Office of the Spokesperson
The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman met with Republic of Korea First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong Kun and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Mori Takeo today in Washington. The Deputy Secretary and the two vice foreign ministers reaffirmed that trilateral cooperation between the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan is essential to tackling the most pressing challenges of the 21st Century in the region and across the globe.
During the meeting, the Deputy Secretary discussed opportunities for trilateral cooperation to address a range of global issues, including the climate crisis, global health security and COVID-19 response, the resiliency and security of critical supply chains, and our shared commitment to human rights and democratic values.
The Deputy Secretary and the two vice foreign ministers emphasized the importance of cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including through multilateral partnerships that advance our shared prosperity, security, and values. They reaffirmed the centrality of ASEAN to the architecture of the Indo-Pacific and the critical role it plays in ensuring stability, economic opportunity, and our shared commitment to maintain the rules-based international order.
The Deputy Secretary highlighted the close coordination of the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea to work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and their intent to address the threat posed by the nuclear and ballistic missile programs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
- Highway Bridges: Federal Highway Administration Could Better Assist States with Information on Corrosion PracticesBy Sam NewsSeptember 28, 2021What GAO Found According to the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) database of information on bridges' condition, the percentage of deck area, a measure that accounts for the size of a bridge, for National Highway System (NHS) bridges in poor condition has decreased since 2012. However, since 2016, the percentage of deck area for NHS bridges in good condition has also decreased, while the percentage of deck area for bridges in fair condition has increased. Although these data do not indicate the extent to which corrosion affects bridges' condition, studies GAO reviewed and stakeholders GAO spoke with—including FHWA, five selected states, and six associations—indicate a significant relationship between corrosion and bridge condition. (See figure.) Examples of Bridge Corrosion State practices to prevent and manage corrosion vary based on environmental factors and bridge condition. For example, states exposed to sea water and deicing chemicals may clean bridges to remove materials that could accelerate corrosion. Four of the five selected states prioritized rehabilitating and replacing poor condition bridges, while the fifth state said it took steps to address corrosion to preserve and maintain bridges in good and fair condition. States are transitioning to asset management practices that emphasize bridge preservation strategies. However, officials from the selected states said limited information about specific corrosion practices' effectiveness is a challenge to implementing asset management practices. For example, officials from some selected states said they use sealant on bridge decks to prevent corrosion while officials from another said they do not because they do not know how effective it is. FHWA, within the Department of Transportation, helps states address corrosion through research and technical assistance. However, FHWA efforts have generally focused on overall bridge condition and may not meet states' needs to determine the circumstances in which to use specific practices. For example, FHWA's Bridge Preservation Guide identifies practices that can be part of a bridge preservation approach but does not indicate under what circumstances they are most effective. Although FHWA does not endorse specific practices, officials recognize their role in helping states make well-informed decisions regarding bridge corrosion. As states continue transitioning to an asset management approach, providing information about the circumstances under which different corrosion practices are most effective could help states make best use of their resources. Why GAO Did This Study In 2021, U.S. bridges, including those on the NHS, were estimated to need billions of dollars in repairs, including efforts to mitigate the effects of corrosion. House Report 116-106 included a provision for GAO to review the status of states' bridge corrosion-control planning. This report examines: (1) trends in the condition of bridges on the NHS and what is known about how corrosion affects bridge condition, (2) practices states use to address corrosion on NHS bridges and how selected states prioritize efforts to address corrosion, and (3) how FHWA assists states in addressing bridge corrosion. GAO reviewed applicable statutes, regulations, guidance, and studies related to corrosion prevention and management, and analyzed data on NHS bridges. GAO selected five states—Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Rhode Island, and Wyoming—based on factors, such as the percentage of bridge deck area in good and poor condition and geographic diversity. Finally, GAO interviewed FHWA, state transportation, and various association officials and assessed FHWA's actions against internal controls for using quality information.[Read More…]
