Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
As Uganda celebrates the 59th anniversary of its independence, it is a pleasure to congratulate all Ugandans on behalf of the people of the United States.
Our two peoples benefit from the longstanding partnership between the United States and Uganda. Our now decades-long cooperation on health has helped bring Uganda to the cusp of controlling the scourge of HIV/AIDS and has significantly reduced deaths and illnesses due to malaria, tuberculosis, and other maladies. Our partnership has also paid major dividends in the fight against COVID-19. As we work together to end the pandemic, we will continue to partner with the Ugandan people to strengthen democratic institutions, respect for human rights, and economic development through expanded bilateral trade and investment.
The United States also appreciates Uganda’s commitment to welcoming those fleeing war and persecution. By offering to temporarily host evacuees from Afghanistan, Uganda has shown that its hospitality and generosity extend across the globe. We also value the contribution of highly effective Ugandan peacekeeping forces to efforts to maintain peace and security in the region.
On this auspicious day, we look forward to continuing our partnership and cooperation with Uganda for many years to come.
- Veterans Community Care Program: Improvements Needed to Help Ensure Timely Access to CareBy Sam NewsSeptember 28, 2020The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) established an appointment scheduling process for the Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP) that allows up to 19 days to complete several steps from VA providers creating a referral to community care staff reviewing that referral. However, as the figure shows, VA has not specified the maximum amount of time veterans should have to wait to receive care through the program. GAO previously recommended in 2013 the need for an overall wait-time measure for veterans to receive care under a prior VA community care program. Subsequent to VA not implementing this recommendation, GAO again recommended in 2018 that VA establish an achievable wait-time goal as part of its new community care program (the VCCP). Potential Allowable Wait Time to Obtain Care through the Veterans Community Care Program Note: This figure illustrates potential allowable wait times in calendar days for eligible veterans who are referred to the VCCP through routine referrals (non-emergent), and have VA medical center staff—Referral Coordination Team (RCT) and community care staff (CC staff)—schedule the appointments on their behalf. VA has not yet implemented GAO's 2018 recommendation that VA establish an achievable wait-time goal. Under the VA MISSION Act, VA is assigned responsibility for ensuring that veterans' appointments are scheduled in a timely manner—an essential component of quality health care. Given VA's lack of action over the prior 7 years implementing wait-time goals for various community care programs, congressional action is warranted to help achieve timely health care for veterans. Regarding monitoring of the initial steps of the scheduling process, GAO found that VA is using metrics that are remnants from the previous community care program, which are inconsistent with the time frames established in the VCCP scheduling process. This limits VA's ability to determine the effectiveness of the VCCP and to identify areas for improvement. In June 2019, VA implemented its new community care program, the VCCP, as required by the VA MISSION Act of 2018. Under the VCCP, VAMC staff are responsible for community care appointment scheduling; their ability to execute this new responsibility has implications for veterans receiving community care in a timely manner. GAO was asked to review VCCP appointment scheduling. This report examines, among other issues, the VCCP appointment scheduling process VA established and VA's monitoring of that process. GAO reviewed documentation, such as scheduling policies, and referral data related to the VCCP and assessed VA's relevant processes. GAO conducted site visits to five VAMCs in the first region to transition to VA's new provider network, and interviewed VAMC staff and a non-generalizable sample of community providers receiving referrals from those VAMCs. GAO also interviewed VA and contractor officials. GAO recommends that Congress consider requiring VA to establish an overall wait-time measure for the VCCP. GAO is also making three recommendations to VA, including that it align its monitoring metrics with the VCCP appointment scheduling process. VA did not concur with one of GAO's recommendations related to aligning monitoring metrics to VCCP scheduling policy time frames. GAO continues to believe this recommendation is valid, as discussed in the report. For more information, contact Sharon M. Silas at (202) 512-7114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Palestinian Authority President AbbasBy Sam NewsMay 14, 2021
- The Department of Justice Announces Standards for Certifying Safe Policing Practices by Law Enforcement AgenciesBy Sam NewsOctober 28, 2020Today, the Department of Justice announced Standards for Certification that will be used by credentialing bodies so they can begin certifying thousands of law enforcement agencies over the next three months. The Standards of Certification are a result of President Trump’s June Executive Order 13929, Safe Policing for Safe Communities.[Read More…]
- Owner of Sport Supplement Company Sentenced for Unlawful Distribution of Steroid-Like DrugsBy Sam NewsFebruary 16, 2021A North Carolina sport supplement company owner was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison after pleading guilty to introducing unapproved new drugs into interstate commerce, the Department of Justice announced.[Read More…]
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- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Indian External Affairs Minister S. JaishankarBy Sam NewsApril 30, 2021
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- Justice Department’s Procurement Collusion Strike Force Announces Eleven New National PartnersBy Sam NewsNovember 12, 2020The Justice Department announced today that the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF) is adding 11 new national partners to the Strike Force, for a total of 29 agencies and offices committed on the national level to combatting collusion, antitrust crimes and related fraudulent schemes, which undermine competition in government procurement, grant and program funding.[Read More…]
