January 27, 2022

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Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Gives Remarks at the Civil Rights Division’s Virtual Conference: Confronting Hate: Strategies for Prevention, Accountability and Justice

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<div>Good morning. Thank you for joining us for this important event, Confronting Hate: Strategies for Prevention, Accountability, and Justice. </div>
Good morning. Thank you for joining us for this important event, Confronting Hate: Strategies for Prevention, Accountability, and Justice. 

More from: October 25, 2021

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  • Management Report: Preliminary Information on Potential Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Receipt of Unemployment Insurance Benefits during the COVID-19 Pandemic
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found As part of ongoing work on unemployment insurance (UI) benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, GAO found potential racial and ethnic disparities in the receipt of UI benefits, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits. Specifically, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau's COVID-19 Household Pulse Survey, a higher percentage of White, non-Hispanic/Latino applicants received benefits from UI programs during the pandemic than certain other racial and ethnic groups. In addition, our preliminary analysis of data obtained from five selected states in our ongoing review of the PUA program—a temporary program providing benefits to individuals not otherwise eligible for UI—identified some racial and ethnic disparities in the receipt of PUA benefits. In two of the five states, for example, the percentage of White PUA claimants who received benefits in 2020 was considerably higher than the percentage of Black PUA claimants who received benefits that year (both groups consist of non-Hispanic/Latino claimants). This analysis of state-provided data is preliminary and we are continuing to examine these data, including their reliability and potential explanations for disparities. Various factors could explain the disparities we identified in our preliminary analyses, such as differences in UI eligibility that may be correlated with race and ethnicity. However, another potential explanation is that states could be approving or processing UI claims differently for applicants in different racial and ethnic groups. Why GAO Did This Study The UI system provides a vital safety net for individuals who become unemployed through no fault of their own, and this support is essential during widespread economic downturns. During the pandemic, the CARES Act supplemented the regular UI program by creating three federally funded temporary UI programs, including the PUA program, which expanded benefit eligibility and enhanced benefits. As part of our ongoing work on the various UI programs during the pandemic, we analyzed the extent to which there have been differences in the receipt of benefits by race and ethnicity. The purpose of this report is to inform DOL about potential racial and ethnic disparities in the receipt of UI benefits. According to DOL, ensuring equitable access to UI benefits is a top priority for the agency. We recognize that the complexity of these issues may take time to examine in depth. However, given that PUA and the other temporary UI programs are scheduled to expire in September 2021, we are sharing this preliminary information for DOL to consider in determining whether it needs to engage with states at this point to ensure equitable access to the UI system. For more information, contact Thomas M. Costa at (202) 512-7215 orcostat@gao.gov.
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  • United States Prevails in Actions to Seize and Forfeit Iranian Terror Group’s Missiles and Petroleum
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today announced the successful forfeiture of two large caches of Iranian arms, including 171 surface-to-air missiles and eight anti-tank missiles, as well as approximately 1.1 million barrels of Iranian petroleum products.
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  • Justice Department Requires Waste Management To Divest Assets In Order To Proceed With Advanced Disposal Services Acquisition
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that Waste Management, Inc. (WMI) will be required to divest 15 landfills, 37 transfer stations, 29 hauling locations, over 200 waste collection routes, and other assets in order to proceed with its $4.6 billion acquisition of Advanced Disposal Services, Inc. (ADS).  The department said that without the divestiture, the proposed acquisition would substantially lessen competition for small container commercial waste collection or municipal solid waste disposal services in over 50 local markets.
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  • United States Files Complaint to Forfeit Iranian Missiles and Sells Previously-Transferred Iranian Petroleum
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today announced the filing of a complaint to forfeit two shipments of Iranian missiles that the U.S. Navy seized in transit from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to militant groups in Yemen, as well as the sale of approximately 1.1 million barrels of Iranian petroleum that the United States previously obtained from four foreign-flagged oil tankers bound for Venezuela. 
