Transcript of the Transatlantic Trends 2021 Launch Event: A Conversation with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman

Wendy R. Sherman, Deputy Secretary of State

Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, Director of the German Marshall Fund

Irene Braam, Executive Director of the Bertelsmann Foundation

Provided courtesy of the German Marshall Fund

Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, Director of the German Marshall Fund of the United States’ Paris office: Good afternoon, and good morning to all of you who are joining us from both sides of the Atlantic. I am Alexandra De Hoop Scheffer, director of the Paris office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. I have been coordinating with my colleagues here at GMF and with the Bertelsmann Foundation for the Transatlantic Trends Survey, which we are officially launching today. As President Biden is embarking today on his first European trip to attend the G7, NATO, EU-US Summits and then meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the findings of this survey conducted in 11 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the UK and the United States –  provide a remarkable overview of the perception of current and future challenges, as well as a comparative analysis of the convergence and divergence of views among allies on some of the most pressing policy issues, which will be discussed during the summits. I’m absolutely delighted to be joined by Ambassador Wendy Sherman, Deputy Secretary of State of the United States, to discuss some of these key findings and also to discuss some of the most critical issues today for the transatlantic partnership and looking also at the future of this relationship. Before getting to the discussion, I wanted to pass the virtual floor to my colleague, Irene Braam, the executive director of the Bertelsmann Foundation to say a few words, Irene.

Irene Braam, Executive Director of the Bertelsmann Foundation: Thank you, Alexandra, and a very pleasant morning and afternoon to one and all from Washington, DC. Thank you for being with us here today. 2021 opens a new chapter for the transatlantic relationship; a new US administration, important upcoming elections in Europe, and a society eager to move towards a post pandemic time, are redefining the transatlantic agenda. Global challenges such as climate change, public health, technological disruption, and geopolitical shifts justify increased calls for closer cooperation between the transatlantic partners. For this cooperation to be successful, it is important to understand what citizens on both sides of the Atlantic expect from their national governments and their political leaders. That insight, the need to anchor this cooperation in the perceptions and desires of the population, is at the core of the Transatlantic Trends project. Transatlantic Trends is not just a project about transatlantic cooperation. It is a truly transatlantic initiative between North American and European partners. And on behalf of the Bertelsmann Foundation, I would like to thank the German Marshall Fund for initiating this project and bringing us all along. I also would like to thank the Business Council of Canada and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung for supporting the 2021 edition. Lastly, but very important, I would like to thank the authors of the report: Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, Brandon Bohrn, Gesine Weber, Tony Silberfeld and Martin Quencez. Ambassador Sherman, Alexandra, the virtual floor is all yours.

Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you very much, Ambassador Sherman. Thank you again for joining us. Thank you for your interest in the Transatlantic Trends. You recently traveled to Europe, Turkey, and the Indo-Pacific. And there’s another intense diplomatic sequence starting this week with the G7. I think we were all interested in hearing your views on the transatlantic relationship, and President Biden’s upcoming trip to Europe. If you could also share some of your views on some of the key findings of the Transatlantic Trends that you thought were particularly relevant or maybe surprising, that would be that would be fantastic. Thank you again very much for joining us, and the floor is yours before engaging the conversation.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of StateAmbassador Wendy Sherman: Good morning. Good afternoon, Alexandra and Irene and thank you for that very kind introduction. I want to thank the German Marshall Fund and the Bertelsmann Foundation for your support of this important annual study and for organizing today’s events.

As was mentioned, I’ve just returned from my first overseas trip as Deputy Secretary of State, which began with meetings with both NATO and the EU leadership. I started my 11 day sojourn in Brussels, because I wanted to demonstrate as President Biden likes to say, that America is back. The transatlantic alliance is back.

Over the last 75 years, the United States and our European allies and partners have built a durable, democratic, and prosperous transatlantic community. Ours is an alliance that shaped the 20th century for the better, and help deliver security and opportunity not only for our own people, but for people everywhere.

Today, the transatlantic community is facing new challenges. As we’ve seen with the covid-19 pandemic, a crisis in one country can quickly engulf the entire world. We’re facing immediate and long-term threats from climate change. And our countries are under sustained attack by agents who are hostile to our democratic values, and who seek to undermine the rules-based international order we’ve worked so hard to build together.

It’s clear to President Biden, it’s clear to Secretary Blinken, and it’s clear to me that the only way the United States can meet these challenges is by working with our allies and partners. And our transatlantic ties remain the strongest foundation we have for realizing a better future for ourselves and the world.

This week, President Biden will underscore the United States’ commitment to our multilateral alliances, as he makes his first foreign trip to the United Kingdom and Belgium for summits with the G7, NATO, and with the EU.

The President will reiterate the United States’ steadfast commitment to NATO. The common defense of our NATO allies is a sacred trust, and the United States will always keep faith with Article Five: that an attack on one is an attack on all. And we will continue working with our partners to strengthen and modernize NATO, to tackle the challenges and threats we face today. And President Biden will seek to advance a common agenda with our G7 and EU partners on a wide range of issues from ending the Covid 19 pandemic and building our economies back better, to combating climate change and investing in clean energy, to deepening our collective defense of our democratic norms and institutions.

So, we have a lot of work ahead of us. The good news is that this is an agenda that has broad support from the public on both sides of the Atlantic.

I want to briefly highlight a few findings from the 2021 transatlantic trends report released this week.

There is a high level of trust on both sides of the Atlantic. A majority of Americans see our European partners as reliable, and majorities of Europeans feel the same about us.

The transatlantic community remain strongly supportive of NATO. A majority of those surveyed see NATO as important to their security, including more than six in 10 Americans.

In the European Union and the United States, the public sees the People’s Republic of China as, quote, “more of a rival than a partner.”

And there is an overwhelming consensus that our country should take a tougher stance, particularly around human rights, cybersecurity, and climate change.

These results tell us that the transatlantic relationship remains central, not only for the leaders of our countries, but for our people.

I want to offer more concrete thoughts on three issues that are top priorities for President Biden all of which are critical to the transatlantic community.

Ending the covid-19 pandemic is the most urgent task before us. In the United States and Europe, vaccines are allowing us to move back toward normal life. But as I saw firsthand on my recent trip, the pandemic is only getting worse beyond our borders. Even countries that had managed to hold infection rates down for many months, are now struggling with new variants and outbreaks.

No one is safe until everyone is safe. The United States is committed to working with our partners to manufacture more vaccines and supplies, to provide humanitarian and economic assistance and to make sure the world is better prepared for the next pandemic. Together, the United States and the European Union have pledged $45 billion to the global pandemic response. The United States has committed $4 billion to COVAX, more than any other nation. And we are working through the G7 and the G20 to accelerate both an end to the pandemic and to rebuild the global economy to the benefit of working people everywhere.

Last week, President Biden announced how the US will be sharing the first 25 million vaccine doses with countries around the world.  Out of at least 80 million, we intend to provide by the end of June, and I suspect there will be much more to come.

As the President said when he made the announcement, “we are sharing these doses, not to secure favors or to extract concessions. We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic.”

We must also contend with a crisis that was with us before covid-19 and will be with us long after. I’m talking, of course about climate change.

The Biden administration has put addressing climate change at the center of our foreign and domestic policy. And we aren’t wasting any time because we know we don’t have that luxury. The science tells us that we need to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, if we want to avoid catastrophe. But we’re about two thirds of the way to that catastrophe already. And the world is struggling to cope with more intense storms, deeper droughts, fiercer wildfires, and searing heat waves.

That’s why President Biden moved to rejoin the Paris Agreement on his first day in office. He appointed former Secretary of State John Kerry as his Special Presidential Envoy for climate change. And the United States announced an ambitious new target to cut our greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.

But just like ending the pandemic, we can’t solve the climate crisis alone. We’re working with our partners and allies every step of the way. That’s why on Earth Day, President Biden convened 40 world leaders in a virtual Climate Summit. We’ve restarted the Major Economies Forum on energy and climate, an important multilateral platform that helped make the Paris Agreement possible. And we joined 22 other governments to launch the second phase of Mission Innovation, a global effort to develop and deploy more clean energy.

Working together to combat climate change isn’t just about staving off catastrophe, although that’s important and urgent work; it’s also about seizing opportunity. The United States and Europe are home to world class research institutions, and innovative technology companies. When we invest in clean energy infrastructure, we create jobs and economic opportunity, reduce air pollution that harms human health, and improve the quality of life for people everywhere. And we set our countries up to win the future.

Finally, I want to talk about a challenge that’s going to help define the next century, and that is relationship between the United States, the EU, and China.

I was pleased to join the first high level meeting of the U.S.-EU dialogue on China two weeks ago. It was a productive and wide-ranging discussion, and the dialogue promises to be an important forum for collaboration as European capitals reassess their relationships with Beijing.

