January 22, 2022

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Global Entry for Indian Citizens

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How to Apply for Global Entry:Citizens of India are eligible for Global Entry. Applications must be submitted through CBP’s Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) website. The non-refundable application fee for a five-year Global Entry membership is $100…

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  • Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Lapid
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Hospital Pharmacist to Plead Guilty to Attempting to Spoil Hundreds of COVID Vaccine Doses
    In Crime News
    A Wisconsin pharmacist has agreed to plead guilty to charges filed today in federal court that he attempted to render hundreds of doses of COVID-19 vaccine ineffective.
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  • American Contractor Sentenced for Theft of Government Equipment on U.S. Military Base in Afghanistan
    In Crime News
    An American military contractor was sentenced today to 51 months in prison for her role in a theft ring on a military installation in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
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  • Priority Open Recommendations: U.S. Department of Agriculture
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified 12 priority recommendations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Since then, USDA has implemented two of those recommendations. The department publicized information on state agencies’ use of data matching to reduce recipient fraud. USDA also ensured its workforce data are more reliable. In July 2021, GAO identified one additional priority recommendation for USDA, bringing the total number to 11. These recommendations involve the following areas: protecting the safety of the food supply. reducing improper payments. strengthening protections for wage earners. improving oversight of federal assistance and awards. improving cybersecurity. USDA’s continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations. Why GAO Did This Study Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015, GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations. For more information, contact Mark Gaffigan at (202) 512-3841 or gaffiganm@gao.gov.  
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  • Veterans Community Care Program: VA Should Strengthen Its Ability to Identify Ineligible Health Care Providers
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found GAO found vulnerabilities in the controls used by the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and its contractors to identify health care providers who are not eligible to participate in the Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP), resulting in the inclusion of potentially ineligible providers. Examples of Requirements of and Restrictions on Veterans Community Care Program Provider Eligibility Of over 800,000 providers assessed, GAO identified approximately 1,600 VCCP providers who were deceased, were ineligible to work with the federal government, or had revoked or suspended medical licenses. VHA and its contractors had controls in place to identify such providers. However, the existing controls missed some providers who could have been identified with enhanced controls and more consistent implementation of standard operating procedures. For example, GAO found the following: One provider had an expired nursing license in April 2016 and was arrested for assault in October 2018. This provider was excluded from working in federally funded health care programs. The provider was convicted of patient abuse and neglect in July 2019. The provider entered the VCCP in November 2019. VHA officials stated that this provider was uploaded into the system in error. One provider was eligible for referrals in the VHA system, but his medical license had been revoked in 2019. Licensing documents stated that the provider posed a clear and immediate danger to public health and safety. GAO also identified weaknesses in oversight of provider address data. Some VCCP providers used commercial mail receiving addresses as their only service address. Such addresses have been disguised as business addresses in the past by individuals intending to commit fraud. VHA has not assessed the fraud risk that invalid address data pose to the program. These vulnerabilities potentially put veterans at risk of receiving care from unqualified providers. Additionally, VHA is at risk of fraudulent activity, as some of the providers GAO identified had previous convictions of health-care fraud. VA has an opportunity to address these limitations as it continues to refine the controls, policies, and procedures for this 2-year old program. Why GAO Did This Study The VHA allows eligible veterans to receive care from community providers through VA's VCCP when veterans face challenges accessing care at VA medical facilities. VHA is responsible for ensuring VCCP providers are qualified and competent to provide safe care to veterans based on the eligibility requirements and restrictions. GAO was asked to examine the extent to which vulnerabilities in VCCP provider eligibility controls contributed to potentially ineligible providers participating in the program. GAO reviewed VHA and contractor standard operating procedures, policies, and guidance. GAO also interviewed knowledgeable officials. To identify potentially ineligible providers, GAO compared data from VHA's Office of Community Care to data sources related to actions that may exclude providers from participating in the VCCP.
