Attorney General William P. Barr today directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to schedule the execution of Orlando Cordia Hall, who was sentenced to death after kidnapping, raping, and murdering a 16-year-old girl in 1994.
In September 1994, Hall and several accomplices ran a marijuana trafficking operation out of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. After a failed drug transaction involving $4,700, Hall and his accomplices went to the Arlington, Texas, home of a man they believed had reneged on the deal. The man’s 16-year-old sister, Lisa Rene, answered the door. Although she was simply an innocent bystander, Hall and his accomplices kidnapped her at gunpoint, and Hall raped her in the car. Hall’s accomplices subsequently drove her to a motel in Arkansas, where they raped her several more times. Hall and his accomplices then took her to a park where they had dug a grave. There, they beat her over the head with a shovel, soaked her with gasoline, and buried her alive.
In October 1995, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas found Hall guilty of, among other offenses, kidnapping resulting in death, and unanimously recommended a death sentence, which the court imposed. Hall’s convictions and sentences were affirmed on appeal more than 20 years ago, and his initial round of collateral challenges failed nearly 15 years ago. In 2006, Hall received a preliminary injunction from a federal district court in Washington, D.C., based on his challenge to the then-existing federal lethal-injection protocol. That injunction was vacated by the district court on Sept. 20, 2020, making Hall the only child murderer on federal death row who is eligible for execution and not subject to a stay or injunction. Hall’s execution is scheduled for Nov. 19, 2020, at U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute, Indiana.
- United States Proposes Modification to EPA Consent Decree to Reduce Sewer System Overflows for the Hampton Roads Sanitation DistrictBy Sam NewsNovember 22, 2021The United States lodged with the U.S. District Court of Eastern Virginia today a proposed modification of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2010 consent decree with the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) to require implementation of a comprehensive set of improvements to the sewer system to resolve longstanding problems with sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs).[Read More…]
- Medicare Severe Wound Care: Spending Declines May Reflect Site of Care Changes; Limited Information Is Available on QualityBy Sam NewsJanuary 4, 2021GAO's analysis of Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data show that in fiscal year 2018, 287,547 Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries had inpatient stays that included care for severe wounds. These wounds include those where the base of the wound is covered by dead tissue or non-healing surgical wounds. About 73 percent of the inpatient stays occurred in acute care hospitals (ACH), and a smaller percentage of stays occurred in post-acute care facilities. Specifically, about 16 percent of stays were at skilled nursing facilities (SNF), and about 7 percent were at long-term care hospitals (LTCH). CMS data show that Medicare spending on stays for severe wound care was $2.01 billion in fiscal year 2018, representing a decline of about 2 percent from fiscal year 2016, when spending was about $2.06 billion. Spending declined as a result of decreases in both the total number of these stays, as well as spending per stay, which both decreased by about 1 percent. The decrease in per stay spending was likely driven, in part, by a change in where beneficiaries received care. CMS data show fewer severe wound care stays in LTCHs, which tend to be paid higher payment rates. At the same time, more severe wound care stays were at two other types of facilities that tend to be paid lower payment rates: ACHs and inpatient rehabilitation facilities. GAO's analysis of CMS data also show that, while the number of LTCHs that billed Medicare for severe wound care decreased by about 7 percent from fiscal years 2016 to 2018, Medicare beneficiaries continued to have access to other severe wound care providers. For example, CMS data show that most beneficiaries resided within 10 miles of an ACH or SNF that provided severe wound care in fiscal year 2018. Figure: Percentage of Medicare Fee-for-Service Beneficiaries Residing within 10 Miles of a Health Care Facility That Provided Any Severe Wound Care, by Facility Type, Fiscal Year 2018 Note: The “other” category includes facilities such as psychiatric hospitals or units. There is limited information on how or whether the decrease in LTCH care for severe wounds may have affected the quality of severe wound care Medicare beneficiaries receive. For example, CMS collects information on the percentage of patients with new or worsened pressure ulcers at post-acute care facilities, but it does not measure the quality of care they receive. Medicare beneficiaries with serious health conditions, such as strokes, are prone to developing severe wounds due to complications that often lead to immobility and prolonged pressure on the skin. These