO Did This Study Hypersonic missiles, which are an important part of building hypersonic weapon systems, move at least five times the speed of sound, have unpredictable flight paths, and are expected to be capable of evading today's defensive systems. DOD has begun multiple efforts to develop offensive hypersonic weapons as well as technologies to improve its ability to track and defend against them. NASA and DOE are also conducting research into hypersonic technologies. The investments for these efforts are significant. This report identifies: (1) U.S. government efforts to develop hypersonic systems that are underway and their costs, (2) challenges these efforts face and what is being done to address them, and (3) the extent to which the U.S. government is effectively coordinating these efforts. This is a public version of a sensitive report that GAO issued in January 2021. Information that DOD deemed to be sensitive has been omitted. GAO collected and reviewed information from DOD, DOE, and NASA to identify hypersonic weapons development efforts from fiscal years 2015 through 2024. GAO also analyzed agency documentation and interviewed agency officials.[Read More…]
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- Detroit Tax Preparer Indicted for Preparing False Tax ReturnsBy Sam NewsOctober 12, 2021A federal grand jury in Detroit, Michigan, charged a Detroit tax preparer on Oct. 7 with 15 counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns.[Read More…]
- State Department Terrorist Designations of HASM and Its Leaders and Maintenance of PIJ FTO DesignationBy Sam NewsJanuary 14, 2021
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- Army and Marine Corps Training: Metrics Needed to Assess Initiatives on Training Management SkillsBy Sam NewsAugust 23, 2021Over the past decade, Army and Marine Corps forces have deployed repeatedly with limited time between deployments. At their home stations, combat training centers, and other locations, units have focused their limited training time on training for counterinsurgency operations. Prior to deploying, units also conduct a large-scale exercise referred to as a culminating training event. With the drawdown of forces in Iraq, the services have begun to resume training for a fuller range of offensive, defensive, and stability missions. The House report to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 directed GAO to report on the Army's and Marine Corps' abilities to complete training requirements. GAO assessed the extent to which the services' (1) active component forces are completing training prior to the culminating training event and (2) leaders are positioned to plan and manage training as forces resume training for a fuller range of missions. GAO analyzed training requirements and unit training documentation, and interviewed headquarters and unit personnel during site visits between July 2010 and July 2011.Deploying Army and Marine Corps units conduct extensive predeployment training--both individual and collective, to include a large-scale culminating training event--at their home stations, combat training centers, and other locations. However, several factors, such as limited training time between deployments, the large number of training requirements, and the current focus on counterinsurgency operation training have been preventing units from completing all desired training prior to the culminating training event. For example, based on GAO's site visits, 7 of 13 units were not able to complete all of the desired individual and collective training (e.g., company-level live fire training) prior to arriving at the combat training centers. Further, officials from all of the units GAO spoke with stated that they planned to delay certain training until they were at the combat training centers since resources--such as theater-specific equipment like mine resistant ambush protected vehicles--were more readily available there. GAO found that some units had to train to improve proficiency levels at the combat training centers prior to beginning the culminating training events, and therefore were not always able to take full advantage of the training opportunities available to them at the combat training centers to conduct complex, higher-level training. Still, according to trainers at the combat training centers, while units arrive with varying levels of proficiency, all forces leave with at least the platoon level proficiency required to execute the counterinsurgency missions required for ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the past decade, continuous overseas deployments have reduced training timeframes and resulted in senior leaders assuming training management responsibilities from junior leaders. Specifically, leaders at higher headquarters have taken responsibility for much of the training management function--planning, preparing, and assessing training--while junior leaders have focused primarily on training execution. However, changing conditions, such as increased competition for resources in a constrained fiscal environment, increased time at home station, and a return to training for a fuller range of missions, make it imperative that all leaders possess a strong foundation in training management. The services are developing various initiatives to restore and develop training management skills in their leaders, but neither service has developed results-oriented performance metrics to gauge the effectiveness of their efforts to restore these skills. As GAO has previously reported, establishing metrics can help federal agencies target training investments and assess the contributions that training programs make to improving results. Without a means of measuring the effectiveness of their efforts, the Army and Marine Corps will not have the information they need to assess the extent to which their leaders have the training management skills needed to plan, prepare, and assess required training. GAO recommends that the services develop results-oriented performance metrics that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of their training management initiatives and support any adjustments that the services may need to make to these initiatives. DOD concurred with this recommendation.[Read More…]
