Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, I congratulate all Togolese on the occasion of your 61st National Day.
The United States and Togo enjoy a strong partnership that promotes peace and stability, economic prosperity for all, and sound democratic principles. We commend the Government of Togo for their efforts to combat COVID-19 and protect public health and well-being.
The United States and Togo’s neighbors in the region value Togo’s efforts and sacrifices to help ensure security in West Africa, especially through contributions to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission on Mali (MINUSMA).
I send best wishes to the people of Togo as you celebrate your National Day. We look forward to working with you in the year ahead to make Togo and West Africa more secure, prosperous, and resilient.
- Lead Paint in Housing: Key Considerations for Adopting Stricter Lead Evaluation Methods in HUD’s Voucher ProgramBy Sam NewsMay 13, 2021What GAO Found GAO found that the Housing Choice Voucher program had 1.1 million voucher holders living in units built before 1978, the year the U.S. banned lead paint in housing. Of these units, roughly 171,000 were occupied by approximately 229,000 young children (under age 6)––putting these children at an increased risk of lead exposure. The voucher program requires visual assessments for identifying deteriorated paint, with no testing of paint or dust. Any change to stricter evaluation methods would need to consider that certain states have a larger portion of pre-1978 voucher units occupied by families with young children. Estimated costs for adopting stricter lead evaluation methods for the voucher program would vary substantially depending on the method used and what units were included (see figure). Estimated initial costs range from about $60 million for a less expensive method applied only to units with young children to about $880 million for a more expensive method applied to all pre-1978 units. These estimated costs range from 3 percent to 41 percent, respectively, of the fiscal year 2021 budget dedicated to public housing agencies' administrative expenses for the voucher program. Total costs would also depend on the mobility of voucher households and the frequency of any additional lead evaluations. Total Estimated Cost to Change the Lead Evaluation Methods for Housing Choice Voucher Units Would Vary by Evaluation Method Used and Units Included Note: A combination evaluation includes all components of a lead inspection and a risk assessment. Estimated costs may vary by up to plus or minus 14 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence. GAO analysis estimated that nearly 6,000 lead professionals can conduct lead evaluations in the U.S. While there is no indication of a national shortage of lead professionals, areas with high numbers of pre-1978 voucher units and low numbers of lead professionals may face implementation challenges. Selected cities offer observations from their implementation of a change in lead evaluation method. For example, education of landlords can help clarify new evaluation requirements and encourage landlords to continue to rent to voucher holders. Further, implementing a new method in phases could target areas with the greatest need and help landlords and the industry adapt to the new requirement and the increased demand for lead evaluations. Why GAO Did This Study Exposure to lead paint, which was used in housing built before 1978, can have serious health effects, especially for young children. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has primary responsibility for identifying lead paint hazards in housing receiving HUD assistance, including private rental units in the voucher program. Some members of Congress have raised questions about whether the voucher program should change from visual assessments to a stricter lead evaluation method. The 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Joint Explanatory Statement, includes a provision for GAO to review HUD's efforts to address lead paint hazards. This report identifies considerations for policymakers related to changing to stricter lead evaluation methods for the voucher program, specifically regarding the (1) number and characteristics of voucher housing units and their occupants, (2) costs for lead evaluations based on method used and units included, (3) availability of lead professionals, and (4) observations from selected cities that use lead evaluation methods stricter than visual assessments. GAO analyzed HUD data on the voucher program (as of year-end 2019, the most recent available) and information on lead professionals from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and states. GAO also conducted a nationwide, generalizable survey of lead professionals to estimate the costs of lead evaluation methods. In addition, GAO interviewed staff from HUD, EPA, and public housing agencies, and representatives from two national organizations that represent lead professionals. For more information, contact John H. Pendleton at (202) 512-8678 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Ohio Resident Pleads Guilty to Operating Darknet-Based Bitcoin ‘Mixer’ That Laundered Over $300 MillionBy Sam NewsAugust 18, 2021An Ohio man pleaded guilty today to a money laundering conspiracy arising from his operation of Helix, a Darknet-based cryptocurrency laundering service.[Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Cabo Verdean Prime Minister Correia e SilvaBy Sam NewsOctober 23, 2021
