Today, a Texas man was convicted of obstructing a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation, following an eight-day trial in the Eastern District of Texas.
“Lying to federal agencies is a crime, plain and simple,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “And, as the court’s rulings in this case make clear, so is wage fixing. When obstruction affects the federal government’s investigations into labor market collusion and impedes our ability to protect workers, we will use all the tools available to prosecute all of these crimes to the full extent of the law.”
“Wage fixing causes tremendous harm to countless hardworking Americans,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “The FBI will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to uncover this type of corruption and bring to justice anyone who is responsible or who obstructs our investigations into this conduct.”
Evidence introduced at trial showed that Neeraj Jindal obstructed an FTC investigation in 2017 into an alleged illegal agreement to fix rates paid to therapists for treating home health agency patients in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, area. At the time, Jindal was the owner of a Texas-based therapist staffing company providing in-home physical therapy services.
The obstruction offense carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Jindal was found not guilty on two other counts charged in the same indictment. John Rodgers, his co-defendant, was found not guilty on the three charges against him included in the indictment.
In November 2021, in denying a motion to dismiss, the court held that “price-fixing agreements — even among buyers in the labor market — have been per se illegal for years.” The court observed: “When the price of labor is lowered, or wages are suppressed, fewer people take jobs, which always or almost always tends to restrict competition and decrease output.” (internal citations omitted).
The Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section prosecuted the case, which was investigated with the FBI’s International Corruption Unit, with support from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas.
The charges in this case were brought in connection with the Antitrust Division’s ongoing commitment to prosecute anticompetitive conduct affecting American labor markets. Anyone with information on market allocation or price fixing by employers should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 1-888-647-3258 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html.
- Three Additional States Ask Court To Join Justice Department Antitrust Suit Against Google
December 17, 2020Today, the Attorneys General of Michigan and Wisconsin filed for permission to join the antitrust lawsuit filed by the United States and eleven other state Attorneys General against monopolist Google. This follows a similar recent motion by the California Attorney General to join the lawsuit on December 11, 2020.
- COVID-19: Significant Improvements Are Needed for Overseeing Relief Funds and Leading Responses to Public Health Emergencies
January 27, 2022What GAO Found New U.S. COVID-19 cases and virus variants continue to challenge the nation. New daily reported cases increased sharply from December 21, 2021 to January 3, 2022 due primarily to the emergence of the Omicron variant. Cases during this time generally exceeded 380,000, surpassing the daily case rate reported during the emergence of the Delta variant in summer 2021, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. Hospitalizations of individuals with confirmed COVID-19 also increased almost twofold at the end of 2021—from an average of 50,000 daily in late November 2021 to 93,000 daily. According to CDC data, as of January 3, 2022, about 62 percent of the total U.S. population had been fully vaccinated. In late 2021, FDA expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in multiple ways, including authorizing vaccines for children 5 through 11 years old, and authorizing booster shots for vaccinated individuals 12 years and older. In addition, the federal government and private businesses began requiring COVID-19 vaccination for certain employees. Reported COVID-19 Vaccinations by Age Group in U.S., as of Jan. 3, 2022 Percentage of population Percentage of fully vaccinated population Fully vaccinated Booster dose 5 years of age and older 66.1 Not applicable 12 years of age and older 71.2 Not available 18 years of age and older 72.9 37.2 65 years of age and older 87.7 58.8 Total 62.1 34.3 Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). | GAO-22-105291 Note: CDC counts individuals as being fully vaccinated if they received two doses on different days of the two-dose vaccines or received one dose of the single-dose vaccine. GAO’s COVID-19 reports have provided analyses of broad federal efforts to respond to the pandemic and support U.S. businesses and residents, resulting in 246 total recommendations