January 27, 2022

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Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Meeting on ISIS Threats in West Africa

17 min read

Office of the Spokesperson

The United States and Nigeria look forward to convening a virtual meeting with members of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS on November 10 to affirm the Coalition’s commitment to countering the threat of ISIS and its branches worldwide, including in West Africa, and to supporting ongoing international efforts in the region.

The meeting will outline the ISIS threat in West Africa and focus on ways the Coalition can strengthen its collective approach in specific areas, such as battlefield evidence and border security.

The United States, and the 82-member global Coalition it leads, remain fully committed to the enduring defeat of ISIS and its branches, which is critical to U.S. national security and that of our partners and allies.

News Network

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  • Pipeline Safety: Operators of Natural Gas and Hazardous Liquid Gathering Lines Face Data Collection Challenges
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Industry stakeholders described several challenges that operators of gathering lines—pipelines that carry gas or hazardous liquid from wells to other pipelines or facilities—may face in meeting new reporting requirements issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Specifically, PHMSA required all hazardous liquid gathering line operators to submit annual reports with characteristic data, such as pipeline size and material of construction, starting in 2021, and natural gas gathering line operators to do the same starting in 2023 (see table). Required Annual Reporting Data for Gathering Lines Type of Gathering Line Required characteristic data Hazardous liquid Combined information detailing mileage by onshore/offshore location, material, diameter range, and operating stress level. Natural gas Miles of gathering line by diameter, decade installed, and material/corrosion prevention status; and number of leaks and repairs. Source: GAO Analysis of Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Annual Reporting Forms. | GAO-22-104817 Industry stakeholders told GAO that the limited availability of gathering line data and the resources needed to collect additional data may make reporting challenging. Older gathering lines may have less data available due to incomplete records and changes in ownership over time. Collecting data would require significant time, labor, and money. Stakeholders also noted that smaller operators—such as those with few employees—are less likely to have the expertise and resources needed to maintain or collect data. How these challenges will ultimately affect the amount of data operators report to PHMSA is unclear. GAO's analysis of data submitted in 2021 by hazardous liquid gathering line operators found that operators generally reported all required data, but the larger number of natural gas gathering line operators and miles of pipeline could result in PHMSA receiving less complete data from those operators. PHMSA officials say they plan to evaluate data submitted over time to determine gaps. PHMSA has taken, and is planning, actions to make operators aware of recently amended gathering line reporting requirements. For hazardous liquid operators, PHMSA held a public meeting and presented information during two meetings of a national pipeline organization. PHMSA then received 85 annual reports in 2021 from those operators, which was in line with the agency's expectations. For natural gas, PHMSA estimates 500 operators will need to file reports for the first time in 2023—more than five times the 85 hazardous liquid operators that filed in 2021. Before PHMSA finalized the reporting requirements for natural gas gathering lines, GAO found that some industry representatives were unaware of proposed requirements. GAO brought these issues to PHMSA's attention and officials noted PHMSA is planning additional outreach for the natural gas rule, including to state industry associations. Such efforts should help PHMSA increase operators' awareness of and compliance with reporting requirements. Why GAO Did This Study PHMSA, within the Department of Transportation, has historically not regulated most gathering lines. However, factors such as increased extraction of natural gas and oil have increased the potential safety risks of these pipelines. To understand these risks better, PHMSA has taken steps in recent years to collect data, such as pipeline size and material type, from all gathering line operators. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, includes a provision for GAO to review data collection by gathering line operators. This report addresses (1) stakeholder views on challenges operators may face in collecting gathering line data; and (2) steps PHMSA is taking to make operators aware of recently amended data reporting requirements. GAO reviewed statutes and PHMSA final rules, annual reporting forms, and other relevant documents; analyzed data from annual reports filed in 2021 by historically unregulated hazardous liquid gathering line operators; and interviewed PHMSA officials and representatives from a range of industry stakeholders including five gathering line operators and 11 state and regional industry associations and 12 state regulatory agencies in the states with the greatest mileage of natural gas and hazardous liquid gathering lines. For more information, contact Elizabeth Repko at (202) 512-2834 or repkoe@gao.gov.
