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- COVID-19: Lessons Learned from Interior and Treasury’s Administration of CARES Act Funds Could Improve Federal Emergency Relief to TribesBy Sam NewsIn U.S GAO NewsOctober 29, 2021What GAO Found The Department of the Interior distributed the CARES Act Operation of Indian Programs (OIP) appropriation through existing programs while the Department of the Treasury had to set up a new program to distribute the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) Tribal Government Set-Aside. This resulted in tribes taking fewer steps to access and use Interior's OIP appropriation than Treasury's program. Interior. The CARES Act required that Interior make at least $400 million of the OIP appropriation available to meet the direct needs of tribes. Interior disbursed these funds through two existing programs based on tribal enrollment. As a result, tribes needed to take few administrative steps to access and use funds. Treasury. The CARES Act created the CRF as a new program. The CRF appropriation included an $8 billion Tribal Set-Aside. Treasury did not have a preexisting allocation methodology or mechanisms for disbursing this funding to tribes, so it had to develop them before it could make payments. Treasury distributed the CRF Tribal Set-Aside in two tranches, using multiple allocation methodologies. Treasury asked tribes to take several administrative steps to access and use CRF payments. For example, tribes had to submit two rounds of data to receive both tranches of CRF payments. Agencies and selected tribes faced various challenges regarding the CARES Act OIP appropriation and CRF Tribal Set-Aside. Treasury faced greater challenges than Interior, and was delayed distributing CRF payments to tribes. For example: Treasury officials said the work needed to develop distribution formulas consistent with the CARES Act contributed to delays in CRF disbursements to tribes. Selected tribes told GAO that Treasury used certain data in one of its allocation methodologies without consulting with tribes about the data and their limitations. Such consultation could have allowed the agency to make changes or address tribes' concerns prior to making payments using the data. Consequently, certain tribes did not receive emergency relief in a timely manner to address pandemic needs. Selected tribal organizations, academic researchers, and tribes said that adjusting to Treasury's changing guidance on allowable uses of funds further delayed tribes' implementation of projects and increased their administrative burden. Treasury has applied some lessons learned to its administration of a subsequent relief program established by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. For example, Treasury improved its communication to tribes on allowable use of funds. However, Treasury has not formalized other lessons learned into its tribal consultation policy. Specifically, Treasury's tribal consultation policy does not call for the agency to consult with tribes on data it is considering using to make policy decisions with tribal implications. Until Treasury updates its policy, it risks using data without a meaningful dialogue with tribes about any limitations of the data. This deprives Treasury of information that tribes could provide about how to address data limitations and may increase the risk that programs might not be as effective at meeting tribes' needs in a timely manner. Why GAO Did This Study GAO has previously found that COVID-19 disproportionately harmed the public health and economies of tribal nations in the U.S. In March 2020, the CARES Act appropriated over $9 billion for federal programs for tribes and their members—this amount included $8 billion for Treasury's CRF Tribal Set-Aside and $453 million for Interior's OIP (CARES Act funds). 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 is part of that body of work. It examines (1) approaches Interior and Treasury took to distribute CARES Act funds to tribes and steps necessary for tribes to access and use these funds, and (2) challenges the agencies and selected tribes faced and lessons learned that could improve future federal emergency relief to tribes. To do this work, GAO reviewed agency documents and interviewed federal agency officials, representatives of three tribal organizations and two academic research centers—selected for their work related to CARES Act funds—and officials from seven selected tribes that accessed CARES Act funds from the agencies.[Read More…]
- Appointment of Ambassador Lucy Tamlyn as Chargé d’Affaires at Embassy KhartoumBy Sam NewsJanuary 17, 2022
- Owner of New York Tax Preparation Business Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to File False ReturnsBy Sam NewsJuly 30, 2020A Queens, New York return preparer pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to defraud the United States by filing false returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.[Read More…]
- Recognizing World Ocean Day 2021By Sam NewsJune 8, 2021
- Public Schedule – January 19, 2022By Sam NewsJanuary 19, 2022Office of the [Read More…]
- NASA’s Curiosity Keeps Rolling As Team Operates Rover From HomeBy Sam NewsIn SpaceSeptember 26, 2020The Mars mission has [Read More…]
- Crane company agrees to pay more than $4.5M to resolve lawsuit for non-compliance with Military SpecificationsBy Sam NewsIn Justice NewsOctober 6, 2021Crane Company has agreed [Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Press AvailabilityBy Sam NewsDecember 21, 2021
- The President’s Fiscal Year 2022 BudgetBy Sam NewsMay 28, 2021
- Federal Contractor Agrees to Pay $18.98 Million for Alleged False Claims Act Caused by Overcharges and Unqualified LaborBy Sam NewsNovember 20, 2020Cognosante LLC has agreed to pay the United States $18,987,789 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by using unqualified labor and overcharging the United States for services provided to government agencies under two General Services Administration (GSA) contracts, the Justice Department announced today. Cognosante, which is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, provides health care and IT services and solutions to federal agencies.[Read More…]
- House of Representatives Vote on a Libyan Interim Government of National UnityBy Sam NewsMarch 10, 2021
- Bloods Gang Members Sentenced to Life in Prison for Racketeering Conspiracy Involving Murder and Other CrimesBy Sam NewsOctober 27, 2020Five members of the United Blood Nation (UBN or Bloods) street gang were sentenced in Charlotte, North Carolina, after standing trial on federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) conspiracy and other charges. These defendants’ sentences are the culmination of a prosecution that charged 83 UBN gang members in the Western District of North Carolina with RICO conspiracy and other crimes.[Read More…]
