Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
As Bosnia and Herzegovina celebrates its Statehood Day, I extend congratulations on behalf of the United States Government and the American people.
This year we also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement, which brought peace to Bosnia and Herzegovina and made it possible for a deeper relationship between our two countries to flourish, a relationship that forms the foundation for peace in the Western Balkans.
The United States commends Bosnia and Herzegovina’s progress toward greater democratization, as demonstrated by the important agreement that will allow the citizens of Mostar to vote in upcoming local elections for the first time since 2008. We also stand by Bosnia and Herzegovina as it pursues further Euro-Atlantic integration.
Finally, I wish safety and health to all the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina as we work together to overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Justice Department Statement on Law Enforcement Assistance to the Haitian GovernmentBy Sam NewsJuly 12, 2021The U.S. Department of Justice today released the following statement from spokesman Anthony Coley on department efforts to provide law enforcement assistance to the people and Government of Haiti:[Read More…]
- Three North Korean Military Hackers Indicted in Wide-Ranging Scheme to Commit Cyberattacks and Financial Crimes Across the GlobeBy Sam NewsFebruary 17, 2021A federal indictment unsealed today charges three North Korean computer programmers with participating in a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy to conduct a series of destructive cyberattacks, to steal and extort more than $1.3 billion of money and cryptocurrency from financial institutions and companies, to create and deploy multiple malicious cryptocurrency applications, and to develop and fraudulently market a blockchain platform.[Read More…]
- Countering Violent Extremism: DHS Can Further Enhance Its Strategic Planning and Data Governance EffortsBy Sam NewsJuly 21, 2021What GAO Found DHS's 2019 Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence and the related plans—collectively referred to as the strategy—outline the department's vision for all DHS counterterrorism activities. In prior work, GAO has identified seven elements of a comprehensive strategy. GAO found that DHS's strategy contains some but not all of the key elements (see figure). For example, GAO found that DHS's strategy included a mission statement, and a set of goals that were in turn linked to objectives and priority actions. However, the strategy did not include a discussion of external factors such as how the economy, demographics, or emerging technologies may affect the department in meeting its goals. By identifying and assessing such external factors, DHS would be better positioned to proactively mitigate such factors or plan for contingencies, if needed. Extent to Which DHS's Strategy for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence Included the Seven Elements of a Comprehensive Strategy DHS has taken some steps to establish a data governance framework, which helps ensure that an agency's data assets are transparent, accessible, and of sufficient quality to support its mission. For example, DHS established a data governance council to manage various data priority areas, however it has not yet completed actions to include targeted violence and terrorism prevention data into its department-wide framework. DHS has already identified some data challenges, such as the lack of comprehensive, national-level statistics on terrorism and targeted violence that underscore the need for a data governance framework. By incorporating targeted violence and terrorism prevention data into its broader data governance framework, DHS would be better able to leverage data to support and inform its prevention efforts, including building effective policy to address the threats and trends it identifies in the data. Why GAO Did This Study Data collected through the Extremist Crime Database show that there were 81 fatal violent extremist attacks in the United States from 2010 through 2020, resulting in 240 deaths. Since 2010, DHS has developed strategic initiatives that address targeted violence and terrorism prevention, which include efforts to counter violent extremism, among other things. GAO was asked to review DHS's longer-term efforts to prevent terrorism and targeted violence. This report examines the extent to which (1) DHS's 2019 strategy to address targeted violence and terrorism prevention includes key elements of a comprehensive strategy, and (2) DHS has developed a data governance framework to help implement its strategy. GAO reviewed DHS documentation and compared DHS's strategy to identified elements of a comprehensive strategy, and compared DHS's efforts to develop a data governance framework to federal requirements for implementing data governance.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Settles Claims Against California Supermarket Chain and Affiliated Money Lender for Discriminating Against Asylee WorkerBy Sam NewsJanuary 12, 2021The Department of Justice today announced that it signed a settlement agreement with Northgate Gonzalez Markets Inc., a California-based supermarket chain, and Northgate Gonzalez Financial LLC d/b/a Prospera Gonzalez, an affiliated payday loan company (collectively, Northgate).[Read More…]
- Remarks at the 7th Berlin Energy Transition DialogueBy Sam NewsMarch 18, 2021John Kerry, Special [Read More…]
- Indian national pleads guilty to role in nationwide tech support refund scamBy Sam NewsIn Justice NewsSeptember 30, 2021A 27-year-old Indian [Read More…]