beneficiaries may require a long-term inpatient stay at an ACH or a post-acute care facility, such as an LTCH. LTCHs treat patients who require care for longer than 25 days, on average. In 2018, LTCHs represented about $4.2 billion in Medicare expenditures. Prior to fiscal year 2016, LTCHs received a higher payment rate for treating Medicare beneficiaries than ACHs. Beginning in fiscal year 2016, a dual payment system was phased in that paid LTCHs a rate similar to ACHs for some beneficiaries and a higher rate for beneficiaries that met certain criteria. As this payment system has moved from partial to full implementation, lawmakers had questions about how it may affect beneficiaries' severe wound care. The 21st Century Cures Act included a provision for GAO to review severe wound care provided to Medicare beneficiaries. This report describes facilities where Medicare beneficiaries received severe wound care, Medicare severe wound care spending, and what is known about the dual payment system's effect on access and quality. GAO analyzed Medicare severe wound care access and spending data for fiscal years 2016 and 2018 (the most recent data available); reviewed reports; and interviewed CMS officials, researchers, and national wound care stakeholders. HHS provided technical comments on a draft of this report, which were incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact James Cosgrove at (202) 512-7114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
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- Operation Legend: Case of the DayBy Sam NewsSeptember 14, 2020Each weekday, the Department of Justice will highlight a case that has resulted from Operation Legend. Today’s case is out of the Eastern District of Michigan. Operation Legend launched in Detroit on July 29, 2020, in response to the city facing increased homicide and non-fatal shooting rates.[Read More…]
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- DOD Civilian Personnel: Greater Oversight and Quality Assurance Needed to Ensure Force Health Protection and Surveillance for Those DeployedBy Sam NewsAugust 31, 2021As the Department of Defense (DOD) has expanded its involvement in overseas military operations, it has grown increasingly reliant on its federal civilian workforce to support contingency operations. The Senate Armed Services Committee required GAO to examine DOD's policies concerning the health care for DOD civilians who deploy in support of contingency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. GAO analyzed over 3,400 deployment-related records for deployed federal civilians and interviewed department officials to determine the extent to which DOD has established and the military services and defense agencies (hereafter referred to as DOD components) have implemented (1) force health protection and surveillance policies and (2) medical treatment policies and procedures for its deployed federal civilians. GAO also examined the differences in special pays and benefits provided to DOD's deployed federal civilians and military personnel.DOD has established force health protection and surveillance policies to assess and reduce or prevent health risks for its deployed federal civilian personnel, but it lacks procedures to ensure implementation. Our review of over 3,400 deployment records at eight component locations found that components lacked documentation that some federal civilian personnel who deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq had received, among other things, required pre- and post-deployment health assessments and immunizations. These deficiencies were most prevalent at Air Force and Navy locations, and one Army location. As a larger issue, DOD lacked complete and centralized data to readily identify its deployed federal civilians and their movement in theater, further hindering its efforts to assess the overall effectiveness of its force health protection and surveillance capabilities. In August 2006, DOD issued a revised policy which outlined procedures that are intended to address these shortcomings. However, these procedures are not comprehensive enough to ensure that DOD will know the extent to which its components are complying with existing health protection requirements. In particular, the procedures do not establish an oversight and quality assurance mechanism for assessing the implementation of its force health protection and surveillance requirements. Until DOD establishes a mechanism to strengthen its force health protection and surveillance oversight, it will not be effectively positioned to ensure compliance with its policies, or the health care and protection of deployed federal civilians. DOD has also established medical treatment policies for its deployed federal civilians which provide those who require treatment for injuries or diseases sustained during overseas hostilities with care that is equivalent in scope to that provided to active duty military personnel under the DOD military health system. GAO reviewed a sample of seven workers' compensation claims (out of a universe of 83) filed under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act by DOD federal civilians who deployed to Iraq. GAO found in three cases where care was