- Pain Doctor Convicted of Over $100 Million Health Care Fraud SchemeBy Sam NewsSeptember 22, 2021A federal jury in the Eastern District of Michigan convicted a Michigan doctor today for his role in masterminding and executing a complex scheme to defraud Medicare and other health insurance programs by administering medically unnecessary spinal injections in exchange for prescriptions of high doses of opioids to patients.[Read More…]
- Senior Advisor for Energy SecurityBy Sam NewsAugust 10, 2021
- Two Individuals Sentenced for COVID-19 Relief FraudBy Sam NewsOctober 13, 2021A Georgia man was sentenced today to 18 months in federal prison for fraudulently obtaining $285,742 through a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.[Read More…]
- NASA’s Perseverance Rover Goes Through Trials by Fire, Ice, Light and SoundBy Sam NewsIn SpaceSeptember 26, 2020The agency’s new [Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Gantz By Sam NewsDecember 10, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
- United States Takes Action To Counter Iranian Support for al-Qa’idaBy Sam NewsJanuary 12, 2021Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- Statement of Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on World Elder Abuse Awareness DayBy Sam NewsJune 15, 2021U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland today made the following statement in honor of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day:[Read More…]
- Technology Assessment Design HandbookBy Sam NewsIn U.S GAO NewsFebruary 18, 2021The Technology Assessment (TA) Design Handbook identifies tools and approaches GAO staff and others can consider in the design of robust and rigorous technology assessments. The handbook underscores the importance of TA design (Chapter 1), outlines the process of designing TAs (Chapter 2), and describes approaches for mitigating select TA design and implementation challenges (Chapter 3). While the primary audience of this handbook is GAO staff, other organizations may also find portions of this handbook useful as they consider or conduct TAs. This is an update to the handbook published in December 2019, based on the experiences of GAO teams and a review of relevant literature and comments submitted by external experts and the public between December 2019 and December 2020. The handbook identifies three general design stages, as shown in the figure below. The handbook also highlights seven cross-cutting considerations for designing TAs: the iterative nature of TA design, congressional and policymakers' interests, resources, independence, engaging internal and external stakeholders, potential challenges, and communication strategy. In addition, the handbook provides a high-level process for developing policy options, as a tool for analyzing and articulating a range of possible actions a policymaker could consider that may enhance the benefits or mitigate the challenges of a technology. Steps in developing policy options include, as applicable: determining the potential policy objective; gathering evidence; identifying possible policy options and the relevant dimensions along which to analyze them; analyzing policy options; and presenting the results of the analysis. Summary of Key Stages of Technology Assessment Design We found that GAO TAs can use a variety of design approaches and methods. The handbook includes TA design and methodology examples, along with example objectives commonly found in GAO TAs, such as: describe a technology, assess opportunities and challenges of a technology, and assess policy implications or options. For example, some GAO TAs include an objective related to describing the status and feasibility of a technology, which GAO teams have addressed by using methodologies such as expert panels, interviews, literature and document reviews, site visits, and determining the technology readiness level. Also included in the handbook are examples of TA design and implementation challenges, along with possible mitigation strategies. We identified four general categories of challenges: (1) ensuring that the design and implementation of TAs result in useful products for Congress and other policymakers; (2) determining the policy objective and measuring potential effects; (3) researching and communicating complicated issues; and (4) engaging relevant stakeholders. For example, allowing sufficient time for writing, review, and any needed revisions is one potential mitigation strategy that could help teams write simply and clearly about technical subjects and ensure that the design and implementation of TAs result in useful products for Congress and other policymakers. In 2019, GAO created the Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics team to expand its work on cutting-edge science and technology issues, and to provide oversight, insight, and foresight for science and technology. TAs can be used to strengthen decision-making, enhance knowledge and awareness, and provide early insights into the potential effects of technology. Systematically designing a TA can enhance its quality, credibility, and usefulness; ensure independence of the analysis; and ensure effective use of resources. Under Comptroller General Authority, we developed this handbook by generally following the format of the 2012 GAO methodology transfer paper, Designing Evaluations. Below is a summary of the approach we used to affirm and document TA design steps and considerations for this handbook. Reviewed select GAO documents, including Designing Evaluations (GAO-12-208G), published GAO TAs, select GAO products using policy analysis approaches to present policy options, and other GAO reports Reviewed select Office of Technology Assessment reports Reviewed select Congressional Research Service reports Reviewed select English-language literature regarding TAs and related to development and analysis of policy options Consulted with external experts and performed outreach, including holding an expert meeting to gather input on TA design, soliciting comments from external experts who contributed to GAO TAs published since 2015, and soliciting comments from the public Reviewed experiences of GAO teams that have successfully assessed and incorporated policy options into GAO products and TA design, including challenges to TA design and implementation and possible solutions GAO is not making any recommendations. For more information, contact Timothy M. Persons or Karen L. Howard at (202) 512-6888 or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.[Read More…]