Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
On behalf of the government of the United States and the American people, I congratulate the people of Antigua and Barbuda on your 39th anniversary of independence.
As regional partners, our countries are working together to increase security, expand prosperity, and uphold democratic values. We are proud of the U.S.-Caribbean Resilience Partnership that strengthens our preparedness for hurricanes and other natural disasters. The United States’ and Antigua and Barbuda’s collaboration through the USAID Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Early Learners program has improved the literacy skills of more than 5,000 students. Our work together against COVID-19 protects the health and well-being of our citizens.
Proud of what we have achieved together and looking forward to our continued partnership, I wish the people of Antigua and Barbuda a happy Independence Day.
- Indivior Solutions Sentenced To Pay $289 Million In Criminal Penalties For Unlawful Marketing Of Opioid DrugBy Sam NewsNovember 12, 2020Indivior Solutions was sentenced to pay $289 million in criminal penalties in connection with a previous guilty plea related to the marketing of the opioid-addiction-treatment drug Suboxone, the Department of Justice announced today.[Read More…]
- Defense Logistics: Army Has Not Fully Planned or Budgeted for the Reconstitution of Its Afloat Prepositioned StocksBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021At various stages throughout the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has withdrawn equipment from its stored, or prepositioned, stock sets around the world, as well as from its afloat stocks, thus depleting a large portion of its prepositioned stocks. The Army prepositions equipment at diverse strategic locations in order to field combat-ready forces in days rather than the weeks it would take if equipment had to be moved from the United States to the location of the conflict. The Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS) program supports the National Military Strategy and is an important part of the Department of Defense's (DOD) overall strategic mobility framework. The APS program depends on prepositioned unit sets of equipment and sustainment stocks to enable troops to deploy rapidly and train with prepositioned equipment before beginning combat operations. As we testified in January 2007 and March 2006, however, sustained continuing operations have taken a toll on the condition and readiness of military equipment, and the Army faces a number of ongoing and long-term challenges that will affect both the timing and cost of equipment repair and replacement, particularly to its prepositioned stocks. Over the past several years, GAO and other audit agencies have reported on numerous long-standing problems facing DOD's and the Army's prepositioning programs, including a lack of centralized operational direction; unreliable reporting on the maintenance condition of equipment; equipment excesses at some prepositioned locations; and systemic problems with requirements determination and inventory management. In September 2005, we recommended that DOD develop a coordinated departmentwide plan and joint doctrine for the department's prepositioning programs. In February 2007, we reported that while the Army expected to finalize its implementation plan for prepositioning stocks by December 31, 2006, DOD would not complete its departmentwide strategy before mid-April 2007. We recommended that the Secretary of Defense direct the Secretary of the Army to take steps to synchronize the Army's prepositioning strategy with the DOD-wide strategy, to ensure that future investments made for the Army's prepositioning program would align with the anticipated DOD-wide prepositioning strategy. In addition, the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 required the department to establish a departmentwide prepositioning strategic policy by April 2007.Army officials stated that its worldwide APS equipment sets, including APS-3, would be reconstituted in synchronization with the Army's overall equipping priorities when properly funded and in accordance with the official Army worldwide APS reconstitution strategy known as Army Prepositioned Strategy 2015 (APS Strategy 2015). According to DOD officials, the Army's equipping priorities will be based on evolving conditions and operations such as the availability of equipment and duration of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example. As of December 2007, the Army had not established its overall equipping priorities. Additionally, the Army's APS reconstitution strategy is not correlated with a DOD-wide APS strategy, because, according to DOD officials, a DOD-wide prepositioning strategy does not exist. DOD officials explained that the services are responsible for equipping strategies and that the Joint Staff, consistent with current policy, conducts assessments of the services' prepositioned programs to determine their relationship within the DOD-wide strategic context. DOD officials do not believe additional synchronization of strategies is required. According to DOD, the War Reserve Materiel Policy provides ample policy guidance on war reserve materiel requirements and war reserve materiel positioning while the allocation process is outlined in the Joint Strategic Capability Plan. DOD officials believe publication of the War Reserve Materiel Policy and Joint Strategic Capability Plan satisfies the congressionally mandated requirement contained in the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. Nonetheless, as we recommended in our September 2005 and February 2007 reports, a DOD-wide strategy would set direction and a shared foundation for the services' prepositioning programs. Synchronizing a DOD-wide strategy with the Army's prepositioning strategy would ensure that future investments made for the Army's prepositioning program would align with the anticipated DOD-wide strategy. Without a DOD-wide prepositioning strategy, DOD risks inconsistencies between the Army's and the other services' prepositioning strategies, which may result in duplication of efforts and resources. We continue to believe a DOD-wide strategy is needed in addition to broad strategic guidance.[Read More…]
