January 29, 2022

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Taiwan Travel Advisory

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Exercise normal precautions in Taiwan.

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel. 

  Taiwan is no longer impacted by restrictions due to COVID-19.  Visit the American Institute’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Taiwan.

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  • Military Training: Observations on the Army’s Implementation of a Metric for Measuring Ground Force Training
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO FoundThe full spectrum training mile metric is similar in some ways to the tank mile metric and dissimilar in other ways. Both metrics measure training activity of nondeployed units associated with recommended training events based on the Army's approved training strategy. Specifically, they both calculate the average number of miles a unit is expected to drive its vehicles on an annual basis for training that occurs during the reset and train/ready stages of the Army’s Force Generation (ARFORGEN) cycle.However, the full spectrum training mile metric applies to all Army components (active component, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard) while the tank mile metric does not apply to the Army Reserve, because the Army Reserve does not have tanks. The full spectrum training mile metric also is based on multiple vehicles including the M1 Abrams tank, M2/M3 Bradley, Stryker, up-armored high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle, medium tactical vehicle, and palletized load system, while the tank mile metric is limited to the M1 Abrams tank. According to Army officials, the full spectrum training mile metric—and its incorporation of a wider array of vehicles—is more reflective of the type of vehicles the Army is actually using to train its ground forces for full spectrum operations.The Army’s full spectrum training mile metric is based on certain assumptions associated with standards set in the Army’s training strategy and force-generation model. Because the metric is a standard for actual training to be measured against, the metric’s assumptions are based on desired or expected conditions and may not fully align with actual conditions. For example, the Army made certain assumptions about the length of time units would spend in each stage of the ARFORGEN cycle, assumed that units would have all the vehicles that were included in their modified table of organization and equipment, and assumed units would accomplish all the training in the Army’s training strategy. However, prior GAO reports and Army readiness reports have both shown that units do not always have all the equipment, including vehicles included in their modified table of organization and equipment, available when they are conducting training. Army officials have also acknowledged that many units are not currently executing the ARFORGEN training cycle and the Army’s training strategy as envisioned. To the extent that units do not have all of their equipment, including vehicles, or complete all recommended training, the units’ actual miles driven may differ from the Army’s full spectrum training mile metric. According to a responsible Army official, the Army tracks historical data on actual miles driven and has, in the past, adjusted assumptions used to develop its tank mile metric to more closely reflect actual conditions. The Army plans to continue this practice now with the new metric in place. For example, when conducting its 2010 training strategy review, the Army reduced its estimated miles per training day and event to more closely reflect actual miles driven.The Army uses the full spectrum training mile metric to measure training activity. Specifically, the Army compares the actual miles its units have driven to conduct ground force training to its full spectrum training mile metric to determine how well it executed its training strategy. However, the Army does not use the full spectrum training mile metric to develop its training cost estimates or related funding needs. The Army uses its Training Resource Model, rather than its full spectrum training mile metric, to develop its training cost estimates and funding needs. While some of the inputs to the full spectrum training mile metric and the Training Resource Model are the same (i.e., the number and duration of training events and the numbers of units and vehicles available for training) the Training Resource Model contains unique inputs, such as cost factors that are not related to the full spectrum training mile metric. Specifically, the cost calculation in the Training Resource Model includes the cost to drive a vehicle, expressed as cost per mile, that are linked to the number of units and vehicles, as well as other indirect nonmileage support costs, such as civilian pay. The Training Resource Model, like the full spectrum training mile metric, assumes, among other things, that all recommended training events will be fully executed. To the extent that all training does not occur or other assumptions do not hold true, requirements could differ from estimates derived from the Training Resource Model. According to an Army official, the Training Resource Model is one of several sources of information the Army considers when developing its funding requests for training. For example, the official stated the Army uses historical data on actual miles driven to adjust its funding requests to more closely reflect actual conditions.Why GAO Did This StudyIn 2008, the Army issued a field manual that identified the need to expand its training focus so units would be trained and ready to operate across a full spectrum of operations including offensive, defensive, stability, and civil support operations. To support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, for the last several years, the Army has focused its ground force training on preparing units for counterinsurgency operations. With the withdrawal from operations in Iraq, fewer units are engaged in counterinsurgency operations and now have more time to train for full spectrum operations.To reflect the shift in training focus, the Army, in April 2011, updated its training strategy and also established a new metric to measure training activity—referred to as the full spectrum training mile metric. This metric replaced the Army’s traditional tank mile metric, which represented the average number of miles the Army expected to drive its tanks while conducting training. In its fiscal year 2012 budget materials, the Army provided background information on its transition to the new metric, and, starting in fiscal year 2012, began using the new metric.House report 112-78 directed GAO to review the Army’s transition to the full spectrum training mile metric and report its findings by February 28, 2012. To address this mandate, we determined (1) how the Army's full spectrum training mile metric differs from its traditional tank mile metric; (2) the key assumptions associated with the full spectrum training mile metric and to what extent these assumptions reflect actual conditions; and (3) to what extent the Army uses the full spectrum training mile metric to measure training execution and develop training cost estimates and related funding needs. Additionally, for background purposes, this report includes information on how training is reflected in the Army’s operation and maintenance budget-justification materials.For more information, contact Sharon L. Pickup at 202-512-9619 or pickups@gao.gov.
