January 25, 2022

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FY 2022 Notice of Funding Opportunity for Resettlement Support Center (RSC) Africa; RSC Asia; RSC Eurasia; and RSC Latin America

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    A doctor of osteopathic medicine who formerly worked at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Beckley, West Virginia, pleaded guilty today to three counts of depriving veterans of their civil rights under color of law by sexually abusing them.
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  • Open Data: Agencies Need Guidance to Establish Comprehensive Data Inventories; Information on Their Progress is Limited
    In U.S GAO News
    The Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary Government Data Act of 2018 (OPEN Government Data Act) codifies and expands open data policy and generally requires agencies to publish information as open data by default, as well as develop and maintain comprehensive data inventories. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has not issued statutorily-required guidance for agencies to implement comprehensive data inventories, which could limit agencies' progress in implementing their requirements under the act. OMB also has not met requirements to publicly report on agencies' performance and compliance with the act. Access to this information could inform Congress and the public about agencies' open data progress and statutory compliance. Implementation Status of Selected OPEN Government Data Act Requirements   Assessment Federal data catalogue: By July 2019, the General Services Administration (GSA) must maintain a point of entry dedicated to sharing agency data assets with the public, known as the “Federal data catalogue”. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and GSA must ensure agencies can publish data assets or links on the website. ✓ Online repository: By July 2019, OMB, GSA, and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) must collaborate to develop and maintain an online repository of tools, best practices, and schema standards to facilitate the adoption of open data practices across the federal government. ✓ Implementation guidance: By July 2019, OMB must issue guidance for agencies to implement comprehensive inventories. ✖ Biennial report: By January 2020, and biennially thereafter, OMB must electronically publish a report on agency performance and compliance with this act. ✖ Legend: ✓Requirement fully met I ✖ Requirement not met Source: GAO analysis of Pub. L. No. 115-435, 132 Stat. 5529(Jan. 14, 2019), resources.data.gov, www.data.gov , and an interview with OMB staff. | GAO-21-29. GAO found that all 24 Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act agencies display their data inventories on their websites, as well as on an online catalogue of federal data assets. Agencies took a variety of approaches to providing public access to individual data assets such as using Data.gov as the human-readable public interface, hosting searchable inventories on their own agency websites and providing lists of data or downloadable files on their websites. Information on the extent to which agencies regularly update their data inventories is limited. OMB and GSA do not have a policy to ensure the routine identification and correction of errors in electronically published information. The absence of such a policy limits publicly available information on agency progress. As of September 2020, seven of the 24 CFO Act agencies had also publicly released COVID-19 related datasets or linked to related information from their open data web pages as required by the Federal Data Strategy. These datasets provide data on a range of COVID-19 related topics including data on disease transmission and loans provided to businesses. Federal agencies create and collect large amounts of data in support of fulfilling their missions. Public access to open data—data that are free to use, modify, and share—holds great promise for promoting government transparency and engendering public trust. Access to open data is particularly important in the current pandemic environment as government agencies, scientists, and the public work to understand and respond to COVID-19 using data-focused approaches. The OPEN Government Data Act includes a provision for GAO to report on federal agencies' comprehensive data inventories. This report examines the extent to which 1) OMB, GSA, and NARA met their statutory requirements to facilitate the establishment of federal agencies' comprehensive data inventories; and 2) CFO Act agencies developed data inventories in accordance with OMB guidance. GAO reviewed agencies' websites and related documentation, and interviewed OMB staff and GSA and NARA officials. GAO is making two recommendations to OMB to issue required implementation guidance and report on agency performance. GAO also recommends that OMB and GSA establish policy to ensure the routine identification and correction of errors in agency data. GSA concurred with GAO's recommendation and OMB did not comment on the report. For more information, contact Michelle Sager at (202) 512-6806 or SagerM@gao.gov.
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    In Crime News
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  • Justice Department Secures Relief for U.S. Army National Guard Reservist on Employment Discrimination Claim Against Luxury Jeweler Harry Winston
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas announced today that they resolved a claim that luxury jeweler Harry Winston, Inc. violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) by refusing to offer full-time employment to U.S. Army National Guard Reservist John A. Walker because of his military service obligations.
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  • Information Technology: Biannual Scorecards Have Evolved and Served as Effective Oversight Tools
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Subcommittee's biannual scorecards initially focused on agencies' progress in implementing statutory provisions contained in the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) on topics such as incremental development and data center consolidation. The scorecard evolved over time to include additional IT-related components such as Chief Information Officer (CIO) direct reporting, software licensing, and cybersecurity (see figure). Biannual Scorecards Release Timeline with Associated Components The biannual scorecards have served as effective tools for monitoring federal agencies' efforts in implementing statutory requirements and addressing other important IT issues. For example, the Subcommittee-assigned grades of agency performance have shown steady improvement. Specifically, from November 2015 through December 2021, agencies receiving C or higher grades increased from 29 to 100 percent (all agencies). For the most recent scorecard, 50 percent of agencies received an A or B. This escalation in grades reflects the notable improvements in components of the scorecard. For example: Portfolio review savings. The amount of cost savings and avoidances reported from annually reviewing IT portfolios increased from $3.4 billion to $23.5 billion. CIO direct reporting. The number of agency CIOs that report directly to the Secretary or Deputy increased from 12 to 16 of the 24 agencies. Software licensing. The number of agencies with comprehensive, regularly updated software licensing inventories went from 3 to all 24, resulting in the removal of this component from the scorecard. Going forward, it will be important for Congress to continue adapting oversight tools, such as the biannual scorecards, to meet the advancing federal IT landscape. Why GAO Did This Study The federal government annually spends more than $100 billion on IT and cyber-related investments; however, many of these investments have failed or performed poorly and have often suffered from ineffective management. To improve the management of IT, Congress and the President enacted FITARA in December 2014. The law better enables Congress to monitor covered agencies' progress in managing IT and hold them accountable. FITARA applies to the 24 agencies subject to the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, although not all FITARA provisions apply to the Department of Defense. In November 2015, this Subcommittee began issuing biannual scorecards as an oversight tool to monitor agencies' progress toward implementing FITARA and subsequently, other IT-related issues. The scorecards rely on publicly available data to track and assign federal agencies letter grades (i.e., A, B, C, D, or F). As of January 2022, thirteen scorecards had been released. GAO was asked to testify on the evolution and effectiveness of the biannual scorecards. For this testimony, GAO relied primarily on previously issued products. For more information, contact Carol C. Harris at (202) 512-4456 or harriscc@gao.gov.
