Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. has named eight new chairs of Judicial Conference committees and extended the term of a current chair by one year. The appointments took effect on Oct. 1, 2020.
- Judge Randolph D. Moss (DC) succeeded Chief Judge Ricardo S. Martinez (WA-W) as chair of the Committee on Criminal Law.
- Judge Micaela Alvarez (TX-S) succeeded Judge Raymond J. Lohier, Jr. (Second Circuit) as chair of the Committee on Defender Services.
- Judge David L. Bunning (KY-E) succeeded Judge Anthony John Trenga (VA-E) as chair of the Committee on Financial Disclosure.
- Judge Thomas M. Hardiman (Third Circuit) was extended for another year as chair of the Committee on Information Technology.
- Judge William B. Traxler, Jr . (Fourth Circuit) succeeded Judge Anthony J. Scirica (Third Circuit) as chair of the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability.
- Judge John D. Bates (DC) succeeded Judge David G. Campbell (AZ) as chair of the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure.
- Judge Jay S. Bybee (Ninth Circuit) succeeded Judge Michael A. Chagares (Third Circuit) as chair of the Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules.
- Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr. (IL-N) succeeded Judge John D. Bates (DC) as chair of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules.
- Judge Patrick J. Schiltz (MN) succeeded Chief Judge Debra Ann Livingston (Second Circuit) as chair of the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules.
The 26-member Judicial Conference is the policy-making body for the federal court system. By statute, the Chief Justice of the United States serves as its presiding officer and its members are the chief judges of the 13 courts of appeals, a district judge from each of the 12 geographic circuits, and the chief judge of the Court of International Trade. The Conference meets twice a year to consider administrative and policy issues affecting the court system, and to make recommendations to Congress concerning legislation involving the Judicial Branch.
Related Topics: Judicial Conference of the United States
- Military and Dual-Use Technology: Covert Testing Shows Continuing Vulnerabilities of Domestic Sales for Illegal ExportBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021Terrorists and foreign governments regularly attempt to obtain sensitive dual-use and military technology from manufacturers and distributors within the United States. Although the Department of State (State) or Department of Commerce (Commerce), or both, must grant approval to export sensitive military and dual-use items, publicly reported criminal cases show that individuals can bypass this requirement and illegally export restricted items such as night-vision goggles. In the wrong hands, this technology poses a risk to U.S. security, including the threat that it will be reverse engineered or used directly against U.S. soldiers. Given the threat, the subcommittee asked GAO to conduct undercover tests to attempt to (1) purchase sensitive dual-use and military items from manufacturers and distributors in the United States; and (2) export purchased items without detection by domestic law-enforcement officials. To perform this work, GAO used fictitious individuals, a bogus front company, and domestic mailboxes to pose as a buyer for sensitive items. GAO, in coordination with foreign law-enforcement officials, also covertly attempted to export dummy versions of items. GAO interviewed relevant agencies to gain an understanding of which items were in demand by terrorists and foreign governments. GAO actions were not designed to test controls of other countries. Relevant agencies were also briefed on the results of this work.GAO foundthat sensitive dual-use and military technology can be easily and legally purchased from manufacturers and distributors within the United States and illegally exported without detection. Using a bogus front company and fictitious identities, GAO purchased sensitive items including night-vision scopes currently used by U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to identify targets, triggered spark gaps used to detonate nuclear weapons, electronic sensors used in improvised explosive devices, and gyro chips used in guided missiles and military aircraft. Interviews with cognizant officials at State and Commerce and a review of laws governing the sale of the types of items GAO purchased showed there are few restrictions on domestic sales of these items. GAO was also able to export a number of dummy versions of these items using the mail to a country that is a known transshipment point for terrorist organizations and foreign governments attempting to acquire sensitive technology. Due to the large volume of packages being shipped overseas, and large volume of people traveling overseas, enforcement officials within the United States said it is impossible to search every package and person leaving the United States to ensure sensitive technologies are not being exported illegally. As a result, terrorists and foreign governments that are able to complete domestic purchases of sensitive military and dual-use technologies face few obstacles and risks when exporting these items. The table below provides details on several of the items GAO was able to purchase and, in two cases, illegally export without detection.[Read More…]