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  • Federal Hiring: OPM Should Collect and Share COVID-19 Lessons Learned to Inform Hiring During Future Emergencies
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The CARES Act provided temporary hiring authorities to six agencies with responsibilities for responding to the public health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. A hiring authority is the law, executive order, or regulation that allows an agency to hire a person into the federal civil service. In addition, as of September 30, 2020, five agencies received direct hiring authority (DHA) from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in response to the pandemic. DHAs allow agencies to expedite hiring by eliminating competitive rating and ranking procedures and veterans' preference for specific positions. Also, in March 2020, OPM authorized the use of COVID-19 Schedule A hiring authority, which allows agencies to fill positions for up to 1 year as needed in response to, or as a result of, COVID-19. GAO found that the number of staff hired by 10 selected agencies using these three temporary COVID-19 hiring authorities varied. Figure 1: Availability of COVID-19 Hiring Authorities and Total Number of Hires Made at Selected Agencies, March through December 2020 aCOVID-19 Schedule A hiring authority allows agencies to fill positions for up to 1 year as needed in response to, or as a result of, COVID-19. bAgency received approval to amend an existing authority so hires were not all related to COVID-19. cCommerce's CARES Act hiring authority is limited to the Economic Development Administration. The selected agencies described a few lessons learned that could help other agencies improve the use of hiring authorities in future emergencies including: (1) collaborating with internal stakeholders to maximize information sharing across the agency; and (2) creating an inventory of hiring needs and available authorities to assist in addressing agency workforce needs. OPM intends to conduct reviews in fiscal year 2022 that may provide insight into agencies' use of hiring authorities in response to the pandemic. However, according to OPM officials, the agency has not yet developed plans to collect and share lessons learned on the use of COVID-19 related hiring authorities. Collecting and sharing lessons learned would help OPM understand how the various hiring authorities could be used during future emergencies and identify opportunities to improve the hiring process. Why GAO Did This Study The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects on federal programs and operations. To address this public health crisis, Congress and the administration made several hiring authorities available to agencies to hire staff with the needed skills to effectively respond to the pandemic. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to report on ongoing monitoring and oversight efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This report examines: (1) the new hiring authorities provided to federal agencies for COVID-19 response and the extent to which selected agencies have used them; (2) selected agencies' experiences using those hiring authorities, including lessons learned; and (3) OPM's efforts to assess agencies' use of the COVID-19 related hiring authorities. GAO reviewed documents and interviewed officials from OPM and the 10 agencies that were provided hiring authorities in the CARES Act or DHA for the public health emergency from OPM between March 1 and September 30, 2020. The documents reviewed included data on the agencies' hiring and OPM policies and guidance for its oversight of agencies' use of hiring authorities.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Pompeo’s Video Remarks at the Prague 5G Security Conference 2020
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Alleged Leaders of Gangster Disciples Indicted on Federal Racketeering Charges
    In Crime News
    Seven alleged members of the violent Gangster Disciples gang, including top national and state leaders, are in custody after multiple arrests this morning for their alleged participation in a years-long interstate racketeering conspiracy involving multiple murders, drug trafficking, and other crimes.
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  • Panama Travel Advisory
    In Travel
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  • Massachusetts Man Convicted of Placing Firebomb at Entrance of Jewish Nursing Home
    In Crime News
    A Massachusetts man was convicted by a federal jury yesterday in connection with placing a lit firebomb at the entrance of a Longmeadow senior health care facility in April 2020.
    [Read More…]
  • On the Loss of Life Due to Significant Flooding in Central Vietnam
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Defense
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In May 2020, GAO identified 81 priority open recommendations for the Department of Defense (DOD). Since then, DOD has implemented 21 of those recommendations, leading to improvements in readiness rebuilding efforts, cybersecurity, and the Navy's force structure, among other areas. Additionally, GAO closed four priority recommendations related to DOD enterprise-wide business reform as unimplemented because the recommendations are no longer relevant. GAO also removed one priority recommendation related to acquisition oversight because it no longer warranted priority attention due to actions taken by the military departments. Thus, reducing the number of remaining priority open recommendations to 55. In July 2021, GAO identified 26 additional priority recommendations for DOD, bringing the total number to 81. These recommendations involve the following areas: acquisitions and contract management; rebuilding readiness and force structure; financial management; cybersecurity and the information environment; health care; driving enterprise-wide business reform; preventing sexual harassment; and strengthening diversity, equity and inclusion within DOD. DOD's continued attention to these issues could lead to further improvements in the department's operations. Why GAO Did This Study Priority open recommendations are GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because implementation may significantly improve government operations, for example, by realizing large dollar savings; eliminating mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or making progress toward addressing a high-risk or fragmentation, overlap, or duplication issue. Since 2015, GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations. For more information, contact Elizabeth Field at (202) 512-2775 or fielde1@gao.gov.
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  • Public Designation, Due to Involvement in Significant Corruption, of Former Guatemalan Minister Alejandro Sinibaldi
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Panamanian Intermediary Pleads Guilty in Connection with International Bribery and Money Laundering Scheme
    In Crime News
    Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares (Luis Martinelli Linares), 39, a citizen of Panama and Italy, pleaded guilty today in the Eastern District of New York before U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie for laundering $28 million in connection with a massive bribery and money laundering scheme involving Odebrecht S.A. (Odebrecht), a Brazil-based global construction conglomerate.
