Reconsider travel to Mongolia due to COVID-19.
Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 2 Travel Health Notice for Mongolia due to COVID-19.
Mongolia has lifted stay at home orders, and resumed some in-country transportation options and business operations. However, Mongolia maintains an almost total ban on the entry of foreigners and has limited incoming air traffic to government-controlled charter flights. Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Mongolia.
Read the country information page.
If you travel to Mongolia, you should:
Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.
- Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting with Japanese Prime Minister SugaBy Sam NewsOctober 6, 2020Office of the [Read More…]
- Pipeline Safety: Information on Keystone Accidents and DOT OversightBy Sam NewsAugust 23, 2021What GAO Found The Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) required TC Energy to take additional safety measures specified in a special permit as conditions of allowing certain portions of the Keystone Pipeline (Keystone) to operate at a higher stress level than allowed by regulation. PHMSA reviewed technical information and drew on its experience granting similar permits to natural gas pipelines to develop 51 conditions with which TC Energy must comply. Most pipeline safety and technical stakeholders GAO interviewed agreed the conditions offset the risks of operating at a higher stress level. However, PHMSA did not allow TC Energy to fully operate Keystone at this higher stress level until 2017, after TC Energy replaced pipe affected by industry-wide pipeline quality issues. Keystone's accident history has been similar to other crude oil pipelines since 2010, but the severity of spills has worsened in recent years. Similar to crude oil pipelines nationwide, most of Keystone's 22 accidents from 2010 through 2020 released fewer than 50 barrels of oil and were contained on operator-controlled property such as a pump station. The two largest spills in Keystone's history in 2017 and 2019 were among the six accidents that met PHMSA's criteria for accidents “impacting people or the environment.” According to PHMSA's measures for these more severe types of accidents, from 2010 to 2020 TC Energy performed better than nationwide averages, but worse in the past five years due to the 2017 and 2019 spills. Keystone Accidents Impacting People or the Environment, 2010-2020 In response to each of Keystone's four largest spills, PHMSA issued Corrective Action Orders requiring TC Energy to investigate the accidents' root causes and take necessary corrective actions. These investigations found that the four accidents were caused by issues related to the original design, manufacturing of the pipe, or construction of the pipeline. PHMSA also issued other enforcement actions and assessed civil penalties to TC Energy for deficiencies found during inspections, such as inadequate corrosion prevention and missing pipeline markers. Based in part on its experience overseeing Keystone, PHMSA officials said they have increased resources to conduct inspections during construction of other pipelines and are establishing a more formal process to document and track the compliance of all special permits, including Keystone's permit. Why GAO Did This Study Since it began operating in 2010, Keystone has transported over 3 billion barrels of crude oil from Canada to refineries in Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas, according to its operator, TC Energy. Prior to construction, TC Energy requested and obtained a special permit from PHMSA to operate certain portions of the pipeline at a higher stress level than is allowed under PHMSA's regulations. Since TC Energy was the first and remains the only hazardous liquid pipeline operator to request a waiver of this particular regulation, the Keystone special permit is unique. GAO was asked to review PHMSA's oversight of the Keystone Pipeline. This report discusses: (1) PHMSA's actions to approve the Keystone special permit and allow the pipeline to operate at a higher stress level, (2) how Keystone accidents compare to accidents on all U.S. crude oil pipelines since 2010, and (3) PHMSA's actions in response to Keystone safety issues. GAO reviewed applicable statutes and regulations, the special permit, and PHMSA enforcement actions. It also analyzed PHMSA's pipeline accident data from 2010 to 2020 to describe Keystone's accidents and compare TC Energy to PHMSA's performance measures. GAO also interviewed TC Energy representatives, PHMSA officials, and 17 stakeholders selected to provide a range of perspectives representing industry associations; pipeline safety and technical stakeholders; and environmental, tribal, and state organizations. For more information, contact Heather Krause at (202) 512-2834 or KrauseH@gao.gov.[Read More…]