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- Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance: Overarching Guidance Is Needed to Advance Information SharingBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021The Department of Defense (DOD) has numerous intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems--including manned and unmanned airborne, space-borne, maritime, and terrestrial systems--that play critical roles in support of current military operations. The demand for these capabilities has increased dramatically. Today's testimony addresses (1) the challenges the military services and defense agencies face processing, exploiting, and disseminating the information collected by ISR systems and (2) the extent to which the military services and defense agencies have developed the capabilities required to share ISR information. This testimony is based on GAO's January 2010 report on DOD's ISR data processing capabilities. GAO reviewed and analyzed documentation, guidance, and strategies of the military services and defense agencies in regard to processing, exploiting, and disseminating ISR data as well as information-sharing capabilities. GAO also visited numerous commands, military units, and locations in Iraq and the United States.The military services and defense agencies face long-standing challenges with processing, exploiting, and disseminating ISR data, and DOD has recently begun some initiatives to address these challenges. First, since 2002, DOD has rapidly increased its ability to collect ISR data in Iraq and Afghanistan, although its capacity for processing, exploiting, and dissemination is limited. Second, transmitting data from ISR collection platforms to ground stations where analysts process, exploit, and then disseminate intelligence to users requires high-capacity communications bandwidth. However, bandwidth can be limited in a theater of operations by the satellite and ground-based communication capacity, and this in turn affects the ability to send, receive, and download intelligence products that contain large amounts of data. Third, shortages of analytical staff with the required skill sets hamper the services' and defense agencies' abilities to exploit all ISR information being collected, thus raising the risk that important information may not be available to commanders in a timely manner. DOD is developing and implementing initiatives to enhance its processing, exploitation, and dissemination capabilities, such as increasing personnel, but its initiatives are in the early stages of implementation and it is too soon to tell how effective they will be in addressing current challenges. DOD is taking steps to improve the sharing of intelligence information across the department, but progress is uneven among the military services. DOD began plans for its Distributed Common Ground/Surface System (DCGS), an interoperable family of systems that will enable users to access shared ISR information in 1998. DOD subsequently directed the military services to transition their service-unique intelligence data processing systems into DCGS and each of the military services is at a different stage. While the Air Force and the Navy each plan to have a fully functional version of DCGS by the end of fiscal years 2010 and 2013, respectively, the Army does not expect to have a fully functional system until 2016. The Marine Corps has not yet established a completion date for the full operational capability of its DCGS. To facilitate the sharing of ISR data on this system, DOD developed the DCGS Integration Backbone, which provides common information standards and protocols. Although the services are responsible for managing their DCGS programs and conforming to information-sharing standards, according to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and military service officials, DOD has not developed overarching guidance, such as a concept of operations that provides direction and priorities for sharing intelligence information within the defense intelligence community. Without this overarching guidance, the services lack direction to set their own goals and objectives for prioritizing and sharing ISR information and therefore have not developed service-specific implementation plans that describe the prioritization and types of ISR data they intend to share. Moreover, the inability of users to fully access existing information contributes to the increasing demand for additional ISR collection assets.[Read More…]
