October 3, 2022

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Pennsylvania Man Pleads Guilty to Clean Air Act Violation

15 min read
The Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Ty Allen Barnett, of Dover, Pennsylvania, entered a plea of guilty to the improper handling and removing of regulated asbestos containing material as required by federal law.

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    In U.S GAO News
    This is the Spanish language highlights associated with GAO-21-104366. Conclusiones de la GAO A partir de marzo de 2019, la administración del entonces presidente Trump suspendió la mayor parte de los nuevos fondos de asistencia exterior de la Agencia de los Estados Unidos para el Desarrollo Internacional (USAID, por sus siglas en inglés) y del Departamento de Estado (State, por su nombre en inglés) a El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras (el “Triángulo Norte” de Centroamérica)—por hasta 14 meses y reprogramó aproximadamente US$396 millones (85 por ciento) de los fondos del año fiscal 2018 hacia otros países. En junio de 2020, la administración puso fin a la suspensión de los fondos de asistencia. Al concluir la suspensión, la USAID ajustó su cartera de asistencia para implementar proyectos centrados en disuadir la migración y diseñó nuevos indicadores para evaluar la relación entre sus proyectos de asistencia y la migración de la región. Funcionarios de State y de la USAID indicaron que su enfoque general––promover la prosperidad, la buena gobernanza y la seguridad––seguía siendo el mismo tras la suspensión. Aunque algunos proyectos que habían recibido fondos anteriormente siguieron su curso previsto, la suspensión y reprogramación de los fondos de asistencia en 2019 afectó adversamente a 92 de los 114 proyectos de la USAID y a 65 de los 168 proyectos de State. Según informaron esas agencias, las consecuencias adversas que habitualmente se registraron en la ejecución de los proyectos fueron demoras en los plazos previstos y la disminución de la frecuencia, la calidad o los tipos de servicios prestados a los beneficiarios. (Ver la figura.) Proyectos de la USAID y de State/INL en el Triángulo Norte con una o más consecuencias adversas debido a la suspensión y reprogramación de los fondos de asistencia en 2019 La USAID y State comunicaron no haber logrado algunos de sus objetivos de rendimiento debido a la suspensión y reprogramación de los fondos de la asistencia en 2019. Por ejemplo, la USAID informó que no alcanzó a 19 por ciento (35 de 182) de sus objetivos en el año fiscal 2019, mientras que State informó que no alcanzó el 30 por ciento (tres de 10). Propósito de este estudio Los Estados Unidos han proporcio-nado asistencia al Triángulo Norte de Centroamérica durante muchos años. Esta asistencia tiene como objetivo promover la prosperidad, la buena gobernanza y la seguridad en la región; abordar las causas de la migra-ción; y combatir el crimen transnacio-nal. En marzo de 2019, la administra-ción suspendió los fondos de la asistencia exterior a los países del Triángulo Norte hasta que los gobier-nos de la región acordaran tomar medidas para reducir el número de migrantes que llegaban a la frontera de los Estados Unidos. Se le solicitó a la GAO que examinara las consecuencias de la suspensión y reprogramación de los fondos a la asistencia al Triángulo Norte en 2019. Este informe (1) identifica los fondos asignados por el Congreso al Triángulo Norte que fueron suspendidos y reprogramados hacia otros países, y cómo cambió el enfoque de la asistencia de los Estados Unidos a la región después de marzo de 2019; (2) examina los efectos de la suspensión y reprogramación de los fondos de asistencia en la ejecución de los pro-yectos; y (3) examina en qué medida la suspensión y reprogramación de los fondos de asistencia afectó la capacidad de las agencias estadou-nidenses para cumplir sus objetivos de rendimiento de la asistencia exterior para la región. La GAO analizó los datos relativos a los fondos de las agencias y los informes de rendimiento y monitoreo; encuestó a los administradores de los proyectos de las agencias; y entrevistó a los funcionarios así como los socios implementadores seleccionados en los Estados Unidos y en los países del Triángulo Norte. Para más información, contactar a Chelsa Kenney al (202) 512-2964 o kenneyc@gao.gov.