initiated in theater, that the affected civilians had received treatment in accordance with DOD's policies. In all seven cases, DOD federal civilians who requested care after returning to the United States had, in accordance with DOD's policies, received medical examinations and/or treatment for their deployment-related injuries or diseases through either military or civilian treatment facilities. DOD provides certain special pays and benefits to its deployed federal civilians, which generally differ in type and/or amount from those provided to deployed military personnel. For example, both civilian and military personnel are eligible to receive disability benefits for deployment-related injuries; however, the type and amount of these benefits vary, and some are unique to each group. Further, while the survivors of deceased federal civilian and military personnel generally receive similar types of cash survivor benefits, the comparative amounts of these benefits differ.[Read More…]
- 2020 Wiretap Report: Intercepts and Convictions DecreaseBy Sam NewsIn U.S CourtsJune 28, 2021Federal and state courts reported a combined 26 percent decrease in authorized wiretaps in 2020, compared with 2019, according to the Judiciary’s 2020 Wiretap Report. Convictions in cases involving electronic surveillance also decreased.[Read More…]
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- Department of Energy Contracting: NNSA Has Taken Steps to Improve Its Work Authorization Process, but Challenges RemainBy Sam NewsOctober 27, 2021What GAO Found The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has taken steps to improve its process for developing, reviewing, and issuing work authorizations (WA) for its management and operating (M&O) contractors. Such authorizations specify the activities to be conducted in a given fiscal year by the contractors that operate NNSA's sites (see figure). However, NNSA continues to face challenges issuing WAs before the start of the fiscal year, as generally required by NNSA's directive on WAs. As part of its efforts to improve the agency's WA process, NNSA convened an internal working group in 2017 and 2018 to review the process. In October 2018, the working group recommended that NNSA's program offices submit draft WAs for review by August 15 each year. This recommendation was intended to ensure that field-based contracting officers and M&O contractor representatives finalized and issued WAs by the start of each fiscal year. However, NNSA continued to experience delays in issuing WAs by the start of fiscal year 2020, in part because NNSA does not have a schedule with required deadlines for review and revisions of draft WAs. Contractors that begin work without a WA in place by the start of the fiscal year risk incurring unallowable costs. Further, delays in issuing WAs may require duplicative efforts, such as the need to create interim “stopgap” WAs. NNSA Work Authorization Development and Approval Process According to NNSA officials and M&O contractor representatives, WAs are an input for setting contractor performance expectations against which to monitor. However, when GAO reviewed performance evaluation reports for each contractor for fiscal years 2019 and 2020, GAO found that the reports did not clearly reference the performance expectations contained in WAs. NNSA officials confirmed that performance expectations contained in WAs cannot generally be traced to contractor's performance evaluation reports. This lack of traceability occurred in part because NNSA does not have clearly documented procedures specifying how officials should collect and use performance information, including from WAs, for evaluating contractor performance. This issue is similar to one on which GAO previously reported in February 2019 and made a recommendation for NNSA to develop such documented procedures. NNSA concurred with the recommendation but has not fully implemented it. GAO continues to believe that improving the ability to trace performance expectations to performance ratings would enable NNSA to more consistently evaluate contractor performance. Why GAO Did This Study NNSA relies on seven M&O contractors to manage and operate its eight laboratory and production sites. NNSA uses documents called WAs to direct the work of its contractors. NNSA's program offices collectively issued on average 94 WAs per fiscal year from 2018 to 2020. In 1990, GAO designated the Department of Energy's (DOE) contract management as a high-risk area and continues to identify ongoing challenges with NNSA's management of its contractors. As part of an effort to understand the status of NNSA's actions to address contract management challenges, GAO was asked to review NNSA's work authorization process and documentation. This report examines NNSA's (1) efforts to improve its work authorization process, and (2) use of WAs in its contractor performance evaluation process. GAO reviewed relevant laws and DOE and NNSA policy and guidance on WAs; analyzed a nongeneralizable sample of WAs for fiscal years 2019 and 2020; analyzed survey responses from all relevant NNSA program and field offices and contractor sites; reviewed contractor performance documentation; and interviewed agency officials.[Read More…]