- Further Sanctions on Entities Trading in or Transporting Iranian PetrochemicalsBy Sam NewsMarch 18, 2020Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- USDA Food Box Program: Key Information and Opportunities to Better Assess PerformanceBy Sam NewsSeptember 8, 2021What GAO Found Through contractors, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farmers to Families Food Box Program purchased fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, and meat products from producers and delivered them to recipient organizations, such as food banks. USDA's goals for the program included providing food to those in need, helping contractors retain jobs, and supporting producers. USDA collected large amounts of data and analyzed various data on deliveries to recipient organizations—that is, total number of food boxes delivered to each state and per million people in each state—and determined that the program met its goal of providing food to those in need. GAO further analyzed USDA's data and found that 243 contractors delivered more than 176 million food boxes to recipient organizations across the U.S. and territories by the end of the program (see figure). GAO's analysis also found that food boxes were delivered to nearly 78 percent of all U.S. counties, including to more than 89 percent of counties where at least 20 percent of the population lives in poverty. Number of Food Boxes Contractors Delivered to Recipient Organizations for the Food Box Program USDA could not analyze the program's performance in meeting its other two goals: (1) helping contractors (i.e., distributors of goods) retain jobs and (2) helping food producers faced with declining demand—because USDA did not systematically collect the necessary data. For example, USDA did not collect data on (1) the number of jobs contractors might have lost but ultimately retained as a result of participating in the program and (2) the number, category, and size of participating producers or whether the pandemic had reduced demand for or sales of the type of product the producer provided for the program. USDA officials acknowledged that a key lesson learned during the implementation of the Food Box Program was the need to collect and analyze such data but that the department did not have time to do so. Federal guidance expresses the importance of balancing speed with transparency, and states that federal managers should use data and evidence to achieve program goals. By applying this lesson learned to current and future emergency food assistance programs, USDA would have greater assurance that it can assess program effectiveness even when it must move quickly in implementing a program. Why GAO Did This Study The COVID-19 pandemic caused disruptions in the U.S. food supply chain and contributed to a national hunger crisis. In response, USDA implemented the Food Box Program in May 2020. USDA directed a total of $6 billion in congressional appropriations to the program, which lasted 1 year. The program included organizations such as food banks, which received food boxes; contractors that purchased and delivered the food; and food producers, such as farmers and ranchers. The CARES Act contained a provision for GAO to conduct monitoring and oversight of the use of funds related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This report examines the extent to which USDA collected and analyzed data on participants in the program, including data necessary to assess performance in meeting program goals. GAO analyzed information from USDA's website, database, and departmental guidance. GAO also compared USDA's efforts to collect and analyze data on the program against federal guidance, USDA's strategic plan, and documents that include lessons learned. GAO also interviewed USDA officials.[Read More…]
- Briefing With Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor P. Nagy and U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael A. Raynor on the Situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray RegionBy Sam NewsNovember 19, 2020Tibor P. Nagy, Jr., [Read More…]
- Slilpp Marketplace Disrupted in International Cyber OperationBy Sam NewsJune 10, 2021The Justice Department today announced its participation in a multinational operation involving actions in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, and Romania to disrupt and take down the infrastructure of the online marketplace known as Slilpp.[Read More…]
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Response and RecoveryBy Sam NewsIn U.S CourtsJuly 2, 2020Federal courts are coordinating with state and local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to obtain information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) to aid their response, recovery, and reopening efforts. Courts are regularly releasing orders to address operating status, public and employee safety, and other court business.[Read More…]