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    What GAO Found The COVID-19 pandemic severely affected the aviation and aerospace sectors that depend on commercial passenger travel. As demand for air travel plummeted and remained low throughout 2020, effects cascaded across sectors including U.S. passenger airlines, airports, aviation manufacturers, and repair station operators. For example, in response to reduced demand, airlines parked or retired a substantial portion of their aircraft fleet, which, in turn, reduced demand for aircraft maintenance services. Aircraft Temporarily Stored at Denver International Airport in 2020 In response to the pandemic’s effects, aviation stakeholders reported that they acted quickly to mitigate financial losses and position themselves to maintain business viability until demand increased. Stakeholders’ actions included: managing costs, such as by implementing early retirement programs; raising funds in the private market to increase liquidity; and taking steps to mitigate COVID-19’s spread among employees and customers. Stakeholders also noted the importance of the over $100 billion in payroll support payments, loans, and other financial assistance provided through COVID-19 relief legislation. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported taking quick action to help the aviation industry adjust operations in response to the pandemic. These actions included providing temporary relief from some regulatory requirements—such as airline crewmember medical certifications—and issuing guidance to airlines and airports on mitigating COVID-19 risks. FAA has phased out many of these relief measures. Although airlines experienced a rebound in demand for U.S. leisure travel in 2021, operational challenges and concerns about the COVID-19 Delta variant have slowed recovery. Forecasts suggest that industry recovery will be uneven as business and international air travel—the most profitable segments—are likely to lag. Stakeholders identified areas of concern for policymakers to consider, such as strengthening aviation workforce pipelines, as they determine how or whether to continue to assist the industry in evolving market conditions. Further, developing a national aviation-preparedness plan for communicable disease, as GAO recommended, would provide greater coordination among federal and industry stakeholders and help better prepare the U.S. for future pandemics. Why GAO Did This Study International flight restrictions, local stay-at-home orders, and a general fear of contracting and spreading COVID-19 through air travel had a sudden and profound effect on the U.S. aviation industry. According to Department of Transportation (DOT) statistics, passenger traffic in April 2020 was 96 percent lower system-wide than April 2019, and remained 60 percent below 2019 traffic levels throughout 2020. This report examines (1) immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses across the aviation industry; (2) actions those businesses took in response; (3) actions the FAA took to help the industry respond to the pandemic; and (4) the outlook for industry recovery, among other issues. GAO reviewed DOT airline operational and financial data from calendar years 2019 through 2020, financial statements from various aviation-related businesses, FAA regulations and operational guidance, and industry recovery forecasts. GAO conducted a generalizable survey of 1,136 smaller airports. GAO also interviewed officials from FAA and representatives from a judgmental sample of 47 aviation and aerospace industry stakeholders selected based on location and industry sector.