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  • Justice Department Files Statement of Interest Urging Transparency in the Compensation of Asbestos Claims
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice today filed a Statement of Interest in In re Bestwall LLC in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina. In this bankruptcy case, the debtor Bestwall LLC seeks to establish a trust to resolve its asbestos liabilities pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 524(g), a provision in the Bankruptcy Code that provides the framework for responding to the unique issues associated with asbestos liability.
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  • Imposing Sanctions on Iranian Entities for Activities Related to Conventional Arms Proliferation
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  • U.S. Law Enforcement Targets Fraud Facilitators, Doubling Last Year’s Enforcement
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice, FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and five other federal law enforcement agencies announced the completion of the fourth annual Money Mule Initiative, which targeted networks of individuals through which international fraudsters obtain proceeds of fraud schemes. These individuals, sometimes referred to as money mules, receive money from fraud victims and forward the illicit funds, often to overseas perpetrators. 
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Youth Moderated Discussion on Democracy and Human Rights
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • GAO Audits Involving DOD: Status of Efforts to Schedule and Hold Timely Entrance Conferences
    In U.S GAO News
    GAO began 42 new audits that involved the Department of Defense (DOD) in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020. Of the 42 requested entrance conferences (i.e., initial meetings between agency officials and GAO staff) for those audits, DOD scheduled 41 within 14 days of notification and held all 42 entrance conferences within 30 days of notification. Scheduling was delayed for one entrance conference, which was scheduled 21 days after notification, because DOD and GAO were working to reach agreement on the primary action officer, which is the appropriate office or component within the department that coordinates DOD's response to the audit. The entrance conference was held 8 days after it was scheduled. Entrance conferences allow GAO to communicate its audit objectives and enable agencies to assign key personnel to support the audit work. GAO's agency protocols govern GAO's relationships with audited agencies. These protocols assist GAO in scheduling entrance conferences with key agency officials within 14 days of receiving notice of a new audit. The ability of the Congress to conduct effective oversight of federal agencies is enhanced through the timely completion of GAO audits. In past years, DOD experienced difficulty meeting the protocol target for the timely facilitation of entrance conferences. In Senate Report 116-48 accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, the Senate Armed Services Committee included a provision for GAO to review DOD's scheduling and holding of entrance conferences. In this report, GAO's agency protocols govern GAO's relationships with audited agencies. These protocols assist GAO in scheduling entrance conferences with key agency officials within 14 days of receiving notice of a new audit. The ability of the Congress to conduct effective oversight of federal agencies is enhanced through the timely completion of GAO audits. In past years, DOD experienced difficulty meeting the protocol target for the timely facilitation of entrance conferences. In Senate Report 116-48 accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, the Senate Armed Services Committee included a provision for GAO to review DOD's scheduling and holding of entrance conferences. In this report, GAO evaluates the extent to which DOD scheduled entrance conferences within 14 days of receiving notice of a new audit, consistent with GAO's agency protocols, and held those conferences within 30 days. This is the third of four quarterly reports that GAO will produce on this topic for fiscal year 2020. In the first two quarterly reports, GAO found that DOD had improved its ability to meet the protocol target. GAO analyzed data on GAO audits involving DOD and initiated in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020 (April 1, 2020, through June 30, 2020). Specifically, GAO identified the number of notification letters requesting entrance conferences that were sent to DOD during that time period. GAO determined the number of days between when DOD received the notification letter for each new audit and when DOD scheduled the entrance conference and assessed whether DOD scheduled entrance conferences within 14 days of notification, which is the time frame identified in GAO's agency protocols. GAO also determined the date that each requested entrance conference was held by collecting this information from the relevant GAO team for each audit and assessed whether DOD held entrance conferences for new audits within 30 days of notification, which was the time frame identified in the mandate for this review For more information, contact Elizabeth Field at (202) 512-2775 or Fielde1@gao.gov.
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  • Government Contractor Indicted for Bribing Public Official
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia returned an indictment charging a North Carolina man with engaging in a bribery and fraud scheme with a former contracting officer for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) (now known as the U.S. Agency for Global Media).
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  • Justice Department Awards More Than $17.5 Million to Support Project Safe Neighborhoods
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it has awarded more than $17.5 million in grants to support the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program. Funding will support efforts across the country to address violent crime, including the gun violence that is often at its core.