- Indian national pleads guilty to role in nationwide tech support refund scamBy Sam NewsIn Justice NewsSeptember 30, 2021A 27-year-old Indian [Read More…]
- 30th Anniversary of the Closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test SiteBy Sam NewsAugust 29, 2021
- Company’s Vice President Pleads Guilty to Negligently Releasing AsbestosBy Sam NewsMay 21, 2021A New York man pleaded guilty today to negligently releasing asbestos and thereby exposing victims to an increased risk of death or serious bodily injury.[Read More…]
- Departments of Justice and Homeland Security Release Data on Incarcerated AliensBy Sam NewsOctober 16, 2020Today, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security released the Alien Incarceration Report for Fiscal Year 2019. The data shows that 94 percent of confirmed aliens incarcerated in Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and United States Marshals Service (USMS) facilities were unlawfully present in the United States. Additionally, the report found that nearly 70 percent of known or suspected aliens in BOP custody had been convicted of a non-immigration-related offense, and 39 percent of known or suspected aliens in USMS custody had committed a non-immigration-related offense.[Read More…]
- Uzbekistan Independence DayBy Sam NewsAugust 31, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- University Researcher Sentenced to Prison for Lying on Grant Applications to Develop Scientific Expertise for ChinaBy Sam NewsMay 14, 2021An 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…]
- Former Air War College Professor Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements About Relationship with Government Official in ChinaBy Sam NewsOctober 25, 2021A civilian professor at the Air War College on Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, pleaded guilty to making false statements to a federal agent.[Read More…]
- Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Austrian Foreign Minister SchallenbergBy Sam NewsNovember 11, 2020
- Medicaid: CMS Needs More Information on States’ Financing and Payment Arrangements to Improve OversightBy Sam NewsDecember 7, 2020States and the federal government share in financing Medicaid, a health care program for low-income and medically needy individuals. States finance the nonfederal share with state general funds and other sources, such as taxes on health care providers and funds from local governments. GAO's analysis showed a change in how states finance their Medicaid programs. In particular, states relied on provider taxes and local government funds for about 28 percent, or $63 billion, of the estimated $224 billion total nonfederal share of Medicaid payments in state fiscal year 2018—7 percentage points more than state fiscal year 2008. Nonfederal Share of Medicaid Payments from Provider Taxes and Local Government Funds, State Fiscal Years 2008 and 2018 Note: Percentages do not add up due to rounding. Furthermore, GAO estimated that states' reliance on provider taxes and local government funds decreased states' share of net Medicaid payments (total state and federal payments) and effectively increased the federal share of net Medicaid payments by 5 percentage points in state fiscal year 2018. It also resulted in smaller net payments to some providers after the taxes and local government funds they contribute to their payments are taken into account. While net payments are smaller, the federal government's contribution does not change. This effectively shifts responsibility for a larger portion of Medicaid payments to the federal government and away from states. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—which oversees Medicaid—collects some information on states' sources of funds and payments, but it is not complete, consistent, or sufficiently documented, which hinders the agency's oversight. For example, CMS does not require states to report on the source of the nonfederal share for all payments. Absent complete, consistent, and sufficiently documented information about all Medicaid payments, CMS cannot adequately determine whether payments are consistent with statutory requirements for economy and efficiency, and with permissible financing, such as the categories of services on which provider taxes may be imposed. Medicaid cost $668 billion in fiscal year 2019. GAO has previously reported on concerns about states' use of various funding sources for the nonfederal share. Although such financing arrangements are allowed under certain conditions, they can also result in increasing the share of net costs paid by the federal government and decreasing reliance on state general funds. GAO was asked to review the sources of funds states used for Medicaid and the types of payments made to providers. This report describes states' reliance on provider and local government funds for these arrangements; the estimated effect of these arrangements on the federal share of net Medicaid payments; and the extent to which CMS collects information on these arrangements. To do this