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- North Carolina Couple Indicted for Failing to Pay Employment Taxes and Failure to File Tax ReturnsBy Sam NewsOctober 27, 2020A federal grand jury in Greensboro, North Carolina, returned an indictment today, charging a North Carolina couple with federal employment tax and individual income tax violations, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin for the Middle District of North Carolina.[Read More…]
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- Weapon Systems Annual Assessment: Updated Program Oversight Approach NeededBy Sam NewsJune 8, 2021GAO's 19th annual assessment of the Department of Defense's (DOD) weapon programs comes at a time of significant internal changes to the department's acquisition process. Specifically, DOD began implementing its new acquisition framework intended to, among other things, deliver solutions to the end user in a timely manner. However, GAO found that many programs have planned acquisition approaches that, unless properly managed and overseen, could result in cost and schedule challenges similar to those GAO has reported on for nearly the past 2 decades. DOD's new acquisition framework allows program managers to use one or more of six acquisition pathways—including the major capability acquisition and middle-tier acquisition (MTA) pathways used by the programs GAO reviewed. Each pathway is governed by separate policies for milestones, cost and schedule goals, and reporting. Program managers can tailor, combine, and transition between pathways based on program goals and risks associated with the weapon system being acquired (see figure). Notional Use of Multiple Efforts and Multiple Pathways DOD's framework also introduces new considerations to program oversight. In particular, DOD has yet to develop an overarching data collection and reporting strategy for programs transitioning between acquisition pathways or conducting multiple efforts using the same pathway to deliver the intended capability. The lack of a strategy not only limits DOD's visibility into these programs but also hinders the quality of its congressional reporting and makes the full cost and schedule of the eventual weapon system more difficult to ascertain. DOD Plans to Invest Over $1.79 Trillion in Its Costliest Weapon Programs, but Not All Costs Are Reported DOD's reported costs primarily reflect major defense acquisition program (MDAP) investments (see table). However, DOD is increasingly using the MTA pathway to acquire weapon programs . The totals do not include all expected costs because, among other things, MTA estimates do not reflect any potential investments after the current MTA effort, and cost figures do not include programs that have yet to formally select a pathway or are classified or sensitive. Department of Defense Total Investments in Selected Weapon Programs GAO Reviewed (fiscal year 2021 dollars in billions) Procurement reductions in DOD's costliest program—the F-35—drove an MDAP portfolio cost decrease since GAO's last annual report (see figure). Excluding this program, quantity changes and other factors such as schedule delays contributed to one-year portfolio cost growth. Sixteen MDAPs also showed schedule delays since GAO's 2020 report. Such delays are due, in part, to delivery or test delays and poor system performance. Major Defense Acquisition Program One-Year Cost Change Including and Excluding the F-35 Program (fiscal year 2021 dollars in billions) F-35 reported an overall procurement cost decrease of $23.9 billion in fiscal year 2020, primarily due to lower prime and subcontractor labor rates. As GAO found last year, DOD continues to expand its portfolio of the costliest MTA programs, expecting to spend $30.5 billion on current efforts. Due to inconsistent cost reporting by MTA programs, GAO could not assess cost trends across the MTA portfolio. However, GAO observed examples of cost changes on certain MTA programs compared with last year. Weapon Programs Do Not Consistently Plan to Attain Knowledge That Could Limit Cost Growth and Deliver Weapon Systems Faster Most MDAPs continue to forgo opportunities to improve cost and schedule outcomes by not adhering to leading practices for weapon system acquisitions. Some MTA programs also reported planning to acquire only limited product knowledge during program execution, leading to added risks to planned follow-on efforts. Further, while both MDAPs and MTA programs increasingly reported using modern software approaches and cybersecurity measures, they inconsistently implemented leading practices, such as frequently delivering software to users and conducting certain types of cybersecurity assessments during development. Why GAO Did This Study Title 10, section 2229b of the U.S. Code contains a provision for GAO to review DOD's weapon programs. This report assesses the following aspects of DOD's costliest weapon programs: their characteristics and performance, planned or actual implementation of knowledge-based acquisition practices, and implementation of selected software and cybersecurity practices. The report also assesses oversight implications of DOD's changes to its foundational acquisition guidance. GAO identified programs for review based on cost and acquisition status; reviewed relevant legislation, policy, guidance, and DOD reports; collected program office data; and interviewed DOD officials .[Read More…]