- Social Security Disability: Information on Wait Times, Bankruptcies, and Deaths among Applicants Who Appealed Benefit DenialsBy Sam NewsAugust 13, 2020GAO found that most applicants for disability benefits who appealed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) initial disability determination from fiscal years 2008 through 2019 waited more than 1 year for a final decision on their claim. Median wait times reached 839 days for claims filed in fiscal year 2015, following an increase of applications during the Great Recession. Wait times have decreased since then as SSA made substantial progress in reducing the wait for a hearing before an administrative law judge prior to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Individuals who filed appeals of disability benefits decisions were older and had less education than the overall population of working-age adults. Among these disability applicants, wait times for a final decision did not significantly vary by age, sex, or education levels. GAO's analysis of available data from SSA and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) found that from fiscal years 2014 through 2019, about 48,000 individuals filed for bankruptcy while awaiting a final decision on their disability appeals. This represents about 1.3 percent of the approximately 3.6 million disability applicants who filed appeals during those years. The applicants who filed for bankruptcy while awaiting a disability appeals decision were disproportionately female, older, and had more than a high school education as compared to the total population of disability applicants who filed appeals. Bankruptcies among individuals who were awaiting decisions about disability appeals may have been unrelated to the applicant's claimed disability. GAO's analysis of SSA disability administrative data and death data found that of the approximately 9 million disability applicants who filed an appeal from fiscal year 2008 through 2019, 109,725 died prior to receiving a final decision on their appeal. This represents about 1.2 percent of the total number of disability applicants who filed an appeal during those years. The annual death rate of applicants awaiting a final disability decision has increased in recent years. From fiscal years 2011 through 2018, the annual death rate for applicants pursuing appeals increased from 0.52 percent to 0.72 percent. Applicants who filed their initial disability claim during years of peak wait times and appealed their initial decision died at a higher rate while awaiting a final decision than applicants who filed their initial claim in years with shorter wait times. Disability applicants awaiting a final decision about their appeal who were male died at higher rates than applicants who were female and those who were older died at higher rates than those who were younger. Death rates were largely similar across reported education levels. Deaths among individuals who were awaiting decisions about disability appeals may have been unrelated to the applicant's claimed disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) manages two large disability benefit programs–Disability Insurance (DI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). As of December 2019, these programs provided benefits to approximately 12.3 million adults living with disabilities and their eligible dependents. A disability applicant who is dissatisfied with SSA's initial disability determination can appeal the decision to multiple escalating levels of review. From fiscal years 2008 through 2019, SSA received approximately 9 million appeals of initial DI or SSI decisions. GAO has previously reported that applicants who appeal a benefits denial can potentially wait years to receive a final decision, during which time an applicant's health or financial situation could deteriorate. Given the heightened risk of worsening medical and financial conditions for disability applicants, GAO was asked to examine the incidence of such events while applicants await a final decision on their disability claim. This report examines the status of disability applicants while they awaited a final benefits decision including 1) their total wait times across all levels of disability appeals within SSA, 2) their incidence of bankruptcy, and 3) their incidence of death. For wait times, bankruptcies, and deaths, GAO also examined variations across certain demographic characteristics of applicants. GAO obtained administrative data from SSA for all adult disability applicants from fiscal years 2008 through 2019 who filed an appeal to their initial disability determination. GAO used these data to calculate wait times across appeals levels, rates of approvals and denials, and appeals caseloads, and examined changes in these three areas over time. To describe the incidence of bankruptcy among individuals awaiting a disability appeals decision, GAO matched SSA disability data to AOUSC bankruptcy data for fiscal years 2014 through 2019. To describe the incidence of death among individuals awaiting a disability appeals decision, GAO matched the disability data to SSA's Death Master File. For all of these analyses, GAO also examined variations across demographic characteristics of applicants, including age, sex, and reported education level. GAO also reviewed relevant policies, federal laws and regulations, and agency publications, and interviewed agency officials. For more information, contact Elizabeth Curda at (202) 512-7215 or CurdaE@gao.gov.[Read More…]