- Hanford Cleanup: DOE’s Efforts to Close Tank Farms Would Benefit from Clearer Legal Authorities and CommunicationBy Sam NewsJanuary 7, 2021The Department of Energy (DOE) has retrieved nuclear waste from all the tanks at C-farm—the first of 18 tank farms (i.e., groupings of tanks) at DOE's Hanford site in southeastern Washington State. The waste is a byproduct of decades of nuclear weapons production and research. DOE is obligated under agreements with the state's Department of Ecology (Ecology) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to move waste from older, single-shell tanks to newer, more durable, double-shell tanks and ultimately to dispose of it. Example of a Tank and of Waste in a Tank at Hanford DOE intends to “close” the C-farm by leaving the nearly empty tanks in place and filling them with grout. However, DOE faces challenges, in part because this approach depends on: (1) DOE's determination under its directives that residual tank waste can be managed as a waste type other than high-level waste (HLW) and (2) Ecology's approval. DOE has started the determination process, but as GAO has previously found, DOE is likely to face a lawsuit because of questions about its legal authority. Ecology has raised concerns that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has not independently reviewed DOE's analysis for this determination. By Congress clarifying DOE's authority at Hanford to determine, with NRC involvement, that residual tank waste can be managed as a waste type other than HLW, DOE would be in a better position to move forward. Another challenge DOE faces in closing C-farm is how to address contaminated soil caused by leaks or discharges of waste from the tanks. DOE and Ecology officials do not agree on a process for evaluating contaminated soil at C-farm or on what role NRC should play in this process. They interpret their agreement differently, particularly regarding whether NRC must review DOE's analysis of contaminated soil. If the two parties cannot resolve this issue, Ecology may deny DOE a permit for C-farm closure. By using an independent mediator to help reach agreement with Ecology on how to assess soil contamination, including NRC's role, DOE would be better positioned to avoid future cleanup delays. DOE has not developed a long-term plan for tank-farm closure, in part, because a plan is not required. However, leading practices in program management call for long-term planning. In addition, DOE faces technical challenges that may take years to address as noted by representatives from various entities or tribal governments. For example, an internal DOE document states there is a 95 percent probability DOE will run out of space in its double shell tanks—space needed to continue retrieval operations. Planning for and building new tanks requires years of work. By developing a long-term plan, DOE could better prepare to address technical challenges. The Hanford site in Washington State contains about 54 million gallons of nuclear waste, which is stored in 177 underground storage tanks. In fiscal years 1997 through 2019, DOE spent over $10 billion to maintain Hanford's tanks and retrieve waste from them. DOE expects to spend at least $69 billion more on activities to retrieve tank waste and close tanks, according to a January 2019 DOE report. Senate Report 116-48, accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, included a provision for GAO to review the status of tank closures at Hanford. GAO's report examines the status of DOE's efforts to retrieve tank waste, challenges DOE faces in its effort to close the C-farm, as well as DOE's approach for closing the remaining tank farms. GAO toured the site; reviewed DOE documents, laws, and regulations; and interviewed officials and representatives from local, regional, and national entities and tribal governments. Congress should consider clarifying DOE's authority at Hanford to determine, with NRC involvement, whether residual tank waste can be managed as a waste type other than HLW. GAO is also making three recommendations, including that DOE (1) use an independent mediator to help reach agreement with Ecology on a process for assessing soil contamination, including NRC's role and (2) develop a long-term plan for its tank waste cleanup mission at Hanford. DOE concurred with all three recommendations. For more information, contact David C. Trimble at (202) 512-3841 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Military Pay: Army National Guard Personnel Mobilized to Active Duty Experienced Significant Pay ProblemsBy Sam NewsSeptember 21, 2021In light of the recent mobilizations associated with the war on terrorism, GAO was asked to determine if controls used to pay mobilized Army Guard personnel provided assurance that such pays were accurate and timely. This testimony focuses on the pay experiences of Army Guard soldiers at selected case study units and deficiencies with respect to controls over processes, human capital, and automated systems.The existing processes and controls used to provide pay and allowances to mobilized Army Guard personnel are so cumbersome and complex that neither DOD nor, more importantly, the mobilized Army Guard soldiers could be reasonably assured of timely and accurate payroll payments. Weaknesses in these processes and controls resulted in over- and underpayments and late active duty payments and, in some cases, large erroneously assessed debts, to mobilized Army Guard personnel. The end result of these weaknesses is to severely constrain DOD's ability to provide active duty pay to these personnel, many of whom were risking their lives in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, these pay problems have had a profound impact on individual soldiers and their families and may adversely impact on decisions to stay in the Army Guard. For example, many soldiers and their families were required to spend