Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
The United States is committed to the safe return of all U.S. citizens taken captive. We delivered on that commitment late last night in Nigeria, where some of our bravest and most skilled warriors rescued a U.S. citizen after a group of armed men took him hostage across the border in Niger.
Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our military, the support of our intelligence professionals, and our diplomatic efforts, the hostage will be reunited with his family.
We will never abandon any American taken hostage.
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- Climate Resilience: Actions Needed to Ensure DOD Considers Climate Risks to Contractors as Part of Acquisition, Supply, and Risk AssessmentBy Sam NewsJuly 30, 2020The Department of Defense (DOD) has not routinely assessed climate-related risks faced by its contractors as part of its acquisition and supply processes, through which DOD obtains contracted goods and services. DOD's acquisition process includes long-term planning activities such as life-cycle sustainment planning. Its supply chain process includes steps to identify and assess potential disruptions, such as severe storms affecting transportation or energy systems, in order to mitigate risk. However, these processes in general do not systematically identify and consider climate-related risks to materiel acquisition and supply or the acquisition of weapon systems, according to Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and military department officials. DOD's climate change adaptation directive indicates that OSD and the military departments should include climate considerations in acquisition and supply and integrate those considerations into relevant policy and guidance. However, GAO's review of DOD and military department guidance on acquisition and supply found that the guidance did not implement DOD's climate change directive by including consideration of climate change or extreme weather. Until DOD and the military departments include these considerations in their guidance on acquisition and supply chain processes, they risk continuing to develop acquisition strategies and managing supply chains without building climate resilience into these processes and potentially jeopardizing their missions. DOD guidance requires consideration of climate-related risks as part of the mission assurance process, when appropriate. However, GAO found that the department has not assessed risks—including those associated with climate change or extreme weather—to commercially owned facilities, which can support DOD installations as well as weapon systems, as part of this process. Assessing risks to commercial facilities has been a longstanding challenge for DOD, with the department noting in 2012 that it had paid inadequate attention to challenges outside of DOD-owned facilities and citing a limited understanding of supply chain risks as a pervasive problem. DOD's mission assurance guidance includes minimum requirements for assessments of certain non-DOD-owned facilities, such as completion of an all-hazards threat assessment. However, DOD officials stated that they had not conducted such assessments. The officials noted that DOD is limited in its ability to conduct such assessments, as it does not have the same access to commercial facilities as it does to its own facilities. While DOD officials stated that they are exploring alternative ways of assessing risks to commercial facilities, they noted that these efforts are in the early stages. Without determining what approaches may be feasible for assessing risks to commercial facilities as part of the mission assurance process and issuing or updating guidance accordingly, DOD may not fully evaluate the risks to critical commercial facilities as part of the mission assurance process, leaving gaps in its knowledge of potential risks—to include climate and weather-related risks—to its ability to fulfill key missions dependent on such facilities. Since 2010, DOD has identified climate change as a threat to its operations and installations. The department relies on contracted goods and services for its mission and installations. Climate change is projected to have broad effects that could affect DOD's supply chains, and any associated risks to contractors can have an impact on DOD. One way DOD assesses risk to its missions is through mission assurance, which is a process to protect or ensure the function of capabilities and assets critical to its missions. GAO was asked to review potential threats to national security from the effects of climate change on defense contractors. GAO examined the extent to which DOD assesses the potential effects on its operations from climate change and extreme weather risks faced by its contractors through the department's (1) acquisition and supply processes, and (2) mission assurance process. GAO reviewed DOD acquisition, supply, and mission assurance documents and interviewed relevant DOD officials and contractor representatives. GAO is making six recommendations, including that DOD incorporate climate adaptation into its acquisition and supply guidance and issue or update guidance on mission assurance-related assessments for commercial facilities. DOD concurred with three recommendations and partially concurred with