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- U.S. International Broadcasting: New Strategic Approach Focuses on Reaching Large Audiences but Lacks Measurable Program ObjectivesBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021Prompted by a desire to reverse declining audience trends and to support the war on terrorism, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the agency responsible for U.S. international broadcasting, began developing its new strategic approach to international broadcasting in July 2001. This approach emphasizes the need to reach mass audiences by applying modern broadcast techniques and strategically allocating resources to focus on high-priority markets. GAO was asked to examine (1) whether recent program initiatives have adhered to the Board's new strategic approach to broadcasting, (2) how the approach's effectiveness will be assessed, and (3) what critical challenges the Board faces in executing its strategy and how these challenges will be addressed.Consistent with its new plan to dramatically increase the size of U.S. international broadcasting listening and viewing audiences in markets of U.S. strategic interest, the Broadcasting Board of Governors has launched several new projects, including Radio Sawa in the Middle East, Radio Farda in Iran, and the Afghanistan Radio Network. These projects adhere to the Board's core strategy of identifying a target audience and tailoring each broadcast product to market circumstances and audience needs. The Board's plan lacks measurable program objectives designed to gauge the success of its new approach to broadcasting, detailed implementation strategies, resource needs, and project time frames. A number of key effectiveness measures could provide a starting point for developing measurable program objectives and related performance goals and indicators under the Board's annual performance plan. These measures include audience size in specific markets, audience awareness, broadcaster credibility, and whether the Voice of America (VOA) effectively presents information about U.S. thought, institutions, and policies to target audiences. The Board has identified a number of market and internal challenges--such as technological innovation and better coordination of its seven separate broadcast entities--that must be addressed to make U.S. international broadcasting more competitive. It has also developed a number of solutions to address these challenges. However, the Board has not addressed how many language services it can carry effectively (with the number rising nearly 20 percent over the past 10 years) and what level of overlap and duplication in VOA and surrogate broadcast services would be appropriate under its new approach to broadcasting. Resolving these questions will have significant resource implications for the Board and its ability to reach larger audiences in high-priority markets.[Read More…]
- Two Alleged Hackers Charged with Defacing Websites Following Killing of Qasem SoleimaniBy Sam NewsSeptember 15, 2020Two alleged computer hackers were indicted in the District of Massachusetts on charges of damaging multiple websites across the United States as retaliation for United States military action in January 2020 that killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization.[Read More…]
- Individual Pleads Guilty to Participating in Internet-of-Things Cyberattack in 2016By Sam NewsDecember 9, 2020An individual, formerly a juvenile, pleaded guilty to committing acts of federal juvenile delinquency in relation to a cyberattack that caused massive disruption to the Internet in October 2016.[Read More…]
- Covid-19 Contracting: Observations on Federal Contracting in Response to the PandemicBy Sam NewsJuly 30, 2020Government-wide contract obligations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic totaled $17.8 billion as of June 11, 2020. Four agencies accounted for 85 percent of total COVID-19 contract obligations (see figure). This report provides available baseline data on COVID-19 federal contract obligations. Contract Obligations in Response to COVID-19 by Department, as of June 11, 2020 About 62 percent of federal contract obligations were for goods to treat COVID-19 patients and protect health care workers—including ventilators, gowns, and N95 respirators. Less than half of total contract obligations were identified as competed (see figure). Top Five Goods and Services and Percentage of Obligations Competed, as of June 11, 2020 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of June 30, 2020, the United States has documented more than 2.5 million confirmed cases and more than 125,000 deaths due to COVID-19. To facilitate the U.S. response to the pandemic, numerous federal agencies have awarded contracts for critical goods and services to support federal, state, and local response efforts. GAO's prior work on federal emergency response efforts has found that contracts play a key role, and that contracting during an emergency can present unique challenges as officials can face pressure to provide goods and services as quickly as possible. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) included a provision for GAO to provide a comprehensive review of COVID-19 federal contracting. This is the first in a series of GAO reports on this issue. This report describes, among other objectives, key characteristics of federal contracting obligations awarded in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Future GAO work will examine agencies' planning and management of contracts awarded in response to the pandemic, including agencies' use of contracting flexibilities provided by the CARES Act. GAO analyzed data from the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation on agencies' reported government-wide contract obligations for COVID-19 through June 11, 2020. GAO also analyzed contract obligations reported at the Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs—the highest obligating agencies. For more information, contact Marie A. Mak at (202) 512-4841 or MakM@gao.gov.[Read More…]