January 25, 2022

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  • Survivors of Childhood Cancer: Factors Affecting Access to Follow-up Care
    In U.S GAO News
    Stakeholders GAO interviewed and studies GAO reviewed identified three factors that affect access to follow-up care for childhood cancer survivors—individuals of any age who were diagnosed with cancer from ages 0 through 19. These factors are care affordability, survivors' and health care providers' knowledge of appropriate care, and proximity to care. Childhood cancer survivors need access to follow-up care over time for serious health effects known as late effects—such as developmental problems, heart conditions, and subsequent cancers—which result from their original cancer and its treatment. Affordability: Survivors of childhood cancer may have difficulty paying for follow-up care, which can affect their access to this care. For example, one study found that survivors were significantly more likely to have difficulty paying medical bills and delay medical care due to affordability concerns when compared to individuals with no history of cancer. Knowledge: Survivors' access to appropriate follow-up care for late effects of childhood cancer can depend on both survivors' and providers' knowledge about such care, which can affect access in various ways, according to stakeholders GAO interviewed and studies GAO reviewed: Some survivors may have been treated for cancer at an early age and may have limited awareness of the need for follow- up care. Some primary or specialty care providers may not be knowledgeable about guidelines for appropriate follow-up care, which can affect whether a survivor receives recommended treatment. Follow-up care may include psychosocial care (e.g., counseling), and palliative care (e.g., pain management). Proximity: Survivors may have difficulty reaching appropriate care settings. Stakeholders GAO interviewed and studies GAO reviewed noted that childhood cancer survivors may have to travel long distances to receive follow-up care from multidisciplinary outpatient clinics—referred to as childhood cancer survivorship clinics. The lack of proximity may make it particularly difficult for survivors with limited financial resources to adhere to recommended follow-up care. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that conduct activities specific to childhood cancer survivors, including research about access to care—have taken steps to implement three provisions in the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research Act of 2018 (Childhood Cancer STAR Act) relevant to access to care for survivors. For example, CDC has awarded a contract to develop software to improve the collection of information on individuals with childhood cancer, and NCI has funded three research projects focused on interventions aimed at addressing adverse outcomes among childhood cancer survivors. NCI has also funded research to study the health status and use of follow-up services of 2,000 young adult survivors. Stakeholders have raised questions about the ability of childhood cancer survivors to access needed follow-up care. According to the most recent data available, approximately 465,000 childhood cancer survivors—children, adolescents, and adults—were alive in the United States as of January 1, 2017. Although the 5-year survival rate for childhood cancer has increased from about 62 percent in the mid-1970s to about 86 percent in the mid-2010s, childhood cancer survivors may face late effects, which could require follow-up care across multiple stages of their lives. The conference report accompanying Public Law 115-245 included a provision for GAO to report on barriers to obtaining medical care for childhood cancer survivors, including psychosocial services and palliative care. This report identifies factors reported to affect access to follow-up care for this population. GAO spoke with officials from NCI and CDC and interviewed stakeholders such as providers who care for childhood cancer survivors, professional associations, and advocacy groups. Additionally, GAO reviewed peer-reviewed studies related to access to care for survivors, outcomes of treatment they may receive, and factors that may affect their access to follow-up care. To supplement this work, GAO reviewed the status of selected HHS activities to support access to care for childhood cancer survivors, including steps taken to implement selected provisions in the Childhood Cancer STAR Act. GAO provided a draft of this report to HHS for review and comment. HHS provided technical comments, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Jessica Farb at (202) 512-7114 or FarbJ@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • McAllen man sent to prison for attempting to entice minor through social media
    In Justice News
    A 27-year-old McAllen [Read More…]
  • Gang “enforcer” sentenced for trafficking a large amount of stolen marijuana
    In Justice News
    A Rio Grande City man [Read More…]
  • NASA-Developed Ventilator Authorized by FDA for Emergency Use
    In Space
    The agency’s Jet [Read More…]
  • Judiciary Affirms Need for Bill to Protect Federal Judges
    In U.S Courts
    The federal Judiciary has voiced its support for newly introduced legislation to protect federal judges, saying action by Congress is needed to prevent tragedies like the one a year ago when the son of a judge in New Jersey was shot and killed by a disgruntled litigant.
    [Read More…]
  • Support for the Rule of Law, Independent Media, and Civil Society in Lebanon
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
    Bureau of Democracy, [Read More…]
  • Ohio Treatment Facilities and Corporate Parent Agree to Pay $10.25 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations of Kickbacks to Patients and Unnecessary Admissions
    In Crime News
    Oglethorpe Inc. and its three Ohio facilities, Cambridge Behavioral Hospital, Ridgeview Behavioral Hospital, and The Woods at Parkside, will pay $10.25 million to resolve alleged violations of the False Claims Act for improperly providing free long-distance transportation to patients and admitting patients at Cambridge and Ridgeview who did not require inpatient psychiatric treatment, resulting in the submission of false claims to the Medicare program. 