work, GAO reviewed CMS information; administered a questionnaire to all state Medicaid agencies; analyzed the estimated effects of reliance on provider and local government funds; and interviewed CMS officials, as well as Medicaid officials in 11 states selected, in part, on Medicaid spending and geographic diversity. The Administrator of CMS should collect and document complete and consistent information about the sources of funding for the nonfederal share of payments to providers. CMS neither agreed nor disagreed with GAO's recommendation, but acknowledged the need for additional financing and payment data for Medicaid oversight. For more information, contact Carolyn L. Yocom at (202) 512-7114 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Former Chief Financial Officer of Publicly Traded Company Convicted of Securities and Accounting FraudBy Sam NewsAugust 2, 2021A federal jury in the Eastern District of Wisconsin on Thursday convicted the former chief financial officer of Roadrunner Transportation Systems Inc. (Roadrunner), a publicly traded trucking and logistics company formerly headquartered in Cudahy, Wisconsin, on four counts of violating federal securities laws for his role in a complex securities and accounting fraud scheme.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Participates Virtually at G7 Meeting with Security MinistersBy Sam NewsSeptember 11, 2021On Sept. 8-9, 2021, U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco met remotely with G7 and EU Security Ministers, along with the Secretary General of INTERPOL, to discuss responding to the rapidly evolving events in Afghanistan, as well as countering racially and ethnically motivated extremism.[Read More…]
- Preliminary Observations on the Use and Oversight of U.S. Coalition Support Funds Provided to PakistanBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021According to U.S. embassy officials in Islamabad and unclassified U.S. intelligence documents, since 2002, al Qaeda and the Taliban have used Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the border region to attack Pakistani, Afghan, U.S. and coalition troops; plan and train for attacks against U.S. interests; destabilize Pakistan; and spread radical Islamist ideologies that threaten U.S. interests. Since October 2001, the United States has provided Pakistan with over $10 billion for military, economic, and development activities in support of the critical U.S. national security goals of destroying terrorist threats and closing terrorist safe havens. A major component of this effort has been U.S. Coalition Support Funds (CSF) reimbursed to Pakistan. The purpose of CSF is to reimburse coalition countries for logistical and military support provided to United States military operations in the global war on terror. In Pakistan, reimbursements through CSF are intended to enable the government of Pakistan to attack terrorist networks in the FATA and stabilize the border areas. It is structured as a reimbursement mechanism in which the U.S. Department of Defense (Defense) policy is to validate that support was provided, costs were incurred, and these costs were incremental to normal Pakistani military operations. We were asked to assess how CSF reimbursements have been used to meet U.S. goals in Pakistan, and what controls exist to ensure that reimbursements are for legitimate claims.For the period covering October 2001 through June 2007, the United States reimbursed Pakistan about $5.56 billion in CSF for military operations in FATA and other support in the war on terror. CSF reimbursement funds are paid directly into the Pakistani government treasury and become sovereign funds. Once they become sovereign funds, the U.S. government has no oversight authority over these funds. In response to a Defense Inspector General review conducted in 2003, DOD implemented additional guidance to improve oversight of the CSF reimbursed to Pakistan. Moreover, in 2007, the Office of the Defense Representative to Pakistan (ODRP) began playing a larger role in overseeing CSF reimbursement claims. In performing oversight, ODRP reviews the Pakistani claims and indicates that to the best of their knowledge military support was provided and expenses were actually incurred. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) then validates that Pakistani operations listed were essential to support U.S. military operations in the theater. The claims are sent to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Comptroller, who (1) performs a macro-level review comparing the cost to similar operations, and (2) assesses whether the cost categories are reasonable, selected subcategories are reasonable compared to U.S. costs, and costs are consistent with previous claims. In addition, both the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and the State Department verify that the reimbursement is consistent with the U.S. government's National Security Strategy and that the CSF payment does not adversely impact the balance of power in the region. In recent months, Defense has disallowed or deferred a significantly greater amount of CSF reimbursement claims from Pakistan.[Read More…]