December 9, 2021

News

News Network

Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Phee’s Travel to Ghana and Burkina Faso

15 min read

Office of the Spokesperson

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee will embark October 16 on her first trip to Africa as Assistant Secretary.  Assistant Secretary Phee will begin her travel in Ghana, where she will meet with senior government officials and civil society representatives.  The Assistant Secretary will reaffirm our strategic partnership and explore cooperation to advance shared global priorities, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding U.S.-Ghana trade and investment, addressing the climate crisis, creating opportunities for clean energy, and strengthening democracy in West Africa, through Ghana’s leadership as Chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  As Ghana will join the UN Security Council for the 2022-2023 term, the Assistant Secretary will also lay the groundwork for advancing shared objectives and cooperating on key international and regional Africa priorities.

From Ghana, the Assistant Secretary will travel to Burkina Faso, where she also will meet with senior government officials and members of the business and civil society communities.  The Assistant Secretary will underscore our shared goals of strengthening democratic governance and building lasting security in Burkina Faso and across the Sahel.  She will discuss how to harness U.S. trade and investment to diversify and grow Burkina Faso’s economy.  Assistant Secretary Phee also will participate in an engagement at Africa’s largest and most prominent film festival—the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO)—which promotes partnerships between American and African independent filmmakers. 

More from: Office of the Spokesperson

News Network

  • Uranium Management: Actions to Mitigate Risks to Domestic Supply Chain Could Be Better Planned and Coordinated
    In U.S GAO News
    Federal agencies, including the Department of Energy (DOE) and the separately organized National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) within DOE, and uranium industry representatives have identified risks to the commercial supply chain for uranium needed for defense purposes. Such uranium may need to be mined domestically and enriched using U.S. technology to be free of obligations for the peaceful use of uranium and certain technology imported under international agreements. Identified risks to the unobligated uranium supply chain include (1) possible loss of domestic uranium mining capabilities and (2) possible challenges in re-starting the only facility in the United States for converting natural uranium into a form suitable for use in enrichment operations. Further, the U.S. has not had an operating enrichment capability that uses U.S. technology since 2013. Idle Domestic Plant for Converting Uranium to a Form Suitable for Enrichment DOE and NNSA have initiated actions officials believe will mitigate such risks to the unobligated uranium supply chain. For example, DOE and NNSA have both taken steps to reestablish a domestic enrichment capability with U.S. technology. In addition, DOE has proposed creation of a domestic uranium reserve to help support the domestic uranium mining and conversion industries until market conditions improve. DOE's fiscal year 2021 budget request includes $150 million for the reserve. However, we cannot conclude that the estimate is reasonable because it is unclear how the funding needs for the reserve were determined. By providing a more complete analysis to support future funding requests for the reserve, DOE could better provide assurance that such requests would achieve objectives. The Nuclear Fuel Working Group's strategy to mitigate risks to the domestic uranium industry does not fully incorporate all desirable characteristics GAO has identified for a national strategy. For example, it does not identify (1) the level of resources needed to support proposed actions or (2) an interagency coordinating mechanism. DOE is developing an implementation plan for the strategy, but DOE officials provided conflicting statements about the extent to which the agency will coordinate interagency implementation. NNSA has several defense needs for enriched uranium, including low-enriched uranium to produce tritium for nuclear weapons. To meet these needs, NNSA relies on commercial sectors of the domestic uranium industry, such as uranium mining or enrichment, which make up a supply chain for unobligated uranium. However, this industry faces commercial viability risks. In April 2020, the President's Nuclear Fuel Working Group released a strategy to mitigate risks to the domestic uranium industry. This working group includes DOE, the Department of Defense, and other agencies. Senate Report 115-262 included a provision that GAO review NNSA's planning for the future supply of unobligated enriched uranium. This report examines (1) risks agencies and others have identified to the unobligated uranium supply chain and agency actions to mitigate those risks, and (2) the extent to which the Nuclear Fuel Working Group's risk mitigation strategy incorporates desirable characteristics of a national strategy. GAO analyzed key NNSA and DOE planning documents and interviewed NNSA and other agency officials and industry representatives. GAO is making three recommendations, including that DOE improve its cost estimate to support future funding requests for the proposed uranium reserve and ensure its implementation plan for the strategy addresses each of the desirable characteristics of a national strategy. DOE concurred with GAO's recommendations. For more information, contact at (202) 512-3821 or bawdena@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Settles with Gates Chili Central School District to Ensure Equal Access for Students with Service Animals
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced today that it reached an agreement with the Gates Chili Central School District in Rochester, New York, to resolve the department’s lawsuit alleging disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
    [Read More…]
  • Military Operations: DOD Needs to Address Contract Oversight and Quality Assurance Issues for Contracts Used to Support Contingency Operations
