The Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) and the Department of State’s Counterterrorism Bureau (DOS/CT) recently launched a new program to support women in leadership roles in counterterrorism.
The project, Engaging Multinational Police Women on Equality and Rights (EMPoWER), builds the capacity of women to combat terrorism by supporting them through leadership opportunities and inclusion in counterterrorism efforts. The EMPoWER Program conducted its first-ever regional symposium this week in Opatija, Croatia, drawing more than two dozen law enforcement participants from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Kenya.
“It is said that when it comes to terrorism, the world is small,” said ICITAP Director Gregory Ducot. “We recognize the need to increase the participation of women in counterterrorism law enforcement by educating leaders, creating opportunities for networking, and connecting with professional colleagues.”
“As leaders, we are supposed to listen to everyone around us,” said Samuel L. Pineda, Director of the Programs Office with DOS/CT. “We are supposed to empower people to be their best. And that’s what the EMPoWER Program is supposed to do: help us all become better through education, through support, and through operational networks that help us carry out our mission.”
“We hope that this is the first of many symposiums that not only help women to succeed in their role in the country-specific law enforcement agencies, but will also help U.S. counterterrorism efforts abroad,” said ICITAP Senior Law Enforcement Advisor – EMPoWER Lynn Holland.
The inaugural symposium in Croatia included executive law enforcement and counterterrorism subject matter experts, who provided weeklong advanced professional training.
Developing advanced training, providing mentorship programs, and offering insight into current trends in new technology are key elements for building the capacity of women engaged in combatting terrorism globally.
The EMPoWER Program plans to expand its initiatives in other regions, including Asia and Africa and the Middle East and serve as the beginning of the process of identifying and engaging up-and-coming leaders in the field of counterterrorism in their respective countries. Consecutively, this initiative will lead to the creation of regional task forces in which selected leaders will engage in international collaboration, strategic communication, and information sharing with U.S. government agencies, jointly working toward the goal of countering terrorism on the global platform.
To learn more about ICITAP, visit: https://www.justice.gov/criminal-icitap.
- [Request for Reconsideration of Protest of Navy Contract Award for Base Support Services]
September 17, 2021A firm requested reconsideration of its dismissed protest of the Navy’s decision to perform base operations and support services in-house rather than contract for these services, contending that the Navy’s proposed corrective action failed to address all of its concerns. GAO held that it would not consider these issues, since the Navy’s proposed corrective action may affect key requirements in the solicitation and render the protester’s concerns academic. Accordingly, the request for reconsideration was denied.
- Antitrust Division Observes National Whistleblower Appreciation Day
July 30, 2021The Antitrust Division today commemorates National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, which celebrates individuals who act with courage to speak out and report crimes, including antitrust violations like price-fixing, bid rigging and market allocation conspiracies.
- Fiscal Year 2022 Performance Plan
May 28, 2021This report presents the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 2022. In the spirit of the Government Performance and Results Act, this annual plan informs the Congress and the American people about what we expect to accomplish on their behalf in the coming fiscal year. It sets forth our plan to make progress toward achieving our strategic goals for serving the Congress and the American people. This framework not only shows the relationship between our strategic goals and strategic objectives, but also show major themes that could potentially affect our work.