    [Read More…]
  • Seychelles Travel Advisory
    In Travel
  • Tax Administration: Better Coordination Could Improve IRS’s Use of Third-Party Information Reporting to Help Reduce the Tax Gap
    In U.S GAO News
    Information returns are forms filed by third parties, such as employers and financial institutions that provide information about taxable transactions. These forms are submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Social Security Administration, and taxpayers. Fifty unique types of information returns provide information on individual taxpayers and have a variety of purposes, such as reporting on wages earned or amounts paid that qualify for a tax credit or deduction. IRS identifies mismatches between information returns and tax returns for potential additional review, including enforcement actions. According to IRS research, taxpayers are more likely to misreport income when little or no third-party information reporting exists than when substantial reporting exists. Overview of Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Process for Matching Information Returns IRS's ability to process and use information returns is limited by its outdated legacy information technology (IT) systems. In 2017, IRS developed a plan to modernize its information return processing systems; however, IRS paused its efforts due to, according to IRS, resource constraints. IRS has an opportunity to capitalize on prior planning efforts by re-evaluating and updating these efforts and integrating them into its broader IT modernization efforts. IRS does not have a coordinated approach with cross-agency leadership that strategically considers how information reporting could be improved to promote compliance with the tax code. While information returns affect many groups across IRS and support multiple compliance programs, no one office has broad responsibility for coordinating these efforts. A formalized collaborative mechanism, such as a steering committee, could help provide leadership and ensure that IRS acts to address issues among the intake, processing, and compliance groups. For example, IRS has not undertaken a broad review of individual information returns to determine if thresholds, deadlines, or other characteristics of the returns continue to meet the needs of the agency. For tax year 2018, IRS received and processed more than 3.5 billion information returns that it used to facilitate compliance checks on more than 150 million individual income tax returns. By matching information reported by taxpayers against information reported by third parties, IRS identifies potential fraud and noncompliance. GAO was asked to review IRS's use of information returns. This report provides an overview of information returns and assesses the extent to which IRS has a coordinated approach to identifying and responding to risks related to the use of information returns in the tax system, among other objectives. GAO reviewed IRS documents and data on information returns filing, processing, and use, and interviewed cognizant officials. GAO compared IRS's efforts in this area to federal internal control standards, and IRS's strategic plan. GAO is making nine recommendations to IRS, including that IRS revise its modernization plans for its information returns processing systems and incorporate it into broader IT modernization efforts and develop a collaborative mechanism to improve coordination among IRS groups that use information returns. IRS neither agreed, nor disagreed with the recommendations; however, IRS outlined actions it plans to take to address the recommendations. Social Security Administration had no comments. For more information, contact James R. McTigue at (202) 512-9110 or McTigueJj@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Settles Claim Against Texas IT Company for Using Job Advertisements that Discriminated Against and Deterred U.S. Workers in Favor of Temporary Visa Holders
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today announced that it signed a settlement agreement with Ikon Systems, LLC (Ikon), an IT staffing and recruiting company based in Texas.
    [Read More…]
  • DOD Software Acquisition: Status of and Challenges Related to Reform Efforts
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Department of Defense (DOD) increasingly relies on software to operate its weapon and business information technology (IT) systems. Yet, DOD has long faced challenges with software development. Over the past several years, DOD made efforts to modernize its software development approaches. For example: New software acquisition pathway. As GAO reported in June 2021, DOD created a new acquisition framework in January 2020 with six acquisition pathways, including one for software. The pathway emphasized modern software development practices, such as encouraging more frequent user feedback, as GAO recommended in March 2019. In June 2021, GAO reported that, while DOD had recently started implementing this pathway, the department did not have a data collection strategy for it. As a result, we recommended that DOD automate data collection efforts for the pathway. DOD concurred with the recommendation. Agile development. In February 2020, DOD issued an Agile Software Acquisition Guidebook that incorporates lessons learned from two pilot programs and emphasizes an iterative software development process. This process provides for rapid, frequent delivery of production-quality software. See figure. The Department of Defense's Agile Development Process However, GAO's recent work—including the June 2021 assessments of DOD's weapon and business IT systems—shows that many programs have yet to implement certain recommended practices associated with modern software development approaches. For example, GAO's Agile Assessment Guide emphasizes the early and continuous delivery of working software to users, and industry recommends delivery as frequently as every 2 weeks for Agile programs. Yet, as of June 2021, only six of 36 weapon programs that reported using Agile also reported delivering software to users in less than 3 months. DOD programs also reported a number of other challenges that could affect their ability to implement reforms. For example, over half of the weapon systems and nearly all major business IT programs GAO reviewed reported staffing challenges related to software development, such as difficulty hiring government and contractor staff. Why GAO Did This Study GAO reported in June 2021 that DOD planned to invest over $1.8 trillion to acquire its costliest new weapon systems. DOD is also investing billions more in IT systems and capabilities. The William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 included a provision for GAO to brief congressional defense committees on DOD's implementation of software acquisition reforms for certain systems and activities. This report summarizes past GAO findings about the extent to which DOD implemented required or recommended software acquisition reforms for weapon and business systems. Other elements of the provision will be addressed in future work. For this report, GAO reviewed its June 2021 assessments of DOD weapon and major business IT systems, as well as other relevant prior work. GAO also identified software acquisition reforms initiated in response to recent statutory mandates. No new audit work was conducted for this report.