- DOD and VA Health Care: Suicide Prevention Efforts and Recommendations for ImprovementBy Sam NewsNovember 17, 2021What GAO Found Suicide is a public health problem facing all populations, and has been a persistent and growing issue for the nation's servicemembers and veterans. The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have multiple efforts underway to help prevent suicide among military servicemembers and veterans. For example: DOD's suicide prevention approach includes both clinical and non-clinical efforts intended to reduce the risk of suicide. Clinical efforts include, for example, depression and suicide-specific screening in primary care and during periodic health assessments. Non-clinical efforts include activities such as educating commanders about safe and effective messaging and reporting regarding suicide and help-seeking. VA uses suicide prevention teams at facilities to implement its Suicide Prevention Program. Such teams perform programmatic, administrative, and clinical activities ranging from tracking and reporting on veterans at high risk for suicide to conducting training, collaborating with community partners, and consulting with providers. Since September 2020, GAO has made three recommendations to DOD and six recommendations to VA to improve the agencies' suicide prevention efforts. As of November 2021, the agencies reported that they have taken initial steps to implement most of these recommendations and GAO continues to monitor their progress. Below are examples of GAO's findings and related recommendations. DOD non-clinical suicide prevention. In 2020, DOD published a framework for assessing the collective effect of the department's suicide prevention efforts by measuring outcomes linked to specific prevention strategies. However, this framework did not provide DOD with information on the effectiveness of individual non-clinical prevention efforts, such as training. GAO recommended that DOD develop a process to ensure that individual non-clinical suicide prevention efforts are assessed for effectiveness. DOD concurred and has begun to assess how to standardize its approach for evaluating program effectiveness. VA suicide prevention teams. VA uses a benchmark to help determine facilities' suicide prevention staffing needs; however, the benchmark may not accurately reflect facilities' staffing needs and has not accounted for increasing workloads. GAO recommended that VA incorporate key practices for staffing model design into its determination of facilities' suicide prevention staffing needs. VA concurred and has taken steps to revise its existing staffing model. VA on-campus suicides. VA's process for identifying veteran suicides on its campuses (e.g., VA medical facilities) does not include a step for ensuring the accuracy of the number of suicides identified. As a result, GAO found that VA's counts of on-campus veteran suicides were inaccurate. GAO recommended that VA improve its process to accurately identify all on-campus veteran suicides. VA concurred and has initiated a process to improve its data collection efforts. Why GAO Did This Study In its Annual Suicide Report, DOD reported that the suicide rate for active-duty servicemembers increased over the past 6 years, reaching 28.7 per 100,000 individuals in 2020. VA has also reported rising rates of suicides among veterans, totaling 31.6 per 100,000 individuals in 2019. This rate of suicides was almost two times higher for veterans than non-veterans. DOD and VA have taken steps to help prevent suicides among servicemembers and veterans. For example, DOD and VA both established suicide prevention strategies and created offices to oversee their suicide prevention efforts. Additionally, VA has identified suicide prevention as its highest clinical priority in its strategic plan for fiscal years 2018 through 2024. This statement describes GAO's recent work examining DOD and VA suicide prevention efforts, including recommendations GAO made on (1) DOD's efforts to assess its non-clinical suicide prevention efforts and report data on suicides; (2) VA's use of and staffing for suicide prevention teams; and (3) VA's collection and analysis of data on suicides that occur on its campuses. This statement is primarily based on three GAO reports issued between September 2020 and April 2021 (GAO-20-664, GAO-21-300, and GAO-21-326). GAO also reviewed documents from DOD and VA related to initial steps the agencies have taken to address GAO's recommendations. For more information, contact Alyssa M. Hundrup at (202) 512-7114 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
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- VA Medical Center Security: Progress Made, but Improvements to Oversight of Risk Management and Incident Analysis Still NeededBy Sam NewsJuly 13, 2021What GAO Found The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has recently identified improvements for its physical security risk management policy and oversight process for its medical centers but has yet to implement them. In January 2018, GAO reported that VA's risk management policy did not fully reflect federal standards for facility security, such as a requirement to consider all of the undesirable events described in the standards (e.g. active shooter incidents). GAO also reported that while VA conducted some limited oversight of medical centers' risk management activities, it lacked a system-wide oversight strategy. GAO recommended that VA revise its policy to reflect federal standards and develop a system-wide oversight strategy to help to ensure that its approach to risk management will yield the appropriate security posture relative to the different risks at each of its medical centers. In response, as of June 2021, VA has begun to