James C. Duff has announced he will retire as the director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts on Jan. 31. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., has appointed Chief Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf, of the Eastern District of New York, as his successor, effective Feb. 1. She will be the 11th director since the AO was established in 1939 and the first woman to hold the position. Duff served as director from 2006 to 2011 and since 2015.
Mauskopf has served as a district judge since 2007. She previously served as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, New York state inspector general, and as an assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
The director is the chief administrative officer of the federal courts and serves under the direction of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the principal policymaking body for the federal court system.
Read the press release from the U.S. Supreme Court.
- Justice Department Sues to Block Aon’s Acquisition of Willis Towers WatsonBy Sam NewsJune 16, 2021The U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil antitrust lawsuit today to block Aon’s $30 billion proposed acquisition of Willis Towers Watson, a transaction that would bring together two of the “Big Three” global insurance brokers. As alleged in the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the merger threatens to eliminate competition, raise prices, and reduce innovation for American businesses, employers, and unions that rely on these important services.[Read More…]
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- NASA’s ECOSTRESS Monitors California’s Apple Fire From SpaceBy Sam NewsIn SpaceSeptember 26, 2020NASA’s Ecosystem [Read More…]
- Justice Department Sues Ophthalmology Practice with 24 Facilities for Discriminating Against Individuals with Disabilities who Use WheelchairsBy Sam NewsDecember 20, 2021The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center PC (BDP), an optometry and ophthalmology medical provider, for discriminating against patients who, because of their disabilities, need assistance in transferring from their wheelchairs to the surgical table for outpatient eye surgery.[Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al SaudBy Sam NewsFebruary 25, 2021
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- Foreign Operations: Key Issues for Congressional OversightBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021The Department of State (State) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) implement a broad range of U.S. government activities and programs overseas, including the conduct of diplomacy, development and security assistance, and efforts to combat terrorism and narcotics trafficking, among others. The President has requested approximately $55.7 billion for State and USAID in fiscal year 2012, an increase of nearly 8 percent over fiscal year 2010 funding levels. This testimony discusses four cross-cutting areas of U.S. foreign policy as implemented by State and USAID: (1) investments in key partner nations, (2) building the capacity of U.S. agencies to advance foreign policy priorities, (3) contractor oversight and accountability, and (4) strategic planning and performance measurement. This statement is based on GAO's extensive body of work on foreign operations issues, including fieldwork in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mexico, and numerous other locations .Since 2002, the United States has invested over $130 billion in security, economic, and governance assistance to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Although the administration has requested additional funding in fiscal year 2012 to assist Iraq's security forces, opportunities exist for cost-sharing given the Iraqi government's continuing budget surpluses and unexpended security budgets. Regarding Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States has placed an increased focus on providing funding directly to the Afghan government and Pakistani organizations. This course of action involves considerable risk given the limited capacity of some prospective recipients--particularly the Afghan government--to manage and implement U.S.-funded programs, thereby highlighting the need for agency controls and safeguards over these funds. According to the 2010 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, State and USAID are engaged in efforts to build and support a workforce that is well-matched to the foreign affairs challenges of the twenty-first century. Accomplishing this objective is critical given that GAO's work has consistently found limitations in the ability of State and USAID to ensure that they are deploying the right people to the right places at the right time. For example, State has faced persistent staffing and foreign language gaps that put the department's diplomatic readiness at risk. Similarly, GAO found that State has experienced difficulties hiring and training staff to operate and maintain its new, more sophisticated embassy compounds. State has taken some actions in response to GAO's findings. For example, in 2010, the department introduced a new pilot program to expand its cadre of Chinese speakers. State also noted in 2010 that it planned to hire additional facilities managers at embassies and consulates. State and USAID rely extensively on contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan to support their direct-hire personnel, implement reconstruction efforts, and address workforce shortfalls such as insufficient numbers of trained agency personnel and the frequent rotations of staff posted to these countries. Robust