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  • Federal Research Grants: OMB Should Take Steps to Establish the Research Policy Board
    In U.S GAO News
    As of January 2021, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had not established the Research Policy Board as required by the 21st Century Cures Act. The act requires OMB to establish the Board within 1 year of the December 13, 2016 enactment of the act. The Board is to provide information on the effects of regulations related to federal research requirements. OMB stated that it had not established the Board because of issues with the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) and other federal agencies’ full participation in the Board’s potential activities to develop or implement a modified approach to indirect cost policies. According to OMB, “the Board would necessarily delve into issues related to compliance burden and indirect cost reimbursement to entities that receive federal funding for research.” Specifically, OMB pointed to a statutory provision appearing in annual appropriations bills that it believes prohibits HHS and other agencies from taking action on issues that could implicate certain indirect cost provisions. According to OMB, this provision could, if continued in future bills, “complicate or even possibly prohibit HHS from participating in major elements of the Board’s process.” OMB stated that, without representation of a major research agency such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is part of HHS, “OMB would not be equipped to meet the statutory goals of the Board.” However, HHS stated in October 2020 that the indirect cost provision would not prohibit NIH’s participation on the Board and that the department was not aware of any other appropriations law provision that would prohibit such participation. GAO has no basis to disagree with HHS’s position. The 21st Century Cures Act does not specifically direct the Board to examine issues related to indirect costs, and we identified other issues that may fall within the scope of the Board’s activities. For example, the act specifies five activities that the Board may conduct, including creating a forum for the discussion of research policy or regulatory gaps, and identifying regulatory process improvements and policy changes. The Board could consider examining these or other issues related to streamlining and harmonizing regulations and reducing administrative burden in federally funded research in accordance with the 21st Century Cures Act. By not having established the Board, OMB is missing opportunities for the Board to provide information on the effects of regulations related to requirements for federally funded research, and to make recommendations to harmonize and streamline such requirements. Further, OMB has limited time to establish the Board and the Board may have insufficient time to complete its work before the Board is set to terminate on September 30, 2021. The 21st Century Cures Act requires OMB to establish an advisory committee, to be known as the Research Policy Board, that is responsible for making recommendations on modifying and harmonizing regulation of federally funded research to reduce administrative burden. The Board is to consist of both federal and non-federal members and include not more than 10 members from federal agencies, including officials from OMB, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), HHS, the National Science Foundation, and other departments and agencies that support or regulate scientific research, as determined by the OMB Director. The 21st Century Cures Act includes a provision for GAO to conduct an independent evaluation of the Board’s activities. This report examines the steps OMB has taken to establish the Board as required by the 21st Century Cures Act. GAO reviewed written responses and other information from OMB, HHS, and OSTP; the 21st Century Cures Act and other laws related to the Board and its establishment; relevant reports on issues related to administrative burden; and related documents such as memoranda and agency guidance. GAO submitted a draft report containing the results of its evaluation to Congress on December 10, 2020. Congress should consider extending the period of authorization for the Research Policy Board, giving OMB additional time to establish the Research Policy Board and complete its statutory mission under the 21st Century Cures Act. GAO recommends that OMB establish the Research Policy Board as mandated by the 21st Century Cures Act and report to Congress on the Board’s activities. OMB did not agree or disagree with this recommendation. We maintain that the evidence in this report shows the need for our recommendation. For more information, contact John Neumann at (202) 512-6888 or neumannj@gao.gov.
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  • Highway Bridges: Federal Highway Administration Could Better Assist States with Information on Corrosion Practices
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found According to the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) database of information on bridges' condition, the percentage of deck area, a measure that accounts for the size of a bridge, for National Highway System (NHS) bridges in poor condition has decreased since 2012. However, since 2016, the percentage of deck area for NHS bridges in good condition has also decreased, while the percentage of deck area for bridges in fair condition has increased. Although these data do not indicate the extent to which corrosion affects bridges' condition, studies GAO reviewed and stakeholders GAO spoke with—including FHWA, five selected states, and six associations—indicate a significant relationship between corrosion and bridge condition. (See figure.) Examples of Bridge Corrosion State practices to prevent and manage corrosion vary based on environmental factors and bridge condition. For example, states exposed to sea water and deicing chemicals may clean bridges to remove materials that could accelerate corrosion. Four of the five selected states prioritized rehabilitating and replacing poor condition bridges, while the fifth state said it took steps to address corrosion to preserve and maintain bridges in good and fair condition. States are transitioning to asset management practices that emphasize bridge preservation strategies. However, officials from the selected states said limited information about specific corrosion practices' effectiveness is a challenge to implementing asset management practices. For example, officials from some selected states said they use sealant on bridge decks to prevent corrosion while officials from another said they do not because they do not know how effective it is. FHWA, within the Department of Transportation, helps states address corrosion through research and technical assistance. However, FHWA efforts have generally focused on overall bridge condition and may not meet states' needs to determine the circumstances in which to use specific practices. For example, FHWA's Bridge Preservation Guide identifies practices that can be part of a bridge preservation approach but does not indicate under what circumstances they are most effective. Although FHWA does not endorse specific practices, officials recognize their role in helping states make well-informed decisions regarding bridge corrosion. As states continue transitioning to an asset management approach, providing information about the circumstances under which different corrosion practices are most effective could help states make best use of their resources. Why GAO Did This Study In 2021, U.S. bridges, including those on the NHS, were estimated to need billions of dollars in repairs, including efforts to mitigate the effects of corrosion. House Report 116-106 included a provision for GAO to review the status of states' bridge corrosion-control planning. This report examines: (1) trends in the condition of bridges on the NHS and what is known about how corrosion affects bridge condition, (2) practices states use to address corrosion on NHS bridges and how selected states prioritize efforts to address corrosion, and (3) how FHWA assists states in addressing bridge corrosion. GAO reviewed applicable statutes, regulations, guidance, and studies related to corrosion prevention and management, and analyzed data on NHS bridges. GAO selected five states—Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Rhode Island, and Wyoming—based on factors, such as the percentage of bridge deck area in good and poor condition and geographic diversity. Finally, GAO interviewed FHWA, state transportation, and various association officials and assessed FHWA's actions against internal controls for using quality information.
