Ned Price, Department Spokesperson
The United States strongly condemns the violent crackdown by security forces against peaceful protesters on November 17, which resulted in at least 15 deaths and scores of injuries. We express our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. This follows several other instances of violence against peaceful protesters since the military seized power on October 25. We call for those responsible for human rights abuses and violations, including the excessive use of force against peaceful protesters, to be held accountable.
In advance of upcoming protests, we call on Sudanese authorities to use restraint and allow peaceful demonstrations. The Sudanese people have the right to peacefully assemble and should be free to voice their opinions without fear of violence, reprisal, or recrimination.
We stand with the people of Sudan as they seek to bring the country’s democratic transition back on track. We once again call for the immediate restoration of Sudan’s civilian transition to democracy, including the return of Prime Minister Hamdok to office, and the release of those detained since October 25.
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- Missile Defense: Recent Acquisition Policy Changes Balance Risk and Flexibility, but Actions Needed to Refine Requirements ProcessBy Sam NewsNovember 10, 2021What GAO Found In 2002, the Department of Defense (DOD) provided the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) with flexibilities to diverge from traditional requirements-setting and acquisition processes and instead implement a unique approach to managing its acquisitions. After completing studies in 2019, DOD revised those flexibilities in 2020 by making significant changes to MDA's requirements-setting and acquisition processes (see figure). Most notably, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, rather than the MDA Director, now determines whether major MDA programs may progress through the development phases. 2020 Department of Defense Changes to Missile Defense Acquisition Process Most of the changes are consistent with GAO's identified acquisition best practices and align with changes GAO previously recommended. For example, MDA must now obtain independent cost estimates and Under Secretary of Defense approval of its acquisition strategies. The warfighter (military planners and weapon system operators) also now has greater requirements-setting responsibility. GAO previously recommended these actions to improve the likelihood of MDA delivering effective capabilities to the warfighter as promised. However, DOD did not establish processes and products that would fully align missile defense capabilities in early development with operational-level warfighter requirements. Instead, DOD continues to rely on MDA to identify its own operational-level requirements, which could result in MDA later having to make costly, time-consuming design changes to meet warfighter needs. GAO also found that DOD generally met the statutory requirements Congress established for changing missile defense non-standard acquisition processes and responsibilities by: (a) consulting with required DOD officials; (b) certifying this consultation occurred; (c) reporting the changes to Congress; and (d) generally waiting the required 120 days before implementing the changes. U.S. Strategic Command determined that it did not need to take these same actions on changes it made to requirements-setting processes. GAO also found that DOD generally met a statutory requirement to obtain an independent study on MDA's acquisition process and organizational placement within DOD. As required, DOD updated congressional defense committees on the scope of the study report and provided the report to congressional committees. However, DOD exceeded the statutorily mandated reporting deadline by 13 days. Why GAO Did This Study Since MDA was established in 2002, DOD has invested over $174 billion developing and fielding missile defense capabilities. MDA has used its acquisition flexibilities to quickly develop and field capabilities, but has also had setbacks. In 2020, DOD determined that modifications to MDA's acquisition flexibilities were needed to better balance risk. Congress recently prohibited DOD from changing certain missile defense acquisition processes and responsibilities unless certain requirements were met. Congress also required DOD to enter into a contract for an independent study of MDA's acquisition process and organizational placement within DOD. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 included a provision for GAO to assess whether DOD complied with these requirements. This report assesses the effects of recent changes DOD made to missile defense non-standard acquisition processes and responsibilities and whether, in doing so, it met the statutory requirements. GAO reviewed DOD documents and policies issued in 2020 and interviewed DOD officials.[Read More…]
