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Category Archives: Defense

IG Report – Millions Wasted on Communication Towers in Afghanistan

Jessica Murphy - POGO: “According to a new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the State Department paid $6.5 million for six communication towers that were never used as intended. This high cost exceeded the State Department’s initial recommended limit of $2 million per contract. In 2010, the State Department began constructing a network of communication towers in Afghanistan. According to the State Department, the main objective of the towers project was “to expand and enhance media provider coverage and telecommunication services to the civilian Afghan populations in underserved and strategically important Helmand, Kandahar, Ghazni, and Paktika provinces via television, radio, and telephonic mediums.” Since then, the towers have been built, but the project has not served its original purpose. The State Department reported to SIGAR that once it was clear the towers could not fulfill their purpose, “the Department considered alternatives but determined that there was no available foreign assistance or other State Department use for the towers.” Eventually, the Strategic Communication Unit in the Public Affairs Section found a potential use for the towers whereby “the Department of Defense (DoD) would provide cell and internet service to troops in the vicinity with the hope that it would eventually reach the local population.” Two such towers have been transferred to the DoD (including one that had already been built by the Department of State as part of a previous project) and the remaining five towers are in the process of being put up for auction to commercial entities.”

New GAO Reports: Depot Maintenance, Healthcare.gov, IGs, Large Partnerships, Secure Flight, VA Health Care

DEPOT MAINTENANCE: Accurate and Complete Data Needed to Meet DOD’s Core Capability Reporting Requirements, GAO-14-777: Published: Sep 18, 2014. Publicly Released: Sep 18, 2014. HEALTHCARE.GOV: Information Security and Privacy Controls Should Be Enhanced to Address Weaknesses, GAO-14-871T: Published: Sep 18, 2014. Publicly Released: Sep 18, 2014. INSPECTORS GENERAL: Improvements Needed in the Office of Inspector General’s Oversight of the Denali Commission, GAO-14-320: Published: SepContinue Reading

10 big questions the Pew Research Center has tackled in the past decade

Andrea Caumont: “Ten years ago, the Pew Research Center was established by The Pew Charitable Trusts to bring together several of Pew’s information initiatives. The new organization had a unique mission to offer nonpartisan, non-advocacy information to decision-makers and the public. The Center has amassed a large body of work over the past decade. For our tenth anniversary, here’sContinue Reading

Diplomatic and Embassy Security Funding Before and After the Benghazi Attacks

CRS - Diplomatic and Embassy Security Funding Before and After the Benghazi Attacks, Susan B. Epstein, Specialist in Foreign Policy. September 10, 2014  “As Congress investigates the issues surrounding the September 11, 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, some Members have questioned whether security funding was adequate or was a factor that may have contributed to inadequateContinue Reading

Presentations about the Budget Outlook – CBO

Doug Elmendorf, CBO Director, at the Macroeconomic Advisers’ 24th Annual Washington Policy Seminar: “I was very pleased to speak last week at Macroeconomic Advisers’ Washington Policy Seminar and at Cornell University. (See my slides for the first talk and my slides for the second talk.) In both presentations I described CBO’s updated outlook for the federal budget under current lawContinue Reading

Nations Trying to Stop Their Citizens From Going to Middle East to Fight for ISIS – NYT

Somini Sengupta: “Lawmakers around the world are debating laws intended to stop citizens from going abroad to fight, and to punish them if they do…France wants more power to block its citizens from leaving the country, while Britain is weighing whether to stop more of its citizens from coming home. Tunisia is debating measures to makeContinue Reading

The Astonishing Story of the Federal Reserve on 9-11

Daily Koz, ‘Arliss Bunny‘: “It is impossible for me to begin to write anything about the events of 9-11 without first bowing my head and taking a moment of silence in remembrance of all those who died and the grief which still lives on in the soul of our nation. Since I will be writingContinue Reading

The “Islamic State” Crisis and U.S. Policy

CRS - The “Islamic State” Crisis and U.S. Policy. Kenneth Katzman, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs; Christopher M. Blanchard, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs; Carla E. Humud, Analyst in Middle Eastern and African Affairs; Matthew C. Weed, Analyst in Foreign Policy Legislation; Rhoda Margesson, Specialist in; International Humanitarian Policy; Alex Tiersky, Analyst in Foreign Affairs. September 10, 2014 “The Islamic State is aContinue Reading

Police at more than 100 institutions acquired gear from DoD at little or no cost

Follow up to Defense Department military equipment distributed free to states around the country, via Dan Bauman, Chronicle of Higher Education: “At least 117 colleges have acquired equipment from the department through a federal program, known as the 1033 program, that transfers military surplus to law-enforcement agencies across the country, according to records The Chronicle received after filing Freedom of InformationContinue Reading

CRS – Defense Surplus Equipment Disposal

Defense Surplus Equipment Disposal, Including the Law Enforcement 1033 Program. Valerie Bailey Grasso, Specialist in Defense Acquisition. September 5, 2014. “On September 12, 1972, the Defense Property Disposal Service (the forerunner to DLA Disposition Services) was established under the Defense Supply Agency (now DLA). Defense property disposal offices were established worldwide on or near major military installations. DLAContinue Reading

Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response

CRS - Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response. Christopher M. Blanchard, Coordinator - Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs; Carla E. Humud, Analyst in Middle Eastern and African Affairs; Mary Beth D. Nikitin, Specialist in Nonproliferation. June 27, 2014. “Fighting continues across Syria, pitting government forces and their foreign allies against a range of anti-government insurgents, some of whom also are fightingContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Defense Planning, Education, DHS Training, USAID, Older Americans, Veterans Affairs

DEFENSE PLANNING: DOD Needs Specific Measures and Milestones to Gauge Progress of Preparations for Operational Access Challenges, GAO-14-801:  Published: Sep 10, 2014. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 2014. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: Status of Prior GAO Recommendations, GAO-14-848T: Published: Sep 10, 2014. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 2014. DHS TRAINING: Improved Documentation, Resource Tracking, and Performance Measurement Could Strengthen Efforts, GAO-14-688: Published: Sep 10, 2014.Continue Reading