- Office of the Historian, Foreign Service Institute Release of Foreign Relations of the United States, 1981–1988, Volume IV, Soviet Union, January 1983–March 1985By Sam NewsFebruary 16, 2021
- Justice Department Seeks to Shut Down Fraudulent Chicago-Area Tax Return PreparerBy Sam NewsMarch 18, 2021The United States has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, seeking to enjoin a tax preparer from South Chicago Heights, Illinois, from preparing federal income tax returns for others.[Read More…]
- Conflict Minerals: 2020 Company SEC Filings on Mineral Sources Were Similar to Those from Prior YearsBy Sam NewsJuly 13, 2021What GAO Found The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosure rule on conflict minerals broadly requires that certain companies submit a filing that describes their efforts to determine the source of their conflict minerals—tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold. As part of this process, these companies must conduct a reasonable country-of-origin inquiry (RCOI). Depending on the determination reached through this inquiry, some companies must then conduct due diligence to further investigate the source of their minerals. According to GAO's analysis, companies' RCOI determinations have not changed significantly since 2015. In 2020, an estimated 58 percent of the companies that conducted an RCOI reported preliminary determinations regarding whether the conflict minerals in their products may have come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or adjoining countries (covered countries), as the figure shows. Of those companies, an estimated 42 percent reported that they had preliminarily determined that at least some of their minerals may have originated in covered countries, and an estimated 16 percent determined that their minerals were not from a covered country. Source of Conflict Minerals in Products as Determined by Companies' Reasonable Country-of-Origin Inquiries, Reporting Years 2014–2020 In 2020, an estimated 78 percent of the companies that conducted an RCOI went on to conduct due diligence to further investigate the source of their minerals. After conducting due diligence, an estimated 44 percent of these companies reported that they could not determine whether their minerals originated in covered countries. An estimated 38 percent of the companies reported that their minerals may have originated in covered countries, and the remaining 18 percent did not clearly report their due diligence determination. Most filings indicated that companies used standardized tools and programs to attempt to determine the source of their minerals, but filings and industry experts noted challenges relating to these tools and programs. For example, an estimated 96 percent of company filings indicated use of a supplier survey to collect information, but many companies did not receive responses from all their suppliers, of which there could be hundreds in some companies' supply chains. Why GAO Did This Study The United States has sought to improve security in the DRC for over 2 decades. However, according to the Department of State and the United Nations, conflict has persisted and contributed to severe human rights abuses and the displacement of people. Armed groups continue to profit from the mining and trade of “conflict minerals,” according to State. Provisions in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act required, among other things, the SEC to promulgate disclosure and reporting regulations regarding the use of conflict minerals from the DRC and adjoining countries. In 2012, the SEC adopted a conflict minerals disclosure rule requiring companies to file specialized disclosure reports beginning in 2014 and annually thereafter. The act also included a provision for GAO to assess, among other things, the SEC regulations' effectiveness in promoting peace and security in the DRC and adjoining countries. This report examines how companies responded to the SEC conflict minerals disclosure rule when filing in 2020. GAO analyzed a generalizable sample of 100 SEC filings; reviewed SEC documents; and interviewed SEC officials and other stakeholders, including representatives from the private sector and nongovernmental organizations. For more information, contact Kimberly M. Gianopoulos at (202) 512-8612 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- The United States Condemns Venezuela’s Fraudulent Legislative ElectionsBy Sam NewsDecember 7, 2020Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- Prescription Drugs: Medicare Spending on Drugs with Direct-to-Consumer AdvertisingBy Sam NewsJune 18, 2021What GAO Found Drug manufacturers spent $17.8 billion on direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) for 553 drugs from 2016 through 2018, and spending was relatively stable at about $6 billion each year. Almost half of this