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- GAO: A Century of Strategic Evolution to Meet Congressional NeedsBy Sam NewsOctober 21, 2021GAO’s Evolution of Expertise and Services Over the last century, GAO has strategically adapted its services and products—all with an eye towards informing congressional decision-making and improving government operations through nonpartisan and fact-based work. GAO continues to evolve to meet the needs of Congress. From establishing a team to serve as the lead for its science and technology work, to growing its cybersecurity expertise, to developing quick-read products, GAO strives to anticipate or respond to changing congressional needs and emerging issues. For example, one of GAO’s newest products, the “Science and Technology Spotlight,” explains emerging science and technology with its associated opportunities and challenges, and relevant policy considerations. GAO’s unique mission and structure, diverse and talented workforce, and external network makes it well-positioned to continue to support Congress into the future. The agency’s highly-skilled workforce and well-developed professional network that spans the globe enable GAO to anticipate emerging issues, challenges, and opportunities and craft strategic plans for serving the Congress and the country. GAO’s History and Impact The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 established GAO as an independent agency to investigate how federal dollars are spent. Early in GAO’s history, it conducted reviews of federal payments and focused on conducting financial reviews. By the 1970s, the size, scope, and complexity of the federal government had expanded, and congressional interest in whether government programs were meeting their objectives was growing. Consequently, GAO shifted its efforts to evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of federal programs. In 2004, GAO changed its name from the General Accounting Office to the Government Accountability Office to better reflect this expanded role. Today, GAO’s work spans all federal programs and spending—from agriculture to space programs, banking regulation to public health, and cybersecurity to international aid. We also do financial audits of the US government and assessments of its fiscal outlook. The impact of this work is significant: since 2005, GAO’s findings and recommendations have resulted in $1 trillion in financial benefits and more than 21,000 operational benefits for the U.S. government. Over the past 5 years, GAO’s average return on investment is $165 for every $1 invested in GAO. In this testimony, GAO describes the wide range of services it provides to Congress, how these services have evolved to meet congressional needs, and how it is positioned to meet future needs and challenges. For more information, contact A. Nicole Clowers at (202) 512-4400 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
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- Military Readiness: Impact of Current Operations and Actions Needed to Rebuild Readiness of U.S. Ground ForcesBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021U.S. military forces, and ground forces in particular, have operated at a high pace since the attacks of September 11, 2001, including to support ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Between 2001 and July 2007, approximately 931,000 U.S. Army and Marine Corps servicemembers deployed for overseas military operations, including about 312,000 National Guard or Reserve members. To support ongoing military operations and related activities, Congress has appropriated billions of dollars since 2001, and through September 2007, the Department of Defense (DOD) has reported obligating about $492.2 billion to cover these expenses, of which a large portion are related to readiness. In addition, DOD's annual appropriation, now totaling about $480 billion for fiscal year 2008, includes funds to cover readiness needs. GAO was asked to testify on (1) the readiness implications of DOD's efforts to support ongoing operations; and (2) GAO's prior recommendations related to these issues, including specific actions that GAO believes would enhance DOD's ability to manage and improve readiness. This statement is based on reports and testimonies published from fiscal years 2003 through 2008. GAO's work was conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.While DOD has overcome difficult challenges in maintaining a high pace of operations over the past 6 years and U.S. forces have gained considerable combat experience, our work has shown that extended operations in Iraq and elsewhere have had significant consequences for military readiness, particularly with regard to the Army and Marine Corps. To meet mission requirements specific to Iraq and Afghanistan, the department has taken steps to increase the availability of personnel and equipment for deploying units, and to refocus their training on assigned missions. For example, to maintain force levels in theater, DOD has increased the length of deployments and frequency of mobilizations, but it is unclear whether these adjustments will affect recruiting and retention. The Army and Marine Corps have also transferred equipment from nondeploying units and prepositioned stocks to support deploying units, affecting the availability of items for nondeployed units to meet other demands. In addition, they have refocused training such that units train extensively for counterinsurgency missions, with little time available to train for a fuller range of missions. Finally, DOD has adopted strategies, such as relying more on Navy and Air Force personnel and contractors to perform some tasks formerly handled by Army or Marine Corps personnel. If current operations continue at the present level of intensity, DOD could face difficulty in balancing these commitments with the need to rebuild and maintain readiness. Over the past several years, GAO has reported on a range of issues related to military readiness and made numerous recommendations to enhance DOD's ability to manage and improve readiness. Given the change in the security environment since September 11, 2001, and demands on U.S. military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, rebuilding readiness will be a long-term and complex effort. However, GAO believes DOD can take