management and oversight of contractor operations are essential in these challenging environments. However, GAO has found oversight to be inadequate at times, thus raising questions about the agencies' ability to ensure accountability for multibillion-dollar investments. GAO's reviews of international affairs programs have repeatedly found weaknesses in agencies' strategic planning and performance measurement efforts. For example, GAO reported that State significantly expanded its Bureau of Diplomatic Security without the benefit of strategic planning to ensure that the bureau's missions and activities address the department's priority needs. Such a review is vital given that the bureau will assume full responsibility for securing all diplomatic personnel and facilities in Iraq starting in October 2011 as the U.S. military completes its drawdown. GAO also reported that State generally lacked outcome-based measures for the M?rida Initiative--a $1.5 billion effort to provide law enforcement support to Mexico--thereby making it difficult to determine the initiative's effectiveness. GAO has made a variety of recommendations to State and USAID to help improve their foreign operations programs. In particular, GAO has recommended that agencies improve planning and performance measurement of their programs and take steps to enhance accountability of U.S. aid. State and USAID have efforts under way to implement some of these recommendations.[Read More…]
- Former Tennessee Supervisory Corrections Officer Indicted for Civil Rights Violations and Obstruction of JusticeBy Sam NewsOctober 5, 2021A federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment today charging a former Tennessee supervisory corrections officer with federal civil rights and obstruction offenses. The defendant is charged with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law for using unlawful force on an inmate; one count for being deliberately indifferent to the inmate’s medical needs; and one count of obstructing justice.[Read More…]
- Defendants Charged in Connection with Multi-State Racketeering Conspiracy Involving the Forced Labor of Mexican Agricultural H-2A WorkersBy Sam NewsSeptember 22, 2021A federal grand jury in the Middle District of Florida has returned a six-count indictment against three defendants for their alleged roles in a federal racketeering conspiracy that victimized Mexican H-2A workers who, between 2015 and 2017, had worked in the United States harvesting fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products.[Read More…]
- Military Training: Observations on the Army’s Implementation of a Metric for Measuring Ground Force TrainingBy Sam NewsAugust 31, 2021What GAO FoundThe full spectrum training mile metric is similar in some ways to the tank mile metric and dissimilar in other ways. Both metrics measure training activity of nondeployed units associated with recommended training events based on the Army's approved training strategy. Specifically, they both calculate the average number of miles a unit is expected to drive its vehicles on an annual basis for training that occurs during the reset and train/ready stages of the Armys Force Generation (ARFORGEN) cycle.However, the full spectrum training mile metric applies to all Army components (active component, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard) while the tank mile metric does not apply to the Army Reserve, because the Army Reserve does not have tanks. The full spectrum training mile metric also is based on multiple vehicles including the M1 Abrams tank, M2/M3 Bradley, Stryker, up-armored high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle, medium tactical vehicle, and palletized load system, while the tank mile metric is limited to the M1 Abrams tank. According to Army officials, the full spectrum training mile metricand its incorporation of a wider array of vehiclesis more reflective of the type of vehicles the Army is actually using to train its ground forces for full spectrum operations.The Armys full spectrum training mile metric is based on certain assumptions associated with standards set in the Armys training strategy and force-generation model. Because the metric is a standard for actual training to be measured against, the metrics assumptions are based on desired or expected conditions and may not fully align with actual conditions. For example, the Army made certain assumptions about the length of time units would spend in each stage of the ARFORGEN cycle, assumed that units would have all the vehicles that were included in their modified table of organization and equipment, and assumed units would accomplish all the training in the Armys training strategy. However, prior GAO reports and Army readiness reports have both shown that units do not always have all the equipment, including vehicles included in their modified table of organization and equipment, available when they are conducting training. Army officials have also acknowledged that many units are not currently executing the ARFORGEN training cycle and the Armys training strategy as envisioned. To the extent that units do not have all of their equipment, including vehicles, or complete all recommended training, the units actual miles driven may differ from the Armys full spectrum training mile metric. According to a responsible Army official, the Army tracks historical data on actual miles driven and has, in the past, adjusted assumptions used to develop its tank mile metric to more closely reflect actual conditions. The Army plans to continue this practice now with the new metric in place. For example, when conducting its 2010 training strategy review, the Army reduced its