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- Missile Defense: Assessment of Testing Approach Needed as Delays and Changes PersistBy Sam NewsJuly 30, 2020In fiscal year 2019, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) delivered many of the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) assets it planned and conducted key flight tests, but did not meet all of its goals for the year. For example, MDA successfully delivered interceptors for use by warfighters and conducted a salvo test (which involves launching two interceptors at an incoming target) for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program. However, MDA did not meet all of its goals for delivering assets or testing. For example, MDA completed only two of seven planned flight tests, plus eight additional flight tests that were later added for fiscal year 2019. MDA did not fully execute its fiscal year 2019 flight testing, continuing a decade-long trend in which MDA has been unable to achieve its fiscal year flight testing as scheduled. Although MDA revised its approach to developing its annual test plan in 2009 to ensure the test plan was executable, over the past decade MDA has only been able to conduct 37 percent of its baseline fiscal year testing as originally planned due to various reasons including developmental delays, range and target availability, or changing test objectives. In addition, MDA has not conducted an assessment to determine whether its current process for developing and executing its annual test plan could be improved to help ensure its executability. Without an independent assessment, MDA will continue down the same path, increasing the risk of the same outcomes from the past decade—less testing than originally planned, resulting in less data to demonstrate and validate capabilities. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Cumulative Flight Test Planning, Fiscal Years 2010-2019 Note: This graphic is a compilation of each individual fiscal year's flight test schedule. As such, if a flight test was planned for a particular fiscal year but then delayed to a later fiscal year, it would be counted both times. MDA is currently at a pivotal crossroads, needing to balance its ability to pursue new and advanced efforts while also maintaining its existing portfolio of BMDS elements that have not transferred to the military services as originally planned. The new and advanced efforts, such as the Next Generation Interceptor—a new interceptor for homeland defense—are research and development-intensive tasks, which carry significant technical risks and financial commitments. As MDA takes on these new efforts, it is increasingly important that the agency establish and maintain a sound and disciplined acquisition approach for these efforts to be successful and within anticipated costs and timeframes. For over half a century, the Department of Defense (DOD) has funded efforts to defend the United States from ballistic missile attacks. From 2002 through 2018, MDA has received about $152 billion to develop the BMDS and requested about $47 billion from fiscal year 2019 through fiscal year 2023. The BMDS consists of diverse and highly complex land-, sea-, and space-based systems and assets located across the globe. Congress included a provision in statute that GAO annually assess and report on MDA's progress. This, our 17th annual review, addresses for fiscal year 2019 (1) the progress MDA made in achieving delivery and testing goals; (2) the extent to which MDA's annual test plan is executable; and (3) broad challenges that could impact MDA's portfolio. GAO reviewed the planned fiscal year 2019 baselines, along with test plans since 2010, and other program documentation and assessed them against program and baseline reviews. GAO also interviewed officials from MDA and DOD agencies, including the office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and the BMDS Operational Test Agency. GAO recommends that MDA ensure an independent assessment is conducted of its process for developing and executing its annual BMDS flight test plan. DOD concurred with the recommendation. For more information, contact William Russell at (202) 512-4841 or Russellw@gao.gov.[Read More…]
- Veterans Affairs: Use of Additional Funding for COVID-19 ReliefBy Sam NewsMay 6, 2021What GAO Found The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) received $19.6 billion in supplemental funding—additional funding above the annual appropriation—in March 2020 to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. GAO's analysis of VA data shows that through March 2021, VA had obligated $9.9 billion and expended $8.1 billion of the supplemental funding. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Reported Obligations and Expenditures of CARES Act and Families First Coronavirus Response Act Funding through March 2021 Note: An obligation is a definite commitment that creates a legal liability to pay, and an expenditure is the actual spending of money. The majority of the obligated supplemental funding ($8.3 billion) was obligated by VA's Veterans Health Administration (VHA) for care provided to veterans by non-VA providers, the additional costs of salaries (such as for overtime) and related expenses of VHA staff, supplies and materials, and support for homeless veterans, due to COVID-19 response. The remaining obligations included costs of VA's transition to telehealth and telework during the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily through the Office of Information Technology (OIT). According to spend plan documents and department officials, VA plans to obligate its remaining $9.7 billion in funding on activities including COVID-19 testing, purchasing supplies and equipment, and distributing COVID-19 vaccines. VA mainly relies on its standard financial management processes to oversee the use of supplemental funds, including establishing new versions of standard financial codes to account for and report on use of funds through VA's financial system. VA also collected details about the use of supplemental funding, such as descriptions of the activities for which funds were obligated, that were not available in its financial system. In addition, the VA components that received the majority of the supplemental funding—VHA and OIT—set up additional processes and issued guidance specific to the use of supplemental funding, such as establishing councils to review funding requests. Why GAO Did This Study As of April 14, 2021, VA reported 224,538 cumulative veteran cases of COVID-19, and 11,366 deaths. The CARES Act and Families First Coronavirus Response Act included supplemental funding for COVID-19 