for improving federal operations. Agencies have fully or partially addressed 38 percent as of December 31, 2021, fully addressing 16 percent (40 recommendations) and partially addressing another 22 percent (54 recommendations). Fully addressing GAO’s recommendations will enhance the quality and accountability of federal COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery efforts. GAO also raised four matters for congressional consideration, three of which remain open. In this report, GAO makes five new recommendations in the areas of emergency rental assistance, nutrition assistance, and tax relief for businesses. GAO is also designating the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) leadership and coordination of a range of public health emergencies as high risk. This designation is in keeping with long-standing efforts to identify federal programs needing transformation, and to help ensure sustained executive branch and congressional attention so the nation is prepared for future emergencies. Emergency Rental Assistance As of November 30, 2021, the Department of the Treasury had disbursed nearly $38 billion of the $46.55 billion it was appropriated for Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) programs. These programs provide funds to grantees to administer programs to assist eligible renter households that are unable to pay rent, utilities, or other expenses due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 pandemic. Treasury disburses ERA funds to grantees, such as states, local governments, and tribal governments, which make payments to landlords, households, and others eligible to receive the funds. Treasury has not yet designed processes to identify and recover overpayments made by grantees, such as post-payment reviews or recovery audits. Such reviews could verify the eligibility for and accuracy of ERA payments. Without a process for conducting effective post-payment reviews or recovery audits for the ERA programs, Treasury’s ability to consistently identify and recover overpayments made by grantees may be delayed or impossible. The Single Audit Act establishes requirements for audits of states, local governments, and other nonfederal entities that receive funding from federal awards (e.g., grants) when their expenditures meet a certain dollar threshold. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is responsible for developing government-wide guidance for performing audits to comply with the act. OMB guidance includes issuing an annual Compliance Supplement—a tool to help auditors identify compliance requirements that could have a direct and material effect on major programs. Auditors who conduct single audits follow guidance in the Compliance Supplement and agency guidance specific to their programs. In its 2021 Compliance Supplement, OMB listed the ERA programs as “higher risk” programs, but did not include guidance for auditing grantee compliance with ERA. Without this guidance, auditors might not consistently and effectively identify deficiencies in grantees’ compliance with the requirements of the programs, limiting Treasury’s ability to identify and mitigate risks, including risks to payment integrity. GAO recommends that Treasury design and implement processes, such as post-payment reviews or recovery audits, to help ensure timely identification and recovery of overpayments made by grantees to households, landlords, or utility providers in the ERA programs. Treasury agreed with this recommendation and stated that it is working to establish post-payment reviews and recovery audit activities. GAO also recommends that OMB, in consultation with Treasury, issue guidance now or in the near future on the ERA programs in OMB’s Compliance Supplement for single audits to help ensure that auditors consistently and timely identify deficiencies in grantees’ compliance with the programs’ requirements. OMB neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation. Nutrition Assistance The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), within the Department of Agriculture, administers multiple federal nutrition assistance programs, including the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (Pandemic EBT) program—which provides food assistance for children attending schools closed due to COVID-19—and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, among others. COVID-19 Funding and Expenditures for Selected Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs as of Nov. 30, 2021 Program Description Total COVID-19 funding ($) COVID-19 expenditures as of Nov. 30, 2021 ($) SNAP Provides low-income individuals and households with benefits to purchase allowed food items and achieve a more nutritious diet. 16.8 billion 15.6 billion Indefinite appropriation 15.0 billion Pandemic EBT Provides households with children who would have received free or reduced-price school meals if not for school closures due to COVID-19, as well as eligible children in childcare, with benefits to purchase food. Indefinite appropriation 42.4 billion WIC Provides eligible low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk with nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care. 1.4 billion 710.5 million TEFAP Provides low-income individuals with groceries through food banks. 