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  • Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla
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  • Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke Gives Remarks at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Legislative Summit
    In Crime News
    Good afternoon. Thank you so much, Ben Williams, for that kind introduction. I just want to take a brief moment before I start to thank NCSL for their efforts in putting together this important conference. It’s great to be here.
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  • Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations: DOD Needs to Take Action to Help Ensure Superiority
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The electromagnetic spectrum (the spectrum) consists of frequencies worldwide that support many civilian and military uses, from mobile phone networks and radios to navigation and weapons. This invisible battlespace is essential to Department of Defense (DOD) operations in all domains—air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace. The interruption of U.S. forces' access to the spectrum can result in a military disadvantage, preventing U.S. forces from operating as planned and desired. According to the studies by DOD and others that GAO reviewed for its December 2020 report on military operations in the spectrum, adversaries, such as China and Russia, are also aware of the importance of the spectrum and have taken significant steps to improve their own capabilities that challenge DOD and its operations. For example, studies described how China has formed new military units and fielded new unmanned aerial vehicles with spectrum warfare capabilities, and Russian electromagnetic warfare forces have demonstrated their effectiveness through successful real-world applications against U.S. and foreign militaries. These developments are particularly concerning in the context of challenges to DOD's spectrum superiority. GAO's analysis of the studies highlighted DOD management challenges such as dispersed governance, limited full-time senior-level leadership, outdated capabilities, a lengthy acquisition process, increased spectrum competition and congestion, and a gap in experienced staff and realistic training. GAO found that DOD had issued strategies in 2013 and 2017 to address spectrum-related challenges, but did not fully implement either strategy because DOD did not assign senior leaders with appropriate authorities and resources or establish oversight processes for implementation. DOD published a new strategy in October 2020, but GAO found in December 2020 the department risks not achieving the new strategy's goals because it had not taken key actions—such as identifying processes and procedures to integrate spectrum operations across the department, reforming governance structures, and clearly assigning leadership for strategy implementation. Also, it had not developed oversight processes, such as an implementation plan, that would help ensure accountability and implementation of the 2020 strategy goals (see figure). Actions to Ensure DOD Superiority in the Electromagnetic Spectrum Why GAO Did This Study The spectrum is essential for facilitating control in operational environments and affects operations in the air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace domains. Spectrum use is pervasive across warfighting domains and thus maintaining or achieving spectrum superiority against an adversary is critical to battlefield success. This statement summarizes: (1) the importance of the spectrum; (2) challenges to DOD's superiority in the spectrum; and (3) the extent to which DOD has implemented spectrum-related strategies and is positioned to achieve future goals. This statement is based on GAO's December 2020 report (GAO-21-64) and updates conducted in March 2021. For the report, GAO analyzed 43 studies identified through a literature review, reviewed DOD documentation, and interviewed DOD officials and subject matter experts. For the updates, GAO reviewed materials that DOD provided in March 2021.
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  • Federal Court Permanently Shuts Down Mississippi Tax Preparer
    In Crime News
    A federal court in the Northern District of Mississippi has permanently enjoined a Senatobia, Mississippi, tax return preparer from preparing returns for others and from owning, operating, or franchising any tax return preparation business in the future.
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  • Owner of a Tanker Truck Repair Company Pleads Guilty to Lying to OSHA During Explosion Investigation
    In Crime News
    An Idaho man pleaded guilty today to lying to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and to making an illegal repair to a cargo tanker in violation of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.
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