take actions to revise its policy to reflect the standards and fully deploy a risk assessment tool to help oversee risk management processes across medical centers. VA officials said they plan to implement the revised policy and assessment tool in fiscal year 2022. VA has improved its data collection to support the management and oversight of police officers' use of force but could better track and analyze investigations. VA policy contains a use of force continuum scale to define and clarify the categories of force that officers can use to gain control of a situation. In September 2020, GAO reported that VA's records of use of force incidents were not complete or accurate. For example, GAO found that 176 out of 1,214 use of force incident reports did not include the specific type of force used. Further, VA did not track incidents by individual medical centers. GAO also reported that VA did not systematically collect or analyze use of force investigation findings from local medical centers or have a database designed for such purposes, limiting VA's ability to provide effective oversight. GAO recommended that VA improve the completeness and accuracy of its data on use of force, analyze that data by facility and geographic region, and implement plans to obtain a database to collect and analyze use of force investigations. As of June 2021, VA took steps to improve the accuracy and completeness of its use of force incident data, and officials stated VA is working to obtain a suitable database to track use of force investigation trends. GAO will continue to review VA's steps to address recommendations from both reports. Why GAO Did This Study The Veterans Health Administration provides critical health services to approximately 9-million enrolled veterans at its nearly 170 medical centers. Ensuring safety and security at these medical centers can be complicated because VA has to balance the treatment and care of veterans—a vulnerable population with high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse—while also maintaining order and enforcing the law. Officers may need to use physical force to help bring a violent or hostile situation under control. This statement focuses on how VA manages and oversees (1) the physical security of medical centers and (2) use of force incidents by police officers. The statement is primarily based on GAO-18-201, issued in January 2018, and GAO-20-599, issued in September 2020. To update this information, GAO reviewed documentation and interviewed VA officials on actions taken to address these reports' recommendations.[Read More…]
- Human Capital: Complete Information and More Analyses Needed to Enhance DOD’s Civilian Senior Leader Strategic Workforce PlanBy Sam NewsAugust 31, 2021What GAO FoundDOD's approach for determining its civilian senior leader workforce projections to meet future requirements incorporated the results of two separate assessments. In its 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan, DOD presented data that projected reductions of 178 civilian senior leader positions within its five career civilian senior leader workforces during fiscal years 2011 and 2012. To conduct its assessment for the strategic workforce plan, DOD used a computer modeling system that is managed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and used by several agencies across the federal government. The system models significant career events, such as promotions, reassignments, and retirements, to produce projections. During this same time period, DOD also completed an efficiency initiative at the direction of the Secretary of Defense to, among other things, ensure that DOD's senior leader workforce is properly sized and aligned with DOD's mission and priorities. For its efficiency initiative, the department devised an internal DOD methodology in which it rank ordered positions in terms of higher and lower priority in order to identify reductions. This assessment identified a reduction of 178 civilian senior leader positions within DOD's civilian senior leader workforce for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. From the plan, it is not clear how these two efforts fit together, or how DOD drew from the strengths of each analysis. DOD officials explained to us, however, that they incorporated the results of the efficiency initiative into the strategic workforce plan when they issued that plan, so that the projections of the workforce plan and the results of the efficiency initiative would be consistent.DOD assessments of the critical skills, competencies, and gaps of its career civilian senior leader workforces did not identify areas that will require increased focus to help the department meet its vital missions. Most of DOD's civilian senior leader workforce can be categorized into five separate workforces, and our review found that DOD conducted assessments of skills, competencies, and gaps for two of them--the Senior Executive Service and Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service workforces. However, the department did not include the results of either assessment in its 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan and only discussed the processes it used for conducting the assessment of its Senior Executive Service workforce. Further, DOD did not conduct assessments