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (DOD) uses contractors to meet many of its logistical and operational support needs. With the global war on terrorism, there has been a significant increase in deployment of contractor personnel to areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan. In its fiscal year 2007 report, the House Appropriations Committee directed GAO to examine the link between the growth in DOD's operation and maintenance costs and DOD's increased reliance on service contracts. GAO determined (1) the extent to which costs for selected contracts increased and the factors causing the increases, (2) the extent to which DOD provided oversight for selected contracts, and (3) the reasons for DOD's use of contractors to support contingency operations. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed a nonprobability sample of seven DOD contracts for services that provide vital support to contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. GAO reviewed contract requirements, funding documents and DOD guidance for these contracts and interviewed DOD and contractor personnel.Costs for six of the seven contracts GAO reviewed increased from an initial estimate of $783 million to about $3.8 billion, and one consistent and primary factor driving the growth was increased requirements associated with continued military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, the Army awarded a $218.2 million task order for equipment maintenance and supply services in Kuwait in October 2004. Since then, approximately $154 million of additional work was added to this task order for vehicle refurbishment, tire assembly and repair, and resetting of prepositioned equipment. Other factors that increased individual contract costs include the use of short-term contract extensions and the government's inability to provide contractually required equipment and services. For example, in three of the contracts GAO reviewed, short-term contract extensions (3 to 6 months) increased costs because the contractor felt it was too risky to obtain long-term leases for vehicles and housing. The actual cost of one contract we reviewed did not exceed the estimated cost for reasons such as lower than projected labor rates. GAO has frequently reported that inadequate staffing contributed to contract management challenges. For some contracts GAO reviewed, DOD's oversight was inadequate because it had a shortage of qualified personnel and it did not maintain some contract files in accordance with applicable guidance. For five contracts, DOD had inadequate management and oversight personnel. In one case, the office responsible for overseeing two contracts was short 6 of 18 key positions, all of which needed specialized training and certifications. In addition, for two other contracts, proper accounting of government owned equipment was not performed because the property administrator position was vacant. Second, DOD did not always follow guidance for maintaining contract files or its quality assurance principles. For four contracts, complete contract files documenting administration and oversight actions taken were not kept and incoming personnel were unable to determine how contract management and oversight had been performed and if the contractor had performed satisfactorily prior to their arrival. In addition, oversight was not always performed by qualified personnel. For example, quality assurance officials for the linguist contract were unable to speak the language so they could not judge the quality of the contractor's work. Without adequate levels of qualified oversight personnel, proper maintenance of contract files, and consistent implementation of quality assurance principles, DOD may not be able to determine whether contractors are meeting their contract requirements, which raises the potential for waste. DOD used contractors to support contingency operations for several reasons, including the need to compensate for a decrease in force size and a lack of capability within the military services. For example, an Army contract for linguist services had a requirement for more than 11,000 linguists because DOD did not have the needed linguists. According to Army officials, the Army phased out many interpreter positions years ago and did not anticipate a large need for Arabic speakers.
    [Read More…]
  • Defense Critical Infrastructure: Actions Needed to Improve the Consistency, Reliability, and Usefulness of DOD’s Tier 1 Task Critical Asset List
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (DOD) relies on a global network of defense critical infrastructure so essential that the incapacitation, exploitation, or destruction of an asset within this network could severely affect DOD's ability to deploy, support, and sustain its forces and operations worldwide and to implement its core missions, including current missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because of its importance to DOD operations, this defense critical infrastructure could be vulnerable to attacks by adversaries, and vulnerable to natural disasters and hazards, such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Since September 2003, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas' Security Affairs (ASD[HD&ASA]) has been responsible for developing and ensuring implementation of critical infrastructure protection policy and program guidance. To identify and help assure the availability of this mission-critical infrastructure, in August 2005 DOD established the Defense Critical Infrastructure Program (DCIP), assigning overall responsibility for the program to ASD(HD&ASA). In April 2008, DOD issued an instruction that further assigned responsibilities and prescribed procedures for the implementation of DCIP, among other things. In October 2008, DOD formalized the process for identifying and prioritizing its critical infrastructure. Since 2006, ASD(HD&ASA) has collaborated with the Joint Staff to compile a list of all DOD- and non-DOD-owned infrastructure essential to accomplish DOD's missions. To support this effort, the combatant commands and military services are to identify and place their critical assets into prioritized tiers, including Tier 1 Task Critical Assets, which are assets of such extraordinary importance that their incapacitation or destruction would have a serious, debilitating effect on the ability of one or more military services, combatant commands, or DCIP Defense Infrastructure Sector Lead Agents to execute the mission essential tasks they support. Defense Critical Assets, on the other hand, are the assets most critical for fulfilling overall DOD missions and are identified from the universe of Task Critical Assets. The Joint Staff worked with the combatant commands, military services, and Defense Infrastructure Sector Lead Agents to develop the current departmentwide list of Tier 1 Task Critical Assets. In October 2008, ASD(HD&ASA) formally accepted the Joint Staff's Defense Critical Asset nomination list as an initial list of Defense Critical Assets. In its May 2008 report on H.R. 5658, the House Committee on Armed Services addressed DOD's lack of progress in analyzing the risks of electrical power outages to critical DOD missions through DCIP and, among other things, directed that GAO continue its review of DCIP. As a result, we initiated our on-going review of the assurance of electrical power supplies to DOD's critical assets.While DOD has made some progress in developing a Tier 1 Task Critical Asset list, this progress was limited by