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  • Higher Education: Department of Education Should Further Assess College Access Grant Programs
    In U.S GAO News
    Why This Matters The Department of Education gives grants to schools and organizations that provide disadvantaged students with services to help them attend college. These eight grant programs are collectively known as “TRIO”, named for the original three programs. Congress provides over $1 billion each year to these programs, but Education could do more to understand how well these grants work to help students. Key Takeaways Education could improve the information it has about TRIO programs in two areas: (1) grantee performance data, and (2) program assessments. Schools and organizations report data to Education to show how the TRIO grants they receive have been working. For example, organizations that receive grants to encourage students to complete college report on the numbers and percentages of students who received services and earned degrees.  Education evaluates grantees’ performance using the self-reported data, but has done little to verify the data. Accurate performance data are important because returning grantees can earn points for past performance in the next grant competition—increasing the likelihood that they will receive new grants. Almost 80 percent of recent TRIO grants went to returning grantees.  Therefore, grantees may have an incentive to report a more positive picture than warranted. Officials from an organization representing TRIO grantees told us there is a risk that some grantees may report inaccurate information.  As for assessing the individual TRIO programs, studies of some programs are outdated. In addition, Education has never assessed the effectiveness of three of the seven TRIO programs that serve students, and did not have any new assessments planned as of August 2020. How GAO Did This Study We analyzed data from Education about TRIO grantees and applicants. We also reviewed relevant federal laws and regulations and agency documents, and interviewed Education officials and other TRIO stakeholders. Education should take additional steps to ensure the reliability of grantees' performance data and develop a plan for assessing the effectiveness of the TRIO programs that serve students. Education generally agreed with our recommendations. For more information, contact Melissa Emrey-Arras at (617) 788-0534 or emreyarrasm@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Settles with Medical Parts Manufacturing Company to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it reached a settlement with DC Precision Machining Inc., which manufactures parts for medical devices and is based in Morgan Hill, California.
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  • Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim Delivers Final Address
    In Crime News
    Thank you very much for that introduction, Matt. I am grateful to Duke University and Duke’s Center on Science & Technology Policy for the privilege of being with you today to share some thoughts about the future of antitrust policy.
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  • Justice Department Announces Additional Distribution of more than $488 Million to Victims of Madoff Ponzi Scheme
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that the Madoff Victim Fund (MVF) began its sixth distribution of approximately $488 million in funds forfeited to the U.S. Government in connection with the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS) fraud scheme, bringing the total distributed to almost $3.2 billion to nearly 37,000 victims worldwide.
    [Read More…]
  • Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry’s Travel to France
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Conflict Minerals: Actions Needed to Assess Progress Addressing Armed Groups’ Exploitation of Minerals
    In U.S GAO News
    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosure rule broadly requires that certain companies submit a filing that describes their efforts to conduct a reasonable country-of-origin inquiry (RCOI), and depending on the preliminary determination, perform due diligence to determine the source and chain of custody of their conflict minerals—gold and specific ores for tantalum, tin, and tungsten. After conducting RCOI, an estimated 50 percent of companies filing in 2019 reported preliminary determinations as to whether the conflict minerals came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or adjoining countries (covered countries) or from scrap or recycled sources. The percentage of companies able to make such preliminary determinations increased significantly between 2014 and 2015, and has since leveled off, as shown below. Source of Conflict Minerals in Products as Determined by Companies' Reasonable Country-of-Origin Inquiries, Reporting Years 2014-2019 However, fewer companies reported such determinations after conducting due diligence. In 2019, an estimated 85 percent of companies made preliminary determinations that required them to then perform due diligence. Of those companies, an estimated 17 percent determined that the minerals came from covered countries—a significantly lower percentage of companies making that determination than the 37 percent reported in 2017 or the 35 percent in 2018. Since 2014, companies have noted various challenges they face in making such determinations; however, SEC staff told GAO that they did not know what factors contributed to the decrease in 2019. We will examine this issue during our future review. While the Department of State (State) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have implemented the U.S. conflict minerals strategy since 2011, they have not established performance indicators for all of the strategic objectives. For example, they have no such indicators for the objectives of strengthening regional and international efforts and promoting due diligence and responsible trade through public outreach. Without performance indicators, the agencies cannot comprehensively assess their progress toward achieving these objectives or the overall goal of addressing armed groups' exploitation of conflict minerals. Armed groups in eastern DRC continue to commit severe human rights abuses and to profit from the exploitation of “conflict minerals,” according to State. Provisions in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act required, among other things, that State, USAID, and the SEC take certain actions to promote peace and security. In 2011, State created the U.S. conflict minerals strategy in consultation with USAID to address armed groups' exploitation of conflict minerals. In 2012, the SEC also promulgated regulations containing disclosure and reporting requirements for companies that use conflict minerals from covered countries. The act also included a provision for GAO to annually assess, among other things, the SEC regulations' effectiveness in promoting peace and security. In this report, GAO examines, among other things, how companies responded to the SEC conflict minerals disclosure rule when filing in 2019 and the extent to which State and USAID assessed progress toward the U.S. conflict minerals strategy's objectives and goal. GAO analyzed a generalizable sample of SEC filings, reviewed documents, and interviewed U.S. officials State, in consultation with USAID, should develop performance indicators for assessing progress toward the strategic objectives and goal of the U.S. conflict minerals strategy. State and USAID concurred with GAO's recommendation. For more information, contact Kimberly M. Gianopoulos at (202) 512-8612 or gianopoulosk@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
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