In recent years, China has used increasingly aggressive tactics to threaten the economies, security and values of the United States, and of our partners and allies. Beijing is targeting investments in critical infrastructure around the world and engaging in brazen thefts of intellectual property. They are committing appalling crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide in Xinjiang. And they’re waging a coercive campaign to undermine democratic values and rewrite the rules of the international system to favor their authoritarian approach to governance.

The United States’ position is clear: Our relationship with China will be collaborative where it can be, competitive where it should be, and adversarial where it must be.

Our aim is not to contain China, or to force other countries to choose sides. I made that crystal clear during my recent trip to Europe and Southeast Asia. Our goal is to uphold the rules based international system that has benefited all of us for decades, protecting freedom and human dignity, promoting prosperity and innovation, and keeping the peace.

Where we can, it’s imperative that we work with China, especially on issues that are truly global in scope, like climate change and health security.

And as President Biden has said, we welcome healthy competition with China on technology and the economy. Because so long as we’re all playing by the same rules, we’re confident that the world’s democracies can win the jobs and industries of the future.

But when the PRC violates international norms, and undermines the rules of the road, we won’t hesitate to take a stand. And for the United States, that means working with our partners and allies. The coordinated sanctions the US and the EU, together with Canada and the UK issued for human rights abuses in Xinjiang earlier this year, show that when we come together in defense of our values, we can put serious pressure on Beijing.

I remarked at the end of my time in Brussels recently, that I’ve been married to my husband Bruce for 41 years. And we don’t see eye to eye on everything. But we’ve always managed to find our way forward because we agree on so much more. And because we know how to work through our disagreements, I see the transatlantic relationship in similar terms.

I spoke to three big challenges today, where our interests are aligned. And where there are many more issues that we can touch on during our conversation. There are, of course, other areas where the United States and our transatlantic allies don’t agree, and where we will continue to discuss our differences.

But when one is standing on a firm foundation, a foundation of shared values, enduring trust and common goals, these discussions can only strengthen our relationship. And that is why the transatlantic alliance will continue to shape the world for the better in this century.

Thank you so much for this opportunity to speak with you today. I look forward to taking your questions and salute the German Marshall Fund and its partners on the Transatlantic Trends survey. Thank you.

Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you. Thank you so much, Ambassador Sherman, you put a lot of topics out there. I wanted to immediately get back to the EU-U.S. dialogue on China, which you mentioned that you recently launched with the European External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino. Could you tell us a bit more about this dialogue? What are the key issues that are being or will be addressed in this format? How do you articulate this EU dialogue with the NATO discussions on China? Because obviously, as we are heading to the NATO Summit, as well, it seems that China will also be an important piece of the NATO framework. So how do they complement one another? And what do you say to European allies who are concerned by a U.S. policy that sometimes is viewed from Europe as a sort of new Cold War with China and the fact that Europeans don’t want to feel squeezed between the United States and China? So, these are just a few questions that I’ve been regrouping on China, you can pick and choose. But I think it’s an interesting way of engaging the discussion.

Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: Thank you, Alexandra. I agree. You know, as I said, we do not seek to contain China, hold China back. We want China to play by the international rules of this world that we have all constructed together. And the U.S.-EU China dialogue is organized around six pillars: resilience, reciprocity, security, human rights, multilateralism, and engagement. And we had colleagues from the European External Action Service and across the different sectors. We had colleagues on the American side as well. And it wasn’t just a, you know, you do your talking points, we do our talking points, we actually had a dialogue on issues under each of these pillars, where we agreed where we disagreed, how we could go forward. And the Secretary General has sent me a follow up note about how we should continue this conversation. I’ll be replying to him shortly, so this is going to be an ongoing set of workstreams. That will help us to get closer on a on an agreed way forward, even though the broad principles are already agreed to.

The NATO alliance is also obviously critical. It is a security foundation for all of us, the United States and Europe. And so I think these two approaches really do work together. Because we are looking at things like trade, multilateralism, investment, resilience, supply chains, human rights, security, to the extent that is within the competence of the European Union, NATO is looking at broader security dimensions. And hopefully both of these institutions work together to help to help advance our objectives here.

We understand that China plays a role in everybody’s economy, the United States economy as well, both investing in China as well as back and forth exports from China to the United States. But we want to make sure as I said, that the international rules-based order that we have constructed together stands. And when China does not play by those rules, when China takes our intellectual property, when China uses cyber capabilities in ways that undermine that fair playing field, when China abuses the human rights of its people, takes over in essence, Hong Kong, creates a genocide in Xinjiang against the Uyghurs, accelerates its aggression vis-à-vis Taiwan, these are issues of concern for European allies, and obviously a concern for NATO, there are areas where we will work together. Right now, of course, in constructing, getting back to compliance or compliance in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran, China is part very much of that negotiating team.

On the issues of climate, we cannot get to where we want to get to 1.5 degrees Celsius without China taking action. And on global health, we certainly want to understand where the pandemic really came from, and how it originated, not only for our own scientific interests, but China should be interested as well so that we do not face another pandemic and that we all take whatever actions we need to, to ensure that we don’t face such a crisis again. So, it’s a very complex strategy, but one I think that we are developing together, and we had a very successful and very animated first session.

Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you very much Ambassador Sherman. About NATO, you know, since the so-called “braindead” debate, a lot of attention has been paid to NATO’s political cohesion. But even before that, there are some cracks in the Atlantic alliance, and something that is particularly striking in the Transatlantic Trends results is the Turkey results. On average, less than a quarter of transatlantic respondents think that Turkey is a reliable partner, while only 23% of Turks believe that the United States can be trusted, and you pretty much have the same percentages for other transatlantic allies.  You recently held political consultations in Ankara, Biden will be meeting with his Turkish counterparts in Brussels, how do you intend to deal with this, when we feel that there is a crisis of confidence with an important ally, such as Turkey?

Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: Well, I think Alexandra, you ended at a very important point, Turkey is a critical NATO ally. They are a very essential partner. They have been very helpful in Syria. They work with us in other countries around the world. They have been a partner in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It is not to say that we agree on everything. And we are concerned about their own approach to human rights, how they relate to countries that are in their neighborhood, including Iran and Russia. Russia in particular, obviously is of concern because of the S-400’s, which is an issue that is much discussed by the Turks and by us. So we had a lot of important conversations about issues around the world, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, elsewhere. They’ve been essential in the fight against terror around the world. They have been an important NATO ally, they bring forces that are critical to all of our security. So we had all of those discussions. And we also had discussions about where we disagree, where we have concerns, where we would like them to open up and have more democratic trends. So it’s not as simple relationship, few are in this world. But they are an important NATO ally, for all of us. And I think we have to continue to work on building and sustaining that relationship and encouraging Turkey to move in a direction where its democracy can really be real and strong and move forward.

Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer:  Thank you, but then I have a few questions on the EU-U.S. relationship. One question has to deal with the two Rs advanced by the Biden administration, the repair and the reform agenda, right? I think that the repair agenda is extremely visible and has already had a huge impact in repairing the damage caused by the previous American administration. But now we’re more in the sort of reform, or revitalizing agenda of the transatlantic partnership. So, the question here, also related to the EU-U.S. summit is: what concrete initiatives can be taken in that regard and what do you think should be done to adapt the transatlantic relationship to the current global challenges? And the more specific question on the digital and trade agenda, which are, you know, the trickier parts of the transatlantic agenda: How do you see the digital trade agenda moving forward? Do you expect any concrete results from the EU-U.S. summit?

Deputy Secretary of State Sherman:  These are all issues about which we share a lot of the values but have different ways forward. In the U.S.-EU dialogue that we had on China, we obviously touched on these: on the Privacy Shield, over where we’re headed in the digital economy, what we want to do to maintain security of that digital economy, on which I think we all agree, on how we build the technology. So, I would suspect in the U.S.-EU dialogue that’s about to happen, that we are going to see progress in all of these areas. We’re going to see the engagement of our economic leadership with yours to try to advance our way forward. And I think there will be some very significant and, and meaningful announcements in that regard. I think, on the NATO front, there will be I hope, an endorsement of NATO 2030, which is really: where should NATO head? What should it look like? How do we modernize NATO?

Look, we are in the US government trying to move our government into this 21st century, bringing on board people in our personnel system that make sure that we look like America, that we have a foreign policy that responds to the middle and working class, so people understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. I think that’s important to Europe as well, to make sure that as we move forward, we understand it has to make some sense to people in their daily lives, so that we have the support, we need to protect people’s security, to ensure their prosperity, and to ensure peace and stability in the world.

So, I actually think we are headed in a very exciting and innovative way forward to embrace the technology of the future and what that will mean for us. Yesterday, the Biden administration released a supply chain resilience report, which is all about things we’re going to do here. But it’s also about working with all of you to make sure that we as partners have resilience and redundancy in supply chains, so that if anybody gets in trouble, we know that our partners and our allies can help us out and we can help out each other. I think there’s an exciting way ahead. It’s very difficult. It’s complex. It’s going to take very specific actions by both of us to ensure that we win this century. But I have no doubt that we can and that we will.

Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Ambassador Sherman, you mentioned responsibility sharing in the transatlantic relationship. We’ve asked a question in the Transatlantic Trends about the perception of the influence of the EU in world affairs. Just a few, 14%, of the respondents across 11 countries surveyed perceive the EU as the most influential player. The United States was way beyond 60%. And China around 20%. But my question here- and I’m trying to regroup some of the questions coming from the audience- is really about the notion of, you know, co leadership or responsibility sharing between the United States and the EU. And I have a question on the security division of labor. How can the recent developments in European defense cooperation contribute best to reinforcing NATO and how can it lead to increased burden sharing in crisis management between the US and its allies, concretely? Could you give us any examples of crisis or threats where the United States would accept to let European allies of NATO take the lead? Are they ready for this yet?

Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: I already think there are areas where Europe takes the lead. I think Europe has taken the lead in the Balkans, I think Europe has taken the lead in Libya, I think parts of the European Union have taken the lead in some of the African crises that we have all faced.

I think more important than who takes the lead, is how we each play a role in trying to deal with very complicated issues in the world. And so, Europe may take a lead, but the United States may provide a critical piece of the puzzle. Similarly, we may take the lead and Europe supplies a critical piece of the puzzle. So, I think, you know, the European Union is a young entity, in historical terms. It has not been around all of that long. The External Action Service, I remember when it was created when Baroness Cathy Ashton was the first high representative and had to, you know, get a building built and people hired and get underway. And that’s a very short time ago. So, I don’t think people should underestimate the European Union. At the same time, I think we all acknowledge that the European Union is a young institution that’s made a lot of progress, has to build its own capacity, first, internally, which you have spent a lot of time on, still has some internal issues to deal with, as we have internal issues in the United States to deal with. But we each have a critical role. And the challenges that I outlined in my initial statement, we will see at the US-EU at the NATO summit, at the G7 in the days ahead. That it will be because we are forced multipliers with each other, that we can take on major security issues that we can take on the pandemic, that we can address climate change, and we can build the industry, the innovation, the technology of the future, to win this century.

Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you, Ambassador Sherman. You also mentioned the importance of shared values. Last December, the European Commission published a joint communication for a new transatlantic agenda, and the EU stated that it was ready to play its full part in the summit for democracy. As we can see also in the Transatlantic Trends results, many European countries are concerned about the state of their democracy and would support initiatives that help address the question of democratic decline that affects them. Could you help us understand, because from the European perspective, it’s still not very clear, what are the objectives? What are the goals of the Biden administration for this so-called summit for democracy? How do you envision transatlantic cooperation on this specific issue? And will this issue be raised at the NATO and/or EU-US summits?

Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: Well, the President of the United States just authored an op-ed that appeared in the paper, I think, yesterday or the day before. And the fundamental core of that op-ed is that the real challenge for all of us, is whether the future is going to be one of democracy or of authoritarian rule. And the President made no bones about it, that this is what is before us. And we need to use every opportunity to strengthen our democracies, to push back against authoritarian governments which repress the human rights of its people, imperil the security of other nations, don’t play by the rules-based international order, in every way that we can, and do so within our own governments as well. The summit for democracy is one forum for discussion of what that will take, including, of course, anti-corruption, efforts, transparency, the values of democracies, what we all can work on together, to make sure that the future ahead is one of democracy. When I think of my two little grandsons, and what kind of world I want them to grow up in, I want to make sure that they grow up in a democratic world, not an authoritarian world, and that crucible is before us now. And so, it is a fundamental part of the work we have to do, and the fact that the transatlantic trends says that there’s some question about that, that people aren’t sure how we get there just points to the tremendous amount of work we have to do. And I think we will see that theme discussed by the President and by other leaders in this trip to Europe, and in the discussions and bilaterals that the President of the United States and the other leaders have. This is a crucial question for each of us.

Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: To build on that, there are a few questions on the Biden-Putin bilateral meeting. And obviously, this meeting is going to obviously take place in a very tense period for transatlantic relations with Russia. Structural issues like arms control, energy security will, obviously be discussed. But, what should be the objective of this meeting in the current context? We have an attendee asking, will the Navalny question be raised directly by President Biden in that context? What are the expectations of the administration for its relationship with Russia? And finally, another question that I regrouped with this one: there seems to be a lot of concern from the Biden administration regarding a potential Russia-China strategic alliance, is this something that is of genuine concern for the current American administration?

Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: So, President Biden has been very clear, as has Secretary Blinken, that what we look for is a reliable, predictable relationship with Russia. We’ve also been very clear that when Russia abuses the rights of its people, as they have done repeatedly, regarding Navalny, that we will speak up, that we will push back, that we will raise our concerns, we will try to bring the international community with us in that concern, and to try to ensure that Mr. Navalny is safe, that he has the medical needs attended to; I just saw as I came in here, that it appears that his group has been outlawed. Another way to push back—and not surprising in front of the meeting with President Biden that actions would be taken for Russia to say, “this is who we are, and you can’t push us around.” So, I fully expect that the President will raise our concerns about human rights and what Russia has done: poisoning Navalny, the horrendous killing that has taken place in the past is of enormous concern. And I have no doubt the President will raise this. We will also talk about the areas where we need to work together, arms control has historically been one of them, and how we are going to operate with each other in the world. We appreciate that Russia is a member of the Security Council, a power in the world, has made itself well-known in parts of the world that perhaps it wasn’t in before, as they have done in Syria. All these issues need to be addressed. We are clear-eyed about Mr. Putin’s ambitions. But what we are looking for is a reliable and a predictable relationship with Russia.

Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you, Ambassador Sherman. Let me move to a topic that you particularly know well, which is Iran and the JCPOA. We have a few questions on that: What is your current assessment of the multilateral efforts to revive the JCPOA and to bring Iran back into compliance? What is the U.S. role in the short-to-medium term and what role does the EU play in that perspective? Does the Biden administration support a grand bargain that incorporates the nuclear issue with Iran’s destabilizing action in its neighborhood?

Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: Thank you. Well, first of all, my deep thanks to Europe. Europe held on to the JCPOA for as long as they possibly could. And Europe has been at the center of the current negotiation to try to get compliance for compliance, so that the United States can rejoin the JCPOA and to ensure that Iran agrees to continued conversation about the range of issues that are of concern to us: their behavior in the region, their human rights abuses, their missile development, where they are headed, their detaining of American citizens, and their never coming to account on Robert Levinson, a missing American who has been missing for quite a long time. So, there are a lot of issues with Iran, but at the center, must be getting back into this position of compliance for compliance. Because, if Iran is allowed to have a nuclear weapon, their ability to project power into the middle east will be even greater and project power toward Europe and to us even greater. And it will be impossible to deal with all of the other issues of concern. I know that the negotiation will start again over this coming weekend. I’m very grateful for the European Union, a political director who shuttles back and forth, as do other Europeans, between the hotel with the Iranians and where the Americans are, because this is not a direct negotiation, as you all know. And I think there’s been a lot of progress made, but out of my own experience, until the last detail is nailed down, and I mean, nailed down, we will not know if we have an agreement. This is complicated, of course, by the Iranian presidential election, which is happening in just a few days. And we will see where everything goes. I hope we can get to compliance for compliance, a commitment to continue to work on all of the other issues of concern. And I’m very, very grateful for what Europe has done in leading the way to trying to get back to the JCPOA, and then to build a stronger foundation for this relationship by addressing all of the other issues of concern.

Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you very much, Ambassador Sherman. And then I have a last question on this format of cooperation and this one deals with the G7. Some say that the G7 is outdated and needs to be reformed and expanded to include other democracies, i.e., from Asia. What is your opinion on that? And the related question is, would the ideal format be the sort of G10, which is pretty much how the G7 is going to be handled at the end of the week with Australia, South Korea, and India. What are the best formats of cooperation? It seems that Biden picks and chooses formats, depending on the issues. So, this is a group of questions on the formats of cooperation, the G7 and should be included additional countries, or should it be just some ad hoc approaches?

Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: Well, look, I think this is ultimately for the G7 as a group to decide. I think all of these formats are important. And I think regional organizations are important. One of the things we’ve seen by President Biden, Vice President Harris, Secretary Blinken is a return to the value of multilateralism and to organizations that can be force multipliers for the values and for the objectives that we all have. So, I think it’s terrific the G7 is meeting; but then bringing in other growing, developing economies, and important economies that can help be force multipliers for the discussions the G7 will have. I think the US-EU dialogue is critical. I think NATO is critical. I think, when I was in Southeast Asia, ASEAN is a critical organization to deal with issues in Southeast Asia, the quad that has developed with India, Japan, Australia, the United States, is a format that is useful. So, it is not that these are in competition with each other. They all provide slightly different approaches and take leads in different areas. ASEAN, for instance, is taking lead on the crisis in Burma, which we hope moves forward to a better place for the Burmese people soon, because it’s quite concerning. So, I think these are all good formats, very useful. Multilateralism is critical, even as countries have their own sovereign interests. The G7 got started as the largest economies in the world, industrial economies. I think there’s still some value to that as we look to the future of technology, but I also think it’s a terrific thing that India, Australia, South Korea have been asked to join to discuss the broad agenda that we all share in common.

Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you very much. A verylast question. We have two, three minutes left. There’s a lot of questions on Russia. What is the Biden administration asking from its European friends and allies in their Russia policy? The United States has shied away from sanctions on certain participants in the Nord Stream 2 project. What measures would you like to see from Europeans to set clear boundaries for Russia?

Deputy Secretary of State Sherman: This is a decision for Europe to make. Russia is in your neighborhood, in a way that it is not for the U.S. Your trading relationship with Russia is different than ours. So, this is a complicated question. Where Nord Stream 2 is concerned, as Secretary Blinken said in his testimony to the Senate yesterday, we do not think Nord Stream 2 is a good idea. We do not think it helps European security. We think that it creates problems for Ukraine and for European in general, we have tried to make that clear. To those who are building North Stream 2. We, of course, came into this administration when the construction of the pipeline was 95% done. So, it limits our options. We want to see whether there are ways to mitigate the issues of great concern to us. We are beginning those discussions in earnest.

We have not seen the operation of the pipeline yet. We hope that there will be serious consideration, if that goes forward. So, there’s much discussion yet to be had. It is a complex issue. We of course care deeply about our relationship with Germany, and are glad that we are in discussions to see if we can figure out a way to ensure the energy security in Europe, ensure that Russia does not play an outsized role in that energy security, to support Ukraine, which is constantly challenged by Russia. So, these conversations are critical. I hope we can find a mutual way forward. That is the ambition. But make no mistake, as the Secretary said yesterday, we do not think North Stream 2 is a good idea.

Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you, Ambassador Sherman, thank you so much for sharing your insight with us today in between two intense diplomatic sequences. We really appreciate your time. Thank you for your interest in the Transatlantic Trends, which everyone can now access. And we will be you know, watching very closely the outcomes of these summits. I think that one thing we truly have in common with the Biden administration as a European is that we want multilateralism to deliver and to be efficient and to deliver concrete results. So hopefully, this will be the case. And thank you again, so much. And we look forward to keeping in touch and have a great day.

Deputy Secretary of State: Thank you, Alexandra. It was terrific to be with you all today. Again, super job on the transatlantic trends. And yes, I agree with you. Democracy has to deliver. And that’s the work that we’re all doing together. Thank you.

Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you, Ambassador Sherman. See you all very soon. Thank you all for participating. Goodbye. Have a lovely day.

More from: Wendy R. Sherman, Deputy Secretary of State, Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, Director of the German Marshall Fund, Irene Braam, Executive Director of the Bertelsmann Foundation