estimated miles per training day and event to more closely reflect actual miles driven.The Army uses the full spectrum training mile metric to measure training activity. Specifically, the Army compares the actual miles its units have driven to conduct ground force training to its full spectrum training mile metric to determine how well it executed its training strategy. However, the Army does not use the full spectrum training mile metric to develop its training cost estimates or related funding needs. The Army uses its Training Resource Model, rather than its full spectrum training mile metric, to develop its training cost estimates and funding needs. While some of the inputs to the full spectrum training mile metric and the Training Resource Model are the same (i.e., the number and duration of training events and the numbers of units and vehicles available for training) the Training Resource Model contains unique inputs, such as cost factors that are not related to the full spectrum training mile metric. Specifically, the cost calculation in the Training Resource Model includes the cost to drive a vehicle, expressed as cost per mile, that are linked to the number of units and vehicles, as well as other indirect nonmileage support costs, such as civilian pay. The Training Resource Model, like the full spectrum training mile metric, assumes, among other things, that all recommended training events will be fully executed. To the extent that all training does not occur or other assumptions do not hold true, requirements could differ from estimates derived from the Training Resource Model. According to an Army official, the Training Resource Model is one of several sources of information the Army considers when developing its funding requests for training. For example, the official stated the Army uses historical data on actual miles driven to adjust its funding requests to more closely reflect actual conditions.Why GAO Did This StudyIn 2008, the Army issued a field manual that identified the need to expand its training focus so units would be trained and ready to operate across a full spectrum of operations including offensive, defensive, stability, and civil support operations. To support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, for the last several years, the Army has focused its ground force training on preparing units for counterinsurgency operations. With the withdrawal from operations in Iraq, fewer units are engaged in counterinsurgency operations and now have more time to train for full spectrum operations.To reflect the shift in training focus, the Army, in April 2011, updated its training strategy and also established a new metric to measure training activityreferred to as the full spectrum training mile metric. This metric replaced the Armys traditional tank mile metric, which represented the average number of miles the Army expected to drive its tanks while conducting training. In its fiscal year 2012 budget materials, the Army provided background information on its transition to the new metric, and, starting in fiscal year 2012, began using the new metric.House report 112-78 directed GAO to review the Armys transition to the full spectrum training mile metric and report its findings by February 28, 2012. To address this mandate, we determined (1) how the Army's full spectrum training mile metric differs from its traditional tank mile metric; (2) the key assumptions associated with the full spectrum training mile metric and to what extent these assumptions reflect actual conditions; and (3) to what extent the Army uses the full spectrum training mile metric to measure training execution and develop training cost estimates and related funding needs. Additionally, for background purposes, this report includes information on how training is reflected in the Armys operation and maintenance budget-justification materials.For more information, contact Sharon L. Pickup at 202-512-9619 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- San Antonio Return Preparer Pleads Guilty in Tax Fraud SchemeBy Sam NewsOctober 20, 2020A San Antonio, Texas, tax return preparer pleaded guilty today to aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Gregg N. Sofer of the Western District of Texas.[Read More…]
- Special Envoy Malley’s Trip to the Middle East By Sam NewsOctober 13, 2021
- Joint Statement on Reports of Summary Killings and Enforced Disappearances in AfghanistanBy Sam NewsDecember 4, 2021
- Judges Share 50 Years as Colleagues and FriendsBy Sam NewsIn U.S CourtsOctober 23, 2020On the same afternoon in October 1970, the Senate confirmed four new federal judges from Florida. This month, three are celebrating a half-century on the bench, as well as a strong, continuing friendship.[Read More…]
- Former Attorney for Municipalities in Puerto Rico Sentenced for BriberyBy Sam NewsApril 27, 2021A former attorney for three municipalities in Puerto Rico was sentenced today to 10 years in prison after he was convicted of four counts of bribery with respect to programs receiving federal funds.[Read More…]
