January 27, 2022

News

News Network

Norway Travel Advisory

20 min read

Reconsider travel to Norway 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 3 Travel Health Notice for Norway due to COVID-19.

Norway has resumed most transportation options, (including airport operations and re-opening of borders) and business operations (including day cares and schools). Other improved conditions have been reported within Norway. Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Norway.

Read the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Norway:

Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.

News Network

  • Human Capital: Complete Information and More Analyses Needed to Enhance DOD’s Civilian Senior Leader Strategic Workforce Plan
    In U.S GAO News
    What 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 DOD’s plans to reduce at least 150 civilian senior leader positions, the department’s 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 DOD’s 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 DOD’s mission. One particular challenge, noted in DOD’s 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan, is that more than 60 percent of DOD’s 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 DOD’s entire senior leader workforce and reducing the total number of civilian senior leader positions by at least 150. The Secretary’s guidance called for these reductions to take place in fiscal years 2011 and 2012. After the Secretary’s announcement, DOD’s 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…]
  • Medicare and Medicaid: COVID-19 Program Flexibilities and Considerations for Their Continuation
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for overseeing Medicare and Medicaid, made widespread use of program waivers and other flexibilities to expand beneficiary access to care. Some preliminary information is available on the effects of these waivers. Specifically: Medicare. CMS issued over 200 waivers and cited some of their benefits in a January 2021 report. For example, CMS reported that: Expansion of hospital capacity. More than 100 new facilities were added through the waivers that permitted hospitals to provide care in non-hospital settings, including beneficiaries' homes. Workforce expansion. Waivers and other flexibilities that relaxed certain provider enrollment requirements and allowed certain nonphysicians, such as nurse practitioners, to provide additional services expanded the provider workforce. Telehealth waivers. Utilization of telehealth services—certain services that are normally provided in-person but can also be provided using audio and audio-video technology—increased sharply. For example, utilization increased from a weekly average of about 325,000 services in mid-March to peak at about 1.9 million in mid-April 2020. Medicaid. CMS approved more than 600 waivers or other flexibilities aimed at addressing obstacles to beneficiary care, provider availability, and program enrollment. GAO has reported certain flexibilities such as telehealth as critical in reducing obstacles to care. Examples of other flexibilities included: Forty-three states suspended fee-for-service prior authorizations, which help ensure compliance with coverage and payment rules before beneficiaries can obtain certain services. Fifty states and the District of Columbia waived certain provider screening and enrollment requirements, such as criminal background checks. While likely benefitting beneficiaries and providers, these program flexibilities also increase certain risks to the Medicare and Medicaid programs and raise considerations for their continuation beyond the pandemic. For example: Increased spending. Telehealth waivers can increase spending in both programs, if telehealth services are furnished in addition to in-person services. Program integrity. The suspension of some program safeguards has increased the risks of fraud, waste, and abuse that GAO previously noted in its High-Risk report series. Beneficiary health and safety. Although telehealth has enabled the safe provision of services, the quality of telehealth services has not been fully analyzed. Why GAO Did This Study Medicare and Medicaid—two federally financed health insurance programs—spent over $1.5 trillion on health care services provided to about 140 million beneficiaries in 2020. Recognizing the critical role of these programs in providing health care services to millions of Americans, the federal government has provided for increased funding and program flexibilities, including waivers of certain federal requirements, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to conduct monitoring and oversight of the federal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, GAO has issued a series of government-wide reports from June 2020 through March 2021. GAO is continuing to monitor and report on these services. This testimony summarizes GAO's findings from these reports related to Medicare and Medicaid flexibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as preliminary observations from ongoing work related to telehealth waivers in both programs. Specifically, the statement focuses on what is known about the effects of these waivers and flexibilities on Medicare and Medicaid, and considerations regarding their ongoing use. To conduct this work, GAO reviewed federal laws, CMS documents and guidance, and interviewed federal and state officials. GAO also interviewed six provider and beneficiary groups, selected based on their experience with telehealth services. GAO obtained technical comments from CMS and incorporated them as appropriate. For more information, contact Jessica Farb at (202) 512-7114 or farbj@gao.gov or Carolyn L. Yocom at (202) 512-7114 or yocomc@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Introductory Remarks of Deputy Attorney General at Announcement of Civil Antitrust Lawsuit Filed Against Google