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  • GAO Strategic Plan: Serving the Congress and the Nation 2010-2015 (Supersedes GAO-07-1SP)
    In U.S GAO News
    This document supersedes GAO-07-1SP, GAO Strategic Plan, 2007-2012, March 2007. This document presents GAO's strategic plan for serving the Congress for fiscal years 2010 through 2015. In keeping with our commitment to update our plan every 3 years, it describes our proposed goals and strategies for supporting the Congress and the nation as the United States undergoes a period of change, daunting challenges, and promising opportunities. We have identified eight trends that provide context for our plan: (1) evolving security threats; (2) urgent fiscal sustainability and debt challenges; (3) economic recovery and restored job growth; (4) changing dynamics of global interdependence and shifts in power; (5) advances in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; (6) increasing impact of networks and virtualization; (7) shifting roles in government and governance; and (8) demographic and societal changes confronting the young and old. Since we issued our last plan, significant changes have affected our nation's commitments and fiscal outlook. Our nation has multiple wartime-related commitments as it winds down one war in Iraq, increases its presence in another in Afghanistan, and re-examines commitments in Pakistan. The global financial crisis emerged as a new national security threat as it destabilized economies around the world. Our nation faced the deepest recession since the Great Depression, with unemployment exceeding 9 percent and economists forecasting that recovery could be both slow and fragile.
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  • Four Individuals Plead Guilty to RICO Conspiracy Involving “Bulletproof Hosting” for Cybercriminals
    In Crime News
    Four Eastern European nationals have pleaded guilty to conspiring to engage in a Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) arising from their providing “bulletproof hosting” services between 2008 and 2015, which were used by cybercriminals to distribute malware and attack financial institutions and victims throughout the United States.
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  • While Stargazing on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity Rover Spots Earth and Venus
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  • Justice Department Settles with the State of New Jersey’s Student Lending Authority for Alleged Violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) has agreed to enter into a settlement and pay $50,000 to resolve allegations that it violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by obtaining unlawful court judgments against two military servicemembers who co-signed student loans.
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  • U.S. Welcomes Guatemala’s Designation of Hizballah as a Terrorist Organization
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  • Justice Department Seeks to Shut Down Chicago Tax Return Preparer
    In Crime News
    The United States filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois today seeking to bar a Chicago area tax return preparer from preparing federal income tax returns for others. 
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  • Navistar Inc. to Reduce 10,000 Tons of NOx Emissions and Pay $52 Million Civil Penalty in Federal Settlement of Clean Air Act Claims
    In Crime News
    Navistar Inc., an integrated manufacturer of trucks and diesel engines based in Lisle, Illinois, has agreed to mitigate at least 10,000 tons of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions and pay a $52 million civil penalty in a consent decree, lodged today, to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act. In particular, Navistar illegally introduced into commerce on‑highway Heavy-Duty Diesel Engines (HDDEs) that were not covered by EPA-issued certificates of conformity.
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  • DOD Acquisition Outcomes: A Case for Change
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (DOD) is shepherding a portfolio of major weapon systems valued at about $1.3 trillion. How DOD is managing this investment has been a matter of concern for some time. Since 1990, GAO has designated DOD's weapon system acquisitions as a high-risk area for fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement. DOD has experienced cost overruns, missed deadlines, performance shortfalls, and persistent management problems. In light of the serious budget pressures facing the nation, such problems are especially troubling. GAO has issued hundreds of reports addressing broad-based issues, such as best practices, as well as reports focusing on individual acquisitions. These reports have included many recommendations. Congress asked GAO to testify on possible problems with and improvements to defense acquisition policy. In doing so, we highlight the risks of conducting business as usual and identify some of the solutions we have found in successful acquisition programs and organizations.DOD is facing a cascading number of problems in managing its acquisitions. Cost increases incurred while developing new weapon systems mean DOD cannot produce as many of those weapons as intended nor can it be relied on to deliver to the warfighter when promised. Military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq are consuming a large share of DOD resources and causing the department to invest more money sooner than expected to replace or fix existing weapons. Meanwhile, DOD is intent on transforming military operations and has its eye on multiple megasystems that are expected to be the most expensive and complex ever. These costly conditions are running head-on into the nation's unsustainable fiscal path. DOD knows what to do to achieve more successful outcomes but finds it difficult to apply the necessary discipline and controls or assign much-needed accountability. DOD