considerable time, sometimes while the soldiers were deployed in remote, hostile environments overseas, seeking corrections to active duty pays and allowances. The pay process, involving potentially hundreds of DOD, Army, and Army Guard organizations and thousands of personnel, was not well understood or consistently applied with respect to determining (1) the actions required to make timely, accurate pays to mobilized soldiers, and (2) the organization responsible for taking the required actions. With respect to human capital, we found weaknesses including (1) insufficient resources allocated to pay processing, (2) inadequate training related to existing policies and procedures, and (3) poor customer service. Several systems issues were also significant factors impeding accurate and timely payroll payments to mobilized Army Guard soldiers, including (1) nonintegrated systems, (2) limitations in system processing capabilities, and (3) ineffective system edits.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Anne Claire Coudray of TF1By Sam NewsJune 26, 2021
- Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Travel to Uruguay and PeruBy Sam NewsNovember 5, 2021
- Oil and Gas Leasing: BLM Should Update Its Guidance and Review Its FeesBy Sam NewsDecember 9, 2021What GAO Found The Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which leases federal lands for oil and gas development, has changed some of its leasing policies. For example, starting in fiscal year 2015, BLM was authorized to use online auctions, instead of in-person auctions, to award leases. In 2016, BLM launched an online system for submitting and processing nominations of lands for leasing. However, all of the agency's guidance documents for oil and gas leasing that GAO reviewed were out of date and did not fully reflect these changes, though agency policy requires guidance be updated promptly. Unless BLM reviews and revises its process for updating its guidance, the agency's outdated guidance may continue to lead to inefficiencies for industry and BLM state office staff that spend extra time interpreting outdated BLM guidance. Parties, such as oil and gas companies, leased a small portion of lands nominated for onshore oil and gas leasing from 2009 through 2019, when about 87 million acres were nominated and about 14 million acres were leased (see figure). Acreage Nominated, Offered for Lease, and Leased for Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Development, 2009 through 2019 BLM has not fully reviewed its application fees for oil and gas leases since 2005 despite changes to leasing that could affect program costs, such as the move from in-person to online auctions. BLM has conducted biennial reviews of its existing fees, but these reviews do not assess all of the costs the fees were intended to recover. Until BLM revises its approach to examine all relevant costs and adjusts fees accordingly, the agency may collect too much or too little in fees. In addition, BLM does not charge a fee to nominate lands for leasing and has not re-examined whether to charge such a fee since 2014. Without doing so, BLM risks continuing to expend resources to process nominations that do not result in leases. In addition, the agency may not strike the appropriate balance between encouraging nominations and controlling costs. Why GAO Did This Study BLM leases federal lands for oil and gas development through a process largely established with the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act of 1987. Through this process, the public can suggest which federal lands should be made available for leasing by nominating them. BLM state offices review nominations, including to assess potential environmental impacts. BLM then offers leases at competitive auctions. While no fee is required to submit nominations, BLM charges an application fee for any leases that parties acquire. GAO was asked to review oil and gas leasing on federal lands. This report examines: (1) changes to BLM's policies for oil and gas leasing since 1987, (2) outcomes for lands nominated for oil and gas leasing, and (3) the extent to which BLM reviews its oil and gas leasing fees in response to changing conditions. GAO analyzed BLM policies and guidance as well as data on nominations, leasing, costs, and fees collected. GAO also interviewed BLM headquarters and state office officials as well as representatives of two stakeholder groups.[Read More…]
- Joint Statement on the U.S.-Qatar Strategic DialogueBy Sam NewsNovember 13, 2021
- Woman Arrested at Chicago O’Hare Airport for Conspiring to Kill Her Mother and Placing Body in SuitcaseBy Sam NewsNovember 3, 2021An Illinois woman was arrested today when she arrived at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, for allegedly murdering her mother on Aug. 12, 2014, while on vacation in Bali, Indonesia.[Read More…]
- United States, European Union, and Partners Formally Launch Global Methane Pledge to Keep 1.5C Within ReachBy Sam NewsNovember 3, 2021
- Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Mexican Foreign Secretary and Central American Foreign MinistersBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2021