    In Crime News
    This morning, the Department of Justice and eleven states filed an antitrust civil lawsuit against Google, for unlawfully maintaining a monopoly in general search services and search advertising in violation of section two of the Sherman Act.
    [Read More…]
  • Credit Suisse Resolves Fraudulent Mozambique Loan Case in $547 Million Coordinated Global Resolution
    In Crime News
    Credit Suisse Group AG, a global financial institution headquartered in Switzerland, and Credit Suisse Securities (Europe) Limited (CSSEL), its subsidiary in the United Kingdom (together, Credit Suisse), have admitted to defrauding U.S. and international investors in the financing of an $850 million loan for a tuna fishing project in Mozambique, and have been assessed more than $547 million in penalties, fines, and disgorgement as part of coordinated resolutions with criminal and civil authorities in the United States and the United Kingdom. After taking account of crediting by the department of the other resolutions, Credit Suisse will pay approximately $475 million to authorities in the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as restitution to victims in an amount to be determined by the court.
    [Read More…]
  • The United States Strengthens Collaboration with the International Monetary Fund for Macroeconomic Management in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Mongolia
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Status of UN Arms Embargo on Iran
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • New U.S. Embassy in Pristina, Kosovo, Wins Engineering Excellence Grand Award from American Council of Engineering Companies
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Former Air Force Contractor Pleads Guilty to Illegally Taking 2,500 Pages of Classified Information
    In Crime News
    A former contractor with the U.S. Air Force pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio today to illegally taking approximately 2,500 pages of classified documents.
    [Read More…]
  • NASA-Developed Ventilator Authorized by FDA for Emergency Use
    In Space
    The agency’s Jet [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks at the Virtual Kenya-U.S. Interagency Clean Energy Event
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Company and its Owners Plead Guilty to Violating Environmental and Worker Safety Laws Related to Workers’ 2015 Deaths
    In Crime News
    Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services LLC (NRCS), its president and owner, Steven Michael Braithwaite, and its vice president and co-owner, Adam Thomas Braithwaite, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Omaha to charges stemming from an investigation into a 2015 fatal railcar explosion that killed two workers. The charges include conspiracy, violating worker safety standards resulting in worker deaths, violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and submitting false documents to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
    [Read More…]
  • Philippines National Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Judiciary Supplements Judgeship Request, Prioritizes Courthouse Projects
    In U.S Courts
    The Judiciary’s policy-making body today recommended that Congress create new judgeships because of a rapid and substantial rise in felony prosecutions in two districts.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • United States Files Civil Forfeiture Complaint for Proceeds of Alleged Fraud and Theft from PrivatBank in Ukraine
    In Crime News
    The United States filed a civil forfeiture complaint today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleging that more than $6 million in proceeds from the sale of commercial real estate in Dallas, Texas, which property was maintained and improved using the proceeds of embezzlement and fraud from PrivatBank in Ukraine, are subject to forfeiture based on violations of federal money laundering statutes.
    [Read More…]
  • NASA Maps Beirut Blast Damage
    In Space
    Scientists are using [Read More…]
  • June 23, 2021, letter commenting on AICPA’s Professional Ethics Executive Committee’s Proposed Interpretations and Definition of the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct, Responding to Non-Compliance with Laws and Regulations
    In U.S GAO News
    This letter provides GAO's comments on the proposed interpretation and definition entitled Responding to Non-Compliance with Laws and Regulations, which the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) prepared. GAO provides standards for performing high-quality audits of government organizations, programs, activities, and functions and of government assistance received by contractors, nonprofit organizations, and other nongovernment organizations with competence, integrity, objectivity, and independence.1 These standards, often referred to as generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS), are to be followed by auditors and audit organizations when required by law, regulation, agreement, contract, or policy. For financial audits, GAGAS incorporates by reference the AICPA's Statements on Auditing Standards. For attestation engagements, GAGAS incorporates by reference the AICPA's Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements.