- Justice Department Reaches Settlement to Remedy Severe Racial Harassment of Black and Asian-American Students in Utah School District
October 21, 2021The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for Utah announced a settlement agreement with Davis School District in Utah to address race discrimination in the district’s schools, including serious and widespread racial harassment of Black and Asian-American students. The department opened its investigation in July 2019 under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Medicaid Behavioral Health: CMS Guidance Needed to Better Align Demonstration Payment Rates with Costs and Prevent Duplication
September 27, 2021What GAO Found In 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) selected eight states to participate in a time-limited demonstration to establish certified community behavioral health clinics (CCBHC). These states, in turn, certified 66 behavioral health clinics as CCBHCs. Required to provide a broad range of behavioral health services—mental health and substance use services—CCBHCs are reimbursed by state Medicaid programs using clinic-specific rates designed to cover expected costs. Under the demonstration, states receive enhanced federal funding for CCBHC services provided to Medicaid beneficiaries. GAO found that five of the eight demonstration states reported generally increased state spending on CCBHCs, which officials from these states attributed to an increased number of individuals receiving treatment, an increased array of services provided, or both. In contrast, officials from the other three demonstration states did not report that the demonstration resulted in greater state spending. Officials from two of these states noted that the demonstration resulted in spending decreases, citing factors such as the demonstration’s enhanced federal Medicaid funding. Officials from the remaining state said the effects on spending were unknown. In addition, four of the eight states assessed potential cost savings from the demonstration resulting from reductions in the use of more expensive care, such as emergency department visits. Officials from three of the four states viewed the results of their assessments as suggestive of potential cost savings, while officials from the fourth state did not. GAO’s review of payment guidance for the demonstration from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency within HHS that oversees Medicaid at the federal level, found that the guidance lacked clear and consistent information on better aligning CCBHC payment rates with costs and preventing duplicate payments. For example: CMS guidance gives states the option to rebase their initial payment rates after the first demonstration year (i.e., use data on actual costs incurred and number of client visits during the first demonstration year to recalculate rates for subsequent years). CMS officials said rebasing would mean states would not have to rely on anticipated cost and client visit data after the first year, and would align rates more closely with costs. While officials said CMS expected all states to rebase their rates at some point, CMS’s guidance does not reflect this expectation, or provide details on rebasing, such as suggested time frames. CMS guidance conflicts as to whether CCBHCs that are also Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC)—safety net providers that generally provide some behavioral health services—should receive CCBHC and FQHC payments for the same client on the same day if provided services overlap. Addressing these weaknesses is important to help ensure that Medicaid CCBHC payments meet requirements for Medicaid payments under federal law, including that they be consistent with efficiency, economy, and quality of care, and are sufficient to ensure access to care. Why GAO Did This Study Behavioral health conditions affected an estimated 61.2 million adults in 2019. Congress has taken steps to expand access to behavioral health treatment, including authorizing the CCBHC demonstration, which is intended to improve the availability of community-based behavioral health services. The CARES Act included a provision for GAO to report on states’ experiences participating in the CCBHC demonstration. Among other objectives, this report describes what states reported about how the CCBHC demonstration affected state spending on behavioral health services; and examines CMS guidance for states on Medicaid CCBHC payments. GAO reviewed documentation from and interviewed Medicaid and behavioral health officials from the eight CCBHC demonstration states, as well as federal officials tasked with demonstration oversight. GAO also reviewed documentation and interviewed officials from a nongeneralizable sample of three CCBHCs, which GAO selected for a number of reasons, including variation in geographic location.
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July 20, 2021Eric Todd Ellis, 32, a former Bureau of Prisons (BOP) corrections officer at the FCI-Aliceville facility in Aliceville, Alabama, pleaded guilty today in federal court to one count of sexual abuse of a ward and one count of tampering with a witness.
- Department of Justice Begins Second Distribution of Funds Recovered Through Asset Forfeiture to Compensate Victims of Western Union Fraud Scheme, Bringing Total to Over $300 Million
September 23, 2020The Department of Justice announced today that the Western Union Remission Fund began its second distribution of approximately $148 million in funds forfeited to the U.S. government from the Western Union Company (Western Union) to approximately 33,000 victims located in the United States and abroad. These victims, many of whom were elderly victims of consumer fraud and abuse, will be recovering the full amount of their losses.