of skills, competencies, and gaps for the remaining three career civilian senior leader workforces--its Senior Level, Senior Technical, and Defense Intelligence Senior Level workforces. Officials told us that they did not assess these three workforces because the skills and competencies of these workforces are position-specific. However, section 115b of Title 10 of the United States Code requires that DOD conduct assessments of the skills, competencies, and gaps within all its senior leader workforces. Without conducting such assessments and reporting on them, it is difficult to identify those areas that will require increased focus on recruiting, retention, and training. Therefore, we are recommending that DOD conduct assessments of the skills, competencies, and gaps within all five of its career senior leader workforces and report the results in its future strategic workforce plans.Why GAO Did This StudyThe ability of the Department of Defense (DOD) to achieve its mission and carry out its responsibilities depends in large part on whether it can sustain a civilian senior leader workforce that possesses necessary skills and competencies. Managing civilian senior leaders effectively is imperative, especially in light of DODs plans to reduce at least 150 civilian senior leader positions, the departments current cap on civilian personnel numbers, and the existing pay freeze. Further, as DOD faces fiscal constraints, implements its efficiency initiatives, and prepares for an anticipated drawdown in Afghanistan, the department is faced with the complex task of re-shaping its workforce to meet future needs. This includes assessing the requirements for approximately 2,900 civilian senior leaders who help manage DODs overall civilian workforce of more than 780,000 personnel. In managing these senior leaders, the department must ensure that they are sufficient in number and properly prepared to achieve DODs mission. One particular challenge, noted in DODs 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan, is that more than 60 percent of DODs civilian senior leader workforce will be eligible to retire by 2015.Accordingly, section 115b Title 10 of the United States Code, enacted in October 2009, requires DOD to submit to congressional defense committees, on a recurring basis, a strategic workforce plan to shape and improve its civilian senior leader workforces. While this law does not specify a date for DOD to submit the plan, it does stipulate several requirements for the plan. These include an assessment of (1) the critical skills and competencies of the existing workforce of the department and projected trends in that workforce based on expected losses due to retirement and other attrition, and (2) gaps in the existing or projected workforce of the department that should be addressed to ensure that the department has continued access to the critical skills and competencies it needs. DOD's mandate previously required that the department's assessments cover a 7-year period following the year in which the plan is submitted to Congress. Therefore, DOD's latest civilian senior leader workforce plan covered the period 2010-2018.Following the enactment of this legislation, the Secretary of Defense, in August 2010, announced an efficiency initiative to eliminate unnecessary overhead costs by, among other things, reviewing DODs entire senior leader workforce and reducing the total number of civilian senior leader positions by at least 150. The Secretarys guidance called for these reductions to take place in fiscal years 2011 and 2012. After the Secretarys announcement, DODs Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness created the Civilian Senior Executive Study Group, and directed the group to conduct a DOD-wide survey of the number, placement, skills, and competencies of civilian senior leader positions and to provide recommendations for restructuring civilian senior leader positions to best align with missions and responsibilities. The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness also directed the group to consider how to inform follow-on efforts to further analyze civilian senior leader appointment, management, and renewal policies. The Civilian Senior Executive Study Group, which consisted of Senior Executive Service and General Schedule-15 representatives from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, each of the military departments, the Joint Staff, and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, issued its final report to the Secretary on November 23, 2010. The Secretary of Defense announced his decisions based on recommendations developed as part of the efficiency initiative, including recommendations made in this report on March 14, 2011.Subsequently, on March 27, 2012, DOD issued its 2010-2018 Strategic Workforce Plan, and GAO, as mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, is required to report on that plan within 180 days of its submission to Congress. For this report on DOD's 2010-2018 plan we (1) reviewed DOD's approach for determining its civilian senior leader projections to meet future requirements and (2) evaluated the extent to which DOD's assessment of the critical skills, competencies, and gaps in the existing and future civilian senior leader workforces identified areas that will require increased focus to help the department meet its vital missions.[Read More…]