has written into policy an approach that emphasizes attaining a certain level of knowledge at critical junctures before managers agree to invest more money in the next phase of weapon system development. This knowledge-based approach results in evolutionary--that is, incremental, manageable, predictable--development and inserts several controls to help managers gauge progress in meeting cost, schedule, and performance goals. But DOD is not employing the knowledge-based approach, discipline is lacking, and business cases are weak. Persistent practices show a decided lack of restraint. DOD's requirements process generates more demand for new programs than fiscal resources can support. DOD compounds the problem by approving so many highly complex and interdependent programs. Once too many programs are approved to start, the budgeting process exacerbates problems. Because programs are funded annually and departmentwide, cross-portfolio priorities have not been established, competition for funding continues over time, forcing programs to view success as the ability to secure the next funding increment rather than delivering capabilities when and as promised. Improving this condition requires discipline in the requirements and budgetary processes. Determining who should be held accountable for deviations and what penalties are needed is crucial. If DOD cannot discipline itself now to execute programs within fiscal realities, then draconian, budget-driven decisions may have to be made later.
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  • Ukrainian Arrested and Charged with Ransomware Attack on Kaseya
    In Crime News
    Today, the Justice Department announced recent actions taken against two foreign nationals charged with deploying Sodinokibi/REvil ransomware to attack businesses and government entities in the United States.
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  • Federal Rulemaking: Selected Agencies Should Fully Describe Public Comment Data and Their Limitations
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Regulations.gov and selected agency-specific comment websites collect some identity information, such as email address, from commenters who choose to provide it during the public comment process. Based on GAO's survey, the extent to which commenters with email addresses confirmed that they submitted their comments to rulemakings varied across 10 selected agencies (see figure). Specifically, estimates of commenters with email addresses that confirmed their comments ranged from 48 to 87 percent. Conversely, estimates of presumed commenters with email addresses that did not make the comments ranged from 5 to 30 percent, calling into question the actual source of these comments. Most comments at eight selected agencies did not contain email addresses. Although agencies may collect identity information, the law does not require its collection or verification. Agencies must consider the substance of the comment, rather than the identity of the commenter, as part of the rulemaking process. Extent of Commenters with Email Addresses that Confirmed They Submitted Their Comments on 10 Selected Agencies' Rulemaking Proceedings Note: Estimates in this figure have a margin of error of +/- 9 percentage points or fewer, at the 95 percent confidence level. Circles representing each agency's estimates may overlap if the estimates are similar. For example, the circle at the 85 percent level for Yes responses covers two agencies. Various aspects of the commenting process can create limitations for certain external users of public comment data. For example, identity information associated with public comments is self-reported and may not always be accurate. Additionally, some agencies do not post all instances of duplicate comments (identical or near-identical comment text but varied identity information), so the public may not have access to all comment data related to a proposed rule. Almost all of the selected agencies share at least some public comment data online, but they do not always fully describe the available data. Specifically, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not define the data elements that may be present in its comment data. Further, FCC, the General Services Administration (GSA) (which manages Regulations.gov), and the eight selected agencies that use that site do not describe limitations to external users of comment data that may affect their use of the data. Key practices for transparently reporting open government data state that agencies should fully describe the information they share, including any limitations. Providing information about available public comment data and their limitations can help external users make informed decisions about their use of the data and help ensure they do not inadvertently draw inaccurate conclusions from the data. Why GAO Did This Study Federal agencies publish thousands of proposed rules each year and are generally required to provide interested persons (commenters) an opportunity to comment on them. Although the identity information collected varies, agencies are generally required to make public comments available online, to the extent practical. Some rulemakings have received extremely large numbers of comments in recent years, raising questions about the accuracy of the associated identity information. GAO was asked to review issues related to identity information associated with public comments. Among other things, this report examines the extent to which commenters confirmed that they submitted comments on rulemaking proceedings for selected agencies and the challenges that exist for external users in reviewing and analyzing public comment data. GAO selected 10 agencies and obtained electronic comments on their rulemakings that accepted comments from 2013 through 2017. GAO selected generalizable samples of comments with email addresses and surveyed commenters to determine whether they submitted the comments. GAO reviewed comment data and key practices for reporting government data.