three. GAO continues to believe that DOD should fully implement its recommendations. For more information, contact Elizabeth A. Field at (202) 512-2775 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Warfighter Support: Army’s and Defense Logistics Agency’s Approach for Awarding Contracts for the Army Combat ShirtBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021What GAO FoundDuring the fiscal year 2007-12 timeframe, the Army applied statutory and regulatory requirements related to procurement for supplies to award contracts for the Army Combat Shirt. The Army applied these requirements, including those in the Federal Acquisition Regulation and Small Business Regulations, to award the following groups of contracts and to respond to demand for the combat shirt and the supply of manufacturers that could produce it:contracts awarded on a sole-source basis to 8(a) firms owned by an ANC or anIndian tribe in fiscal years 2007 and 2008 to respond to the urgent need for combat shirts because of an increase in warfighters being burned by improvised explosive devices in theater.contracts awarded to NIB and NISH nonprofit agencies representing industries for the blind and severely disabled, respectively, in fiscal years 2009 through 2012 to respond to the increasing demand for the combat shirts and the limited capacity of the 8(a) firms that were manufacturing the combat shirts under the existing sole-source contracts.a contract awarded on a competitive basis to an 8(a), ANC-owned firm in fiscal year 2011 to respond to the need for an additional source of supply to manufacture the combat shirts and to introduce competition as a means of reducing cost of the combat shirt.Since fiscal year 2011, DLA has been responsible for sustainment contracts for the Army Combat Shirt. According to DLA contracting officials, DLA plans to award contracts by March 2013 by applying statutory and regulatory procurement requirements, including the Federal Acquisition Regulation and Small Business Regulations.Why GAO Did This StudyFlame-resistant clothing has been typically used by warfighters to protect them in situations where they face serious exposure to fire or incendiary devices. Prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, Department of Defense (DOD) personnel wearing flame-resistant clothing were mainly aviators, fuel handlers, and combat-vehicle crewmembers. However, with the growing prevalence of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan, warfighters serving there have been exposed more frequently to the risk of fire-related injuries. To provide warfighters deploying into combat areas (including Iraq and Afghanistan) with a garment that can mitigate the risk of sustaining fire-related injuries, the Army procured the Army Combat Shirt, which is a flame-resistant, moisture-wicking shirt designed specifically to protect warfighters against burns and provide maximum comfort as well. Through the Army Program Executive Office Soldier-- the program manager responsible for the initial procurement of the Army Combat Shirt--the Army began procuring this shirt in fiscal year 2007 and through fiscal year 2012 has awarded over $310 million in contracts for the combat shirt. These contracts have been awarded to 8(a) firms and to the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and NISH nonprofit agencies. Beginning in fiscal year 2011, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) assumed responsibility for sustainment contracting of the Army Combat Shirt and began the process of soliciting proposals and awarding contracts for the combat shirts. Transferring clothing and textile program functions from a military service to DLA is part of DOD's process for managing the life cycle of the procurement of supplies. This report addresses a Congressional request that GAO examine the approach that the Army used to award contracts for the Army Combat Shirt and that DLA is using to prepare to award future ones.For more information, contact Cary B. Russell at (202)512-5431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
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- GAO Audits Involving DOD: Status of Efforts to Schedule and Hold Timely Entrance ConferencesBy Sam NewsNovember 20, 2020GAO began 37 new audits that involved the Department of Defense (DOD) in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020. Of GAO's 37 requested entrance conferences for those audits, DOD scheduled 33 within 14 days and held 34 within 30 days of GAO's notification. Entrance conferences are initial meetings between agency officials and GAO staff that allow GAO to communicate its audit objectives and enable agencies to assign key personnel to support the audit work. The four entrance conferences that were scheduled more than 14 days after notification were scheduled late due to either difficulties in identifying a primary action officer or aligning the schedules of GAO and DOD officials. The three entrance conferences that were held more than 30 days after notification were scheduled late due to difficulties in aligning the schedules of GAO and DOD officials. GAO's agency protocols govern GAO's relationships with audited agencies. These protocols assist GAO in scheduling entrance conferences with key agency officials within 14 days of their receiving notice of a new audit. The