Hits: 0

News Network

  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Before Their Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Engineer Pleads Guilty to More Than $10 Million of COVID-Relief Fraud
    In Crime News
    A Texas engineer pleaded guilty today for filing fraudulent bank loan applications seeking more than $10 million dollars in forgivable loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
    [Read More…]
  • American Contractor Sentenced for Theft of Government Equipment on U.S. Military Base in Afghanistan
    In Crime News
    An American military contractor was sentenced today to 51 months in prison for her role in a theft ring on a military installation in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    [Read More…]
  • Kennedy Center Facilities: Life-Cycle Cost Analysis and Other Capital-Planning Practices Could Help Minimize Long-term Costs
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts partially or fully met most selected practices for capital planning, procurement, and maintaining its facilities, but could take action to help ensure efficiency in future projects. Specifically, in planning for maintaining and renovating its facilities, the Kennedy Center met or partially met six out of seven selected capital planning practices. For example, it developed a capital plan for its portfolio of projects, budgeted for these projects, prioritized these projects, and completed an assessment of its facilities' conditions. The Kennedy Center has not, however, updated its capital planning policies and procedures for over 15 years nor did it comprehensively analyze the life-cycle costs—such as the cost of repair, maintenance, and operations—of its projects, including the recent REACH expansion. Implementing these two selected practices would position the Kennedy Center to ensure that it has a consistent, repeatable process for managing projects effectively and that it is making decisions early in the planning of the project to minimize the long-term costs to the federal government. Kennedy Center's Original Building with the REACH Expansion Six of the Kennedy Center's nine highest cost capital projects from 2015-2020 were within 10 percent of the contract award amount, a government benchmark. But GAO found that the Kennedy Center did not have up-to-date procurement procedures or well-documented projects. Without updated procurement policies and procedures in accordance with selected practices, the Kennedy Center could apply its procurement program inconsistently. Further, without complete project documentation, the Kennedy Center lacks reasonable assurance that project requirements are met or that it established traceability concerning what has been done, who has done it, and when it was done. This omission could potentially affect the quality of the product delivered to the Kennedy Center. The Kennedy Center met most selected practices for operations and maintenance. For example, it developed an operations and maintenance plan, used a specialized information system to help manage its activities, and used automatic control systems to enhance energy efficiency. However, fully defined policies and procedures for its operations and maintenance program would better position the Kennedy Center to meet its mission to provide the highest quality services related to the repair and maintenance of its facilities. Why GAO Did This Study The Kennedy Center is a national cultural arts center and a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy. The federal government funds the Kennedy Center's capital repairs and renovations of its facilities, as well as its operations and maintenance, all of which totaled $40.4 million in regular appropriations for fiscal year 2021. The REACH expansion, built using private funds, has increased the Kennedy Center's federally funded operations and maintenance expenses. GAO was asked to examine how well the Kennedy Center manages its projects. This report evaluates the extent to which the Kennedy Center followed selected practices in its: (1) capital planning, including for the REACH; (2) procurement; and (3) operations and maintenance, including energy efficiency and facility security. GAO selected criteria from government and industry to review the Kennedy Center's documentation for three projects that GAO selected based on cost. GAO assessed the Kennedy Center's capital planning, procurement, and operations and maintenance actions against selected industry and government practices and interviewed officials.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with French Foreign Minister Le Drian
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Indian Education: Schools Need More Assistance to Provide Distance Learning
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), within the Department of the Interior (Interior), has not provided BIE-funded schools with comprehensive guidance on distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, BIE issued a short memo directing schools to “deliver flexible instruction” and “teach content,” but did not offer specific guidance on how to do so. In July 2020, 13 of the 25 schools that responded to GAO's survey said they wanted BIE to provide information on developing and implementing distance learning programs. In addition, 12 schools responded that they wanted information on distance learning methods for areas without broadband internet access. In August 2020, after some schools had already begun the school year, BIE issued a re-opening guide for the 2020-2021 school year. BIE's guidance focused primarily on preparations for in-person instruction at schools, although nearly all schools provided distance learning during the fall of 2020. The guidance contained little information on distance learning. Providing schools with comprehensive distance learning guidance will help them better navigate the current pandemic as well as potential future emergencies that lead to school building closures. BIE helped improve internet access for students at BIE-operated schools during the pandemic, but many students had not received laptops to access online learning by the end of fall 2020. BIE and other Interior offices provided over 7,000 hotspots to students to improve home internet access, but they did not order laptops for most students until September 2020. Interior officials said a nationwide IT supply shortage contributed to the delayed order for about 10,000 laptops. GAO found, however, that delays were also caused in part by BIE not having complete and accurate information on schools' IT needs. Most schools received laptops from late October 2020 to early January 2021, although some laptops still had not been delivered as of late March 2021. Once laptops were delivered, however, schools also faced challenges configuring them, leading to further delays in distributing them to students. BIE officials told GAO that to address schools' challenges with configuring laptops, they are assessing schools' IT workforce needs. Most BIE students did not receive laptops until months after the school year began, according to GAO's analysis of Interior information. Specifically, none of the laptops Interior ordered in early September 2020 arrived in time to distribute to students by the start of the school year in mid-September; by the end of December 2020, schools had not distributed over 80 percent of the student laptops Interior ordered; and as of late March 2021, schools had not distributed about 20 percent of the student laptops Interior ordered. Without accurate, complete, and up-to-date information on schools' IT needs, BIE was unable to ensure that students received laptops when they needed them. Establishing policies and procedures for assessing schools' IT needs would help guide the agency's IT purchases now and in the future, and position schools to integrate technology into their everyday curricula. Why GAO Did This Study BIE's mission is to provide quality education to approximately 41,000 students at 183 schools it funds on or near Indian reservations in 23 states. About two-thirds of these schools are operated by tribes and the remaining third are operated by BIE. In March 2020, all BIE schools closed their buildings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. GAO reviewed distance learning at BIE schools as part of its oversight responsibilities under the CARES Act. This testimony examines the extent to which (1) BIE has provided schools with guidance to develop and implement distance learning programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) students have had the technology they need to participate in such programs. GAO analyzed the guidance BIE provided to schools on distance learning, examined BIE's provision of technology to schools and students, surveyed a non-generalizable sample of 30 schools—including 19 operated by tribes and 11 operated by BIE— with 25 schools responding, selected for geographic diversity and level of community broadband access, among other criteria, reviewed relevant federal statutes, regulations, and agency documentation, and interviewed BIE and school officials.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Pompeo Travels to India to Advance U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Georgia’s National Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Vivint Smart Homes Inc. to Pay $3.2 Million to Resolve Allegations of False Statements to Federally Insured Bank
    In Crime News
    Vivint Smart Home Inc. (Vivint), based in Provo, Utah, has agreed to pay the United States $3.2 million to resolve allegations under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) that Vivint employees made false statements to secure financing for customers’ purchases of Vivint’s home monitoring products, the Justice Department announced today. FIRREA imposes civil penalties on any person or entity that violates certain predicate federal statutes.
    [Read More…]
  • Medicaid Information Technology: Effective CMS Oversight and States’ Sharing of Claims Processing and Information Retrieval Systems Can Reduce Costs
    In U.S GAO News
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has reimbursed billions of dollars to states for the development, operation, and maintenance of claims processing and information retrieval systems—the Medicaid Management Information Systems (MMIS) and Eligibility and Enrollment (E&E) systems. Specifically, from fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2018, states spent a total of $44.1 billion on their MMIS and E&E systems. CMS reimbursed the states $34.3 billion of that total amount (see figure). Money Spent by States and Reimbursed by CMS from 2008–2018 for Medicaid Management Information Systems (MMIS) and Eligibility and Enrollment (E&E) Systems For fiscal years 2016 through 2018, CMS approved 93 percent and disapproved 0.4 percent of MMIS funding requests, while for E&E it approved 81 percent and disapproved 1 percent of the requests. The remaining 6.6 percent of MMIS requests and 18 percent of E&E requests were either withdrawn by states or were pending. GAO estimates that CMS had some level of supporting evidence of its review for about 74 percent of MMIS requests and about 99 percent of E&E requests. However, GAO estimates that about 100 percent of E&E requests and 68 percent of MMIS requests lacked pertinent information that would be essential for indicating that a complete review had been performed. Among CMS requirements for system implementation funding is that states submit an alternatives analysis, feasibility study, and cost benefit analysis. However, GAO found that about 45 percent of such requests it sampled for fiscal years 2016 through 2018 did not include these required documents. The above weaknesses were due, in part, to a lack of formal, documented procedures for reviewing state funding requests. CMS also lacked a risk-based process for overseeing systems after federal funds were provided. CMS provided helpful comments and recommendations to states in selected cases, but in other instances it did not. In two states that had contractors struggling to deliver successful projects, state officials said they had not received recommendations or technical assistance from CMS. The states eventually terminated the projects after spending a combined $38.5 million in federal funds. According to CMS officials, they rely largely on states to oversee systems projects. This perspective is consistent with a 2018 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) decision that federal information technology (IT) grants totaling about $9 billion annually would no longer be tracked on OMB's public web site on IT investment performance. Accordingly, the CMS and Health and Human Services chief information officers (CIO) are not involved in overseeing MMIS or E&E projects. Similarly, 21 of 47 states responding to GAO's survey reported that their state CIO had little or no involvement in overseeing their MMISs. Such non-involvement of officials with duties that should be heavily focused on successful acquisition and operation of IT projects could be hindering states' ability to effectively implement systems. To improve oversight, CMS has begun a new outcome-based initiative that focuses the agency's review of state funding requests on the successful achievement of business outcomes. However, as of February 2020, CMS had not yet established a timeline for including MMIS and E&E systems in the new outcome-based process. CMS had various initiatives aimed at reducing duplication of Medicaid systems (see table). Description and Status of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Initiatives Aimed at Reducing Duplication by Sharing, Leveraging, and Reusing Medicaid Information Technology Initiative Description Implementation status Number of surveyed states reporting use of the initiative Reuse Repository Used by states to collect and share reusable artifacts. Made available in August 2017. As of January 2020, CMS was no longer supporting this initiative. 25 of the 50 reporting states Poplin Project Was to provide free, open-source application program interfaces for states to use in developing their modular Medicaid systems. Initiative never fully implemented. As of January 2020, CMS was no longer supporting this initiative. Three of the 50 reporting states Open Source Provider Screening Module Open-source module for states to use at no charge. Made available in August 2018. As of January 2020, CMS was no longer supporting this initiative. One of the 50 states reported attempting to use the module. Medicaid Enterprise Cohort Meetings A forum where states can discuss sharing, leveraging, and/or reuse of Medicaid technologies. As of January 2020, Cohort meetings were being held on a monthly basis. 