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- Harvard University Professor Convicted of Making False Statements and Tax OffensesBy Sam NewsDecember 21, 2021The former Chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department was convicted by a federal jury today in connection with lying to federal authorities about his affiliation with the People’s Republic of China’s Thousand Talents Program and the Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) in Wuhan, China, as well as failing to report income he received from WUT.[Read More…]
- Space Acquisitions: DOD Faces Challenges and Opportunities with Acquiring Space Systems in a Changing EnvironmentBy Sam NewsMay 24, 2021What GAO Found The Department of Defense (DOD) is making changes to its space-related processes and organization that will present both opportunities and challenges to the way it acquires its space systems. GAO has reported over the past decades on challenges DOD faces in its space acquisitions—including schedule delays, multibillion-dollar cost increases, significant reductions in capabilities, and in some cases cancelation—and made recommendations that have improved program outcomes. For example, DOD took actions to implement a GAO recommendation to use an incremental approach to acquiring space launch services. DOD's modified approach reduced risk by allowing it to incorporate knowledge gained from early launch competitions to inform subsequent competitions. Many of the most troubled programs are nearing completion, and DOD is starting new programs to develop the next generation of capabilities, some of which are being acquired under a streamlined acquisition process known as the middle-tier of acquisition pathway (see table below). Starting new programs is an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and take measures to put programs on successful paths. GAO's work has shown that in many cases, DOD is attempting to do so. Selected New DOD Space Programs and Near-Term Estimated Costs Dollars in billions New program Current estimated costs for 5-year middle-tier effort Evolved Strategic SATCOM (ESS) Protected satellite communications $1.4 Future Operationally Resilient Ground Evolution (FORGE) Ground control for Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared satellites $3.0 Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) Block 0 Missile warning, infrared intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance $8.4 Protected Tactical SATCOM (PTS) Protected satellite communications $1.0 Source: Department of Defense (DOD) data. | GAO-21-520T However, DOD faces challenges because it will be starting these new programs amid significant changes to the acquisition environment. Some of these changes are external to DOD, such as increased threats to on-orbit space systems. But over the past several years, DOD also initiated substantial organizational and acquisition process changes. While the Space Force offers an important opportunity to streamline lines of authority, accountability, and decision-making and avoid duplication of effort, many details will require careful consideration. In addition, adopting leading practices for acquisition, as previously recommended, could help DOD achieve faster delivery of new capabilities, especially if DOD balances new, streamlined acquisition processes with sufficient oversight to help ensure program success. Why GAO Did This Study DOD space systems provide critical capabilities that support military and other government operations. Space systems can be expensive to acquire and field, costing billions of dollars each year. The U.S. Space Force was recently established as the sixth branch of the U.S. military. As planned, the Space Force will consolidate leadership, planning, and management for some DOD space programs, as appropriate and authorized. This statement discusses the challenges and opportunities DOD faces as it acquires space systems amid changes to the acquisition environment. This statement is based on GAO reports issued over the past 10 years on DOD space programs. It also draws on recent work supporting GAO's 2021 annual report on the progress of major defense acquisition programs.[Read More…]
- Justice Department announces court-authorized effort to disrupt exploitation of Microsoft Exchange Server vulnerabilitiesBy Sam NewsIn Justice NewsMay 2, 2021Authorities have [Read More…]
- Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Guy Benson of The Guy Benson ShowBy Sam NewsOctober 9, 2020Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- Military Operations: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight and Interagency Coordination for the Commander’s Emergency Response Program in AfghanistanBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Defense (DOD) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have spent billions of dollars to develop Afghanistan. From fiscal years 2004 to 2008, DOD has reported obligations of about $1 billion for its Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP), which enables commanders to respond to urgent humanitarian and reconstruction needs. As troop levels increase, DOD officials expect the program to expand. Under the authority of the Comptroller General, GAO assessed DOD's (1) capacity to manage and oversee the CERP in Afghanistan and (2) coordination of projects with USAID. Accordingly, GAO interviewed DOD and USAID officials, and examined program documents to identify workload, staffing, training, and coordination requirements. In Afghanistan, GAO interviewed key military personnel on the sufficiency of training, and their ability to execute assigned