- Military Training: DOD Continues to Improve Its Report on the Sustainability of Training RangesBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021Recent operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations around the world have highlighted the need for U.S. forces to train as they intend to fight. Military training ranges provide the primary means to accomplish this goal. The Department of Defense's (DOD) training ranges vary in size from a few acres, for small arms training, to over a million acres for large maneuver exercises and weapons testing, and include broad open ocean areas for offshore training and testing. New advances in military technology to combat emerging threats in ongoing operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations around the world generate the need to continually update and maintain DOD's training ranges. Senior DOD and military service officials have reported for some time that they face increasing difficulties in carrying out realistic training at military installations due to outside influences. DOD has defined a number of factors--including air pollution, noise pollution, endangered species, critical habitats and other protected resources, and urban growth around installations--that it says encroach upon its training ranges and capabilities. Because the military faces obstacles in acquiring new training lands, the preservation and sustainment of its current lands are a priority. Sustainable training range management focuses on practices that allow the military to manage its ranges in a way that ensures their usefulness well into the future. As required by section 366(a) of the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003 (as amended), DOD was to submit a comprehensive plan for using existing authorities available to the department to address training constraints caused by limitations on the use of worldwide military lands, marine areas, and airspace to Congress in fiscal year 2004 with annual progress reports beginning in fiscal year 2005 and extending through 2013. Enclosure I includes the full text of section 366 as amended. As part of the preparation of this plan, the Secretary of Defense was to conduct an assessment of current and future training range requirements and an evaluation of the adequacy of DOD's current range resources to meet those requirements. The plan was also to include: (1) proposals to enhance training range capabilities and address any shortfalls in resources identified pursuant to that assessment and evaluation; (2) goals and milestones for tracking planned actions and measuring progress; (3) projected funding requirements to implement planned actions; and (4) designation of an office in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and in each of the military departments responsible for overseeing implementation of the plan.DOD reported progress in implementing its comprehensive plan as required by section 366 of the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003 (as amended), by providing new goals, actions, and milestones for this plan as described above. DOD also reported actions taken or to be taken to address training constraints caused by limitations on the use of military lands, marine areas, and airspace. For example, in the 2010 range assessments, all four of the military services reported increased range capability scores. Also, according to the 2010 sustainable ranges report, regional partnerships have enabled DOD to work successfully with multistate, multiagency teams to address substantial sustainability issues. For example, OSD and military service officials stated that renewable energy development has the potential to significantly impact their ability to train and is a growing area of concern. Coordination with these regional partnerships has allowed DOD to identify and address renewable energy development by seeking compatible land uses that are mutually beneficial to all concerned parties. By forming these partnerships, DOD has taken steps to prevent conflicts between military training and proposed renewable energy development. DOD's 2010 sustainable ranges report also includes additional updates to the special interest section for each of the services. The special interest section briefly highlights critical issues facing the services regarding range capabilities and encroachment factors. For example, this year the Air Force provides information about the integration of unmanned aerial systems into existing airspace and its efforts to increase flight safety. We previously reported that by highlighting its most pressing range sustainability issues, DOD officials can begin to prioritize the department's actions to address range issues in the most efficient and effective manner. DOD officials told us the sustainable ranges report will continue to include annual updates to the special interest section regarding general issues relevant to the report.[Read More…]
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- Vivint Smart Homes Inc. to Pay $3.2 Million to Resolve Allegations of False Statements to Federally Insured BankBy Sam NewsJanuary 6, 2021Vivint Smart Home Inc. (Vivint), based in Provo, Utah, has agreed to pay the United States $3.2 million to resolve allegations under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) that Vivint employees made false statements to secure financing for customers’ purchases of Vivint’s home monitoring products, the Justice Department announced today. FIRREA imposes civil penalties on any person or entity that violates certain predicate federal statutes.[Read More…]
- Multinational Industrial Engineering Company To Pay $22 Million To Settle False Claims Act Allegations Relating to Evaded Customs DutiesBy Sam NewsSeptember 25, 2020Linde GmbH and its U.S. subsidiary Linde Engineering North America LLC (LENA) (together, “Linde”) have agreed to pay the United States more than $22.2 million to resolve allegations that Linde violated the False Claims Act by knowingly making false statements on customs declarations to avoid paying duties owed on the companies’ imports, the Justice Department announced today.[Read More…]
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- Statement by Attorney General William P. Barr on Senate ResolutionBy Sam NewsDecember 11, 2020Online child sexual exploitation is a global crime that demands a continued global response.[Read More…]