47 of the 50 states reported participating in the meetings. Source: GAO analysis of agency data. | GAO-20-179 However, as of January 2020, the agency was no longer supporting most of these initiatives because they failed to produce the desired results. CMS regulations and GAO's prior work have highlighted the importance of reducing duplication by sharing and reusing Medicaid IT. To illustrate the potential for reducing duplication, 53 percent of state Medicaid officials responding to our survey reported using the same contractor to develop their MMIS. Nevertheless, selected states are taking the initiative to share systems or modules. Further support by CMS could result in additional sharing initiatives and potential cost savings. The Medicaid program is the largest source of health care funding for America's most at-risk populations and is funded jointly by states and the federal government. GAO was asked to assess CMS's oversight of federal expenditures for MMIS and E&E systems used for Medicaid. This report examines (1) the amount of federal funds that CMS has provided to state Medicaid programs to support MMIS and E&E systems, (2) the extent to which CMS reviews and approves states' funding requests for the systems and oversees the use of these funds, and (3) CMS's and states' efforts to reduce potential duplication of Medicaid IT systems. GAO assessed information related to MMIS and E&E systems, such as state expenditure data, federal regulations, and CMS guidance to the states for submitting funding requests, states' system funding requests, and IT project management documents. GAO also evaluated a generalizable sample of approved state funding requests from fiscal years 2016 through 2018 to analyze, among other things, CMS's review and approval process and conducted interviews with agency and state Medicaid officials. GAO also reviewed relevant regulations and guidance on promoting, sharing, and reusing MMIS and E&E technologies; and surveyed 50 states and six territories (hereafter referred to as states) regarding the MMIS and E&E systems, and assessed the complete or partial responses received from 50 states. GAO is making nine recommendations to improve CMS's processes for approving and overseeing the federal funds for MMIS and E&E systems and for bolstering efforts to reduce potential duplication. Among these recommendations are that CMS should develop formal, documented procedures that include specific steps to be taken in the advanced planning document review process and instructions on how CMS will document the reviews; develop, in consultation with the HHS and CMS CIOs, a documented, comprehensive, and risk-based process for how CMS will select IT projects for technical assistance and provide recommendations to assist states that is aimed at improving the performance of the systems; encourage state Medicaid program officials to consider involving state CIOs in overseeing Medicaid IT projects; establish a timeline for implementing the outcome-based certification process for MMIS and E&E systems; and identify, prior to approving funding for systems, similar projects that other states are pursuing so that opportunities to share, leverage, or reuse systems or system modules are considered. In written comments on a draft of this report, the department concurred with eight of the nine recommendations, and described steps it had taken and/or planned to take to address them. The department did not state whether it concurred with GAO's recommendation to encourage state officials to consider involving state CIOs in Medicaid IT projects. HHS stated that it was unable to discern evidence as to whether a certain structure contributed to a specific outcome. GAO believes, consistent with federal law, that CIOs are critically important to the success of IT projects. For more information, contact Vijay D’Souza at (202) 512-6240 or dsouzav@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Virginia Return Preparer Indicted for Evading her Own Taxes and Not Filing Her Returns
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Richmond, Virginia, returned an indictment charging a return preparer with tax evasion and failure to file individual income tax returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia.
    [Read More…]
  • Albania Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Eritrea Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Economic Adjustment Assistance: Actions Needed to Better Address Workers’ Needs and Assess Program Effectiveness
    In U.S GAO News
    Workers who are eligible for federal economic adjustment assistance (EAA) programs may face challenges using them. There are four EAA programs and one tax credit that focus on assistance to individual workers displaced by policy and economic changes. These include programs administered by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and Department of Labor (DOL), which deliver services such as job training and counseling through state and local grantees. Selected grantees in all three states GAO visited described common challenges faced by workers from enrollment in EAA programs through re-entry into the job market. Grantees Described Common Challenges Workers Face in Accessing and Using Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program Services Interviews with selected grantees and GAO's data analysis revealed two key challenges with administering EAA programs and serving workers: Delays in grant decisions. From fiscal years 2015 through 2018, DOL took longer than legally required to process between 9 percent (3 out of 35) and 20 percent (3 out of 15) of National Dislocated Worker Grant applications. Grantees may serve fewer workers and may interrupt services to workers while awaiting decisions. DOL does not collect information on reasons for these delays and is missing opportunities to help ensure that dislocated workers receive timely assistance. Lack of information sharing. ARC and DOL do not share information about their EAA grant programs with grantees or each other, including information about grant projects that serve similar populations in similar geographic areas. As a result, ARC and DOL may fail to maximize program impact and reach across the 13-state Appalachian region. Regional officials said that coordination would enable them to better identify specific services needed by dislocated workers and which program might best be equipped to provide them. DOL has established performance measures to track outcomes for its EAA programs, but has experienced challenges with assessing the impact of job training offered under these programs. GAO reviewed two relevant studies on the impact of DOL's EAA programs containing some evidence that intensive services, such as one-on-one consultations and case management, were effective in improving earnings outcomes for dislocated workers. However, the studies were unable to effectively assess the impact of job training offered to dislocated workers under the programs due to methodological challenges. By collecting more quality evidence, DOL could be better able to determine if its EAA programs are helping workers achieve their employment goals. Federal EAA programs help workers adjust to various economic disruptions, such as policy changes on trade, defense, or energy, and shifts in immigration, globalization, or automation that cause a prolonged cyclical downturn and can dislocate workers. GAO was asked to review these programs. This report examines (1) what challenges eligible workers face in using EAA programs, (2) what challenges grantees face in implementing EAA programs and serving workers, and (3) what is known about the outcomes and impacts of selected EAA programs. GAO analyzed DOL grant processing data from fiscal years 2015 through 2018, the most recent data available at the time of GAO's analysis; reviewed outcome data from program year 2018 and program impact evaluations; interviewed ARC, DOL, and Department of the Treasury officials, as well as state and local officials in three states that experienced different economic disruptions and use different EAA programs; and reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and guidance. GAO is making seven recommendations, including that DOL address grant processing delays, DOL and ARC share information, and DOL prioritize improving the quality of evidence on the impact of job training for dislocated workers. DOL and ARC agreed with GAO's recommendations. For more information, contact Cindy S. Brown Barnes at (202) 512-7215 or brownbarnesc@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • U.S.-Sudan Signing Ceremony on Bilateral Claims Agreement
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Cale Brown, Deputy [Read More…]
  • Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks on the Biden Administration’s Gun Crime Prevention Strategy
    In Crime News
    Good afternoon, Mr. President. It’s good to be here with you, with local elected and community leaders, and with representatives of law enforcement.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department and FTC Announce First Enforcement Actions for Violations of the Better Online Ticket Sales Act
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice, together with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), today announced three settlements resolving alleged violations of the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act. These are the first enforcement actions that the department and the FTC have brought under the BOTS Act.
    [Read More…]
  • Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad  Travels to Afghanistan, Qatar, and the Region
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin With Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga Before Their Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Department Press Briefing – June 21, 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Settles with Delivery Services Company to Resolve Retaliation Claim
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Around the Clock Dispatch Inc., a freight and delivery services company in Queens Village, New York.
    [Read More…]
  • Home Foreclosure Sales: FHA, Rural Housing Service, and VA Could Better Align Program Metrics with Their Missions
    In U.S GAO News
    By 2019, the number of foreclosed properties—known as real estate-owned (REO) properties—that federal entities owned declined to historically low levels because of the housing market recovery and the sale of many of the properties (see figure). Real Estate-Owned Properties of Selected Federal Entities, 2004–2019 Note: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the government-sponsored enterprises shown here. Data for the enterprises and FHA are calendar year; for VA and RHS, fiscal year ending September 30. The entities GAO reviewed each have processes to oversee their REO maintenance contractors' activities and performance, including internal and external performance reviews and on-site inspections. Entities generally have standardized maintenance policies for REO properties across the country, such as emergency repairs for broken windows and routine maintenance requirements for the frequency of cutting grass. GAO found that the performance of contractors whose documentation GAO reviewed generally met entities' standards and requirements. However, entities' oversight of contractors identified instances of underperformance in maintenance. For instance, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recouped almost $3 million from seven property maintenance contractors for work below quality standards from 2017 to 2020. The REO program metrics of FHA, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Rural Housing Service (RHS) focus on required financial goals, such as minimizing losses, but do not always align fully with other program goals or agency missions. For example, FHA does not collect comprehensive information on REO property sales to public-sector homeowners or local nonprofits—missing an opportunity to measure the extent to which its REO program supports its goal to strengthen neighborhoods and communities. Similarly, VA and RHS lack metrics that would show whether their REO programs align with their broader agency missions to serve veterans and rural homebuyers, respectively. Incorporating additional metrics could help FHA, VA, and RHS ensure that their REO programs assist in meeting their agencies' missions. Poor maintenance of foreclosed properties can negatively affect communities and threaten neighborhood stability. FHA, VA, RHS, and Freddie Mac are among the federal entities owning foreclosed properties through REO programs. GAO was asked to review how these federal entities monitor REO property conditions. The objectives this report examines include trends in the number of REO properties; oversight of maintenance contractors; and whether metrics used to assess REO program performance align with entities' missions. GAO reviewed and analyzed reports and data on the number of REO properties and documentation on FHA, Freddie Mac, VA, and RHS oversight of REO property maintenance from 2017 to 2020. GAO also analyzed data on REO reimbursements to contractors for maintenance activities. GAO recommends that FHA, VA, and RHS consider additional REO program metrics that measure how the programs support their respective missions of strengthening communities and serving veterans and rural homeowners. The entities generally agreed with the recommendation. For more information, contact John H. Pendleton at (202) 512-8678 or pendletonj@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Former Veterans Affairs Doctor Sentenced to Prison for Sexual Abuse of Veterans
    In Crime News
    A former doctor of osteopathic medicine who previously worked at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Beckley, West Virginia, was sentenced today for depriving veterans of their civil rights under color of law by sexually abusing them.
    [Read More…]
  • Smuggling 119 aliens in trailer lands Houston man in prison
    In Justice News
    A 32-year-old Houstonian [Read More…]