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  • Contingency Contracting: Observations on Actions Needed to Address Systemic Challenges
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (DOD) obligated about $367 billion in fiscal year 2010 to acquire goods and services to meet its mission and support its operations, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan. GAO's work, as well as that of others, has documented shortcomings in DOD's strategic and acquisition planning, contract administration and oversight, and acquisition workforce. These are challenges that need to be addressed by DOD and by the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as they carry out their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and prepare for future contingencies. Today's statement discusses (1) contract management challenges faced by DOD, including those that take on heightened significance in a contingency environment; (2) actions DOD has taken and those needed to address these challenges; and (3) similar challenges State and USAID face. The statement is drawn from GAO's body of work on DOD contingency contracting, contract management, and workforce, as well as prior reports on State and USAID's contracting and workforce issues.DOD faces a number of longstanding and systemic challenges that hinder its ability to achieve more successful acquisition outcomes--obtaining the right goods and services, at the right time, at the right cost. These challenges include addressing the issues posed by DOD's reliance on contractors, ensuring that DOD personnel use sound contracting approaches, and maintaining a workforce with the skills and capabilities needed to properly manage acquisitions and oversee contractors. The issues encountered with contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan are emblematic of these systemic challenges, though their significance and impact are heightened in a contingency environment. GAO's concerns regarding DOD contracting predate the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. GAO identified DOD contract management as a high-risk area in 1992 and raised concerns in 1997 about DOD's management and use of contractors to support deployed forces in Bosnia. In the years since then, GAO has continued to identify a need for DOD to better manage and oversee its acquisition of services. DOD has recognized the need to address the systemic challenges it faces, including those related to operational contract support. Over the past several years, DOD has announced new policies, guidance, and training initiatives, but not all of these actions have been implemented and their expected benefits have not yet been fully realized. While DOD's actions are steps in the right direction, DOD needs to (1) strategically manage services acquisition, including defining desired outcomes; (2) determine the appropriate mix, roles, and responsibilities of contractor, federal civilian, and military personnel; (3) assess the effectiveness of efforts to address prior weaknesses with specific contracting arrangements and incentives; (4) ensure that its acquisition workforce is adequately sized, trained, and equipped; and (5) fully integrate operational contract support throughout the department through education and predeployment training. In that regard, in June 2010 GAO called for a cultural change in DOD that emphasizes an awareness of operational contract support throughout all aspects of the department. In January 2011, the Secretary of Defense expressed concerns about DOD's current level of dependency on contractors and directed the department to take a number of actions. The Secretary's recognition and directions are significant steps, yet instilling cultural change will require sustained commitment and leadership. State and USAID face contracting challenges similar to DOD's, particularly with regard to planning for and having insight into the roles performed by contractors. In April 2010, GAO reported that State's workforce plan did not address the extent to which contractors should be used to perform specific functions. Similarly, GAO reported that USAID's workforce plan did not contain analyses covering the agency's entire workforce, including contractors. The recently issued Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review recognized the need for State and USAID to rebalance their workforces and directed the agencies to ensure that they have an adequate number of government employees to carry out their core missions and to improve contract administration and oversight. GAO has made multiple recommendations to the agencies to address contracting and workforce challenges. The agencies have generally agreed with the recommendations and have efforts under way to implement them.
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  • Statement from Attorney General Merrick B. Garland
    In Crime News
    U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland today made the following statement:
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  • Florida and Tennessee Pain Clinic Owner Extradited from Italy to the United States to Face RICO Charges
    In Crime News
    A dual U.S.-Italian national was extradited from Italy to the United States on Nov. 20. The U.S. Marshals Service effectuated the transportation of the defendant from Lamezia Terme, Calabria to Knoxville, Tennessee.
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