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    What GAO Found Since 2014, millions of consumers have purchased individual market health insurance plans through the health insurance exchanges—or marketplaces—established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Sales representatives listed on Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) healthcare.gov website can also sell other types of health coverage arrangements that may cost less but may not cover all pre-existing conditions as comprehensive PPACA-compliant plans do. GAO performed 31 covert tests on selected sales representatives listed on healthcare.gov. These tests involved stating that the (fictitious) applicant had pre-existing conditions—either diabetes or heart disease—and requesting coverage for these conditions to see if the sales representative directed the applicant to a comprehensive PPACA-compliant plan or a PPACA-exempt plan that does not cover what the fictitious applicant requested. As part of these tests, GAO gauged whether the selected sales representatives engaged in potentially deceptive practices, such as making false or misleading statements about coverage or omitting material information about coverage. All 31 sales representatives GAO contacted appropriately referred GAO’s fictitious applicant to a PPACA-compliant plan. The majority of sales representatives also explained that a PPACA-exempt plan would not cover the applicant’s pre-existing condition. None of the sales representatives GAO contacted engaged in potentially deceptive marketing practices that misrepresented or omitted information about the products they were selling. The results of GAO’s covert tests are not generalizable to all sales representatives listed on healthcare.gov. Why GAO Did This Study PPACA directed each state to establish an exchange—referred to as a state-based exchange—or elect to use the federally facilitated exchange established by HHS. Each year the exchanges offer an open enrollment period during which eligible consumers may enroll in or change their coverage. Consumers enroll in the federally facilitated exchange through HHS’s healthcare.gov website, and some state-based exchanges have chosen to use this website for enrollment. While individual health insurance coverage is generally regulated by states, starting in 2014, PPACA established a number of new federal requirements for individual health insurance coverage. For example, PPACA prohibited insurers from excluding coverage or charging higher premiums for pre-existing conditions. HHS regulations also require sales representatives that assist with or facilitate enrollment in PPACA-compliant plans sold through healthcare.gov to provide consumers with correct information, without omission of material fact, and refrain from marketing or conduct that is misleading. Sales representatives that are listed on healthcare.gov may also sell other types of health coverage arrangements that do not have to comply with some or all of PPACA’s individual market requirements. As a result, the arrangements may be less expensive, but offer fewer benefits compared to PPACA-compliant plans. PPACA-exempt health coverage arrangements may be attractive to consumers, particularly those who find it difficult to afford PPACA-compliant plans. However, such arrangements generally do not need to follow PPACA’s requirement that plans in the individual market be presented to consumers in defined categories outlining the extent to which they are expected to cover medical care. As a result, depending on how they are marketed and sold, PPACA-exempt arrangements could present risks for consumers, if, for example, they buy these plans mistakenly believing that coverage is as comprehensive as for PPACA-compliant plans. GAO was asked to obtain insights on the marketing and sales practices of sales representatives specifically listed on healthcare.gov. In this report, GAO describes the results of covert tests it conducted involving selected sales representatives listed on healthcare.gov when contacted by GAO undercover investigators posing as individuals needing to purchase health insurance to cover pre-existing conditions. GAO investigators performed these covert tests (i.e., undercover phone calls) from November 2020 to February 2021. GAO also discussed the oversight of PPACA-exempt arrangements with senior officials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services within HHS, as well as officials from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and reviewed information they provided. For more information, contact Seto J. Bagdoyan at (202) 512- 6722 or bagdoyans@gao.gov or Howard Arp at arpj@gao.gov.