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Sonia Dridi of France 24
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- Climate Change: A Climate Migration Pilot Program Could Enhance the Nation’s Resilience and Reduce Federal Fiscal Exposure
August 5, 2020GAO identified few communities in the United States that have considered climate migration as a resilience strategy, and two—Newtok, Alaska, and Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana—that moved forward with relocation. Newtok, for example, faced imminent danger from shoreline erosion due to thawing permafrost and storm surge (see figure). Literature and experts suggest that many more communities will need to consider relocating in coming decades. Shoreline Erosion at Newtok, Alaska, from July 2007 to October 2019. Federal programs provide limited support to climate migration efforts because they are designed to address other priorities, according to literature GAO reviewed and interviews with stakeholders and federal officials. Federal programs generally are not designed to address the scale and complexity of community relocation and generally fund acquisition of properties at high risk of damage from disasters in response to a specific event such as a hurricane. Unclear federal leadership is the key challenge to climate migration as a resilience strategy. Because no federal agency has the authority to lead federal assistance for climate migration, support for climate migration efforts has been provided on an ad hoc basis. For example, it has taken over 30 years to begin relocating Newtok and more than 20 years for Isle de Jean Charles, in part because no federal entity has the authority to coordinate assistance, according to stakeholders in Alaska and Louisiana. These and other communities will rely on post-disaster assistance if no action is taken beforehand—this increases federal fiscal exposure. Risk management best practices and GAO’s 2019 Disaster Resilience Framework suggest that federal agencies should manage such risks before a disaster hits. A well-designed climate migration pilot program that is based on project management best practices could improve federal institutional capability. For example, the interagency National Mitigation Investment Strategy—the national strategy to improve resilience to disasters—recommends that federal agencies use pilot programs to demonstrate the value of resilience projects. As GAO reported in October 2019, a strategic and iterative risk-informed approach for identifying and prioritizing climate resilience projects could help target federal resources to the nation’s most significant climate risks. A climate migration pilot program could be a key part of this approach, enhancing the nation’s climate resilience and reducing federal fiscal exposure. According to the 13-agency United States Global Change Research Program, relocation due to climate change will be unavoidable in some coastal areas in all but the very lowest sea level rise projections. One way to reduce the risks to these communities is to improve their climate resilience by planning and preparing for potential hazards related to climate change such as sea level rise. Climate migration—the preemptive movement of people and property away from areas experiencing severe impacts—is one way to improve climate resilience. GAO was asked to review federal support for climate migration. This report examines (1) the use of climate migration as a resilience strategy; (2) federal support for climate migration; and (3) key challenges to climate migration and how the federal government can address them. GAO conducted a literature review of over 52 sources and interviewed 12 climate resilience experts. In addition, GAO selected and interviewed 46 stakeholders in four communities that have considered relocation: Newtok, Alaska; Santa Rosa, California; Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana; and Smith Island, Maryland. Congress should consider establishing a pilot program with clear federal leadership to identify and provide assistance to communities that express affirmative interest in relocation as a resilience strategy. The Departments of Homeland Security and Housing and Urban Development provided technical comments that GAO incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Alfredo Gómez at (202) 512-3841 or email@example.com.
- Chief Standing Bear: A Hero of Native American Civil Rights
In U.S CourtsOctober 29, 2020A new Moments in History video, in recognition of Native American Heritage Month, recounts how Chief Standing Bear persuaded a federal judge in 1879 to recognize Native Americans as persons with the right to sue for their freedom, establishing him as one of the nation’s earliest civil rights heroes.