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  • Foreign Assistance: Reporting of Defense Articles and Services Provided through Drawdowns Needs to Be Improved
    In U.S GAO News
    Since 1961, the President has had special statutory authority to order the "drawdown" of defense articles--such as aircraft, vehicles, various weapons, and spare parts--and services or military education and training from Department of Defense (DOD) and military service inventories and transfer them to foreign countries or international organizations. Drawdowns give the President the ability to respond to U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives, such as counternarcotics efforts, peacekeeping needs, and unforeseen military and nonmilitary emergencies, by providing military assistance without first seeking additional legislative authority or appropriations from Congress. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency's reports to Congress on the costs and delivery status of drawdowns are inaccurate and incomplete. Two principal problems contribute to the agency's inability to meet the reporting requirements. First, its information system for recording drawdown data is outmoded and difficult to use--service drawdown reports are in different formats, and any conversion errors have to be manually corrected. Second, the services do not regularly provide updates to the agency on drawdown costs and deliveries, and available information sometimes does not get into the system. Drawdowns benefit the United States and foreign recipients primarily by providing the President the flexibility to address foreign policy and national security objectives quickly. Drawdowns also allow the President to provide defense articles and services to improve foreign recipients' capability to conduct military and police missions in support of U.S. foreign policy. Other benefits cited include improved military-to-military relations between the U.S. military services and the foreign recipients and expanded markets for U.S. defense firms. According to U.S. and foreign military officials, the use of drawdowns presents some concerns. Because drawdowns are used to quickly address U.S. national interests and emergencies, the costs associated with a drawdown, such as refurbishment and transportation, are not budgeted for by the services and are not reimbursed.
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  • Taxpayer Advocate Service: Opportunities Exist to Improve Reports to Congress
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The budget for the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) declined by about 14 percent from fiscal years 2011 to 2020, when adjusted for inflation. For fiscal year 2020, TAS used most of its resources to assist individual taxpayers, known as case advocacy. TAS allocated about 76 percent of its $222 million budget and 86 percent of its almost 1,700 full-time equivalents to this purpose. The percentage of resources for case advocacy has decreased during the past decade—in fiscal year 2011 about 85 percent of the budget was devoted to it. For the same period, resources to address broader issues affecting groups of taxpayers, known as systemic advocacy, increased from 9 percent to 14 percent of the total budget. This shift is due in part to the reallocation of staff to better integrate systemic advocacy work and TAS's overall attrition rate more than doubling to 15.9 percent between fiscal years 2011 and 2019. Since 2011, TAS has received more than 2 million taxpayer cases, of which almost half were referrals from other IRS offices. TAS closed more cases than it received each year from 2012 to 2017, but its inventory has grown since fiscal year 2018, due in part to attrition in case advocacy staff and an increase in taxpayers seeking assistance (see figure below). Number of Taxpayer Cases Received and Closed, Fiscal Years 2011 to 2020 TAS has recently modified its two mandated reports to Congress by reducing their length and separately compiling legislative recommendations. It shortened its annual reports in part because the Taxpayer First Act reduced the required number of most serious taxpayer problems from “at least 20” to “the 10” most serious problems. GAO identified the following additional actions that could further improve TAS reporting. Report outcome-oriented objectives and progress. The objectives for the upcoming fiscal year that TAS included in its most recent report are not always clearly identified and do not link to the various planned activities that are described. Further, the objectives TAS does identify do not include measurable outcomes. In addition, TAS's reports do not include the actual results achieved against objectives so it is not possible to assess related performance and progress. Improved performance reporting could help both TAS and Congress better understand which activities are contributing toward achieving TAS's objectives and where actions may be needed to address any unmet goals. Consult with Congress and other stakeholders. TAS briefs congressional committees each year after publishing its annual report and solicits perspectives from stakeholders. TAS officials said they incorporate the perspectives into its objectives. However, TAS does not follow leading practices to consult congressional committees about its goals and objectives prior to publication at least once every 2 years. Thus, it misses opportunities to obtain congressional input on its objectives and