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  • Former Construction Executive Sentenced to 38 Months in Prison
    In Crime News
    A former senior New York construction official was sentenced to 38 months in prison today for tax evasion, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
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    In Crime News
    A former DeKalb County, Georgia, police officer and member of the Gangster Disciples was sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for racketeering conspiracy involving murder, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak of the Northern District of Georgia.
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  • Arkansas Project Manager Sentenced in Connection with COVID-Relief Fraud
    In Crime News
    A project manager employed by a major retailer was sentenced to 24 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for fraudulently seeking more than $8 million in forgivable loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney R. Trent Shores of the Northern District of Oklahoma.
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  • Federal Rulemaking: Deregulatory Executive Orders Did Not Substantially Change Selected Agencies’ Processes or Procedures
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found GAO found that the five selected agencies—the Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security (DHS), the Interior, and Transportation (DOT), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—implemented deregulatory executive order (EO) requirements, most with limited changes to their existing regulatory processes and procedures. Generally, these EOs required agencies to reduce the total number of regulations and overall regulatory costs. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reported that collectively the federal government met the two primary goals of the EOs by (1) implementing two deregulatory actions for every new regulatory action, and (2) achieving net cost savings (see table). Four of the five selected agencies reported having regulatory cost savings. DHS received a regulatory budget allowance from OIRA for this requirement due to DHS's need to implement priority immigration regulations. However, GAO's analysis of OIRA's data showed the reporting of agencies' deregulatory actions could be overstated partly because OIRA's overall reporting compared all agency deregulatory actions to only significant regulatory actions. A significant regulatory action is one that results in a $100 million or greater effect on the economy in any given year, or meets certain other criteria. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs' (OIRA) Reported Actions, Projected Costs, and Projected Cost-Savings by Selected Agencies, Fiscal Years 2017-2020 Dollars are net present value in millions Selected agencies Non-significant deregulatory actions Significant deregulatory actions Significant regulatory actions Projected Costs and (cost savings) Commerce 65 4 4 ($1,144) Homeland Security 26 8 8 $37,153 Interior 41 10 0 ($6,254) Transportation 47 16 6 ($100,484) Environmental Protection Agency 47 22 14 ($89,196) Selected agencies' total 226 60 32 ($159,925) Source: GAO analysis of OIRA and reginfo.gov data. | GAO-21-104305 Note: OIRA allocated an increase in DHS's regulatory budget to implement priority immigration regulations. The Office of Management and Budget's guidance implementing EO 13771 allowed agencies to include alternative actions as a means of achieving deregulatory goals. Alternative actions are those that were not promulgated through the notice-and-comment rulemaking process, such as guidance documents, information collection requests, and other directives. GAO found that of the 286 deregulatory actions reported by the five selected agencies, at least 28 (or about 10 percent) were alternative actions. GAO also found that the five selected agencies did not identify or implement changes to their regulatory enforcement activities in response to EO 13771. For example, officials from some agencies told GAO that any changes in regulatory enforcement activities that occurred while the EO was in effect were not in response to, nor a consequence of, the EO. Why GAO Did This Study From January 2017, until they were revoked in 2021, three EOs required agencies to reduce the total number of federal regulations and regulatory costs and burden. (1) EO 13771 required agencies to eliminate two deregulatory actions for every new regulatory action; (2) EO 13777 established regulatory reform task forces within the agencies, and (3) EO 13924 directed agencies to identify regulatory actions that may inhibit economic recovery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. GAO was asked to review these deregulatory EOs to better understand the processes and procedures agencies used to implement them. This report examines (1) selected agencies' processes and procedures to implement the EOs and achieve and report on their goals; (2) their alternatives to rulemaking used in response to the EOs; and (3) how enforcement activities changed in response to EO 13771. GAO selected five agencies that collectively implemented more than half of all actions under the deregulatory EOs—Commerce, DHS, Interior, DOT, and EPA—and reviewed their regulatory policies and procedures, and interviewed relevant agency officials. GAO reviewed OIRA's reports and interviewed agency officials. GAO also identified 20 nonfederal entities and interviewed a nongeneralizable selection of representatives from six that reflected a mix of industry groups, environmental policy advocates, and trade organizations. For more information, contact Yvonne D. Jones at (202) 512-6806 or jonesy@gao.gov.
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    In Crime News
    Yang Yang (34, Jacksonville) has pleaded guilty to conspiring to submit false export information through the federal government’s Automated Export System and to fraudulently export to China maritime raiding craft and engines in violation of United States (U.S.) law, and also to attempting to fraudulently export that equipment in violation of U.S. law. Yang faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
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