duties.Although DOD has used CERP to fund projects that it believes significantly benefit the Afghan people, it faces significant challenges in providing adequate management and oversight because of an insufficient number of trained personnel. GAO has frequently reported that inadequate numbers of management and oversight personnel hinders DOD's use of contractors in contingency operations. GAO's work also shows that high-performing organizations use data to make informed decisions about current and future workforce needs. DOD has not conducted an overall workforce assessment to identify how many personnel are needed to effectively execute CERP. Rather, individual commanders determine how many personnel will manage and execute CERP. Personnel at all levels, including headquarters and unit personnel that GAO interviewed after they returned from Afghanistan or who were in Afghanistan in November 2008, expressed a need for more personnel to perform CERP program management and oversight functions. Due to a lack of personnel, key duties such as performing headquarters staff assistance visits to help units improve contracting procedures and visiting sites to monitor project status and contractor performance were either not performed or inconsistently performed. Per DOD policy, DOD personnel should receive timely and effective training to enable performance to standard during operations. However, key CERP personnel at headquarters, units, and provincial reconstruction teams received little or no training prior to deployment which commanders believed made it more difficult to properly execute and oversee the program. Also, most personnel responsible for awarding and overseeing CERP contracts valued at $500,000 or less received little or no training prior to deployment and, once deployed, received a 1-hour briefing, which did not provide detailed information on the individual's duties. As a result, frequent mistakes occurred, such as the omission of key clauses from contracts, which slowed the project approval process. As GAO has reported in the past, poorly written contracts and statements of work can increase DOD's cost risk and could result in payment for projects that do not meet project goals or objectives. While mechanisms exist to facilitate coordination, DOD and USAID lack information that would provide greater visibility on all U.S. government development projects. DOD and USAID generally coordinate projects at the headquarters and unit level as well as through military-led provincial reconstruction teams which include USAID representatives. In addition, in November 2008, USAID, DOD and the Department of State began participating in an interagency group composed of senior U.S. government civilians and DOD personnel in Afghanistan to enhance planning and coordination of development plans and related projects. However, complete project information is lacking, because DOD and USAID use different databases. USAID has been tasked to develop a common database and is coordinating with DOD to do so, but development is in the early stages and goals and milestones have not been established. Without clear goals and milestones, it is unclear how progress will be measured or when it will be completed[Read More…]
- NASA’s Venus Rover Challenge Winners AnnouncedBy Sam NewsIn SpaceSeptember 26, 2020An overwhelming response [Read More…]
- Advanced Manufacturing: Innovation Institutes Report Technology Progress and Members Report Satisfaction with Their InvolvementBy Sam NewsDecember 16, 2021What GAO Found The Departments of Commerce, Defense (DOD), and Energy (DOE) have established a network of innovation institutes—known as Manufacturing USA institutes—to promote research, development, and commercialization of advanced manufacturing technologies. Manufacturing USA institutes reported making progress toward achieving their technology goals. Progress on institute projects is often tracked using technology readiness levels (TRL), a standardized scale for assessing maturity and risk. GAO's analysis of institute information found that projects moved through a range of TRLs (see figure). Many moved from TRL 4 to 6, taking a manufacturing technology from a point where it could be demonstrated in a lab to a point where a prototype system could be created in a simulated production environment. Advancement of Technology Readiness Level (TRL) for Completed Manufacturing USA Institute Projects, as of March 2021 Note: Circle size illustrates the number of projects (but is not in direct proportion). Results from a survey administered by GAO to institute members found that smaller manufacturers (those with fewer than 500 employees) were generally engaged and satisfied with their institutes' activities, such as collaborating on projects and providing input on institute priorities. Larger businesses and academic institutions reported similar levels of satisfaction. Officials noted that some factors, such as cost of membership, may limit smaller manufacturer engagement, and identified initiatives to help offset the cost. Commerce, DOD, and DOE have implemented GAO's prior recommendations on interagency collaboration and developing sustainability criteria. However, Commerce has not fully implemented two of GAO's prior recommendations related to network-wide performance goals for the Manufacturing USA program. By not implementing these recommendations, Commerce is missing an opportunity to better observe and report on progress made toward achieving the purposes of the Manufacturing USA program. Why GAO Did This Study In recent decades, the U.S. trade balance in advanced technology products declined, resulting in a $130 billion deficit as of 2018. The Manufacturing USA institutes seek to stimulate leadership in advanced manufacturing innovation. Members include companies, nonprofits, academic institutions, and state and local governments. Members receive benefits such as access to shared facilities, equipment, and intellectual property. As of August 2021, Commerce, DOD, and DOE have provided $1.7 billion to the institutes. The Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2014, as amended, includes a provision for GAO to assess the Manufacturing USA program. This third report examines institutes' progress toward technology goals, smaller manufacturers' engagement with the institutes, and implementation of prior recommendations, among other things. GAO collected institute information via a questionnaire, surveyed a generalizable sample of institute members, and interviewed agency officials and institute representatives.[Read More…]
- On the International Day of Persons with DisabilitiesBy Sam NewsDecember 3, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- Imposing Sanctions on CAR Militia LeaderBy Sam NewsDecember 17, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with German Foreign Minister MaasBy Sam NewsSeptember 2, 2021
- FBI Report on Crime Shows Decline in Violent Crime Rate for Third Consecutive YearBy Sam NewsSeptember 28, 2020Today, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its 2019 edition of Crime in the United States, which showed that violent crime decreased nationwide for the third consecutive year. After decreases in both 2017 and 2018, the violent crime rate dropped an additional one percent this past year and the property crime rate decreased 4.5 percent.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Settles Sexual Harassment and Race Discrimination Lawsuit Against Manager and Owners of Virginia Rental PropertiesBy Sam NewsSeptember 29, 2020The Justice Department today announced that Gary T. Price, a manager of rental properties in and around Harrisonburg, Virginia, together with owners of the properties, Alberta Lowery and GTP Investment Properties, LLC, will pay $335,000 to resolve allegations that Price sexually harassed multiple female tenants and discriminated in housing on the basis of race in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.[Read More…]
- Eight Individuals Charged With Conspiring to Act as Illegal Agents of the People’s Republic of ChinaBy Sam NewsOctober 28, 2020A complaint and arrest warrants were unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging eight defendants with conspiring to act in the United States as illegal agents of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Six defendants also face related charges of conspiring to commit interstate and international stalking. The defendants, allegedly acting at the direction and under the control of PRC government officials, conducted surveillance of and engaged in a campaign to harass, stalk, and coerce certain residents of the United States to return to the PRC as part of a global, concerted, and extralegal repatriation effort known as “Operation Fox Hunt.”[Read More…]
- Military Training: DOD’s Report on the Sustainability of Training Ranges Addresses Most of the Congressional Reporting Requirements and Continues to Improve with Each Annual UpdateBy Sam NewsAugust 31, 2021A fundamental principle of military readiness is that the military must train as it intends 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, coupled with the complexity of recent military 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 competition for broadcast frequencies or airspace, air pollution, noise pollution, endangered species, critical habitats and other protected resources, unexploded ordinance and munitions, urban growth around installations, and civilian access--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 is 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. 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: proposals to enhance training range capabilities and address any shortfalls in resources identified pursuant to that assessment and evaluation; goals and milestones for tracking planned actions and measuring progress; projected funding requirements to implement planned actions; and a 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. Section 366(a)(5) requires that DOD's annual reports describe the department's progress in implementing its comprehensive plan and any actions taken or to be taken to address training constraints caused by limitations on the use of military lands, marine areas, and airspace. This report discusses (1) DOD's progress to date to address the elements of section 366 and (2) improvements incorporated in DOD's 2009 annual sustainable ranges report as well as DOD's plans for its 2010 report submission. In accordance with the mandate, we are submitting this report to you within 90 days after having received DOD's 2009 sustainable ranges report on August 3, 2009.Since 2004, DOD has shown progress in addressing the elements included in section 366 of the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003, including the development of an inventory of military training ranges. DOD's 2009 sustainable ranges report and inventory are responsive to the element of 366 that requires DOD to describe the progress made in implementing its sustainable ranges plan and any additional action taken, or to be taken, to address training constraints caused by limitations on the use of military lands, marine areas, and airspace. DOD has also made progress in addressing elements of section 366 that were required as part of DOD's 