measures that will advance progress in both the short and long terms. A common theme is the need for DOD to take a more strategic decision-making approach to ensure programs and investments are based on plans with measurable goals, validated requirements, prioritized resource needs, and performance measures to gauge progress. Overall, GAO recommended that DOD develop a near-term plan for improving the readiness of ground forces that, among other things, establishes specific goals for improving unit readiness, prioritizes actions needed to achieve those goals, and outlines an investment strategy to clearly link resource needs and funding requests. GAO also made recommendations in several specific readiness-related areas, including that DOD develop equipping strategies to target shortages of items required to equip units preparing for deployment, and DOD adjust its training strategies to include a plan to support full-spectrum training. DOD agreed with some recommendations, but has yet to fully implement them. For others, particularly when GAO recommended that DOD develop more robust plans linked to resources, DOD believed its current efforts were sufficient. GAO continues to believe such plans are needed.[Read More…]
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- Defense Infrastructure: Overseas Master Plans Are Improving, but DOD Needs to Provide Congress Additional Information about the Military Buildup on GuamBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021Over the next several years, implementation of the Department of Defense's (DOD) Integrated Global Presence and Basing Strategy will result in the realignment of U.S. forces and the construction of new facilities costing billions of dollars at installations overseas. The Senate and House reports accompanying the fiscal year 2004 military construction appropriation bill directed GAO to monitor DOD's overseas master plans and to provide congressional defense committees with assessments each year. The Senate report accompanying the fiscal year 2007 military construction appropriation bill directed GAO to review DOD's master planning effort for Guam as part of these annual reviews. This report, first, examines how the overseas plans have changed and the extent to which they address the challenges faced by DOD and, second, assesses the status of DOD's planning effort and the challenges associated with the buildup of military forces and infrastructure on Guam.The fiscal year 2008 overseas master plans, which provide infrastructure requirements at U.S. military facilities in each of the overseas regional commands' area of responsibility, have been updated to reflect U.S. overseas defense basing strategies and requirements as well as GAO's prior recommendations for improving the plans. The plans also address DOD's challenges to a greater extent than they did in previous years. However, two areas continue to be of concern. First, the master plans do not address the issue of residual value--that is, the value of property being turned over to the host nation based on its reuse of property. Although DOD officials believe that residual value cannot be readily predicted and therefore should not be in the master plans, compensation received for U.S capital improvements at installations returned to host nations could affect U.S. funding requirements for overseas construction. Second, the master plan for PACOM, which provides details on the command's training limitations in Japan and several other challenges, does not provide details regarding training limitations for the Air Force in South Korea, which could cause the United States to pursue alternatives, such as training in other locations, downsizing, or relocating that could affect overseas basing plans. Without addressing the residual value issue and providing details on these training challenges, DOD cannot provide Congress a comprehensive view enabling it to make informed decisions regarding funding. GAO has previously recommended that overseas regional commands address residual value issues and that PACOM explain how it plans to address existing training limitations. Because these recommendations have not been fully addressed, GAO considers them to be open and believes that they still have merit. DOD's planning effort for the buildup of military forces and infrastructure on Guam is in its initial stages, with many key decisions and challenges yet to be addressed. Among the challenges to be addressed is completing the required environmental impact statement, initiated in March 2007. According to DOD officials, this statement and associated record of decision could take up to 3 years to complete and will affect many of the key decisions on the exact location, size, and makeup of the military infrastructure development--decisions needed to develop a master plan for the military buildup on Guam. DOD and the services are still determining the exact size and makeup of the forces to be moved to Guam, needed in order to identify the housing, operational, quality of life, and services support infrastructure required for the Marine Corps realignment and the other services' buildup. DOD officials said that additional time is needed to fully address other challenges associated with the Guam military buildup, including funding requirements, operational requirements, and community impact. Until the environmental assessment and initial planning efforts are completed, Congress will need to be kept abreast of developments and challenges affecting infrastructure and funding decisions to make appropriate funding and oversight decisions.[Read More…]
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