ability of the Congress to conduct effective oversight of federal agencies is enhanced through the timely completion of GAO audits. In past years, DOD experienced difficulty meeting the protocol target for the timely facilitation of entrance conferences. In Senate Report 116-48 accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, the Senate Armed Services Committee included a provision for GAO to review DOD's scheduling and holding of entrance conferences. In this report, GAO evaluates the extent to which DOD scheduled entrance conferences within 14 days of receiving notice of a new audit, consistent with GAO's agency protocols, and held those conferences within 30 days. This is the final of four quarterly reports that GAO will produce on this topic for fiscal year 2020. In the first three quarterly reports, GAO found that DOD had improved its ability to meet the protocol target. GAO analyzed data on GAO audits involving DOD and initiated in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2020, through September 30, 2020). Specifically, GAO identified the number of notification letters requesting entrance conferences that it sent to DOD during that time period. GAO determined the number of days between when DOD received GAO's notification letter for each new audit and when DOD scheduled the entrance conference and assessed whether DOD scheduled entrance conferences within 14 days of notification, which is the time frame identified in GAO's agency protocols. GAO also determined the date that each requested entrance conference was held by collecting this information from the GAO team conducting each audit and assessed whether DOD held entrance conferences for new audits within 30 days of notification, which was the time frame identified in the mandate for this review. For more information, contact Elizabeth Field at (202) 512-2775 or Fielde1@gao.gov.[Read More…]
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- Nuclear Waste: Congressional Action Needed to Clarify a Disposal Option at West Valley Site in New YorkBy Sam NewsJanuary 13, 2021The Department of Energy (DOE) has made progress in cleaning up radioactive waste at the site of the West Valley Demonstration Project in New York State. In the 1960s and 1970s, a commercial facility at the site reprocessed spent (used) nuclear fuel into reusable nuclear material—creating various wastes that remained on-site after the facility closed in 1976. Since 2011, DOE has demolished 51 of 55 structures there and disposed of about 1.3 million cubic feet of low-level waste to off-site locations. It has also placed solidified high-level waste into interim on-site storage (see fig.). In addition, DOE has processed for interim on-site storage about 30,000 cubic feet of transuranic waste (which is contaminated with elements that have an atomic number greater than uranium). As of February 2020, DOE reported spending about $3.1 billion on contracted cleanup activities, but it cannot estimate the cleanup's final cost until it decides how it will address the remaining waste. High-Level Waste from the West Valley Demonstration Project in Interim On-Site Storage, March 2017 DOE has been unable to dispose of the high-level and transuranic wastes stored at West Valley because there are no facilities authorized to accept these wastes. DOE has identified two potential options for disposal of the transuranic waste: the federal Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico and a commercial facility in Texas. However, the New Mexico facility is authorized to accept only waste from atomic energy defense activities, and DOE does not consider West Valley waste to be from atomic energy defense activities. Regarding the Texas facility, state regulations preclude disposal of the waste there. In 2017, DOE submitted to Congress a report on all disposal options, as required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Pursuant to this act, DOE must await action by Congress before making a final decision, and Congress has not yet acted. The West Valley Demonstration Project Act, enacted in 1980, requires DOE to assist with cleanup activities at the site of the nation's only commercial facility for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. The site contained 600,000 gallons of liquid high-level waste, radioactively contaminated structures and soils, and buried radioactive waste. In 2011, DOE began the first phase of its decommissioning plan, which included demolishing above-ground structures and removing contaminated soils. The West Valley Reauthorization Act and the Senate Committee Report No. 116-48 included provisions for GAO to review progress on the cleanup at West Valley. GAO's report examines (1) the status of the cleanup and (2) DOE's options for disposing of the remaining radioactive waste. GAO reviewed DOE's data on cleanup costs and waste volumes and its decommissioning plans, as well as laws, regulations, and policies governing radioactive waste disposal. GAO also interviewed officials from DOE and the state of New York, as well as other stakeholders. Congress should consider taking action to provide a legal option for the disposal of West Valley's transuranic waste. For more information, contact Allison Bawden at (202) 512-3841 or BawdenA@gao.gov.[Read More…]
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