- Grand Juries Carry on During PandemicBy Sam NewsIn U.S CourtsOctober 27, 2020As the federal courts have gradually resumed operations with new pandemic-era health and safety rules in place, one aspect of the courts’ mission is on a fast track: the resumption of grand jury proceedings.[Read More…]
- Capitol Police: Applying Effective Practices to Address Recommendations Will Improve Oversight and ManagementBy Sam NewsJune 15, 2021What GAO Found The U.S. Capitol Police (Capitol Police) may benefit from applying practices to help implement recommendations from auditing entities, such as those from GAO and the Capitol Police Office of the Inspector General (OIG). These effective practices include the following: Provide management oversight over the prompt remediation of deficiencies and delegate authority. Federal internal control standards state that management should oversee the prompt remediation of deficiencies. This should be done by communicating the corrective actions to the appropriate personnel and delegating authority for completing these actions. Communicate regularly with auditing entities on the status of recommendations. Engagement between Capitol Police and auditing agency leaders could provide important leadership attention to help ensure actions are taken to implement recommendations. Work with Congress to address recommendations. Congress plays a key role in providing oversight and maintaining focus on recommendations from audit entities. For example, federal agencies, including the Capitol Police, are required to report on the implementation status of public recommendations. Further, agencies can also assess the need for legislation to address recommendations and report their findings to Congress. Follow key organizational transformation practices . As the Capitol Police takes steps to implement recommendations from auditing entities, the agency may benefit from following key organizational transformation practices, such as (1) setting implementation goals and a timeline, (2) dedicating an implementation team to manage the transformation process, and (3) involving employees to obtain their ideas and gain their ownership for the transformation. Coordination between the Capitol Police and its Board is critical to addressing its recommendations. The Capitol Police Board (the Board) is charged with oversight of the Capitol Police. Given the oversight role of the Board, the Capitol Police may need approval from the Board in order to take actions to address recommendations from auditing entities. GAO's 2017 work on the Board assessed whether the Board, in fulfilling its role in overseeing the Capitol Police, had developed and implemented policies that incorporate leading practices to facilitate accountability, transparency, and effective external communication. In that effort, GAO examined the Board's main governing document, its Manual of Procedures, and determined that it fully incorporated one leading practice and partially incorporated five others. Specifically, the Board's manual did develop processes for the internal functions of the Board but did not address any Board responsibilities in ensuring that any audit findings and recommendations to the Capitol Police were promptly resolved. By incorporating leading practices into its manual, the Board can ensure it is facilitating accountability, transparency, and effective external communication as it fulfills its oversight role of the Capitol Police. Why GAO Did This Study The attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, highlighted the critical need to identify and address deficiencies in the management and security functions of the Capitol Police. Various auditing entities have work ongoing related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, including GAO and the Capitol Police OIG. It is important that the Capitol Police is well positioned to respond to existing and future recommendations from auditing entities. To do so, Capitol Police will also need to work closely with the Capitol Police Board, which has varied and wide-ranging oversight roles and responsibilities per statute. This statement discusses (1) effective practices for addressing recommendations from auditing agencies and (2) GAO's open recommendation to the Capitol Police Board from February 2017. To identify effective practices for addressing recommendations, GAO reviewed reports and testimonies issued from July 2003 through March 2021 that discussed the implementation of GAO recommendations, federal internal control standards, and organizational transformation. GAO also reviewed its February 2017 report on the Capitol Police Board, and used information gathered from its recommendation follow up efforts with the Capitol Police Board in 2020 and 2021.[Read More…]