1.25 billion 1.1 billion Legend: Pandemic EBT = Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer; SNAP = Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; TEFAP = the Emergency Food Assistance Program; WIC = Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. Source: GAO analysis of relevant provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act; the CARES Act; the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021; and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 as well as information from the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), within the Department of Agriculture. | GAO-22-105291 Note: Amounts shown reflect amounts appropriated specifically for COVID-19 response and relief and do not include annual appropriations. SNAP received both specific amounts of funding, as well as an indefinite appropriation—an appropriation that, at the time of enactment, is for an unspecified amount—for certain purposes, including a SNAP benefit increase of 15 percent through September 2021. FNS does not have a comprehensive strategy for how its nutrition assistance programs should respond during emergencies. As part of this, FNS’s pandemic plans are outdated, and FNS efforts to identify and incorporate lessons learned from COVID-19 into its nutrition programs are incomplete. Developing a strategy for how its programs should respond to emergencies would benefit FNS’s response to both the current pandemic and future emergencies. Such a strategy could help FNS ensure that individuals and households maintain food security in times of heightened need and that FNS does not miss opportunities to coordinate with vendors across the country. FNS has also not provided sufficient assistance to state and local agencies to facilitate their efforts to obtain reliable and comprehensive eligibility data for the Pandemic EBT program. According to FNS officials, state agencies reported various challenges collecting such data, including relying on manual tracking of thousands of participants. Reliable and comprehensive data can help state Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program agencies ensure they have issued Pandemic EBT benefits to all eligible students in the correct benefit amounts. GAO recommends that the Department of Agriculture ensure that FNS (1) develops a comprehensive strategy for the agency’s nutrition assistance programs to respond to emergencies that includes lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and a mechanism to periodically review and update the strategy and (2) shares timely information with states and other stakeholders during development of the strategy to help inform their ongoing response to COVID-19. GAO also recommends that the Department of Agriculture ensure that FNS further assists state and local agencies in their efforts to obtain reliable and comprehensive eligibility data for the Pandemic EBT program in order to determine eligibility and benefits amounts accurately. The Department of Agriculture agreed with both recommendations. Tax Relief for Businesses To provide liquidity to businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CARES Act and other COVID-19 relief laws included tax measures to help businesses by reducing certain tax obligations, which, in some cases, led to cash refunds. These tax measures included expanded carrybacks for net operating losses—that is, when a taxpayer’s allowable deductions exceed the gross income for a tax year—and the acceleration of alternative minimum tax (AMT) credit refunds. According to officials from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the CARES Act changes contributed to the agency receiving 276 percent more filings for carryback refunds—which include applications for tentative refunds for net operating loss carrybacks and AMT credit refunds—in fiscal year 2021 than in fiscal year 2020. IRS has been unable to process this backlog consistent with its statutory time frames for processing applications for tentative refunds, which businesses submit through IRS Forms 1045 and 1139. The Internal Revenue Code and the CARES Act generally require IRS to issue certain refunds within a 90-day period. IRS data show that the agency started to miss the 90-day statutory requirement for applications in September 2020 and missed it throughout 2021. As of November 2021, the average time for IRS to process all carryback refunds was 165 days (see figure). Average Monthly Processing Times for Carryback Applications and Claims Filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Apr. 2020–Nov. 2021 Note: These data include all carryback cases, including those filed as “claims” on other IRS forms and those filed as “applications” on Forms 1045 and 1139. Forms 1045 are represented in the individual line and Forms 1139 are represented in the business line. Forms 1139 may also contain refund claims for the alternative minimum tax refund. IRS officials said the reported times do not include the additional time—up to 2 weeks—it may take for IRS to finalize production and distribute the refund to the taxpayer. The figure does not represent all of the work that IRS did throughout the year, but focuses on actions specific to the processing times for carryback cases. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 and American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 were also enacted in December 2020 and March 2021 respectively, and contained provisions that also required IRS action.Note: These data include all carryback cases, including those filed as “claims” on other IRS forms and those filed as “applications” on Forms 1045 and 1139. Forms 1045 are represented in the individual line and Forms 1139 are represented in the business line. Forms 1139 may also contain refund claims for the alternative minimum tax refund. IRS officials said the reported times do not include the additional time—up to 2 weeks—it may take for IRS to finalize production and distribute the refund to the taxpayer. The figure does not represent all of the work that IRS did throughout the year, but focuses on actions specific to the processing times for carryback cases. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 and American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 were also enacted in December 2020 and March 2021 respectively, and contained provisions that also required IRS action. While IRS took some remedial actions, it did not have effective preventative control activities or mitigation plans in place to detect or address growing processing times for tentative refunds submitted on IRS Forms 1139 and 1045, such as an average processing time threshold to trigger activities to avoid missing refund deadlines. As such, IRS did not take actions to reduce the carryback backlog until April 2021—7 months after the agency began missing its statutory requirement. Until effective preventative control activities and mitigation plans are put in place, IRS remains at risk of continuing to exceed its 90-day statutory requirement to issue tentative refunds for net operating loss carrybacks and AMT credit refunds. Failure to meet processing deadlines not only causes some taxpayers to face delays in receiving their refunds, but also increases the cost to the federal government in terms of interest paid on such refunds. According to IRS data for fiscal year 2021, these interest payments amounted to approximately $61 million on all carrybacks, of which applications for tentative refund made up roughly 80 percent of all carryback interest payments for the fiscal year. GAO recommends that IRS establish mitigation plans—including indicators, such as a threshold to initiate mitigation activities—to timely address future challenges to processing times for applications for tentative refunds on Forms 1045 and 1139 within the 90-day statutory requirement. IRS neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation, but said that it will take the recommendation into consideration as it continues to make improvements to taxpayer services. HHS COVID-19 Funding HHS received approximately $484 billion in COVID-19 relief appropriations from the six COVID-19 relief laws. These relief funds may be used for a range of purposes, such as assistance to health care or child care providers; testing, therapeutic, or vaccine-related activities; or procurement of critical supplies. Of the $484 billion appropriated, HHS reported that it had obligated about $387 billion and expended about $226 billion—about 80 percent and 47 percent, respectively, as of November 30, 2021. GAO previously recommended that HHS provide projected time frames for its spending of the remainder of its COVID-19 relief funds in the spend plans HHS submits to Congress. HHS partially agreed with the recommendation, but stated that the department would not be able to provide specific time frames for all relief funds as it needed to remain flexible in responding to incoming requests. Providing projected time frames would not affect HHS’s ability to be flexible in its spend plans, as these plans are not binding to the agency and can be revised. GAO will continue to examine HHS’s oversight of COVID-19 relief funds. High-Risk Designation: HHS’s Leadership and Coordination of Public Health Emergencies For more than a decade, GAO has reported on HHS’s execution of its lead role in preparing for, and responding to, a range of public health emergencies and has found persistent deficiencies in its ability to perform this role. These deficiencies have hindered the nation’s response to the current COVID-19 pandemic and a variety of past threats, including other