performance reporting. Consultations would provide TAS opportunities to confirm if its goals incorporate congressional and other stakeholder perspectives and whether its reports meet their information needs. Publish updates on recommendation implementation status. By law, TAS's annual report must include an inventory of actions IRS has fully, partially, and not yet taken on TAS's recommendations to address the most serious problems facing taxpayers. If those recommendations take multiple years to implement, which some have as shown in the table below, updating the inventory would be required. In its objectives reports, TAS provides only a one-time inventory of IRS responses to TAS's recommendations made during the preceding year, including plans and preliminary actions taken for those IRS accepts for implementation. TAS does not publicly update the inventory in subsequent annual reports to reflect actions IRS takes or does not take to address TAS's recommendations. This reporting approach does not provide complete information on the status of actions IRS has taken to address serious problems facing taxpayers and also does not provide the information in the annual report, as required. Publishing such updated status information would support congressional oversight. Taxpayer Advocate Service's (TAS) Recommendation Reporting and Status as of the Fourth Quarter of Fiscal Year 2020 GAO also identified options for TAS to consider to improve its reporting. These options include explaining changes to the list of the most serious taxpayer problems from year to year and streamlining report sections congressional staff use less frequently. Why GAO Did This Study TAS, an independent office within IRS, helps taxpayers resolve problems with IRS and addresses broader, systemic issues that affect groups of taxpayers by recommending administrative and legislative changes to mitigate such problems. Congress mandated that TAS issue two reports every year—one known as the annual report which includes sections on, among other things, the 10 most serious problems encountered by taxpayers, and the other known as the objectives report that discusses organizational objectives. GAO was asked to review how TAS carries out its mission, focusing on resources and reporting. This report (1) describes TAS's resources and workload, and (2) assesses TAS's reporting to Congress and identifies opportunities for improvement. GAO reviewed documents from TAS, IRS, and other sources, including TAS's annual and objectives reports and internal guidance; analyzed TAS's budget, staffing, and workload data for fiscal years 2011 through 2020; and interviewed knowledgeable TAS and IRS officials. GAO assessed TAS's reporting of its objectives and performance against statutory requirements, relevant internal control standards, and selected key practices for performance reporting developed by GAO. In addition, GAO reviewed relevant TAS web pages, analyzed the length and composition of TAS's reports, and interviewed key congressional committee staff to identify additional options to improve TAS's reporting.
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  • Export-Import Bank: Status of End-Use Monitoring of Dual-Use Exports as of August 2021
    In U.S GAO News
    Why GAO Did This Study EXIM's mission is to support the export of U.S. goods and services overseas through loans, loan guarantees, and insurance, thereby supporting U.S. jobs. In 1994, Congress passed legislation authorizing EXIM to facilitate the financing of U.S. exports of defense articles and services with both commercial and military applications, provided that the bank determines these items are nonlethal and primarily meant for civilian end use. Included in the same act was a provision for GAO, in conjunction with EXIM, to report annually on the end uses of dual-use exports financed by EXIM during the second preceding fiscal year. This report (1) examines the status of EXIM's monitoring of dual-use exports that it continued to finance in fiscal year 2019, as of August 2021; and (2) identifies any new dual-use exports that EXIM financed in fiscal year 2020. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed EXIM documentation and data on dual-use exports and interviewed EXIM officials. What GAO Found As of August 2021, the Export-Import Bank (EXIM) was monitoring the end use of a single transaction that it continued to finance in fiscal year 2019, as summarized below: Two satellites for the government of Mexico. A fixed service satellite was launched in December 2012 and became operational in February 2013, and a mobile service satellite was launched in October 2015 and became operational in December 2015. For 2021, EXIM received all documents from the government of Mexico on time and subsequently determined that Mexico was in compliance with the bank's dual-use policy. EXIM did not finance any new exports under its dual-use authority in fiscal year 2020, according to EXIM authorization data and EXIM officials. For more information, contact Kimberly Gianopoulos at (202) 512-8612 or gianopoulosk@gao.gov.
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    In Crime News
    A California agricultural developer has agreed to pay a civil penalty, preserve streams and wetlands, effect mitigation, and be subject to a prohibitory injunction to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) on property near the Sacramento River located in Tehama County, California, the Justice Department announced today.
