Federal courthouses along the Gulf Coast are closed due to the effects of Hurricane Ida.
Eastern District of Louisiana
- New Orleans: Courthouse closed on August 30.
Contact the Eastern District of Louisiana for more information.
Middle District of Louisiana
- Baton Rouge: Courthouse closed on August 30.
Contact the Middle District of Louisiana for more information.
Western District of Louisiana
- Lafayette and Alexandria: Courthouses closed on August.30.
Contact the Western District of Louisiana for more information.
Southern District of Mississippi
- Gulfport, Natchez, Jackson, and Hattiesburg: Courthouses closed on August 30.
Contact the Southern District of Mississippi for more information.
Related Topics: Emergency Preparedness
- Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Announces Investigation of the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the Minneapolis Police DepartmentBy Sam NewsApril 21, 2021Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced today the Justice Department has opened a pattern or practice investigation into the City of Minneapolis (the City) and the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). The investigation will assess all types of force used by MPD officers, including uses of force involving individuals with behavioral health disabilities and uses of force against individuals engaged in activities protected by the First Amendment. The investigation will also assess whether MPD engages in discriminatory policing. As part of the investigation the Justice Department will conduct a comprehensive review of MPD policies, training and supervision. The department will also examine MPD’s systems of accountability, including complaint intake, investigation, review, disposition and discipline. The Department of Justice will also reach out to community groups and members of the public to learn about their experiences with MPD. “The investigation I am announcing today will assess whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests,” said Attorney General Garland. “Building trust between community and law enforcement will take time and effort by all of us, but we undertake this task with determination and urgency, knowing that change cannot wait.” This morning, Department of Justice officials informed Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo, City Attorney Jim Rowader, City Coordinator Mark Ruff, and City Council President Lisa Bender of the investigation. The department will continue to work closely with both the City and MPD as the investigation progresses. “One of the Civil Rights Division’s highest priorities is to ensure that every person in this country benefits from public safety systems that are lawful, responsive, transparent and nondiscriminatory,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. “It is essential that police departments across the country use their law enforcement authority, including the authority to use force, in a manner that respects civil rights and the sanctity of human life.” “People throughout the city of Minneapolis want a public safety system that protects and serves all members of our community,” said Acting U.S. Attorney W. Anders Folk for the District of Minnesota. “This investigation by the Department of Justice provides a vital step to restore and build trust in the Minneapolis Police Department and its officers.” The investigation is being conducted pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which prohibits state and local governments from engaging in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives individuals of rights protected by the Constitution or federal law. The Act allows the Department of Justice to remedy such misconduct through civil litigation. The department will be assessing law enforcement practices under the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as under the Safe Streets Act of 1968, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Special Litigation Section of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, in Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, in Minneapolis, are jointly conducting this investigation. Individuals with relevant information are encouraged to contact the Department of Justice via email at Community.Minneapolis@usdoj.gov or by phone at 866-432-0268. Individuals can also report civil rights violations regarding this or other matters using the Civil Rights Division’s new reporting portal, available at civilrights.justice.gov. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt. Additional information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota is available on its website at https://www.justice.gov/usao-mn.[Read More…]
- COVID-19: HHS Agencies’ Planned Reviews of Vaccine Distribution and Communication Efforts Should Include Stakeholder PerspectivesBy Sam NewsNovember 4, 2021What GAO Found In late 2020 and early 2021, agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) set up federal programs for vaccine distribution and administration. State and local health officials and other stakeholders GAO interviewed said these programs helped higher-risk populations access COVID-19 vaccination. For example, the Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) health center program provided vaccinations in medically underserved areas. However, these stakeholders also cited challenges, such as initially having limited or no information on the doses federal programs were sending to pharmacies and health centers in their communities. They said this made it difficult to decide which sites, including pharmacies and health centers, to send their own allocated doses when supply was limited. Stakeholders told GAO the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) education materials, such as provider toolkits, were useful to address the public's concerns about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, but providers would have liked them sooner to be able start promoting vaccination earlier. These stakeholders, including health officials, said they had difficulty managing public expectations and responding to questions about vaccine availability when they did not receive advance notice about changes in federal priority groups for vaccination. Individual Being Vaccinated as Part of a Federal Program Officials from HHS agencies—CDC and HRSA—stated they intend to conduct after action reviews to identify lessons learned from their COVID-19 vaccine distribution and communication efforts. However, officials said they have not finalized their plans for conducting such reviews, nor do they plan to do so while they continue to respond to the pandemic and have ongoing programs. Thus, it is uncertain whether they will gather input, including on an ongoing basis, from key stakeholders instrumental in vaccine distribution and communication efforts, such as state and local health officials, or whether the results will be shared with those stakeholders. Doing so will help ensure CDC and HRSA learn what worked well and identify areas for improvement to inform future vaccination efforts. Why GAO Did This Study Vaccination remains critical in the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccine implementation—prioritizing, allocating, distributing, and administering doses—requires coordination among federal, state, and local levels and other stakeholders. HHS agencies—including CDC and HRSA—set up federal vaccine distribution programs, such as CDC's retail pharmacy program that sends doses directly to pharmacies. The federal government also sends vaccine doses to states for further distribution. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to report on its ongoing monitoring and oversight efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This report examines (1) stakeholder perspectives on federal programs to distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines, (2) efforts to inform health officials, providers, and the public about vaccination, and (3) actions HHS agencies are taking to evaluate their vaccine implementation efforts. GAO reviewed data and documents from HHS, CDC, and HRSA, and reviewed information from and interviewed state and local health officials in four states and one city selected, in part, for geographic variation. GAO also interviewed other stakeholders, including 12 national associations representing health care providers and others.[Read More…]