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- Ongoing Investigation into Violent White Supremacist Gang Results in Rico Indictment and Additional Charges against Members and AssociatesBy Sam NewsOctober 28, 2020The Justice Department announced today that additional charges have been brought in a superseding indictment against members and associates of a white supremacist gang known as the 1488s. The 1488s have been charged as a criminal organization that was involved in narcotics distribution, arson, obstruction of justice, and acts of violence including murder, assault, and kidnapping.[Read More…]
- Venezuela: Additional Tracking Could Aid Treasury’s Efforts to Mitigate Any Adverse Impacts U.S. Sanctions Might Have on Humanitarian AssistanceBy Sam NewsFebruary 8, 2021The 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…]
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- Global Food Security: Improved Monitoring Framework Needed to Assess and Report on Feed the Future’s PerformanceBy Sam NewsSeptember 1, 2021What GAO Found Feed the Future (FTF), a U.S. government–wide global food security initiative coordinated by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), collects data to monitor how FTF projects promote agriculture, resilience, and nutrition (see photos). However, USAID and its FTF partner agencies are limited in their ability to use performance data to assess the initiative's progress because they have not set FTF-wide performance goals and few FTF indicators fully meet two key attributes of successful performance indicators. Specifically, only three of 40 performance indicators both (1) were clearly linked to the initiative's overarching goal and (2) had measurable targets. FTF has targets for its overarching goal of reducing poverty and child stunting; however, the FTF agencies cannot determine how the results of FTF's projects contribute to this overarching goal. USAID officials said it is difficult to set FTF-wide performance goals and targets because of the initiative's breadth. However, prior GAO work provides strategies to help the agencies conduct meaningful FTF-wide performance monitoring. Examples of Feed the Future's Agriculture, Resilience, and Nutrition Projects USAID'S 2017–2020 public reports on FTF include some information on FTF's projects, but contain unclear and unsupported statements on its progress. USAID followed two of four leading practices on performance reporting by including baseline or trend data and discussing data limitations in the FTF reports. However, the reports did not describe how the performance data align with and can be used to assess progress toward FTF's objectives—another leading practice. Further, the reports did not outline performance targets so readers could compare the performance data against these targets, also a leading practice. Lastly, although the reports stated that FTF has led to estimated decreases in poverty and stunting, FTF data do not support these statements on FTF's impact. As a result, FTF's public reports do not communicate a clear picture of the initiative's progress toward achieving its objectives. As required by law, USAID developed a process to assess countries' potential to graduate from being an FTF target country, but USAID has not fully followed this process. USAID developed annual scorecards to assess the countries; however, due to a bureau restructuring and the COVID-19 pandemic, USAID has not shared the 2019 or 2020 scorecards with its missions or the FTF partner agencies. USAID also has not worked with these entities to complete required annual reviews of the graduation assessment process itself. As a result, USAID has limited the partners' engagement in, and the usefulness of, this process. Why GAO Did This Study The United Nations reported that nearly 690 million people in the world were undernourished as of 2019, and estimated that food insecurity could worsen due to COVID-19. In response to the Global Food Security Act of 2016, FTF agencies monitor and report the progress of their global food security assistance and developed a process to graduate FTF target countries from the initiative. GAO was asked to review U.S. global food security assistance. This report evaluates, among other things, USAID's monitoring and public reporting of FTF's progress and assessment of countries' potential to graduate from FTF. GAO reviewed FTF documents and data, and interviewed representatives of USAID, FTF partner agencies, and other stakeholders, including implementing partners from four sample countries selected based on factors such as geographic diversity and amount of food security funding.[Read More…]
- Rebuilding Iraq: Resource, Security, Governance, Essential Services, and Oversight IssuesBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021Rebuilding Iraq is a U.S. national security and foreign policy priority. According to the President, the United States intends to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom and has a vital national interest in the success of free institutions in Iraq. As of April 30, 2004, billions of dollars in grants, loans, assets, and revenues from various sources have been made available or pledged to the reconstruction of Iraq. The United States, along with its coalition partners and various international organizations and donors, has embarked on a significant effort to rebuild Iraq following multiple wars and decades of neglect by the former regime. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), established in May 2003, was the U.N.