infectious diseases—such as the H1N1 influenza pandemic, Zika, and Ebola—and extreme weather events, such as hurricanes. As devastating as the COVID-19 pandemic has been, more frequent extreme weather events, new viruses, and bad actors who threaten to cause intentional harm loom, making the deficiencies GAO has identified particularly concerning. Not being sufficiently prepared for a range of public health emergencies can also negatively affect the time and resources needed to achieve full recovery. While HHS has taken some actions to address the 115 recommendations GAO has made related to its leadership and coordination of public health emergencies since fiscal year 2007, 72 remain open. For example, HHS has not addressed our September 2020 recommendation to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop plans to mitigate supply chain shortages for the remainder of the pandemic, thus contributing to the shortage of such supplies as of January 2022. Also, while HHS began to procure additional tests in the latter part of 2021 and into 2022, and the White House recently appointed a new testing coordinator, HHS had not issued a comprehensive and publicly available testing strategy, which we recommend it do in January 2021. Such a strategy is needed to ensure more timely proactive action in the future and the efficient use of billions of dollars in unobligated funds. GAO’s prior work has identified persistent deficiencies in HHS’s preparedness and response efforts in several areas, including (1) establishing clear roles and responsibilities for the wide range of key federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, and nongovernmental partners; (2) collecting and analyzing complete and consistent data to inform decision-making—including any necessary midcourse changes—as well as future preparedness; (3) providing clear and consistent communication to key partners and the public; (4) establishing transparency and accountability to help ensure program integrity and build public trust; and (5) understanding key partners’ capabilities and limitations. GAO is adding this area to the high-risk list to help ensure the executive branch and Congress pay sustained attention in order to make additional progress in implementing GAO’s open recommendations and strengthen HHS’s leadership and coordination role for future public health emergencies. Why GAO Did This Study At the beginning of January 2022, the U.S. had about 56 million reported cases of COVID-19 and over 830,000 reported deaths, according to CDC. The country also experiences lingering economic repercussions related to the pandemic, including rising inflation and ongoing supply chain disruptions. Six relief laws, including the CARES Act, have been enacted to address the public health and economic threats posed by COVID-19. As of November 30, 2021 (the most recent date for which data were available), the federal government had obligated a total of $4 trillion and expended $3.5 trillion, 88 and 77 percent, respectively, of the total COVID-19 relief funds provided by these six laws. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to report on its ongoing monitoring and oversight efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This report, GAO’s ninth, examines the federal government’s continued efforts to respond to, and recover from, the COVID-19 pandemic. GAO reviewed federal data and documents. GAO also interviewed federal and state officials and other stakeholders.
- Congratulations to Bolivia’s President-Elect Luis Arce
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- Department of Justice Issues Annual Report to Congress on its Work to Combat Elder Fraud and Abuse
October 20, 2020Yesterday, the Department of Justice issued its Annual Report to Congress on Department of Justice Activities to Combat Elder Fraud and Abuse. The report summarizes the department’s extensive efforts from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020.
- Justice Department Requires Divestiture In Order For Liberty Latin America To Acquire AT&T’s Telecommunications Operations In Puerto Rico And The U.S. Virgin Islands
October 23, 2020The Department of Justice announced today that it is requiring Liberty Latin America Ltd. (Liberty), its subsidiary, Liberty Communications of Puerto Rico LLC (LCPR), and AT&T Inc. (AT&T) to divest certain fiber-based telecommunications assets and customer accounts in Puerto Rico, in order for Liberty to proceed with its proposed acquisition of AT&T’s wireline and wireless telecommunications operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The department has approved WorldNet Telecommunications, Inc. (WorldNet) as the acquirer.
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July 31, 2020July 26, 2020, marked the 30th anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This landmark civil rights law protects access and opportunity for people with disabilities across community life, including employment.