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  • Satellite Communications: DOD Should Explore Options to Meet User Needs for Narrowband Capabilities
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Department of Defense (DOD) is not using the full capabilities of its latest ultra high frequency (narrowband) military satellite communications system, the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS). MUOS provides secure communications less vulnerable to weather conditions or other potential impediments. The full constellation of MUOS satellites has been on orbit for over 4 years, but DOD has not been able to use the system's advanced capabilities—such as its 10-fold increase in communications capacity. A key reason is the military services' delayed delivery of compatible radio terminals to users (see figure). DOD is funding and developing plans to accelerate procurement and delivery of these terminals. Army Soldiers Using a Mobile User Objective System-Compatible Portable Terminal DOD faces other challenges to its narrowband communications capabilities. In the near term, users continue to rely on the communications system that preceded MUOS, which is oversubscribed and will remain so while DOD works to field terminals and transition to MUOS. DOD has not explored and adopted narrowband communication options, which, if implemented, could help to meet unmet near-term communication needs. In the longer term, the five MUOS satellites that are on orbit have limited design lives. DOD plans to buy and launch additional satellites to sustain the constellation's availability, but without the legacy capability of the older system. DOD has not determined its future narrowband satellite communication needs after MUOS. DOD has not updated its narrowband requirements since 2010 and has no plans to do so, although the uses, technology, and threats to communications have changed. Reexamining its narrowband communications needs will enhance DOD's ability to field a timely replacement for MUOS and ensure warfighters have needed communications tools in the future. Why GAO Did This Study DOD has invested $7.4 billion to develop, build, and begin delivering MUOS. However, longstanding gaps between the fielding of the satellite system and compatible user terminals have limited DOD's ability to fully use the system. The Senate Armed Services Committee report to the bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 contained a provision for GAO to review DOD's use of MUOS capabilities and any plans for a MUOS follow-on capability. In this report, GAO (1) provides information on the extent to which DOD is using MUOS advanced communications capabilities; (2) assesses DOD's challenges and steps taken in transitioning to these capabilities, and (3) assesses efforts DOD has underway to meet future narrowband satellite communications needs. This is a public version of a sensitive report that GAO issued in June 2021. Information that DOD deemed to be sensitive has been omitted. GAO reviewed DOD planning documents, system assessments, and test reports. GAO also analyzed the services' terminal fielding and network transition plans. GAO interviewed oversight and acquisition officials across DOD.
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  • Low-Income Workers: Millions of Full-Time Workers in the Private Sector Rely on Federal Health Care and Food Assistance Programs
    In U.S GAO News
    The 12 million wage-earning adults (ages 19 to 64) enrolled in Medicaid—a joint federal-state program that finances health care for low-income individuals—and the 9 million wage-earning adults in households receiving food assistance from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) shared a range of common labor characteristics. For example, approximately 70 percent of adult wage earners in both programs worked full-time hours (i.e., 35 hours or more) on a weekly basis and about one-half of them worked full-time hours annually (see figure). In addition, 90 percent of wage-earning adults participating in each program worked in the private sector (compared to 81 percent of nonparticipants) and 72 percent worked in one of five industries, according to GAO’s analysis of program participation data included in the Census Bureau’s 2019 Current Population Survey. When compared to adult wage earners not participating in the programs, wage-earning adult Medicaid enrollees and SNAP recipients in the private sector were more likely to work in the leisure and hospitality industry and in food service and food preparation occupations. Estimated Percentage of Wage-Earning Adult Medicaid Enrollees and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Recipients Working at Least 35 Hours per Week, by Number of Weeks Worked in 2018 GAO’s analysis of February 2020 program data from 15 agencies—six Medicaid agencies and nine SNAP agencies—across 11 states shows that a majority of working adult Medicaid enrollees and SNAP recipients in these states worked for private sector employers. GAO’s analysis also shows that the percentage of working adult Medicaid enrollees and SNAP recipients working for any one employer did not exceed 4 percent in any state that provided data. Most working adults in the programs worked for private sector employers concentrated in certain industries, including restaurants, department stores, and grocery stores. Smaller percentages of working adults in each program in these states worked outside the private sector. For example, less than 10 percent worked for public sector employers, such as state governments, the U.S. Postal Service, or public universities; others worked for nonprofit organizations, such as charities, hospitals, and health care networks, or were self-employed. In October 2020, GAO issued a report entitled Federal Social Safety Net Programs Millions of Full-Time Workers Rely on Federal Health Care and Food Assistance Programs (GAO-20-45.) This testimony summarizes the findings of that report, which examined (1) what is known about the labor characteristics of wage-earning adult Medicaid enrollees and SNAP recipients, and (2) what is known about where wage-earning adult Medicaid enrollees and SNAP recipients work. To answer these questions, GAO analyzed recent Census Bureau data on the labor characteristics of working adults in the two programs. GAO also analyzed recent (Feb. 2020) non-generalizable data on the employers of working adult Medicaid enrollees and SNAP recipients obtained from 15 state agencies across 11 states. GAO selected state agencies that (1) collected, verified, and updated the names of Medicaid enrollees’ and SNAP recipients’ employers; and (2) could extract reliable data. GAO made no recommendations. For more information, contact Cindy S. Brown Barnes at (202) 512-7215 or brownbarnesc@gao.gov.  