- Five Alleged MS-13 Members Charged Federally for Their Participation in a Violent Racketeering Conspiracy Including Eight Murders and Four Attempted MurdersBy Sam NewsOctober 20, 2020A federal grand jury returned an eleventh superseding indictment Monday, charging five men in connection with a conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13. The eleventh superseding indictment adds a new defendant charged with a racketeering conspiracy related to his membership in MS-13, including a double homicide and drug trafficking.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Reaches Agreement Resolving Investigation of Religious Practice Policies and Procedures within Michigan Department of CorrectionsBy Sam NewsNovember 4, 2021The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached an agreement with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) to resolve its investigation of MDOC, pursuant to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).[Read More…]
- Secretary Pompeo’s Quad Meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi, Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar, and Australian Foreign Minister PayneBy Sam NewsOctober 6, 2020
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- North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty to Violating Fair Housing Act and Threatening a Family Because of Their RaceBy Sam NewsAugust 6, 2020The Justice Department announced today that Douglas Matthew Gurkins, 34, pleaded guilty today in federal court in the Eastern District of North Carolina to one count of criminal interference with the Fair Housing Act, for using threats of force against an African American family because of the family members’ race and because they were renting a dwelling.[Read More…]
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- Reserve Forces: Army National Guard and Army Reserve Readiness for 21st Century ChallengesBy Sam NewsAugust 31, 2021Ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have required the deployment of large numbers of Army National Guard and Army Reserve personnel. The Department of Defense (DOD) faces the unprecedented challenge of sustaining large-scale, long-duration operations with an all-volunteer military force. In addition, DOD's homeland defense missions have taken on higher priority, and National Guard forces have state responsibilities for homeland security activities as well as their traditional roles in responding to natural disasters. Over the past few years, GAO has examined the effects of ongoing military operations and domestic missions on the Army National Guard and Army Reserve. This statement, which draws on prior GAO work, focuses on (1) challenges in sustaining Army reserve component equipment and personnel readiness while supporting ongoing operations and (2) the extent to which the Army's planned transformation initiatives will alleviate equipment and personnel shortages and enhance readiness.The Army National Guard and Army Reserve have made significant contributions to ongoing military operations, but equipment shortages and personnel challenges have increased and, if left unattended, may hamper the reserves' preparedness for future overseas and domestic missions. To provide deployable units, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve have transferred large quantities of personnel and equipment to deploying units, an approach that has resulted in growing shortages in nondeployed units. Also, reserve units have left significant quantities of equipment overseas and DOD has not yet developed plans to replace it. The Army National Guard reports that its units have less than one-third of their required equipment, and the Army Reserve reports that its units have about half of the modern equipment they need to deploy. These shortages could also adversely affect reserve units' ability to perform homeland defense missions and provide support to civil authorities in the event of natural disasters or terrorist attacks. The Army also faces shortages of personnel trained in some high-demand skills. These readiness challenges have occurred because the Army reserve components' role has shifted from a strategic reserve force to an operational force that is being used on an ongoing basis. However, DOD has not fully reassessed its equipment, personnel, and training needs and developed a new model for the reserves appropriate to the new strategic environment. GAO has made recommendations that DOD conduct a comprehensive reassessment of equipment, personnel, training, and funding requirements given the reserve components' shift to an operational role, but DOD's progress to date in addressing them has been limited. Without a comprehensive reassessment of equipment and personnel policies, the Army's reserve components may not be well prepared to deal with future events at home or abroad. The Army has begun two transformational initiatives intended to enhance reserve units' ability to conduct 21st century operations and plans to spend over $24 billion for equipment over the next 5 years. These initiatives are significant, but the extent to which they will alleviate equipment and personnel challenges is unclear. The Army faces challenges in managing both initiatives' costs and achieving intended capabilities. First, although the Army is making progress in transforming its forces to more flexible modular units, it has not provided detailed information on the capabilities, costs, and risks of its plans, and reserve units are likely to lack some key equipment items well into the future. Second, the Army is implementing a force generation model through which reserve units' readiness will be increased as units move closer to eligibility for deployment. However, the Army has not fully determined the equipment, personnel, and training that units will require at each stage of the cycle or fully identified the resources to implement its plans. Without detailed implementation plans, decision makers will not have sufficient information with which to assess both DOD's progress and performance in transforming the Army reserve components and whether investment decisions are being targeted to the highest priority areas.[Read More…]
- Rewards for Justice – Reward Offer for Information on Foreign Malicious Cyber Activity Against U.S. Critical InfrastructureBy Sam NewsJuly 15, 2021
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