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- Personnel Mobility Program: Improved Guidance Could Help Federal Agencies Address Skills Gaps and Maximize Other Benefits
January 27, 2022What GAO Found The personnel mobility program can address skills gaps by providing temporary assignments for purposes that benefit both federal agencies and certain non-federal organizations. The four agencies GAO selected for review—the Departments of Defense and Energy, General Services Administration, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration—used the mobility program to bring top scientists, researchers, and professors into the federal government to lead complex and highly technical projects and address emerging issues. Officials also identified a number of other benefits of the program—flexible time commitments for participants of up to 2 years, ease of administration, and lower costs—compared with other means of gaining skills or expertise. Despite these benefits, GAO found these agencies used the mobility program infrequently. The number of non-federal participants at selected agencies represented less than 1 percent of their total civilian workforce in a given fiscal year. Agency officials attributed this to certain limitations, as shown below. Selected Agencies Identified Personnel Mobility Program Benefits and Limitations The Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) written mobility program guidance states that “non-federal [participants]…may exercise supervision over federal employees.” However, this guidance does not fully reflect advice OPM provides agencies that have sought clarity about the supervisory duties allowed, such as those related to performance management and relevant training. Without clear written guidance regarding supervisory activities, mobility program participants may take performance management actions that could pose risks to the agency. The agencies in GAO’s review managed mobility program-related costs by negotiating cost-sharing agreements with the participant’s home organization. Officials at selected agencies described key considerations that may affect the proportion of the participant’s costs selected agencies would reimburse the home organization. These considerations include time commitment, the distribution of benefits to both the federal government and the participant’s home organization, and salary limits. The selected agencies also vetted mobility program candidates for eligibility, technical qualifications, security, and conflicts of interest. In addition, OPM does not have complete and accurate data needed to track mobility program use. Thus, OPM does not know how often the program is being used across the federal government. Without a process to obtain complete and accurate data, OPM does not have the information needed to reliably inform its strategic decisions to oversee, provide guidance, promote, or more generally understand how federal agencies are using the mobility program to meet their mission and address critical skills gaps. Why GAO Did This Study Federal agencies need skilled personnel to address the complex social, economic, and security challenges facing the United States. The mobility program, established under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act of 1970, can help agencies address their mission critical skills gaps with temporary assignments. GAO was asked to review OPM’s oversight over the personnel mobility program. This report examines, among other things, the frequency with which selected agencies used the mobility program from fiscal years 2016 – 2020; selected agencies’ management of the program’s costs; and OPM’s tracking of agencies’ use of the program. GAO selected four agencies for review. These agencies were selected as potential frequent users of the program based on a literature review and interviews with agency officials. For the selected agencies, GAO (1) reviewed a selection of 53 program agreements; (2) reviewed policies, procedures, and guidance documents; (3) analyzed mobility program data in OPM’s database; and (4) interviewed officials.
- Statement Of AAG Makan Delrahim Thanking Participants In Workshop On Competition In The Licensing Of Public Performance Rights In The Music Industry
July 29, 2020On Wednesday July 29, the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division concluded its two-day virtual workshop on competition in the licensing of public performance rights in the music industry.
- Department of Justice Seizes $2.3 Million in Cryptocurrency Paid to the Ransomware Extortionists Darkside
June 7, 2021The Department of Justice today announced that it has seized 63.7 bitcoins currently valued at over $2.3 million.
- Monaco National Day
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- Colorado Springs Agrees to Improve Stormwater Management in Settlement with the United States
October 29, 2020The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a settlement with the City of Colorado Springs, Colorado, to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act with respect to the City’s storm sewer system.
- Contractor Business Systems: DOD Needs Better Information to Monitor and Assess Review Process
August 24, 2021What GAO Found Since 2011, the Department of Defense (DOD) has implemented several changes to its processes for reviewing contractor business systems—which include systems such as accounting, estimating, and purchasing. Among other changes, DOD clarified the roles and responsibilities of the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) and the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA)—the two agencies that are responsible for conducting the reviews; clarified timeframes for business system reviews and established criteria for business systems; and withheld payments from contractors that were found to have significant deficiencies in their business systems. DOD does not have a mechanism to monitor and ensure that these reviews are being conducted in a timely manner. For its part, DCAA has conducted few business system audits since 2013, as it focused its efforts on other types of audits. DCAA plans to significantly increase the number of business system audits over the next 4 years, but its success in doing so depends on its ability to shift resources from other audits; to use public accounting firms to conduct other, non-business system audits; and DCAA staff’s ability to execute new audit plans in a timely manner. DCMA relies on the three offices responsible for conducting DCMA-led reviews to manage the reviews, but DCMA does not formally monitor whether these reviews are being conducted consistent with policy nor does it monitor DCAA’s efforts to complete the audits for which it is responsible. DCMA is ultimately responsible for approving a contractor’s business systems. DCMA currently lacks a mechanism based on relevant and reliable information, such as the number of reviews that are outstanding and the resources available to conduct such reviews, to ensure reviews are being completed in a timely fashion. Such information could help inform more strategic oversight on whether the current review process is achieving its intended results, or whether additional changes to the timing of or criteria for conducting reviews are needed. Why GAO Did This Study Contractor business systems produce critical data that contracting officers use to help negotiate and manage defense contracts. These systems and their related internal controls act as important safeguards against fraud, waste, and abuse of federal funding. Federal and defense acquisition regulations and DOD policies require that DOD take steps to review the adequacy of certain business systems, but GAO and other oversight entities have raised questions about the sufficiency and consistency of DOD’s review process. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 contained a provision for GAO to evaluate how DOD implemented legislation intended to improve its business system review process. Among other things, this report examines (1) the changes DOD made to its review process and (2) the extent to which DOD is ensuring timely business system reviews. GAO analyzed DOD acquisition regulations, policies, and procedures for conducting contractor business system reviews and analyzed data on reviews conducted between fiscal years 2013 and 2018.