- Satellite Communications: DOD Should Explore Options to Meet User Needs for Narrowband CapabilitiesBy Sam NewsSeptember 2, 2021What GAO Found The Department of Defense (DOD) is not using the full capabilities of its latest ultra high frequency (narrowband) military satellite communications system, the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS). MUOS provides secure communications less vulnerable to weather conditions or other potential impediments. The full constellation of MUOS satellites has been on orbit for over 4 years, but DOD has not been able to use the system's advanced capabilities—such as its 10-fold increase in communications capacity. A key reason is the military services' delayed delivery of compatible radio terminals to users (see figure). DOD is funding and developing plans to accelerate procurement and delivery of these terminals. Army Soldiers Using a Mobile User Objective System-Compatible Portable Terminal DOD faces other challenges to its narrowband communications capabilities. In the near term, users continue to rely on the communications system that preceded MUOS, which is oversubscribed and will remain so while DOD works to field terminals and transition to MUOS. DOD has not explored and adopted narrowband communication options, which, if implemented, could help to meet unmet near-term communication needs. In the longer term, the five MUOS satellites that are on orbit have limited design lives. DOD plans to buy and launch additional satellites to sustain the constellation's availability, but without the legacy capability of the older system. DOD has not determined its future narrowband satellite communication needs after MUOS. DOD has not updated its narrowband requirements since 2010 and has no plans to do so, although the uses, technology, and threats to communications have changed. Reexamining its narrowband communications needs will enhance DOD's ability to field a timely replacement for MUOS and ensure warfighters have needed communications tools in the future. Why GAO Did This Study DOD has invested $7.4 billion to develop, build, and begin delivering MUOS. However, longstanding gaps between the fielding of the satellite system and compatible user terminals have limited DOD's ability to fully use the system. The Senate Armed Services Committee report to the bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 contained a provision for GAO to review DOD's use of MUOS capabilities and any plans for a MUOS follow-on capability. In this report, GAO (1) provides information on the extent to which DOD is using MUOS advanced communications capabilities; (2) assesses DOD's challenges and steps taken in transitioning to these capabilities, and (3) assesses efforts DOD has underway to meet future narrowband satellite communications needs. This is a public version of a sensitive report that GAO issued in June 2021. Information that DOD deemed to be sensitive has been omitted. GAO reviewed DOD planning documents, system assessments, and test reports. GAO also analyzed the services' terminal fielding and network transition plans. GAO interviewed oversight and acquisition officials across DOD.[Read More…]
- Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request: U.S. Government Accountability OfficeBy Sam NewsMarch 10, 2021In fiscal year (FY) 2020, GAO’s work yielded $77.6 billion in financial benefits, a return of about $114 for every dollar invested in GAO. We also identified 1,332 other benefits that led to improved services to the American people, strengthened public safety, and spurred program and operational improvements across the government. In addition, GAO reported on 35 areas designated as high risk due to their vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement or because they face economy, efficiency, or effectiveness challenges. In FY 2020 GAO’s High Risk Series products resulted in 168 reports, 26 testimonies, $54.2 billion in financial benefits, and 606 other benefits. In this year of GAO’s centennial, GAO’s FY 2022 budget request seeks to lay the foundation for the next 100 years to help Congress improve the performance of government, ensure transparency, and save taxpayer dollars. GAO’s fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget requests $744.3 million in appropriated funds and uses $50.0 million in offsets and supplemental appropriations. These resources will support 3,400 full-time equivalents (FTEs). We will continue our hiring focus on boosting our Science and Technology and appropriations law capacity. GAO will also maintain entry-level and intern positions to address succession planning and to fill other skill gaps. These efforts will help ensure that GAO recruits and retains a talented and diverse workforce to meet the priority needs of the Congress. In FY 2022, we will continue to support Congressional oversight across the wide array of government programs and operations. In particular, our science and technology experts will continue to expand our focus on rapidly evolving issues. Hallmarks of GAO’s work include: (1) conducting technology assessments at the request of the Congress; (2) providing technical assistance to Congress on science and technology matters; (3) continuing the development and use of technical guides to assess major federal acquisitions and technology programs in areas such as technology readiness, cost estimating, and schedule planning; and (4) supporting Congressional oversight of federal science programs. With our requested funding, GAO will also bolster capacity to review the challenges of complex and growing cyber security developments. In addition, GAO will continue robust analyses of factors behind rising health care costs, including costs associated with the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. Internally, the funding requested will make possible priority investments in our information technology that include the ability to execute transformative plans to protect data and systems. In FY 2022 GAO will continue to implement efforts to increase our flexibility to evolve IT services as our mission needs change, strengthen information security, increase IT agility, and maintain compliance. We will increase speed and scalability to deliver capabilities and services to the agency. This request will also help