- Florida Return Preparers Charged with Defrauding the IRSBy Sam NewsMarch 19, 2021A federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale, Florida returned an indictment on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, charging two tax preparers with conspiring to defraud the United States and preparing false tax returns. The defendants made their initial court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick M. Hunt today.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Files Race Discrimination Lawsuit Against Housing Authority in OklahomaBy Sam NewsDecember 15, 2020The Justice Department announced today that it has filed a lawsuit alleging that the Housing Authority of the Town of Lone Wolf, Oklahoma, along with its former employees, David Haynes and Myrna Hess, violated the Fair Housing Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when they denied housing to an African-American applicant and her young child because of their race.[Read More…]
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- Owner of Texas Chain of Hospice Companies Sentenced for $150 Million Health Care Fraud and Money Laundering SchemeBy Sam NewsDecember 16, 2020A corporate executive has been ordered to serve 20 years in prison after his conviction related to falsely telling thousands of patients with long-term incurable diseases, such as Alzheimers and dementia, they had less than six months to live and subsequently enrolling them in hospice programs.[Read More…]
- FEMA Flood Maps: Better Planning and Analysis Needed to Address Current and Future Flood HazardsBy Sam NewsOctober 25, 2021What GAO Found The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (Risk MAP) program has increased its development of flood maps and other flood risk products, but faces challenges ensuring they comprehensively reflect current and future flood hazards. For example, its flood risk products do not reflect hazards such as heavy rainfall and the best available climate science. These products include maps—known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps—and nonregulatory flood risk products such as estimates of flood damage in an area. FEMA's Risk MAP program is addressing some of these challenges, but many may require years to address. However, Risk MAP has been operating under an out-of-date plan that does not reflect new goals, objectives, activities, performance measures, and associated timeframes. Updating its program plan to include these elements could help FEMA effectively manage and coordinate its efforts to incorporate current and future flood hazards in a timely way. Example of River Flooding FEMA does not periodically assess the usefulness of its nonregulatory flood risk products, which are intended to help communities increase their resilience to floods. According to FEMA, it has invested millions of dollars in developing Risk MAP nonregulatory products; however, the agency has not assessed the usefulness of these products in increasing community resilience since 2016. Establishing mechanisms for periodically assessing the usefulness of its nonregulatory products could help FEMA ensure it is investing in products that address community need and have a meaningful impact on enhancing flood resilience. FEMA prioritizes mapping projects with input from all levels of government and FEMA regional offices, but could better use available data to inform its mapping efforts. FEMA's decision-making process has emphasized directing resources to areas with greatest flood risks. Additionally, in 2020, FEMA established a strategic priority for considering socially-vulnerable populations as part of disaster resilience. According to GAO's statistical analyses of data from the Risk MAP program and FEMA's publicly available disaster risk assessment tools, FEMA's mapping investments for fiscal years 2012 to 2020 were greater where flood risks were higher, but were lower for areas of higher socially-vulnerable populations. By considering ways to leverage available data into its annual process for prioritizing its flood mapping investments, FEMA could enhance its ability to make well-informed decisions that meet agency and federal priorities and disaster resilience goals. Why GAO Did This Study FEMA is responsible for producing and updating Flood Insurance Rate Maps and nonregulatory products to show areas of greatest flood hazards and help guide floodplain management actions under the National Flood Insurance Program. While FEMA has mapped millions of miles of the nation's streams and coastlines, questions have been raised about whether its flood risk products provide a comprehensive picture of flood risk. The Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 required GAO to review issues related to 2018 disasters. As part of this body of work, this report addresses (1) the extent FEMA has developed Flood Insurance Rate Maps and nonregulatory products that reflect current and future flood hazards, (2) the extent FEMA has assessed its efforts to enhance flood resilience, and (3) how FEMA prioritizes its mapping resources to create and update Flood Insurance Rate Maps. GAO reviewed agency documents and strategic plans; analyzed FEMA data; and interviewed FEMA, selected states and localities, and flood mapping experts.[Read More…]
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- Arkansas Project Manager Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud and False Statements in Connection with COVID-Relief FraudBy Sam NewsAugust 6, 2020A project manager employed by a major retailer has pleaded guilty to bank fraud charges for filing fraudulent bank loan applications seeking more than $8 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.[Read More…]