- Justice Department Applauds the Passage and Enactment of the Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative Act of 2020
January 6, 2021On Jan. 5, 2021, President Donald J. Trump signed H.R. 8354, the Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative Act of 2020, a bill to permanently establish the Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative, or “SVI”, within the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar, and Indian Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh At a Joint Press Availability
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- Chinese National Charged with Criminal Conspiracy to Export US Power Amplifiers to China
January 29, 2021An indictment was unsealed this week charging Cheng Bo, also known as Joe Cheng, a 45-year-old national of the People’s Republic of China, with participating in a criminal conspiracy from 2012-2015 to violate U.S. export laws by shipping U.S. power amplifiers to China. Cheng’s former employer, Avnet Asia Pte. Ltd., a Singapore company and global distributor of electronic components and related software, agreed to pay a financial penalty to the United States of $1,508,000 to settle criminal liability for the conduct of its former employees, including Cheng. As part of a non-prosecution agreement, Avnet Asia admitted responsibility for Cheng’s unlawful conspiracy to ship export-controlled U.S. goods with potential military applications to China, and also for the criminal conduct of another former employee who, from 2007-2009, illegally caused U.S. goods to be shipped to China and Iran without a license. This conduct violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
- Export-Import Bank: Status of End-Use Monitoring of Dual-Use Exports as of August 2021
September 1, 2021Why GAO Did This Study EXIM’s mission is to support the export of U.S. goods and services overseas through loans, loan guarantees, and insurance, thereby supporting U.S. jobs. In 1994, Congress passed legislation authorizing EXIM to facilitate the financing of U.S. exports of defense articles and services with both commercial and military applications, provided that the bank determines these items are nonlethal and primarily meant for civilian end use. Included in the same act was a provision for GAO, in conjunction with EXIM, to report annually on the end uses of dual-use exports financed by EXIM during the second preceding fiscal year. This report (1) examines the status of EXIM’s monitoring of dual-use exports that it continued to finance in fiscal year 2019, as of August 2021; and (2) identifies any new dual-use exports that EXIM financed in fiscal year 2020. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed EXIM documentation and data on dual-use exports and interviewed EXIM officials. What GAO Found As of August 2021, the Export-Import Bank (EXIM) was monitoring the end use of a single transaction that it continued to finance in fiscal year 2019, as summarized below: Two satellites for the government of Mexico. A fixed service satellite was launched in December 2012 and became operational in February 2013, and a mobile service satellite was launched in October 2015 and became operational in December 2015. For 2021, EXIM received all documents from the government of Mexico on time and subsequently determined that Mexico was in compliance with the bank’s dual-use policy. EXIM did not finance any new exports under its dual-use authority in fiscal year 2020, according to EXIM authorization data and EXIM officials. For more information, contact Kimberly Gianopoulos at (202) 512-8612 or firstname.lastname@example.org.