spending was for three therapeutic categories of drugs that treat chronic medical conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, and depression. GAO also found that nearly all DTCA spending was on brand-name drugs, with about two-thirds concentrated on 39 drugs, about half of which entered the market from 2014 through 2017. Medicare Parts B and D and beneficiaries spent $560 billion on drugs from 2016 through 2018, $324 billion of which was spent on advertised drugs. Of the 553 advertised drugs, GAO found Medicare Parts B and D spending for 104 and 463 drugs, respectively. Among the drugs with the highest Medicare spending, some also had the highest DTCA spending. Specifically, among the top 10 drugs with the highest Medicare Parts B or D expenditures, four were also among the top 10 drugs in advertising spending in 2018: Eliquis (blood thinner), Humira (arthritis), Keytruda (cancer), and Lyrica (diabetic pain). Medicare Spending on Advertised Drugs, 2016 - 2018 GAO's review of four advertised drugs found that drug manufacturers changed their DTCA spending during key events, such as increasing spending when a drug was approved to treat additional conditions or decreasing spending following the approval of generic versions. GAO also found that DTCA may have contributed to increases in Medicare beneficiary use and spending among four selected drugs from 2010 through 2018. However, other factors likely contributed to a drug's Medicare beneficiary use and spending, making it difficult to isolate the relationship between drug advertising, use and spending. For example, GAO's review of four selected drugs showed that increases in unit prices were a factor, while stakeholders GAO interviewed cited other contributing factors such as doctors' prescribing decisions and manufacturers' drug promotions directed to doctors. Why GAO Did This Study Drug manufacturers use advertising on television and in other media to promote the use of their drugs to consumers and to encourage them to visit their doctors for more information. From 2016 through 2018, the Medicare program and beneficiaries spent $560 billion on drugs, and spending is projected to increase with the use of newer, more expensive drugs and an increase in beneficiaries. GAO was asked to examine DTCA and Medicare spending on advertised drugs. This report examines (1) drug manufacturer spending on DTCA; (2) Medicare spending on advertised drugs; and (3) changes in DTCA spending and Medicare use and spending for selected drugs. GAO analyzed DTCA spending data from Nielsen Media, and Medicare Parts B and D Drug Spending Dashboard data, from 2016 through 2018 (the most recent available data at the time of GAO's analysis). GAO also analyzed DTCA spending and Medicare data for a non-generalizable selection of four advertised drugs over a longer period—from 2010 through 2018. The four drugs were selected to reflect differences in DTCA and Medicare spending, beneficiary use, and medical conditions treated. GAO also interviewed or obtained information from officials representing 14 stakeholder groups (including research, trade, and physician organizations; and drug manufacturers of the four selected drugs) about DTCA spending and drug use and spending. The Department of Health and Human Services provided technical comments on a draft of this report, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact John Dicken at (202) 512-7114 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Humanitarian and Development Assistance: Project Evaluations and Better Information Sharing Needed to Manage the Military’s EffortsBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021What GAO FoundThe Department of Defenses (DOD) management of its key humanitarian assistance programs reflects both positive practices and weaknesses:Alignment with strategic goals. DOD aligns its humanitarian assistance project planning with the goals outlined in U.S. and departmental strategies, and has clearly established processes for implementing its projects.Interagency project coordination. DOD has taken steps to coordinate with the Department of State (State) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on projects, such as seeking concurrence on project proposals and embedding representatives from their agencies at its combatant commands, but coordination challenges remain.Poor data management. DOD does not have complete information on the status or actual costs of the full range of its Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid (OHDACA) projects. In addition, Humanitarian and Civic Assistance project data in DODs database differ from what DOD reports to Congress.Limited program evaluations. From fiscal years 2005 through 2009, DOD had not completed 90 percent of the required 1-year post-project evaluations for its OHDACA projects, and about half of the required 30-day evaluations for those projects, and thus lacks information to determine projects effects.Limited program guidance. DODs primary guidance for the OHDACA humanitarian assistance program is limited, is not readily accessible to all DOD personnel, and has not been updated for several years.Furthermore, DOD, State, and USAID do not have full visibility