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  • Telecommunications: FCC Should Enhance Performance Goals and Measures for Its Program to Support Broadband Service in High-Cost Areas
    In U.S GAO News
    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a program, known as the high-cost program, to promote broadband deployment in unserved areas. Although the performance goals for the high-cost program reflect principles in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, not all of the goals are expressed in a measurable or quantifiable manner and therefore do not align with leading practices. Furthermore, FCC's measures for its performance goals do not always align with leading practices, which call for measures to have linkage with the goal they measure and clarity, objectivity, and measurable targets, among other key attributes. For example, as shown below for two of FCC's five goals, GAO found that FCC's measures met most, but not all, of the key attributes. By establishing goals and measures that align with leading practices, FCC can improve the performance information it uses in its decision-making processes about how to allocate the program's finite resources. Leading practices also suggest that agencies publicly report on progress made toward performance goals. FCC does so, however, only in a limited fashion which may lead to stakeholder uncertainty about the program's effectiveness. Examples of FCC’s Performance Measures Compared with a Selection of Key Attributes of Successful Performance Measures According to stakeholders GAO interviewed, FCC faces three key challenges to accomplish its high-cost program performance goals: (1) accuracy of FCC's broadband deployment data, (2) broadband availability on tribal lands, and (3) maintaining existing fixed-voice infrastructure and attaining universal mobile service. For example, although FCC adopted a more precise method of collecting and verifying broadband availability data, stakeholders expressed concern the revised data would remain inaccurate if carriers continue to overstate broadband coverage for marketing and competitive reasons. Overstating coverage impairs FCC's efforts to promote universal voice and broadband since an area can become ineligible for high-cost support if a carrier reports that service already exists in that area. FCC has also taken actions to address the lack of broadband availability on tribal lands, such as making some spectrum available to tribes for wireless broadband in rural areas. However, tribal stakeholders told GAO that some tribes are unable to secure funding to deploy the infrastructure necessary to make use of spectrum for wireless broadband purposes. Millions of Americans do not have access to broadband. Within the Universal Service Fund, FCC's high-cost program provided about $5 billion in 2019 to telecommunications carriers to support broadband deployment in unserved areas where the cost to provide broadband service is high. In 2011, FCC established five performance goals and related measures for the high-cost program. GAO was asked to review the high-cost program's performance goals and measures. This report examines: (1) the extent to which the program's performance goals and measures align with leading practices to enable the effective use of performance information and (2) the key challenges selected stakeholders believe FCC faces in meeting the program's goals. GAO reviewed FCC's program goals and measures and assessed them against applicable criteria, including GAO's leading practices for successful performance measures. GAO interviewed FCC officials and representatives from industry, tribal carriers, consumer advocates, and other stakeholders, to obtain a variety of non-generalizable viewpoints. GAO is making four recommendations, including that FCC should ensure its high-cost program's performance goals and measures align with leading practices and publicly report on progress measured toward the goals. FCC concurred with all four recommendations. For more information, contact Andrew Von Ah at (202) 512-2834 or vonaha@gao.gov.
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