2004 reporting requirements. For example, DOD has made strides to measure and report the impact that training constraints may have on readiness by developing approaches to incorporate ranges into DOD's readiness reporting system. As part of its comprehensive plan to address training constraints caused by limitations on its ranges, DOD has also developed and included in the 2009 report broad goals for this effort and has begun to include annual estimates of the funding required to meet these goals. However, while DOD has formulated some goals and milestones for tracking planned actions and measuring progress, as it was required to do as part of its 2004 comprehensive plan, it has yet to develop quantifiable goals, which we have previously recommended to better track planned actions and measure progress for implementing planned actions. Without quantifiable goals and time frames associated with achieving milestones, it is difficult to measure and track the extent of progress actually made over time. In addition, while DOD has included some projected funding data, as it was required to do as part of its 2004 comprehensive plan, DOD has not yet included projected funding requirements that will be needed to implement its planned actions, as we also recommended previously, so that decision makers have better information available to make budget decisions. In order to better track its progress to address training constraints caused by limitations on its ranges, we reiterate our prior recommendation that the Secretary of Defense direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to provide a more complete plan to Congress that includes (l) quantifiable goals and milestones for tracking planned actions and measuring progress and (2) projected funding requirements to more fully address identified training constraints. DOD has made several improvements to its most recent 2009 report and plans "revolutionary changes" for 2010. For example, DOD has included detailed capability and encroachment data provided and used by the military services when making their capability assessments for each training range surveyed. DOD officials told us that they expect these data to provide improved information for more precise planning in the future. DOD also added a special interest section to highlight key issues affecting range capability and some of the actions taken to mitigate negative impacts, which should provide congressional decision makers and other users with a better understanding of the approaches being used to improve the capabilities of DOD's ranges. Moreover, DOD has already begun to develop its 2010 report, which DOD officials told us they expect to issue in early 2010. DOD officials have stated that they intend to introduce "revolutionary changes" in that upcoming report, including revamping their goals and increasing the focus on specific encroachment issues such as mitigating frequency spectrum competition, managing increased military demand for range space, and meeting military airspace challenges.[Read More…]
- Sanctioning Companies Supporting Iran’s Metal IndustryBy Sam NewsJanuary 5, 2021Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- Department of State Launches the Climate Entrepreneurship for Economic Development (CEED) InitiativeBy Sam NewsNovember 3, 2021
- United Arab Emirates Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin ZayedBy Sam NewsNovember 2, 2021
- Civil Monetary Penalties: Federal Agencies’ Compliance with the 2020 Annual Inflation Adjustment RequirementsBy Sam NewsMay 28, 2021What GAO Found In this fifth annual review, GAO found that the majority of federal agencies that could be subject to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended (IAA), have complied with the provisions of the act to publish 2020 civil monetary penalty inflation adjustments in the Federal Register and report related information in their 2020 agency financial reports (AFR), or equivalent. However, two agencies did not publish inflation adjustments in the Federal Register as of December 31, 2020, and did not report the required information in their 2020 AFRs for one or more of their civil monetary penalties. Why GAO Did This Study The IAA includes a provision, added in 2015, requiring GAO to annually submit to Congress a report assessing agencies' compliance with the annual inflation adjustments required by the act. This is the fifth annual report responding to this requirement. For more information, contact Paula M. Rascona at (202) 512-9816 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- [Request for Reconsideration of Dismissed Protest of CIA Contract Award]By Sam NewsAugust 6, 2021A firm requested reconsideration of its dismissed protest challenging a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) contract award for support of its Records Declassification Program, contending that GAO wrongly concluded that it was not an interested party to challenge the award. In addition to the reconsideration request, the protester contended that CIA improperly failed to disclose funding limitations in the solicitation. GAO held that: (1) the protester lacked sufficient interest to protest the contract award, since its proposed and evaluated costs exceeded the available project funding level, and at least one other bidder was below the funding limitation; and (2) there was no requirement for agencies to reveal budgetary information in solicitations. Accordingly, the request for reconsideration and the protest were denied.[Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken to Participate in Christchurch Call to Action Leaders’ SummitBy Sam NewsMay 14, 2021