    [Read More…]
  • 20 arrested for conspiracy to distribute thousands of pounds of marijuana
    In Justice News
    A total of 16 Laredoans [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Reaches Agreement Resolving Investigation of Religious Practice Policies and Procedures within Michigan Department of Corrections
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached an agreement with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) to resolve its investigation of MDOC, pursuant to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).
    [Read More…]
  • Military Readiness: Joint Policy Needed to Better Manage the Training and Use of Certain Forces to Meet Operational Demands
    In U.S GAO News
    Military operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism, particularly those in Iraq and Afghanistan, have challenged the Department of Defense's (DOD) ability to provide needed ground forces. Section 354 of the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act directed GAO to report on a number of military readiness issues. In this report, GAO addresses (1) the extent to which DOD's use of nonstandard forces to meet ground force requirements has impacted the force and (2) the extent to which DOD has faced challenges in managing the training and use of these forces, and taken steps to address any challenges. To address these objectives, GAO analyzed DOD policies, guidance, and data and interviewed department, joint, combatant command, and service officials as well as trainers and over 300 deploying, deployed, and redeploying servicemembers.The use of nonstandard forces--individuals in certain temporary positions, and units with missions that require the unit personnel to learn new skills or operate in different environments--has helped DOD fulfill U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) requirements that the Army otherwise would not have been able to fill, but these efforts have also caused challenges across the force. For certain Navy and Air Force occupational specialties, these nonstandard force deployments have challenged the services' abilities to (1) balance the amount of time their forces are deployed with the amount of time they spend at home, and (2) meet other standard mission requirements. Some of the communities that have been most affected by nonstandard force deployments include the engineering, security force, and explosive ordnance disposal communities. In addition, the services have been challenged by emerging requirements for capabilities which do not exist in any of the services' standard forces, such as the transition teams that train local forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. These requirements are particularly taxing because the teams are composed primarily of officers and senior noncommissioned officers. Because standard forces do not exist to meet these leadership requirements, the services are forced to take leaders from other commands, which must then perform their missions without a full complement of leaders. The steps that DOD has taken to increase coordination between the services and CENTCOM have helped DOD manage challenges related to nonstandard forces, but additional steps are needed to ensure consistency in training and using these forces. Nonstandard forces face more complex relationships than standard forces, making coordination of their training and use more challenging. Specifically, their training requirements are established by both the services and theater commanders and training may be conducted by trainers from another service. In addition, while deployed, these forces often report to commanders from two different services. Furthermore, authorities concerning the training and use of forces do not specifically address the training and use of nonstandard forces. DOD has taken significant steps to coordinate the training of its nonstandard forces through regular conferences at which CENTCOM and service officials develop detailed training plans for some nonstandard forces. However, the training of individual augmentees has not been fully coordinated. As a result, individuals who perform the same types of tasks may receive different levels of training. Also, the services waive training requirements without consistently coordinating with CENTCOM, so CENTCOM lacks full visibility over the extent to which all of its forces have met requirements. To increase support and oversight of the use of nonstandard forces in theater, the services have taken steps to improve coordination, which have reduced instances where nonstandard forces' missions, tasks, or organization are modified. However, the services do not have full visibility over their nonstandard forces and view the authority of ground force commanders differently, which has sometimes led to differences in their use of nonstandard forces.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Sudanese Prime Minister Hamdok
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • 2020 Indo-Pacific Business Forum Promotes Free and Open Indo-Pacific
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Director of the Procurement Collusion Strike Force Daniel Glad Delivers Remarks at ABA Section of Public Contract Law’s Public Procurement Symposium
    In Crime News
    Thank you for the kind introduction, and good morning, everyone. It’s a pleasure to be joining you virtually, though like many of you—I wish we could be together in person. I appreciate the invitation to speak with you today at the Public Procurement Symposium. Each year, the Symposium explores issues relevant to federal, state, and local government contracting, drawing insights from colleagues at the forefront of the procurement industry.
    [Read More…]
  • Department Of Justice Is Combatting COVID-19 Fraud But Reminds The Public To Remain Vigilant
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice is reminding members of the public to be vigilant against fraudsters who are using the COVID-19 pandemic to exploit American consumers and organizations and to cheat disaster relief programs.  In particular, the department is warning the public about scams perpetrated through websites, social media, emails, robocalls, and other means that peddle fake COVID-19 vaccines, tests, treatments, and protective equipment, and also about criminals that fabricate businesses and steal identities in order to defraud federal relief programs and state unemployment programs. 
    [Read More…]
  • On Latvia’s Actions to Constrain Hizballah
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Cale Brown, Principal [Read More…]
  • U.S. Statement on the 25th Anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women
    In Women’s News
    Video Remarks In the 25 [Read More…]

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