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- Defense Contractor Cybersecurity: Stakeholder Communication and Performance Goals Could Improve Certification FrameworkBy Sam NewsDecember 8, 2021What GAO Found For years, malicious cyber actors have targeted defense contractors to access sensitive unclassified data. In response, since 2019, the Department of Defense (DOD) has engaged with a range of stakeholders to develop and refine a set of cybersecurity practices and processes for contractors to use to help assure security of the data. For relevant contracts, this Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) requires that defense contractors implement these practices and processes on their information systems and networks. Key Steps in CMMC Verification Process DOD began CMMC implementation with an interim rule that took effect in November 2020, but the rollout of the 5-year pilot phase is delayed. For example, DOD planned to pilot the CMMC requirement on up to 15 acquisitions in fiscal year 2021 but has not yet included the requirement in any acquisitions, in part due to delays in certifying assessors. Industry—in particular, small businesses—has expressed a range of concerns about CMMC implementation, such as costs and assessment consistency. DOD engaged with industry in refining early versions of CMMC, but it has not provided sufficient details and timely communication on implementation. Until DOD improves this communication, industry will be challenged to implement protections for DOD's sensitive data. DOD has identified plans to assess aspects of its CMMC pilot, including high-level objectives and data collection activities, but these plans do not fully reflect GAO's leading practices for effective pilot design. For example, DOD has not defined when and how it will analyze its data to measure performance. Further, GAO found that DOD has not developed outcome-oriented measures, such as reduced risk to sensitive information, to gauge the effectiveness of CMMC. Without such measures, the department will be hindered in evaluating the extent to which CMMC is increasing the cybersecurity of the defense industrial base. In November 2021, DOD announced CMMC 2.0, which includes a number of significant changes, including eliminating some certification levels, DOD-specific cybersecurity practices, and assessment requirements. DOD also announced that it intended to suspend the current CMMC pilot and initiate a new rulemaking period to implement the revised framework. Why GAO Did This Study DOD relies on thousands of defense contractors for goods and services ranging from weapon systems to analysis to maintenance. In doing business with DOD, these companies access and use sensitive unclassified data. Accordingly, the department has taken steps intended to improve the cybersecurity of this defense industrial base. A Senate report included a provision for GAO to review DOD's implementation of CMMC. This report addresses (1) what steps DOD took to develop CMMC, (2) the extent to which DOD made progress in implementing CMMC, including communication with industry, and (3) the extent to which DOD has developed plans to assess the effectiveness of CMMC. GAO reviewed DOD documents related to the design and implementation of CMMC and interviewed DOD officials involved in designing and managing it. GAO also interviewed representatives from defense contractors, industry trade groups, and research centers.[Read More…]
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- Software Development: DOD Faces Risks and Challenges in Implementing Modern Approaches and Addressing Cybersecurity PracticesBy Sam NewsJune 24, 2021What GAO Found According to the Department of Defense's (DOD) fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget request, DOD spent $2.8 billion on the 29 selected major business information technology (IT) programs in FY 2019. The department also reported that it planned to invest over $9.7 billion on these programs between FY 2020 and FY 2022. In addition, 20 of the 29 programs reported experiencing cost or schedule changes since January 2019. Program officials attributed cost and schedule changes to a variety of reasons, including modernization changes and requirements changes or delays. Seventeen of the 29 programs also reported experiencing challenges associated with the early impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the slowdown of contractors' software development efforts. DOD and GAO's assessments of program risk identified a range of program risk levels and indicated that some programs could be underreporting risks. Specifically, of the 22 programs that were actively using a register to manage program risks, DOD rated nine programs as low risk, 12 as medium risk, and one as high risk. In contrast, GAO rated seven as low risk, 12 as medium risk, and three as high risk. In total, GAO found 10 programs for which its numerical assessments of program risk reflected greater risk than reported by DOD, while DOD had three programs with greater reported risk than GAO. DOD officials noted that differences in risk levels might be associated with a variety of factors, including different risk assessment approaches. However, the differences in risk level GAO identified highlight the need for DOD to ensure that it is accurately reporting program risks. Until the department does so, oversight of some programs could be limited by overly optimistic risk perspectives. As of December 2020, program officials for the 22 major DOD business IT programs that were actively developing software reported using approaches that may help to limit cost and schedule risks. (See table.) Selected Software Development and Cybersecurity Approaches That May Limit Risks and Number of Major DOD Business IT Programs That Reported Using the Approach Software development and cybersecurity approaches