-recognized coalition authority led by the United States and the United Kingdom that was responsible for the temporary governance of Iraq. Specifically, the CPA wasresponsible for overseeing, directing, and coordinating the reconstruction effort. On June 28, 2004, the CPA transferred power to a sovereign Iraqi interim government, and the CPA officially dissolved. To pave the way for this transfer, the CPA helped the Iraq Governing Council develop the Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period in March 2004. The transitional law provides a framework for governance of Iraq while a permanent government is formed. In June 2004, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546 provided international support to advance this process, stating that, by June 30, CPA will cease to exist and Iraq will reassert full sovereignty. Resolution 1546 also endorsed the formation of a fully sovereign Iraqi interim government; endorsed a timetable for elections and the drafting of an Iraqi constitution; and decided that the United Nations, at the Iraq government's request, would play a leading role in establishing a permanent government. Resolution 1546 further noted the presence of the multinational force in Iraq and authorized it to take all necessary measures to contribute to security and stability in Iraq, in accordance with letters annexed to the resolution. Such letters provide, in part, that the multinational force and the Iraqi government will work in partnership to reach agreement on security and olicy issues, including policy on sensitive offensive operations. Resolution 1546 stated that the Security Council will review the mandate of the multinational force in 12 months or earlier if requested by the government of Iraq and that it will terminate the mandate if requested by the government of Iraq. As part of our broad effort to monitor Iraq reconstruction, which we undertook at the request of Congress, this report provides information on the status of the issues we have been monitoring, as well as key questions that will assist Congres in its oversight responsibilities. Specifically, this report focuses on issues associated with (1) resources, (2) security, (3) governance, and (4) essential services. For the essential services issue, we focused on the Army Corps of Engineers' Restore Iraqi Electricity project, a major component of the U.S. assistance effort to rebuild the power sector.As of the end of April 2004, about $58 billion in grants, loans, assets, and revenues from various sources had been made available or pledged to the relief and reconstruction of Iraq. Resource needs are expected to continue after the transfer of power to a sovereign Iraqi interim government. Of the funds available, the United States obligated about $8 billion of the available $24 billion in U.S. funds. The CPA obligated about $15.5 billion of the nearly $21 billion in available Iraqi funds. The international community pledged nearly $14 billion. In December 2003, the CPA put into effect an Iraqi-led process to coordinate reconstruction efforts. An October 2003 U.N./World Bank assessment noted that Iraq's ability to absorb resources as the country gains sovereignty and decision-making authority will be one of the most significant challenges to reconstruction. The security situation in Iraq has deteriorated since June 2003, with significant increases in attacks against the coalition and coalition partners. The increase in attacks has had a negative impact on military operations and the work of international civilian organizations in Iraq. As part of the effort to provide stability, the coalition plans to transfer security responsibilities from the multinational force to Iraqi security forces and to dissolve Iraqi militias operating outside the central government's control. During the escalation of violence that occurred during April 2004, these security forces collapsed in several locations. However, key elements of the CPA's transition and reintegration process remain to be finalized. With U.S. and others' assistance, Iraqis have taken control of government institutions at the national and subnational levels. National ministries are providing some services to citizens as their facilities are being rebuilt, reforms are being introduced, and their staffs trained. According to the head of the now-dissolved CPA, all ministries were under Iraqi authority as of the transfer of power on June 28, 2004. However, the security situation hinders the ability of the ministries to provide needed services and maintain daily operations. To reform the rule of law, ongoing efforts have begun to establish a functioning independent judiciary, although courts are not at their pre-war capacity. However, efforts to rebuild Iraq's judicial system and restore the rule of law face multiple challenges. U.S. officials said that rehabilitating and reforming Iraq's judicial system will likely take years. The Coalition considers reconstruction of the power sector critical to reviving Iraq's economy, supporting essential infrastructure, improving daily well-being, and gaining local support for the coalition presence in Iraq. The CPA set a goal of 6,000 megawatts of generating capacity by June 30, 2004, in anticipation of the higher demand for power during the summer months. As part of the overall effort to achieve this goal, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has undertaken $1.4 billion in work under the Restore Iraqi Electricity (RIE) program. As of late May, the Corps anticipated that 59 of the 66 RIE projects expected to help meet the goal would be completed by June 30. However, electrical service in the country as a whole has not shown a marked improvement over the immediate postwar levels of May 2003 and has worsened in some governorates. RIE contractors report numerous instances of project delays due to difficulties in getting employees and materials safely to project sites. Further, the security environment continues to affect the cost of rebuilding the power sector.[Read More…]