- Counternarcotics: Treasury Reports Some Results from Designating Drug Kingpins, but Should Improve Information on Agencies’ Expenditures
August 31, 2021What GAO Found Under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), the Department of the Treasury’s (Treasury) Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) leads a flexible interagency process to designate and sanction foreign individuals and entities that contribute to illicit narcotics trafficking. OFAC identifies potential Kingpin Act designees, compiles evidence, submits it for legal review, and seeks concurrence from partner agencies on designation decisions. OFAC and U.S. partner agencies monitor and enforce Kingpin Act sanctions, but OFAC has not ensured consistency and transparency of the expenditure data it has reported to Congress. Federal Banking Agencies monitor the OFAC compliance programs of U.S. banks through regular bank examinations. Additionally, OFAC handles enforcement through warnings, monetary penalties, and other methods. As required, OFAC reports annually to Congress on Kingpin Act designations and corresponding agency expenditures, but it has provided limited guidance to partner agencies on expenditure data they report. As a result, agencies use different methods to calculate the personnel and resource costs associated with their Kingpin activities. For example, the Department of Homeland Security said it only reports personnel expenditures when it is the lead investigative agency, but the Department of Defense reports personnel expenditures when it is not the lead. Furthermore, OFAC has not reported the limitations in agency data in its congressional reports. This lack of clear expenditure information could hinder oversight of the Kingpin Act. OFAC officials noted challenges to assessing the overall effectiveness of the Kingpin Act, but they and their U.S. and international partners track and report a range of results. The primary challenge cited is the difficulty of isolating the effect of the Kingpin Act from multiple other programs combating drug trafficking organizations. Results reported by OFAC and its partners include, for example, from 2000-2019, OFAC reported that it had designated more than 2,000 Kingpins and their supporters, and frozen more than half a billion dollars in assets under the act. In addition, host government officials reported that Kingpin Act sanctions assist them in imposing penalties on drug traffickers. Number of Kingpin Act Designations, from 2000 to 2019 Why GAO Did This Study Drug deaths in the United States have been rising for years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017 there were over 70,000 U.S. drug overdose deaths. This national emergency results in part from the activities of international narcotics traffickers and their organizations. The Kingpin Act, enacted in 1999, allows Treasury to designate and sanction individuals and entities that contribute to illicit narcotics trafficking. Sanctions and other consequences include blocking a designee’s property and assets, denying U.S. travel visas to designees, and penalizing U.S. persons who violate the prohibitions in the Kingpin Act. Treasury is required to submit an annual report to Congress on agencies’ Kingpin Act–related personnel and resource expenditures and sanctions activities. This report examines (1) how U.S. agencies designate individuals and entities under the Kingpin Act; (2) the extent to which U.S. agencies monitor, enforce, and report on sanctions under the Kingpin Act; and (3) what agencies have done to assess the effectiveness of the Kingpin Act. GAO reviewed documents from and interviewed officials at Treasury, the Department of State, and other partner agencies. GAO also performed fieldwork in Colombia and Mexico.
- International Money Launderer Sentenced to More Than 11 Years in Prison for Laundering Millions of Dollars in Cyber Crime Schemes
September 8, 2021A dual Canadian and U.S. national was sentenced today to 140 months in federal prison for conspiring to launder tens of millions of dollars stolen in various wire and bank fraud schemes – including a massive online banking theft by North Korean cyber criminals.
- Justice Department Requires Divestitures in Transaction between Global Industrial and Agricultural Equipment Component Manufacturers
July 14, 2021The Department of Justice announced today that it will require Danfoss A/S (Danfoss) and Eaton Corporation Plc (Eaton) to divest assets from both Danfoss’s and Eaton’s orbital motor and hydraulic steering unit manufacturing businesses in order to proceed with their proposed asset purchase agreement. Without these divestitures, the transaction would substantially lessen competition in the design, manufacture, and sale of orbital motors and hydraulic steering units used in agricultural, industrial and construction equipment in the United States.
- Omaha Railcar Cleaning Company and its Owners Sentenced for Violating Environmental and Worker Safety Laws Resulting in Workers’ 2015 Deaths
January 14, 2022Steven Michael Braithwaite, Adam Thomas Braithwaite and their company Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services LLC (NRCS) were sentenced today in Omaha, Nebraska, for willful violations of worker safety standards that resulted in two worker deaths, knowing violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) involving hazardous waste and knowing endangerment to others, knowing submission of false documents to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and perjury. Steven Braithwaite will serve 30 months in prison and pay $100,000 in restitution for his role in the offenses.
- Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Old Dominion University to Resolve Disability Discrimination Complaint
February 3, 2021Today the Justice Department announced a settlement agreement with Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, Virginia, to resolve its investigation into a complaint that ODU discriminated and retaliated against a graduate student based on disability and her related request for reasonable modifications of policy. The Civil Rights Division conducted the investigation under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) Director Greg Ducot Delivers Remarks at the Virtual Fourth International Forensic Science Symposium
December 9, 2020Good morning, honorable and distinguished guests of this fourth International Symposium of Forensic Sciences convened virtually from the capital of the United Mexican States.
- Missile Defense: Fiscal Year 2020 Delivery and Testing Progressed, but Annual Goals Unmet
April 28, 2021What GAO Found In fiscal year 2020, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) made progress toward achieving its delivery and testing goals for some of the individual systems—known as elements—that combine and integrate to create the Missile Defense System (also known as the Ballistic Missile Defense System). However, MDA did not complete its overall planned deliveries or annual testing. The figure below shows MDA’s progress delivering assets and conducting flight tests against its fiscal year 2020 plans. Percentage of Missile Defense Agency Planned Deliveries and Flight Tests Completed for Fiscal Year 2020 Deliveries— In fiscal year 2020, MDA delivered many assets it had planned. Specifically, MDA was able to deliver 82 missile interceptors for 3 elements. However, MDA was not able to deliver all planned interceptors, including one originally planned for 2018 for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program, as the program experienced delays related to qualifying parts from a new supplier. Flight testing— MDA conducted two planned flight tests, but neither was successful. The issues were due to problems with non-MDA assets, but the agency was able to collect important data. In addition, COVID-19 restrictions also affected the planned schedule. However, the delays continue a trend of MDA’s inability to conduct planned annual flight testing, resulting in assets and capabilities that are subsequently delayed or delivered with less data than planned. Ground testing— In fiscal year 2020, MDA continued to implement a new ground testing approach that the agency began in fiscal year 2019. In addition, MDA successfully completed three planned ground tests demonstrating defense capabilities for the U.S., U.S. forces and regional allies. However, MDA delayed two other ground tests to future fiscal years and expects disruptions in fiscal year 2021, in part due to ongoing COVID-19 disruptions. Cyber— Despite failing to meet annual operational cybersecurity assessments since 2017, MDA canceled its planned fiscal year 2020 operational assessments, instead taking steps to implement a new approach designed to improve cyber system requirements while streamlining cyber test planning. It is premature to assess whether this new approach will achieve its intended goals. Why GAO Did This Study For over half a century, the Department of Defense has funded efforts to defend the U.S. from ballistic missile attacks. This effort consists of diverse and highly complex land-, sea-, and space-based systems and assets located across the globe. From 2002 through 2019, MDA—the agency charged with developing, testing, integrating, and fielding this system of systems—received about $162.5 billion. The agency also requested about $45 billion from fiscal year 2020 through fiscal year 2024. In fiscal year 2020, MDA’s mission broadened to include evolving threats beyond ballistic missiles such as defending against hypersonic missile attacks. With the inclusion of non-ballistic missile threats, the Ballistic Missile Defense System is in the process of transitioning to the Missile Defense System. Congress included a provision in statute that GAO annually assess and report on MDA’s progress. This, our 18th annual review, addresses the progress MDA made in achieving fiscal year 2020 delivery and testing goals. GAO reviewed planned fiscal year 2020 baselines, along with program changes due to COVID-19 restrictions, and other program documentation and assessed them against responses to GAO detailed question sets and program and baseline reviews. GAO also interviewed officials from MDA and various Department of Defense Combatant Commands. We do not make any new recommendations in this report but continue to track the status of prior recommendations. For more information, contact John D. Sawyer at (202) 512-4841 or SawyerJ@gao.gov.
- Termination of PRC-Funded Propaganda Programs
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