    [Read More…]
  • Military Airlift: DOD Should Take Steps to Strengthen Management of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet Program
    In U.S GAO News
    To move passengers and cargo, the Department of Defense (DOD) must supplement its military aircraft with cargo and passenger aircraft from commercial carriers participating in the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) program. Carriers participating in CRAF commit their aircraft to DOD to support a range of military operations. In the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress required DOD to sponsor an assessment of CRAF and required GAO to review that assessment. GAO briefed congressional staff on its observations. As discussed with the staff, GAO further analyzed some of the issues identified in its review. This report assesses (1) the extent to which DOD has assessed potential risks to the CRAF program, and (2) the extent to which DOD's management of CRAF supports program objectives. For this engagement, GAO reviewed DOD-sponsored CRAF study reports and interviewed study leadership. GAO also interviewed over 20 of 35 CRAF participating carriers that responded to a request for a meeting, DOD officials, and industry officials.DOD needs to establish the level of risk associated with declining charter passenger capabilities and DOD's increased need to move very large cargo. Although DOD depends on CRAF charter passenger aircraft to move more than 90 percent of its peacetime needs, there has been nearly a 55 percent decline in this CRAF capacity since 2003. In addition, since 2003, DOD's large cargo movement needs have increased with the acquisition of over 15,000 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. Since there are no U.S. commercial cargo aircraft capable of moving cargo this size into Iraq and Afghanistan, DOD is using foreign-owned carriers to assist its military aircraft in such movements. However, there are scenarios where foreign-owned carriers may be unwilling or not allowed to fly. As a result, the lack of a commercial U.S. outsized cargo capability might restrict DOD's ability to meet its large cargo airlift needs in a timely manner. DOD has not quantified the risks these challenges pose to the CRAF program's ability to meet DOD's future transportation requirements because DOD has not completed risk assessments as described in the 2008 National Defense Strategy. Until risk assessments are conducted, DOD will not be sufficiently informed about potential risks in the CRAF charter passenger segment and in very large cargo airlift capability that could prevent DOD from managing its future airlift needs and the CRAF program effectively. DOD's management of CRAF has not provided CRAF participants with a clear understanding, which could strengthen the program's ability to support its objectives, in some critical areas of the program. Although internal controls such as policies can help meet program objectives, CRAF business partners do not have a clear understanding of DOD's expectations concerning four CRAF objectives--an enhanced mobilization base, modernization, increased air carrier participation, and communication--because DOD has not developed policies in these four areas. First, DOD has not developed policies regarding the enforcement of its business rules, such as the 60/40 rule that states that participants should fly only 40 percent of their total business for DOD. DOD does not consistently enforce this rule and this may decrease the mobilization base since it is difficult for carriers to size their fleets to meet DOD demands. Second, DOD has not developed policies or economic incentives that promote CRAF modernization and this may hinder CRAF carriers from modernizing their aircraft. Third, DOD has not developed policies regarding oversight of the distribution of its peacetime airlift business, the primary incentive to carriers for participating in CRAF. DOD has no involvement in this distribution, and the perceptions of some carriers that this process is unfair could ultimately reduce carrier participation in CRAF. Fourth, DOD has not developed policy concerning communication with the carriers on CRAF studies or proposed changes to the CRAF program. DOD has not always communicated with carriers prior to implementing changes or completing studies. Until DOD develops policies that provide carriers with a clear understanding of CRAF, DOD cannot provide reasonable assurance that CRAF will meet its primary objective of providing critical airlift.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department and FTC File Suit to Stop Deceptive Marketing of Nasal Spray Product Advertised as Purported COVID-19 Treatment
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice, together with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Thursday announced a civil enforcement action against defendants Xlear Inc. and Nathan Jones for alleged violations of the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act and the FTC Act.
    [Read More…]
  • Department Press Briefing – January 24, 2022
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
Network News © 2005 Area.Control.Network™ All rights reserved.