- Wife of “El Chapo” Pleads Guilty to Drug Trafficking and Money LaunderingBy Sam NewsJune 10, 2021The wife of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, leader of the Mexican drug trafficking organization known as the Sinaloa Cartel, pleaded guilty today to charges related to international drug trafficking, money laundering, and a criminal violation of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (the Kingpin Act).[Read More…]
- Puerto Rico: Perspectives on the Potential to Expand Air Cargo OperationsBy Sam NewsOctober 29, 2020Cargo was flown by air between more than 97 countries within the selected regions of Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the U.S. that may affect air cargo expansion in Puerto Rico. However, according to Department of Transportation (DOT) and European Union data, most international air cargo transportation was concentrated at a handful of countries and at airports in these regions. For example, four countries in Europe accounted for 72 percent of the U.S.-European Union air cargo transported, by weight. Likewise for airports, Miami International Airport accounted for 70 percent of air cargo transported between the U.S. and Latin America. Worldwide, cargo-only carriers transported on average 13.8 billion pounds of air cargo to and from the U.S. from 2016 through 2018. Of that cargo, two of the selected regions—Latin America and Europe—when combined accounted for 46 percent. Air Cargo Transported by Cargo-Only Airlines between the U.S. and Global Regions, Average Weight in Millions of Pounds, 2016 through 2018 Based on interviews with industry stakeholders and studies reviewed. GAO identified four factors that are generally associated with an airport's ability to attract air cargo traffic: (1) an airport's geographical location; (2) its proximity to transportation networks; (3) its supporting airport infrastructure and resources; and (4) the governmental and regulatory environments. For example, an airport located near businesses that generate large volumes of both inbound and outbound cargo that could be transported by air may be an important geographic factor for air carriers. Puerto Rican government and industry stakeholders GAO spoke with said that increased air cargo would benefit its airports and lead to positive effects on the Puerto Rican economy. For example, officials noted that expansion of air cargo operations could increase the use of underutilized airports and create opportunities for existing industry—such as the pharmaceutical, medical device, and aerospace industries—and help develop new ones. Puerto Rican and industry stakeholders had varying perspectives on the potential for Puerto Rico's expanding its air cargo operations. For example, some stakeholders said Puerto Rico's geographic location may allow it to serve as a refueling and cargo distribution point, particularly for flights between Europe and Latin America, while others said the island may be too close to some Latin American destinations to serve that purpose. Whether and to what extent Puerto Rico can increase air cargo operations depends on how air carriers weigh the various factors discussed above. Puerto Rico's economy has been in decline for much of the last 15 years and was devastated by hurricanes in 2017. Puerto Rico has sought to increase air cargo and passenger traffic at its international airports as a means to bolster and diversify its economy. Specifically, Puerto Rico seeks to serve as a transshipment point for transferring cargo between air carriers flying from Europe to Latin America. Air cargo, whether carried in the holds of passenger aircraft or by cargo-only aircraft, is an important component of global trade. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 includes a provision for GAO to study the international air cargo transportation services among the United States and the African, Latin American, and European regions and the potential expansion of air cargo operations in Puerto Rico. This report addresses (1) what is known about air cargo operations between these world regions; (2) factors affecting the development of air cargo markets; and (3) Puerto Rican officials' and selected industry stakeholders' views on the economic effect and potential of expanding air cargo operations in Puerto Rico. GAO analyzed DOT and European air cargo data for flights between the U.S. and the selected regions for 2016 through 2018 (the latest available data). GAO also interviewed officials from DOT, and stakeholders from Puerto Rico and the air-cargo industry, selected based on prior GAO work and stakeholder mission. For more information, contact Heather Krause at (202) 512-2834 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Former Owners of Telemarketing Company Agree to Pay At Least $4 Million to Resolve False Claims Act AllegationsBy Sam NewsMarch 16, 2021Two Florida men have agreed collectively to pay at least $4 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by engaging in schemes to generate prescriptions for compounded drugs and refer those prescriptions to pharmacies in exchange for illegal kickbacks. Many of those prescriptions were billed to TRICARE, the federal health care program providing insurance for active duty military personnel, military retirees, and military dependents.[Read More…]
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