DOD's lack of consistent criteria for identifying and prioritizing Tier 1 Task Critical Assets. When selecting and submitting their most recent lists of Tier 1 Task Critical Asset submissions to the Joint Staff, the combatant commands and the military services used disparate sets of guidance, including draft and nonbinding guidance, as their criteria. Air Force officials, however, told us they developed formal critical asset identification guidance based on DOD's draft critical asset identification manual. According to military service and combatant command officials, DOD's draft and nonbinding guidance contained unclear definitions of asset tiers, Task Critical Assets, and other key terms, such as "mission essential tasks." DOD has taken some actions toward promoting coordination among the combatant commands, military services, and Joint Staff in compiling DOD's Tier 1 Task Critical Asset list. For example, in August 2005, DOD issued DOD Directive 3020.40, which calls for coordination among the Joint Staff, combatant commands, military services, and other defense agencies for the purpose of identifying and assessing critical assets needed to implement DOD missions. However, DOD has not yet developed formal coordination responsibilities and an effective coordination mechanism within DCIP, including a forum for coordination between the military services and combatant commands when identifying critical assets. Combatant command and military service officials told us that, in considering which assets to submit to DOD's Tier 1 Task Critical Asset list, they coordinate only minimally with each other when determining which assets are critical to combatant command missions. Based on our analysis of the October 2008 manual and discussions with DCIP officials, we found that the Joint Staff, combatant commands, military services, and other DOD agencies still lack clearly defined coordination responsibilities and a mechanism for effective coordination within DCIP. As a result, the communication and coordination efforts among these key DCIP stakeholders when considering assets to nominate as Tier 1 Task Critical Assets have been insufficient and inconsistent. While DOD has developed a strategy and comprehensive management plan for DCIP, it has not fully developed some DCIP program management elements for identifying Tier 1 Task Critical Assets, which could enhance the effectiveness of the program. DOD's formal critical asset identification process manual issued in 2008 lacks some key elements necessary for sound program management, including clearly defined schedules and milestones for meeting performance goals and a formal feedback process. According to our work on sound management practices, comprehensive program schedules and formal communication strategies assist agencies in effectively implementing programs by providing relevant stakeholders with timelines to follow, performance milestones to meet, and shared expectations to guide their efforts. Because DOD lacks a formal process for submitting critical assets, including milestones and formal feedback from ASD(HD&ASA) or the Joint Staff on meeting program goals, the combatant commands and military services are limited in their ability to effectively select, compile, and validate their final nominations to DOD's Tier 1 Task Critical Asset list.
    [Read More…]
  • Pride Month
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • On the Killing of Rohingya Muslim Advocate Mohib Ullah
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [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…]
  • Earth Day 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • United States, European Union, and Partners Formally Launch Global Methane Pledge to Keep 1.5C Within Reach
    In Climate - Environment - Conservation
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis Before Their Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Joint Statement on the Eighth U.S.-UAE Economic Policy Dialogue  
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Southern Colorado Man Sentenced to More Than 19 Years for Plotting to Blow Up Synagogue
    In Crime News
    A Colorado man was sentenced today in federal court in Colorado for plotting to blow up a synagogue.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Iceland Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson Before Their Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Announces Investigation into Conditions at Five Juvenile Facilities in Texas
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced today that it has opened a statewide investigation into the conditions in the five secure juvenile correctional facilities run by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. 
    [Read More…]
  • Defenders Work to Ensure Due Process Amid Pandemic
    In U.S Courts
    Of the many challenges that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has imposed on the ongoing operations of federal courts, some of the toughest are being faced by federal defenders, who are on the front lines working to overcome unprecedented threats to their clients’ safety and constitutional rights.
    [Read More…]
  • Statement from Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall on the Passing of Former Solicitor General Drew S. Days III
    In Crime News
    Today, Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall issued the following statement on the passing of former Solicitor General Drew S. Days III:
    [Read More…]
  • Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivered a Policy Address Regarding Voting Rights
    In Crime News
    Good afternoon. It’s wonderful to be here in the Great Hall with the dedicated staff of the Civil Rights Division, joined by our Deputy and Associate Attorneys General, and by our newly-arrived Assistant Attorney General, Kristen Clarke. Welcome. I have tremendous respect for the work you do every day to protect civil rights for everyone in America.
    [Read More…]
  • Louisiana Man Indicted for Fraudulently Obtaining COVID-19 Relief Funds and Money Laundering
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Shreveport, Louisiana, returned an indictment yesterday charging a Louisiana man with fraudulently obtaining more than $1.1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program loans.
    [Read More…]
  • Avanos Medical Inc. to Pay $22 Million to Resolve Criminal Charge Related to the Fraudulent Misbranding of Its MicroCool Surgical Gowns
    In Crime News
    Avanos Medical Inc., a U.S.-based multinational medical device corporation, has agreed to pay more than $22 million to resolve a criminal charge relating to the company’s fraudulent misbranding of its MicroCool surgical gowns.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks on Afghanistan at a Press Availability
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]

Crime

Network News © 2005 Area.Control.Network™ All rights reserved.