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  • High-Risk Series: Dedicated Leadership Needed to Address Limited Progress in Most High-Risk Areas
    In U.S GAO News
    Overall ratings in 2021 for 20 of GAO’s 2019 high-risk areas remain unchanged, and five regressed. Seven areas improved, one to the point of removal from the High-Risk List. Two new areas are being added, bringing our 2021 High-Risk List to 36 areas. Where there has been improvement in high-risk areas, congressional actions, in addition to those by executive agencies, have been critical in spurring progress. GAO is removing Department of Defense (DOD) Support Infrastructure Management from the High-Risk List. Among other things, DOD has more efficiently utilized military installation space; reduced its infrastructure footprint and use of leases, reportedly saving millions of dollars; and improved its use of installation agreements, reducing base support costs GAO is narrowing the scope of three high-risk areas by removing segments of the areas due to progress that has been made. The affected areas are: (1) Federal Real Property (Costly Leasing) because the General Services Administration has reduced its reliance on costly leases and improved monitoring efforts; (2) DOD Contract Management (Acquisition Workforce) because DOD has significantly rebuilt its acquisition workforce; and (3) Management of Federal Oil and Gas Resources (Offshore Oil and Gas Oversight) because the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has implemented reforms improving offshore oil and gas oversight. National Efforts to Prevent, Respond to, and Recover from Drug Misuse is being added to the High-Risk List. National rates of drug misuse have been increasing, and drug misuse has resulted in significant loss of life and harmful effects to society and the economy. GAO identified several challenges in the federal government’s response, such as a need for greater leadership and coordination of the national effort, strategic guidance that fulfills all statutory requirements, and more effective implementation and monitoring. Emergency Loans for Small Businesses also is being added. The Small Business Administration has provided hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of loans and advances to help small businesses recover from adverse economic impacts created by COVID-19. While loans have greatly aided many small businesses, evidence of fraud and significant program integrity risks need much greater oversight and management attention. Nine existing high-risk areas also need more focused attention (see table). 2021 High-Risk List Areas Requiring Significant Attention High-risk areas that regressed since 2019 High-risk areas that need additional attention USPS Financial Viability IT Acquisitions and Operations Decennial Census Limiting the Federal Government’s Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks Ensuring the Cybersecurity of the Nation U.S. Government’s Environmental Liability Strategic Human Capital Management Improving Federal Oversight of Food Safety EPA’s Process for Assessing and Controlling Toxic Chemicals   Source: GAO. | GAO-21-119SP   GAO’s 2021 High-Risk List High-risk area Change since 2019 Strengthening the Foundation for Efficiency and Effectiveness Strategic Human Capital Management ↓ Managing Federal Real Propertya ↑ Funding the Nation’s Surface Transportation Systemb c n/a Modernizing the U.S. Financial Regulatory Systemb ● Resolving the Federal Role in Housing Financeb ● USPS Financial Viabilityb ↓ Management of Federal Oil and Gas Resourcesa ● Limiting the Federal Government’s Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risksb ● Improving the Management of IT Acquisitions and Operations ● Improving Federal Management of Programs That Serve Tribes and Their Members ● Decennial Census ↓ U.S. Government’s Environmental Liabilityb ● Emergency Loans for Small Businesses (new)c n/a Transforming DOD Program Management DOD Weapon Systems Acquisition ● DOD Financial Management ↑ DOD Business Systems Modernization ● DOD Approach to Business Transformation ● Ensuring Public Safety and Security Government-wide Personnel Security Clearance Processb ↑ Ensuring the Cybersecurity of the Nationb ↓ Strengthening Department of Homeland Security Management Functions ● Ensuring the Effective Protection of Technologies Critical to U.S. National Security Interests ● Improving Federal Oversight of Food Safetyb ● Protecting Public Health through Enhanced Oversight of Medical Products ● Transforming EPA’s Process for Assessing and Controlling Toxic Chemicals ↓ National Efforts to Prevent, Respond to, and Recover from Drug Misuse (new)c n/a Managing Federal Contracting More Effectively VA Acquisition Managementd n/a DOE’s Contract and Project Management for the National Nuclear Security Administration and Office of Environmental Management ↑ NASA Acquisition Management ↑ DOD Contract Managementa ● Assessing the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Tax Law Administration Enforcement of Tax Lawsb ● Modernizing and Safeguarding Insurance and Benefit Programs Medicare Program & Improper Paymentse ● Strengthening Medicaid Program Integrityb ● Improving and Modernizing Federal Disability Programs ● Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Insurance Programsb c n/a National Flood Insurance Programb ● Managing Risks and Improving VA Health Careb ↑ (↑ indicates area progressed on one or more criteria since 2019; ↓ indicates area declined on one or more criteria ; ● indicates no change; n/a = not applicable) Source: GAO. | GAO-21-119SP aRatings for a segment within this high-risk area improved sufficiently that the segment was removed. bLegislation is likely to be necessary in order to effectively address this high-risk area. cNot rated, because this high-risk area is newly added or primarily involves congressional action. dRated for the first time, because this high-risk area was newly added in 2019. eOnly rated on one segment; we did not rate other elements of the Medicare program. The federal government is one of the world’s largest and most complex entities; about $6.6 trillion in outlays in fiscal year 2020 funded a broad array of programs and operations. GAO’s High-Risk Series identifies government operations with vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or in need of transformation to address economy, efficiency, or effectiveness challenges. This biennial update describes the status of high-risk areas, outlines actions that are still needed to assure further progress, and identifies any new high-risk areas needing attention by the executive branch and Congress. Solutions to high-risk problems save billions of dollars, improve service to the public, and strengthen government performance and accountability. GAO uses five criteria to assess progress in addressing high-risk areas: (1) leadership commitment, (2) agency capacity, (3) an action plan, (4) monitoring efforts, and (5) demonstrated progress. This report describes GAO’s views on progress made and what remains to be done to bring about lasting solutions for each high-risk area. Addressing GAO’s hundreds of open recommendations across the high-risk areas and continued congressional oversight and action are essential to achieving greater progress. For more information, contact Michelle Sager at (202) 512-6806 or sagerm@gao.gov.

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