  • Department Press Briefing – February 3, 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Armenia Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Sixth Former Tennessee Corrections Officer Pleads Guilty to Federal Offenses Arising out of a Cover Up of Staff Assault of an Inmate
    In Crime News
    Former Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) Corporal Tommy Morris, 29, pleaded guilty to conspiring to cover up the beating of an inmate and to encouraging other officers to provide false information to investigators, the Justice Department announced today.
    [Read More…]
  • Deputy Secretary Biegun’s Meetings with Republic of Korea First Vice Foreign Minister Choi and Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Lee
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Small Business Loans: SBA Generally Incorporated Key Elements for Estimating Subsidy Cost of 7(a) Program
    In U.S GAO News
    The Small Business Administration (SBA) develops its subsidy cost estimates for the 7(a) loan guarantee program—that is, estimates of the program's net long-term cost to the government—using a cash flow model. The model uses historical data, econometric equations, and macroeconomic projections to estimate cash flows—such as guarantee fees, SBA purchases of defaulted loans, and recoveries on those loans—for the loans SBA expects to guarantee in the next fiscal year. The net present value of the cash flows (value in current dollars) is the subsidy cost estimate. SBA generally incorporated key elements of subsidy cost estimation into its estimates for the 7(a) program for the fiscal year 2020 budget. Specifically, GAO found that SBA's estimation process was largely consistent with eight key elements GAO previously identified that help ensure subsidy estimates are supported, reliable, and reasonable. For example, SBA generally validated historical data, documented the cash flow model and key assumptions, analyzed the sensitivity of estimates to alternative assumptions, and had documented policies and procedures. SBA made changes in its estimation process that collectively increased the 7(a) program's subsidy cost to $99 million for fiscal year 2020 (a 0.33 percent subsidy rate when expressed as the cost per dollar of credit assistance) from $0 for fiscal year 2019 (0 percent subsidy rate). Some of these changes were routine updates to data and economic assumptions used in the cash flow model, while others were revisions to the estimation process. Additionally, some individual changes increased the subsidy costs, while others decreased it. Some of the changes that had the largest impact on the subsidy rate included the following: Incorporating the President's economic assumptions for fiscal year 2020 decreased the rate by 0.27 percentage points. Updating the basis for the size and composition of the loan cohort SBA expected to guarantee in fiscal year 2020 increased the rate by 0.21 percentage points. Revising the methodology for estimating purchase amounts for defaulted loans to better reflect the outstanding loan balance at the time of purchase increased the rate by 0.21 percentage points. The 7(a) program is SBA's largest loan guarantee program for small businesses, with about $95 billion in outstanding loan principal as of the end of fiscal year 2019. Federal agencies that provide credit assistance are generally required to estimate the net long-term cost to the government—known as the subsidy cost—for each annual cohort of loans. SBA initially estimated a zero subsidy cost for each cohort from fiscal years 2014 through 2019, but estimated that the fiscal year 2020 cohort would have a positive subsidy cost and require appropriations. GAO was asked to evaluate SBA's subsidy estimation process for the 7(a) program. This report examines (1) how SBA estimates 7(a) subsidy costs, (2) the extent to which SBA incorporated key elements of subsidy cost estimation into its estimation process for the fiscal year 2020 budget, and (3) the changes SBA made in its estimation process for the fiscal year 2020 budget. GAO reviewed SBA documentation on its estimation process, including information on SBA's cash flow model, and compared SBA's process to key elements that GAO previously identified ( GAO-16-269 ). GAO also interviewed officials from SBA, the Office of Management and Budget, and outside auditors and contractors that annually review SBA's process and model. For more information, contact William B. Shear at (202) 512-8678 or shearw@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Announces $5.3 Million in Awards to Support Operation Legend
    In Crime News
    At a roundtable with law [Read More…]
  • Gabon Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Steel and Aluminum Tariffs: Commerce Should Improve Its Exclusion Request Process and Economic Impact Reviews
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Commerce (Commerce) has a four-phase process to review companies' requests to be excluded from having to pay Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs. Commerce ensures an exclusion request is complete, accepts public input, evaluates materials submitted, and issues a final decision. Between March 2018 and November 2019, Commerce received over 106,000 requests; it rejected over 19,000 of them prior to decision due to incorrect or incomplete information. Although rejections may delay relief for requesters and can increase work for Commerce, the agency has not identified, analyzed, or taken steps to fully address the causes of these submission errors. In deciding exclusion requests, Commerce examines objections from steel and aluminum producers to find whether the requested products are reasonably available domestically in a sufficient amount. Commerce may also decide exclusion requests based on national security issues, but has not done so. While Commerce approved two-thirds of exclusion requests, it most often denied requests that had technical errors or where a domestic producer had objected. Commerce did not decide about three quarters of requests within its established timeliness guidelines, as shown in the figure, taking more than a year to decide 841 requests. Commerce took steps to improve timeliness, such as streamlining the review process for some requests and creating a new submission website, but continues not to meet guidelines and had a backlog of 28,000 requests as of November 2019. Until Commerce takes additional steps, companies will continue to encounter delays in obtaining relief. Most Steel and Aluminum Exclusion Decisions Did Not Meet the Department of Commerce's Established Timeliness Guidelines from March 2018 to November 2019 Commerce has not documented the results from any reviews of the tariffs' impacts or assigned responsibility for conducting regular reviews. GAO found evidence of changes in U.S. steel and aluminum imports and markets. For example, imports covered by the tariffs declined after an initial surge and prices dropped after significant increases in earlier years. Evaluating whether the tariffs have achieved the intended goals and how they affect downstream sectors requires more in-depth economic analysis. Without assigning responsibility for conducting regular reviews and documenting the results, Commerce may be unable to consistently assess if adjustments to the tariffs are needed. Citing national security concerns over excess global supply of steel and aluminum, in March 2018 the President placed tariffs on the import of some products using Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. At the President's direction, Commerce established a process to provide relief, or exclusion, from the tariffs. GAO was asked to review Commerce's Section 232 tariff exclusion process. This report assesses (1) the process Commerce uses to decide exclusion requests and to what degree it has accepted submitted requests; (2) what criteria and factors affected Commerce's decisions; (3) how often Commerce met established guidelines for the timely resolution of requests; and (4) the extent to which Commerce reviewed the impacts of the tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, as directed. GAO analyzed Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security and International Trade Administration records from March 2018 to November 2019, as well as data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Homeland Security, and spoke with agency officials. GAO recommends that Commerce (1) identify, analyze, and respond to factors in the process that may cause submission errors; (2) take steps to improve timeliness of exclusion request decisions and address the backlog; and (3) assign responsibility for reviewing the tariffs' impact and document the results. Commerce concurred with all three recommendations. For more information, contact Kimberly Gianopoulos at (202) 512-8612 or GianopoulosK@gao.gov .
    [Read More…]
  • Military Lodging: DOD Should Provide Congress with More Information on Army’s Privatization and Better Guidance to the Military Services
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Since privatizing its domestic on-base hotels, referred to as lodging, the Army has made a variety of improvements, including the replacement of lodging facilities with newly constructed hotels (see fig.). However, improvements have taken longer than initially anticipated, development plans have changed, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has not included key information about these delays and changes in reports to Congress. If OSD were to provide this additional information, Congress would be better able to determine whether the Privatized Army Lodging (PAL) program has achieved its intended objectives or fully consider whether the other military services should privatize their respective lodging programs. Room at an Army Lodging Facility before Privatizing and Room at the New Candlewood Suites Hotel Built at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, in 2013 The Army does not estimate cost savings from the PAL program, but instead produces an annual cost avoidance estimate to demonstrate some of the financial benefits resulting from the privatization of its lodging program. Army officials stated that they calculate cost avoidance by comparing the room rate it charges for its lodging—which is limited to 75 percent of the average local lodging per diem rate across its installations—to the maximum lodging per diem that could be charged for that location. However, by using this approach, the Army is likely overstating its cost avoidance, because off-base hotels do not always charge 100 percent of per diem. Until the Army evaluates the methodology it uses to calculate its cost avoidance, decision makers in the Department of Defense (DOD) and Congress cannot be sure that the reported financial benefits of privatization have actually been achieved. OSD's oversight of lodging programs has been limited in some cases. First, OSD and the military services lack standardized data that would be useful for making informed decisions about the lodging programs. Second, DOD requires both servicemembers and civilian employees to stay in on-base lodging when on official travel, with some exceptions. Yet, according to OSD, many travelers are staying in off-base lodging, and OSD has not done the in-depth analysis needed to determine why and how much it is costing the government. Without an analysis that assesses the extent to which travelers are inappropriately using off-base lodging and why it is occurring, as well as a plan to address any issues identified, neither DOD nor Congress can be sure that the department is making the most cost-effective use of taxpayer funds. Why GAO Did This Study In 2009, the Army began to privatize its lodging with the goal of addressing the poor condition of facilities more quickly than could be achieved under continued Army operation. The Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force currently have no plans to privatize their lodging programs. The Senate Armed Services Committee report accompanying a bill for the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act included a provision for GAO to review improvements made to Army lodging, among other things. This report examines the extent to which (1) the Army has improved its lodging facilities since privatizing; (2) OSD reported complete information about the Army's development plans to Congress; (3) the Army has reliably determined any cost savings or cost avoidance as a result of its privatized lodging program; and (4) there are limitations in OSD's oversight of the military services' lodging programs. GAO reviewed policies and guidance; analyzed lodging program data for fiscal years 2017 through 2019 (the 3 most recent years of complete and available information); and interviewed DOD officials.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar Before Their Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Foreign Minister Mahuta 
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • New York Donut Shop Operators Indicted for Tax Evasion
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Syracuse, New York, returned an indictment charging the operators of three donut shops with conspiracy to defraud the IRS, tax evasion, and aiding and assisting in the filing of false tax returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon for the Northern District of New York.
    [Read More…]
  • Nauru Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Israeli Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Lapid
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Public Health Preparedness: Information on the Use of Medical Reserve Corps Volunteers during Emergencies
    In U.S GAO News