address building infrastructure, security requirements, as well as tackle long deferred maintenance, including installing equipment to help protect occupants from dangerous bacteria, viruses, and mold. As reported in our FY 2020 financial statements, GAO’s backlog of deferred maintenance on its Headquarters Building had grown to over $82 million as of fiscal year-end. Background GAO’s mission is to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people. We provide nonpartisan, objective, and reliable information to Congress, federal agencies, and to the public, and recommend improvements across the full breadth and scope of the federal government’s responsibilities. In fiscal year 2020. GAO issued 691 products, and 1,459 new recommendations. Congress used our work extensively to inform its decisions on key fiscal year 2020 and 2021 legislation. Since fiscal year 2000, GAO’s work has resulted in over: $1.2 trillion dollars in financial benefits; and 25,328 program and operational benefits that helped to change laws, improve public services, and promote sound management throughout government. As GAO recognizes 100 years of non-partisan, fact-based service, we remain committed to providing program and technical expertise to support Congress in overseeing the executive branch; evaluating government programs, operations and spending priorities; and assessing information from outside parties.[Read More…]
- 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 IslandsBy Sam NewsOctober 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.[Read More…]
- Department of Energy: Improved Performance Planning Could Strengthen Technology TransferBy Sam NewsFebruary 1, 2021The Department of Energy (DOE) and its national labs have taken several steps to address potential barriers to technology transfer—the process of providing DOE technologies, knowledge, or expertise to other entities. GAO characterized these barriers as (1) gaps in funding, (2) legal and administrative barriers, and (3) lack of alignment between DOE research and industry needs. For example, the “valley of death” is a gap between the end of public funding and start of private-sector funding. DOE partly addresses this gap with its Technology Commercialization Fund, which provides grants of $100,000 to $1.5 million to DOE researchers to advance promising technologies with private-sector partners. Further, DOE's Energy I-Corps program trains researchers to commercialize new technologies and to identify industry needs and potential customers. However, DOE has not assessed how many and which types of researchers would benefit from such training. Without doing so, DOE will not have the information needed to ensure its training resources target the researchers who would benefit most. Illustration of Funding Gap for Commercializing New Technologies DOE plans and tracks the performance of its technology transfer activities by setting strategic goals and objectives and annually collecting department-wide technology transfer measures, such as the number of patented inventions and licenses. However, the department does not have objective and measurable performance goals to assess progress toward the broader strategic goals and objectives it developed. For example, without a performance goal for the number of DOE researchers involved in technology transfer activities and a measure of such involvement, DOE cannot assess the extent to which it has met its objective to encourage national laboratory personnel to pursue technology transfer activities. Internal control standards for government agencies call for management to define objectives in measurable terms, either qualitative or quantitative, so that performance toward those objectives can be assessed. Moreover, DOE has not aligned the 79 existing measures that it collects with its goals and objectives, nor has it prioritized them. Some lab stakeholders said that collecting and reporting these measures is burdensome. Prior GAO work has found that having a large number of performance measures may risk creating a confusing excess of data that will obscure rather than clarify performance issues. Researchers at DOE and its 17 national labs regularly make contributions to new energy technologies, such as more efficient batteries for electric vehicles. Technology transfer officials at the labs help these researchers license intellectual property and partner with private-sector companies to bring these technologies to market. However, several recent reports have highlighted barriers and inconsistencies in technology transfer at DOE, including a 2015 commission report that found barriers related to the costs of collaboration and low maturity level of many DOE technologies. This report examines (1) steps DOE has taken to address barriers to technology transfer and (2) the extent to which DOE plans and tracks the performance of its technology transfer and commercialization activities. GAO analyzed DOE documents on technology transfer and spoke with officials at DOE and seven national labs, as well as with representatives of universities and private-sector companies. GAO selected labs across a range of DOE activities and based on their technology transfer activities. GAO recommends that DOE assess researchers' needs for commercialization training and develop objective, quantifiable, and measurable performance goals and a limited number of related performance measures for its technology transfer efforts. DOE concurred with the recommendations. For more information, contact Candice Wright at (202) 512-6888 or WrightC@gao.gov.[Read More…]
- Appointment of Ambassador Philip Reeker as Chargé d’Affaires at Embassy LondonBy Sam NewsJuly 15, 2021