- Warfighter Support: Army Has Taken Steps to Improve Reset Process, but More Complete Reporting of Equipment and Future Costs Is NeededBy Sam NewsAugust 31, 2021What GAO FoundSince GAOs 2007 review, the Army has taken steps to improve its use of reset in targeting equipment shortages. In 2007, GAO noted that the Armys reset implementation strategy did not specifically target shortages of equipment on hand among units preparing for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan in order to mitigate operational risk. GAO recommended that the Army act to ensure that its reset priorities address equipment shortages in the near term to ensure that the needs of deploying units could be met. The Department of Defense (DOD) did not concur, and stated that there was no need to reassess its approaches to equipment reset. However, in 2008, the Army issued its Depot Maintenance Enterprise Strategic Plan, noted that filling materiel shortages within warfighting units is a key challenge facing the depot maintenance enterprise, and called for changes in programs and policies to address materiel shortages within warfighting units. Further, recognizing that retrograde operationsthe return of equipment from theater to the United Statesare essential to facilitating depot level reset and redistribution of equipment, the Army in 2010 developed the retrograde, reset, and redistribution (R3) initiative to synchronize retrograde, national depot-level reset efforts, and redistribution efforts. In March 2011, the Army issued an R3 equipment priority list, and revised and reissued an updated list at the end of fiscal year 2011 with full endorsement from all Army commands. The R3 initiative has only begun to be fully implemented this year, and thus it is too early to tell whether it will provide a consistent and transparent process for addressing the Armys current or future equipping needs.GAO found that the Armys monthly reports to Congress do not include expected future reset costs or distinguish between planned and unplanned reset of equipment. GAO has reported that agencies and decision makers need visibility into the accuracy of program execution in order to ensure basic accountability and to anticipate future costs. However, the Army does not include its future reset liability in its reports to Congress, which DOD most recently estimated in 2010 to be $24 billion. Also, the Army reports to Congress include the number of items that it has repaired in a given month using broad categories, such as Tactical Wheeled Vehicles, which may obscure progress on equipment planned for reset. For example, GAOs analysis of Army data showed that 4,144 tactical wheeled vehicles were planned for reset in fiscal year 2010, while 3,563 vehicles were executed. According to the Armys current reporting method, this would result in a reported completion rate of 86 percent, but GAOs analysis showed that only approximately 40 percent of the equipment that was reset had been planned and programmed. This reporting method may also restrict visibility over the Armys multiyear reset liability. For example, both the M1200 Knight and the M1151 HMMWV are categorized as Tactical Wheeled Vehicles, but anticipated reset costs for the M1200 are significantly higher. In 2010 more M1200s were repaired than planned, thus accounting for a larger share of the budgeted reset funds. With fewer funds remaining, some equipment planned and budgeted for repair was not reset, pushing that workload to future fiscal years. These differences are not captured in the Armys monthly reports, and thus Congress may not have a complete picture of the Armys short- and long-term progress in addressing reset.Why GAO Did This StudyFrom 2007 to 2012, the Army received about $42 billion to fund its expenses for the reset of equipmentincluding more than $21 billion for depot maintenancein support of continuing overseas contingency operations in Southwest Asia. Reset is intended to mitigate the effects of combat stress on equipment by repairing, rebuilding, upgrading, or procuring replacement equipment. Reset equipment is used to supply non-deployed units and units preparing for deployment while meeting ongoing operational requirements. In 2007, GAO reported that the Armys reset strategy did not target equipment shortages for units deploying to theater. For this report, GAO (1) examined steps the Army has taken to improve its equipment reset strategy since 2007, and (2) determined the extent to which the Armys reset reports to Congress provide visibility over reset costs and execution. To conduct this review, GAO reviewed and analyzed DOD and Army documentation on equipment reset strategies and monthly Army reports to Congress, and interviewed DOD and Army officials.[Read More…]
- California Woman Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime for Threatening to Bomb Catholic Prep SchoolBy Sam NewsJanuary 4, 2021The Justice Department announced today that Sonia Tabizada, age 36, of San Jacinto, California, pleaded guilty in federal court to intentionally obstructing persons in the enjoyment of their free exercise of religious beliefs by threatening to bomb the Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington, D.C., in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 247.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Obtains $50,000 Settlement Against Dallas Towing Company for Illegally Selling Five Cars Owned by U.S. ServicemembersBy Sam NewsJuly 23, 2021The Justice Department today announced that Dallas towing company United Tows LLC has agreed to enter into a consent order to resolve allegations that it illegally sold five servicemember-owned vehicles, in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).[Read More…]
- U.S. Delegation Meeting with Senior Taliban Representatives in DohaBy Sam NewsOctober 10, 2021
- Antitrust Division and Fellow Members of the Multilateral Pharmaceutical Merger Task Force Seek Public InputBy Sam NewsMay 11, 2021The U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division is pleased to be a part of the Multilateral Pharmaceutical Merger Task Force (Task Force), along with its counterpart competition enforcement agencies — the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Canadian Competition Bureau, the European Commission Directorate General for Competition, the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority, and Offices of State Attorneys General.[Read More…]