that may limit risk Number of programs that reported using the approach Using off-the-shelf software 19 of 22 Implementing continuous iterative software development 18 of 22 Delivering software at least every 6 monthsa 16 of 22 Developing or planning to develop a cybersecurity strategy 21 of 22 Conducting developmental cybersecurity testing 16 of 22 Conducting operational cybersecurity testing 15 of 22 Source: GAO analysis of Department of Defense questionnaire responses. | GAO-21-351aThe Defense Innovation Board encourages more frequent delivery of working software to users for Agile and DevOps practices. Program officials also reported facing a variety of software development challenges while implementing these approaches. These included difficulties finding and hiring staff, transitioning from waterfall to Agile software development, and managing technical environments. DOD's continued efforts to address these challenges will be critical to the department's implementation of modern software development approaches. DOD has also made organizational and policy changes intended to improve the management of its IT acquisitions, such as taking steps to implement Agile software development and improve data transparency. In addition, to address statutory requirements, DOD has taken steps to remove the department's chief management officer (CMO) position. However, the department had not yet sufficiently implemented these changes. Officials from many of the 18 programs GAO assessed that reported using Agile development reported that DOD had implemented activities associated with Agile transition best practices to only some or little to no extent, indicating that the department had not sufficiently implemented best practices. For example, 12 of the 18 programs reported that DOD's life-cycle activities only supported Agile methods to some or little to no extent. Program officials also reported challenges associated with implementing Agile software development. The department has a variety of efforts underway to help with its implementation of Agile software development. DOD officials stated that the department's transition to Agile will take years and will require sustained engagement throughout DOD. In addition, DOD has taken steps aimed at improving the sharing and transparency of data it uses to monitor its acquisitions. According to a November 2020 proposal from the Office of the Under Secretary for Acquisition and Sustainment, DOD officials are to develop data strategies and metrics to assess performance for the department's acquisition pathways. However, as of February 2021, DOD did not have data strategies and had not finalized metrics for the two pathways associated with the programs discussed in this report. Officials said they were working with DOD programs and components to finalize initial pathway metrics. They stated that they plan to implement them in fiscal year 2021 and continue to refine and adjust them over the coming years. Without important data from acquistion pathways and systems, DOD risks not having timely quantitative insight into program performance, including its acquisition reform efforts. Finally, DOD's CMO position was eliminated by a statute enacted in January 2021. This position was responsible for key efforts associated with the department's business systems modernization, which has been on GAO's High Risk List since 1995. DOD plans to take steps to address the uncertainty associated with the recent elimination of the position. Why GAO Did This Study For fiscal year 2021, DOD requested approximately $37.7 billion for IT investments. These investments included major business IT programs, which are intended to help the department carry out key business functions, such as financial management and health care. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 included a provision for GAO to assess selected IT programs annually through March 2023. GAO's objectives for this review were to (1) summarize DOD's reported performance of its portfolio of IT acquisition programs and the reasons for this performance; (2) evaluate DOD's assessments of program risks; (3) summarize DOD's approaches to software development and cybersecurity and identify associated challenges; and (4) evaluate how selected organizational and policy changes could affect IT acquisitions. To address these objectives, GAO selected 29 major business IT programs that DOD reported to the federal IT Dashboard (a public website that includes information on the performance of major IT investments) as of September 2020. GAO reviewed planned expenditures for these programs, from fiscal years 2019 through 2022, as reported in the department's FY 2021 budget request. It also aggregated program office responses to a GAO questionnaire that requested information about cost and schedule changes that occurred since January 2019 and the early impacts of COVID-19. GAO also analyzed the risks of the 22 programs that were actively using central repositories known as risk registers to manage program risks. GAO used these registers to create program risk ratings, and then compared its ratings to those of the DOD chief information officer (CIO). In addition, GAO aggregated DOD program office responses to the questionnaire that requested information about the software and cybersecurity practices used by 22 of the 29 IT programs that were actively developing software. GAO compared the responses to relevant guidance and leading practices. GAO reviewed selected IT-related organizational and policy changes and reviewed reports and documentation related to the effects of these changes on IT acquisitions. GAO also aggregated program office responses to the questionnaire that requested information about DOD's implementation of these changes. This included information on DOD's implementation of best practices as part of its efforts to implement Agile software development. GAO met with relevant DOD officials to discuss each of the topics addressed in this report.[Read More…]