relief, and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, permitted VA additional flexibility to transfer these funds across the department. The CARES Act also included a provision for GAO to report on its ongoing monitoring and oversight efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This report examines 1) VA's obligations and expenditures of COVID-19 supplemental funding, as well as its plans to obligate remaining funds, and 2) how VA oversees the use of COVID-19 supplemental funds. GAO reviewed VA data on obligations, expenditures, and spend plans for COVID-19 supplemental funding, as well as contracting documentation and documentation on the processes and guidance VA developed to oversee the use of funds. GAO interviewed VA officials responsible for oversight of the supplemental funding, including officials from five regional networks, selected based on funding levels and geography, to gather information about their roles in overseeing the use of and accounting for supplemental funding. VA reviewed a draft of this report and provided a technical comment, which was incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Sharon M. Silas at (202) 512-7114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
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- Defense Logistics: Army Should Track Financial Benefits Realized from its Logistics Modernization ProgramBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021What GAO FoundThe Army Materiel Command (AMC) is using the Logistics Modernization Program (LMP) Increment 1 to support its industrial operations, but additional development is necessary, according to the Army, because the current system does not support certain critical requirements, including enabling the Army to generate auditable financial statements by fiscal year 2017. Officials at the 14 AMC sites GAO visited stated that LMP provided the core functionality they needed to support their operations and that they are improving in their ability to use the system. Additionally, some sites have locally developed tools to augment LMP capabilities. Army officials stated that although LMP is functional, it currently does not support certain critical requirements that have emerged since its initial development, such as automatically tracking repair and manufacturing operations on the shop floor of depots and arsenals. In addition, according to Army officials, the current system will not enable the Army to generate auditable financial statements by 2017, the statutory deadline for this goal. Increment 2, which is estimated to cost $730 million through fiscal year 2026, is expected to address these shortcomings. The Army is in the process of developing Increment 2 and expects to complete fielding by September 2016.The use of LMP Increment 1 has provided the Army some benefits, but whether the system has delivered the expected financial benefits to date is unknown because AMC does not have a process for tracking financial benefits realized. Since its deployment, LMP has provided some benefits to the Army. For example, because LMP relies on accurate data to perform effectively and efficiently, the Army has made data accuracy a priority and improved the accuracy of its data by conducting data assessments, correcting data problems, and placing management emphasis on data accuracy. Additionally, the use of LMP has improved accountability for inventory stored at AMC depots, increased visibility over Army assets, and resulted in other efficiencies--such as providing faster access to information. AMC officials also stated that LMP has enabled them to develop and begin to implement a set of standardized, enterprise-wide performance measures to better assess the business operations of AMC sites. The officials stated that these performance measures, which were being used during AMC leadership reviews in June 2013, were necessary because the measures previously used to assess AMC performance were inadequate. However, the extent to which financial benefits have been realized from deploying LMP is unknown. The Army expected LMP to lead to over $750 million in financial benefits by fiscal year 2012 and eventually achieve more than two dollars in benefits for every dollar spent. Army officials told us that there currently is no accurate process in place to track financial benefits associated with LMP. Officials stated that the inability to quantify benefits from LMP-driven performance improvements was due in part to the fluctuations in AMC workload resulting from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army is in the process of developing a performance baseline for sites that will pilot Increment 2, and it intends to apply these metrics to other AMC sites before May 2015. Federal guidelines and standards outline the need for assessing whether the benefits expected from an investment are achieved. Without a process in place to track the financial benefits associated with LMP, the Army does not have a way to determine whether LMP's projected financial benefits are materializing.Why GAO Did This StudyLMP is an Army enterprise resource planning system that supports industrial operations conducted by AMC at its life cycle management commands and its maintenance, manufacturing, and storage sites. Increment 1 of LMP was fully deployed in October 2010, and the Army has spent approximately $1.4 billion on LMP through fiscal year 2012. In order to expand the system's capabilities, the Army plans to deploy a second increment of LMP. The life cycle cost for LMP Increment 1 and Increment 2, from fiscal year 2000 through 2026, is estimated to be over $4 billion. GAO was asked to evaluate AMC's use of LMP. This report assesses the extent to which (1) LMP supports AMC's industrial operations and (2) the Army has realized the expected benefits from deploying LMP. GAO reviewed Army documents regarding LMP usage and interviewed officials from AMC headquarters, the LMP product office, and 14 AMC sites that use LMP to conduct their operations.[Read More…]
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