over each others assistance efforts, which could result in a fragmented approach to U.S. assistance. There are several initiatives under way to improve information sharing, including one directed by the National Security Council. However, no framework, such as a common database, currently exists for the agencies to readily access information on each others efforts. Moreover, the potential for overlap exists among agencies efforts in four areas: (1) health, (2) education, (3) infrastructure, and (4) disaster preparation. For example, both USAID and DOD are conducting health care projects in Yemen and building schools in Azerbaijan. Overlap may be appropriate in some instances, especially if agencies can leverage each others efforts. However, given the agencies information-sharing challenges, there are questions as to whether DODs efforts are an efficient use of resources since USAID serves as the lead U.S. development agency. State and USAID officials said that DODs humanitarian assistance efforts can be beneficial, especially when responding to disasters or supporting foreign militaries. However, officials said DODs efforts can have negative political effects, particularly in fragile communities where even small gestures, such as distributing soccer balls to a particular population, can be interpreted as exhibiting favoritism. While DODs funding for humanitarian assistance is small relative to the billions spent by State and USAID, its programs are expanding. Given interagency information challenges, the fiscally-constrained environment, and the similarity of agencies assistance efforts, DOD and the other agencies involved in foreign assistance could benefit from additional direction from Congress on DODs role in performing humanitarian assistance in peacetime environments.Why GAO Did This StudyIn recent years, the Department of Defense (DOD) has increased its emphasis and spending on humanitarian assistance efforts outside of war and disaster environments. From fiscal years 2005 through 2010, DOD obligated about $383 million on its key humanitarian assistance programs. Because civilian agencies, such as the Department of State and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) also carry out many assistance efforts, DODs efforts require close collaboration with these agencies. This report was conducted as part of GAOs response to a statutory mandate and reviewed (1) DODs management of two key humanitarian assistance programsthe humanitarian assistance program funded through its Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid (OHDACA) appropriation and its Humanitarian and Civic Assistance programand (2) the extent to which DOD, State, and USAID have visibility over each others efforts. To conduct this review, GAO analyzed funding and program information, and interviewed officials at DOD, State, USAID, nongovernment organizations, and 12 U.S. embassies.[Read More…]
- Attorney General William P. Barr Remarks at White House Roundtable on Housing Assistance Grants for Victims of Human Trafficking, Remarks as Prepared for DeliveryBy Sam NewsAugust 4, 2020Thank you for being here. The scourge of human trafficking is the modern-day equivalent of slavery. Eradicating this horrific crime and helping its victims are top priorities for President Trump’s Administration, including the Department of Justice. I thank the President for his steadfast commitment to this issue, and I thank Ivanka for her leadership and for hosting us today. I also thank all the survivors and their advocates here for their courage and determination to end this evil practice.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Files Statement of Interest Urging Transparency in the Compensation of Asbestos ClaimsBy Sam NewsDecember 28, 2020The Department of Justice today filed a Statement of Interest in In re Bestwall LLC in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina. In this bankruptcy case, the debtor Bestwall LLC seeks to establish a trust to resolve its asbestos liabilities pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 524(g), a provision in the Bankruptcy Code that provides the framework for responding to the unique issues associated with asbestos liability.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson Before Their MeetingBy Sam NewsDecember 2, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- Department of Justice Announces Formation of Firearms Trafficking Strike Forces to Crack Down on Sources of Crime GunsBy Sam NewsJune 22, 2021Today, the Department of Justice announced it will launch five cross-jurisdictional firearms trafficking strike forces within the next 30 days to help reduce violent crime by addressing illegal gun trafficking in significant firearms trafficking corridors. Tomorrow, the Attorney General will discuss with the President, law enforcement officials, and local and community leaders, this initiative, which, along with other measures, the Department of Justice is undertaking as part of the administration-wide comprehensive strategy to combat the rise in violent crime.[Read More…]