    Almost all states have a network of health care volunteers—the Medical Reserve Corps—who can augment federal, state, and local capabilities in response to public health emergencies, such as those arising from wildfires and hurricanes, and infectious disease outbreaks. Having sufficient, trained personnel, such as these volunteers, is critical to a state's capability to respond and recover from public health emergencies. According to federal data, 48 states and the District of Columbia reported 102,767 health care volunteers in 838 Medical Reserve Corps units as of September 2019, with nurses making up 43 percent. Number of Medical Reserve Corps Volunteers by Type, as of September 2019 Note: These data illustrate 90 percent of total health care volunteers. The remaining five types volunteers each make up less than 5 percent of the total. Other Public Health Medical volunteers may include cardiovascular technicians, sonographers, and phlebotomists. Medical Reserve Corps volunteers in states included in GAO's review—Alabama, California, North Carolina, and New Mexico—were deployed in response to natural disasters in 2018 and 2019, migrants at the southern border in 2019, and COVID-19 in 2020. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) documentation shows these volunteers performed a variety of health care activities, such as providing medical services, setting up and providing support at shelters, and distributing medical supplies. Volunteers from these four states and others also participated in the response to COVID-19 by supporting testing sites, collecting specimens, and performing administrative tasks, such as data entry. For example, one unit deployed four volunteers a day for 3 days to work alongside nurses at a drive-through testing site. In addition to responding to public health emergencies, volunteers participated in preparedness activities, such as an initiative to train the public on how to respond to emergencies. HHS oversees the Medical Reserve Corps program and has assisted units in developing their volunteer capabilities. For example, HHS funded the development of a checklist of activities that should occur during volunteer deployment such as re-verifying medical credentials; provided training to new unit leaders on developing, managing, and sustaining Medical Reserve Corps units; and issued generally accepted practices, such as periodically re-evaluating volunteer recruitment procedures. The Medical Reserve Corps consists of health care volunteers—medical and public health professionals—who donate their time to help strengthen a response to public health emergencies and build community resilience. These volunteers prepare for and respond to public health emergencies, which may include natural disasters—such as hurricanes and wildfires—as well as disease outbreaks, whether intentional or natural. The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019 included a provision for GAO to review states' use of health care volunteers during public health emergencies. This report describes (1) the number and type of Medical Reserve Corps volunteers; (2) the types of public health emergencies volunteers have participated in; and (3) how HHS has assisted in developing volunteer capabilities. To conduct this work, GAO analyzed data reported to HHS as of September 2019; reviewed HHS documentation on four states' use of volunteers, which GAO selected based on population, number of volunteers, and event; and interviewed officials from HHS who oversee the Medical Reserve Corps program. GAO plans to further examine how states have used health care volunteers to respond to public health emergencies, including COVID-19, and any associated challenges to doing so in a future report. GAO provided a draft of this report to HHS. In response, HHS provided technical comments, which were incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Mary Denigan-Macauley at (202) 512-7114 or deniganmacauleym@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Files Title VII Sex Discrimination Lawsuit Against Alabama Sheriff’s Office and the Mobile County Sheriff
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, Alabama’s second-largest sheriff’s office, and the Mobile County Sheriff, in his official capacity (collectively, MCSO).
    [Read More…]
  • Eastern Kentucky Doctor and Assistant Plead Guilty to Unlawfully Distributing Opioids
    In Crime News
    A Kentucky doctor and his former office assistant pleaded guilty on Aug. 7 for their roles in unlawfully distributing opioids and other controlled substances during a time when the defendants did not have a legitimate medical practice.
    [Read More…]
  • After 40 Years of Progress, It Is Time to End the HIV Epidemic
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
    As we mark the 40th [Read More…]
  • Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim Delivers Remarks on the Future of Antitrust
    In Crime News
    Good afternoon, I am pleased to join you today at the ABA Antitrust Fall Forum, my fourth as Assistant Attorney General. I’d like to thank the Chair of the ABA Antitrust Law Section, Gary Zanfagna and the Conference Co-Chairs, Melanie Aitken and Anant Raut for their efforts in organizing this event.
    [Read More…]
  • Pakistan Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Federal Court Bars Florida Tax Preparation Businesses and Their Tax Return Preparers From Preparing Tax Returns
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced today that a federal court in Orlando, Florida, permanently enjoined Advanced Tax Services Inc. and Genson Financial Group LLC from preparing federal tax returns for others and ordered the businesses to disgorge $710,191.55, jointly and severally, representing the ill-gotten gains that they received for the preparation of tax returns. The court also entered permanent injunctions and disgorgement judgments against defendants Lenorris Lamoute and Dosuld Pierre, whom the court found prepared tax returns for compensation at Advanced Tax Services. The order was entered on default because the defendants failed to defend against the government’s allegations.
    [Read More…]
  • Owner of New York Tax Preparation Business Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to File False Returns
    In Crime News
    A Queens, New York return preparer pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to defraud the United States by filing false returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
    [Read More…]
  • U.S. Decision To Reengage with the UN Human Rights Council
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • New York City Man Charged with Nearly $4 Million COVID-19 Relief Fraud Scheme and Money Laundering
    In Crime News
    A criminal complaint was filed in the District of New Jersey today charging a dual-resident of New York and Florida with fraudulently obtaining and laundering nearly $4 million in funds from the COVID-19 relief Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
    [Read More…]
  • Cybersecurity: HHS Defined Roles and Responsibilities, but Can Further Improve Collaboration
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of Information Security is responsible for managing department-wide cybersecurity. HHS clearly defined responsibilities for the divisions within that office to, among other things, document and implement a cybersecurity program, as required by the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014. For healthcare and public health critical infrastructure sector cybersecurity, HHS also defined responsibilities for five HHS entities. Among these entities are the Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center, which was established to improve cybersecurity information sharing in the sector, and the Healthcare Threat Operations Center, a federal interagency program co-led by HHS and focused on, among other things, providing descriptive and actionable cyber data. Private-sector partners that receive information provided by the Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center informed GAO that they could benefit from receiving more actionable threat information. However, this center does not routinely receive such information from the Healthcare Threat Operations Center, and therefore is not positioned to provide it to sector partners. This lack of sharing is due, in part, to HHS not describing coordination between the two entities in procedures defining their responsibilities for cybersecurity information sharing. Until HHS formalizes coordination for the two entities, they will continue to miss an opportunity to strengthen information sharing with sector partners. Further, HHS entities led, or participated in, seven collaborative groups that focused on cybersecurity in the department and healthcare and public health sector. These entities regularly collaborated on cyber response efforts and provided cybersecurity information, guidance, and resources through these groups and other means during COVID-19 between March 2020 and December 2020. In addition, the HHS entities coordinated with the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to address cyber threats associated with COVID-19. Further, the HHS entities fully demonstrated consistency with four of the seven leading collaboration practices that GAO identified, and partially addressed the remaining three (see table). Until HHS takes action to fully demonstrate the remaining three leading practices, it cannot ensure that it is improving cybersecurity within the department and the healthcare and public health sector. Extent to Which the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Demonstrated Leading Practices for Collaborating Leading practice Extent to which the HHS working groups demonstrated the leading practice Define and track outcomes and accountability ◑ - five groups met this practice Bridge organizational cultures ● – all seven groups met this practice Identify leadership ● – all seven groups met this practice Clarify roles and responsibilities ◑ - six groups met this practice Include relevant participants in the group ● – all seven groups met this practice Identify resources ● – all seven groups met this practice Document and regularly update written guidance and agreements ◑ - six groups met this practice Source: GAO analysis of HHS documentation. | GAO-21-403 Why GAO Did This Study HHS and the healthcare and public health sector rely heavily on information systems to fulfill their missions, including delivering healthcare-related services and responding to national health emergencies, such as COVID-19. Federal laws and guidance have set requirements for HHS to address cybersecurity within the department and the sector. Federal guidance also requires collaboration and coordination to strengthen cybersecurity at HHS and in the sector. GAO was asked to review HHS's organizational approach to address cybersecurity. This report discusses HHS's roles and responsibilities for departmental cybersecurity; HHS's roles and responsibilities for healthcare and public health sector cybersecurity; and HHS's efforts to collaborate to manage its cybersecurity responsibilities. To perform its work, GAO reviewed documentation describing HHS's cybersecurity roles and responsibilities, assessed those responsibilities for fragmentation, duplication, and overlap, and evaluated the department's collaborative efforts against GAO's leading practices for collaboration. GAO also interviewed relevant officials at HHS and CISA, and in the sector.
    [Read More…]
  • Announcement of a Unity Government in Haiti
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • U.S.-ROK-Japan Trilateral Meeting on Shared North Korea-Related Challenges
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • U.S. Reinforces Commitment to Secure, Stable, Democratic, and Self-Reliant Afghanistan at 2020 Conference
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Final Defendant Sentenced in $80 Million Health Care Fraud Conspiracy
    In Crime News
    A Florida man was sentenced today to 210 months in prison for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud.
    [Read More…]
  • Mortality in Local Jails, 2000-2018 – Statistical Tables
    In Justice News
    (Publication)
    This report presents detailed statistical tables on mortality in local jails. It provides information on cause of death; decedent characteristics, and mortality rates of inmate populations.
    4/29/2021, NCJ 256002, E. Ann Carson [Read More…]
  • Two Individuals Charged with Bribery Related to Iraq Contracts
    In Crime News
    Two individuals have been charged with bribery offenses in connection with Department of Defense contracts as part of the Fraud Section’s ongoing efforts to combat corruption and fraud in contracting on U.S. military installations overseas.
    [Read More…]
  • Declining Media Pluralism in Hungary
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Priority Open Recommendations: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified 12 priority recommendations for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Since then, NASA has implemented one of those recommendations when it calculated the Space Launch System program's developmental cost growth using a baseline adjusted to reflect the scope of work planned for its first mission. GAO also closed two recommendations as not implemented. Since GAO's June 2019 recommendation to update the Orion crew vehicle's cost estimate to reflect the April 2023 baseline launch date for the first mission to carry crew, that mission's launch date has been delayed. There is no longer an opportunity for NASA to take action on this recommendation now that the program no longer expects to launch in April 2023. The second recommendation, closed as not implemented, was for NASA to develop and maintain a contingency plan for ensuring a presence on the International Space Station until a Commercial Crew Program contractor was certified. NASA took actions to maintain a U.S. presence on the space station and provided GAO periodic updates on considerations for maintaining a continued presence, but did not develop and maintain a contingency plan. NASA certified a Commercial Crew program contractor in November 2020. As a result, there is no longer an opportunity for NASA to take action on this recommendation. In May 2021, GAO identified two additional priority recommendations for NASA, bringing the total number to 11. These recommendations involve the following areas: monitoring program costs and execution, and ensuring cybersecurity. NASA's continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations. 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. For more information, contact Michele Mackin at (202) 512-4841 or mackinm@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Septuagenarian charged with manufacturing “ghost guns”
    In Justice News
    A 73-year-old has been [Read More…]
  • 60th Anniversary of the Peace Corps 
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Meet the People Behind NASA’s Perseverance Rover
    In Space
    These are the scientists [Read More…]