- Justice Department And Indian Authorities Announce Enforcement Actions Against Technical-Support Fraud Scheme Targeting SeniorsBy Sam NewsOctober 15, 2020A federal court has ordered an individual and 5 companies to stop engaging in a technical-support fraud scheme that is alleged to have defrauded hundreds of elderly and vulnerable U.S. victims, the Department of Justice announced today.[Read More…]
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- Military Readiness: Impact of Current Operations and Actions Needed to Rebuild Readiness of U.S. Ground ForcesBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021U.S. military forces, and ground forces in particular, have operated at a high pace since the attacks of September 11, 2001, including to support ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Between 2001 and July 2007, approximately 931,000 U.S. Army and Marine Corps servicemembers deployed for overseas military operations, including about 312,000 National Guard or Reserve members. To support ongoing military operations and related activities, Congress has appropriated billions of dollars since 2001, and through September 2007, the Department of Defense (DOD) has reported obligating about $492.2 billion to cover these expenses, of which a large portion are related to readiness. In addition, DOD's annual appropriation, now totaling about $480 billion for fiscal year 2008, includes funds to cover readiness needs. GAO was asked to testify on (1) the readiness implications of DOD's efforts to support ongoing operations; and (2) GAO's prior recommendations related to these issues, including specific actions that GAO believes would enhance DOD's ability to manage and improve readiness. This statement is based on reports and testimonies published from fiscal years 2003 through 2008. GAO's work was conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.While DOD has overcome difficult challenges in maintaining a high pace of operations over the past 6 years and U.S. forces have gained considerable combat experience, our work has shown that extended operations in Iraq and elsewhere have had significant consequences for military readiness, particularly with regard to the Army and Marine Corps. To meet mission requirements specific to Iraq and Afghanistan, the department has taken steps to increase the availability of personnel and equipment for deploying units, and to refocus their training on assigned missions. For example, to maintain force levels in theater, DOD has increased the length of deployments and frequency of mobilizations, but it is unclear whether these adjustments will affect recruiting and retention. The Army and Marine Corps have also transferred equipment from nondeploying units and prepositioned stocks to support deploying units, affecting the availability of items for nondeployed units to meet other demands. In addition, they have refocused training such that units train extensively for counterinsurgency missions, with little time available to train for a fuller range of missions. Finally, DOD has adopted strategies, such as relying more on Navy and Air Force personnel and contractors to perform some tasks formerly handled by Army or Marine Corps personnel. If current operations continue at the present level of intensity, DOD could face difficulty in balancing these commitments with the need to rebuild and maintain readiness. Over the past several years, GAO has reported on a range of issues related to military readiness and made numerous recommendations to enhance DOD's ability to manage and improve readiness. Given the change in the security environment since September 11, 2001, and demands on U.S. military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, rebuilding readiness will be a long-term and complex effort. However, GAO believes DOD can take measures that will advance progress in both the short and long terms. A common theme is the need for DOD to take a more strategic decision-making approach to ensure programs and investments are based on plans with measurable goals, validated requirements, prioritized resource needs, and performance measures to gauge progress. Overall, GAO recommended that DOD develop a near-term plan for improving the readiness of ground forces that, among other things, establishes specific goals for improving unit readiness, prioritizes actions needed to achieve those goals, and outlines an investment strategy to clearly link resource needs and funding requests. GAO also made recommendations in several specific readiness-related areas, including that DOD develop equipping strategies to target shortages of items required to equip units preparing for deployment, and DOD adjust its training strategies to include a plan to support full-spectrum training. DOD agreed with some recommendations, but has yet to fully implement them. For others, particularly when GAO recommended that DOD develop more robust plans linked to resources, DOD believed its current efforts were sufficient. GAO continues to believe such plans are needed.[Read More…]
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