- Department of Energy: Improved Performance Planning Could Strengthen Technology TransferBy Sam NewsFebruary 1, 2021The Department of Energy (DOE) and its national labs have taken several steps to address potential barriers to technology transfer—the process of providing DOE technologies, knowledge, or expertise to other entities. GAO characterized these barriers as (1) gaps in funding, (2) legal and administrative barriers, and (3) lack of alignment between DOE research and industry needs. For example, the “valley of death” is a gap between the end of public funding and start of private-sector funding. DOE partly addresses this gap with its Technology Commercialization Fund, which provides grants of $100,000 to $1.5 million to DOE researchers to advance promising technologies with private-sector partners. Further, DOE's Energy I-Corps program trains researchers to commercialize new technologies and to identify industry needs and potential customers. However, DOE has not assessed how many and which types of researchers would benefit from such training. Without doing so, DOE will not have the information needed to ensure its training resources target the researchers who would benefit most. Illustration of Funding Gap for Commercializing New Technologies DOE plans and tracks the performance of its technology transfer activities by setting strategic goals and objectives and annually collecting department-wide technology transfer measures, such as the number of patented inventions and licenses. However, the department does not have objective and measurable performance goals to assess progress toward the broader strategic goals and objectives it developed. For example, without a performance goal for the number of DOE researchers involved in technology transfer activities and a measure of such involvement, DOE cannot assess the extent to which it has met its objective to encourage national laboratory personnel to pursue technology transfer activities. Internal control standards for government agencies call for management to define objectives in measurable terms, either qualitative or quantitative, so that performance toward those objectives can be assessed. Moreover, DOE has not aligned the 79 existing measures that it collects with its goals and objectives, nor has it prioritized them. Some lab stakeholders said that collecting and reporting these measures is burdensome. Prior GAO work has found that having a large number of performance measures may risk creating a confusing excess of data that will obscure rather than clarify performance issues. Researchers at DOE and its 17 national labs regularly make contributions to new energy technologies, such as more efficient batteries for electric vehicles. Technology transfer officials at the labs help these researchers license intellectual property and partner with private-sector companies to bring these technologies to market. However, several recent reports have highlighted barriers and inconsistencies in technology transfer at DOE, including a 2015 commission report that found barriers related to the costs of collaboration and low maturity level of many DOE technologies. This report examines (1) steps DOE has taken to address barriers to technology transfer and (2) the extent to which DOE plans and tracks the performance of its technology transfer and commercialization activities. GAO analyzed DOE documents on technology transfer and spoke with officials at DOE and seven national labs, as well as with representatives of universities and private-sector companies. GAO selected labs across a range of DOE activities and based on their technology transfer activities. GAO recommends that DOE assess researchers' needs for commercialization training and develop objective, quantifiable, and measurable performance goals and a limited number of related performance measures for its technology transfer efforts. DOE concurred with the recommendations. For more information, contact Candice Wright at (202) 512-6888 or WrightC@gao.gov.[Read More…]
- Public Designation of Five Bulgarian Public Officials Due to Involvement in Significant CorruptionBy Sam NewsJune 2, 2021Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
- California Resident Sentenced to 121 Months in Prison for Facilitating Telemarketing Conspiracy that Defrauded Thousands of Vulnerable U.S. ConsumersBy Sam NewsMay 21, 2021A California man has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for partnering with call centers in Peru that defrauded Spanish-speaking U.S. residents through lies and threats.[Read More…]
- Designation of Former Prosecutor General Dobroslav Trnka of the Slovak Republic for Involvement in Significant CorruptionBy Sam NewsFebruary 25, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
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- United States and Seychelles Become Partners Under the Hague Abduction ConventionBy Sam NewsSeptember 1, 2021
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- Peter Fay, One of Three Judges in Florida Who Served 50 Years, Dies at 92By Sam NewsIn U.S CourtsFebruary 4, 2021Peter T. Fay, one of three federal judges from Florida who each served more than 50 years after being confirmed the same day in 1970, died Sunday in Miami at the age of 92.[Read More…]
- 2021 Investment Climate Statements ReleasedBy Sam NewsJuly 21, 2021