- Public Health Preparedness: HHS Has Taken Some Steps to Implement New Authority to Speed Medical Countermeasure InnovationBy Sam NewsJuly 30, 2020The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has taken steps towards implementing an authority provided by the 21st Century Cures Act to accelerate the development of medical countermeasures. Medical countermeasures are drugs, vaccines, and devices to diagnose, treat, prevent, or mitigate potential health effects of exposure to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. However, as of June 2020, HHS had not selected a medical countermeasures innovation partner—an independent, nonprofit entity that the 21st Century Cures Act authorizes HHS to partner with to use venture capital practices and methods to invest in companies developing medical countermeasures. Towards implementing the authority, HHS has developed a vision for the innovation partner, staffed a division to manage HHS's medical innovation partnership and determined an initial amount of funding needed, solicited and considered feedback from venture capital and other stakeholders, and developed preliminary plans for structuring and overseeing the partnership. HHS officials explained this type of partnership approach was new to the agency and required due diligence to develop. According to agency officials, the innovation partner will allow HHS to invest in potentially transformative medical countermeasures that have the potential to benefit the government. For example, the innovation partner could invest in innovative wearable technologies to help early detection of viral infections. HHS officials told GAO that the partner, which is required by law to be a nonprofit entity, will be required to reinvest BARDA's revenues generated from government investments into further investments made through the partnership. BARDA's ultimate goal will be to use these revenues to fund new investments. According to a review of stakeholder comments submitted to HHS, potential venture capital partners identified concerns regarding aspects of the agency's plans for the innovation partner, which the stakeholders indicated could hinder HHS's implementation of the authority. For example, there is a statutory limit to the annual salary that can be paid to an individual from HHS's annual appropriation, which some stakeholders indicated was too low to attract an entity to manage the innovation partner funds. HHS officials told GAO they are assessing options to mitigate some of these concerns, but that plans will not be final until they select the partner. GAO provided a draft of this correspondence to HHS and the Department of Defense for review and comment. HHS did not provide comments on this report and DOD provided technical comments that we incorporated as appropriate. The COVID-19 pandemic and other public health emergencies caused by chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents or emerging infectious diseases raise concern about the nation's vulnerability to, and capacity to prevent or mitigate, potential health effects from exposure to such threats. The 21st Century Cures Act authorized HHS to partner with a private, nonprofit entity that can use venture capital practices and methods to invest in companies developing promising, innovative, medical countermeasures. The 21st Century Cures Act included a provision for GAO to review activities conducted under the innovation partner authority. This report describes the status of HHS's implementation of the authority. GAO reviewed relevant statutes and HHS documentation regarding its plans and actions taken to implement the authority, reviewed responses HHS received to the two requests for information it used to collect information from venture capital and other stakeholders, interviewed HHS officials, and interviewed officials from the Department of Defense, which has partnered with a private, nonprofit entity to make investments using venture capital practices. For more information, contact Mary Denigan-Macauley at (202) 512-7114 or DeniganMacauleyM@gao.gov.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Reaches Agreement with the Board of Election Commissioners for the City of St. Louis to Ensure Polling Place Accessibility for Voters with DisabilitiesBy Sam NewsJanuary 12, 2021The Justice Department today reached a settlement under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with the Board of Election Commissioners for the City of St. Louis to ensure that St. Louis polling places are accessible during elections to individuals with mobility and vision impairments.[Read More…]
- The United States and United Kingdom: Reaffirming Our AllianceBy Sam NewsMay 2, 2021
- Haiti Independence DayBy Sam NewsJanuary 3, 2022Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- July 29, 2021, letter commenting on AICPA’s February 2021 Exposure Draft, “Proposed Statements on Quality Management Standards – Quality Management”By Sam NewsJuly 31, 2021This letter provides GAO's response to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Auditing Standards Board's (ASB) Proposed Statement on Quality Management Standards – Quality Management: A Firm's System of Quality Management (SQMS No. 1); Proposed Statement on Quality Management Standards – Engagement Quality Reviews (SQMS No. 2); and Proposed Statement on Auditing Standards, Quality Management for an Engagement Conducted in Accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (QM SAS). GAO provides standards for performing high-quality audits of government organizations, programs, activities, and functions and of government assistance to contractors, nonprofit organizations, and other nongovernment organizations with competence, integrity, objectivity, and independence. These standards, often referred to as generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS), are to be followed when required by law, regulation, agreement, contract, or policy. For financial audits, GAGAS incorporates by reference the AICPA's Statements on Auditing Standards (SAS). For attestation engagements, GAGAS incorporates by reference the AICPA's Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements.[Read More…]
- Two men sent to prison for trafficking troubled teenagerBy Sam NewsIn Justice NewsNovember 1, 2021Two Houstonians are on [Read More…]
- Proposing Changes to the Department’s Policies on Gender on U.S. Passports and Consular Reports of Birth AbroadBy Sam NewsJune 30, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- Registration is Open for the Indo-Pacific Business Forum 2021By Sam NewsSeptember 15, 2021
- The Department of Justice Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Owner of Rental Properties in Elizabeth, New JerseyBy Sam NewsAugust 5, 2020The Department of Justice announced today that it has filed a lawsuit alleging that the owner of rental properties in Elizabeth, New Jersey violated the Fair Housing Act by subjecting tenants to sexual harassment.[Read More…]
- Insitu Inc. to Pay $25 Million to Settle False Claims Act Case Alleging Knowing Overcharges on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle ContractsBy Sam NewsJanuary 12, 2021Insitu Inc., headquartered in Bingen, Washington, has agreed to pay $25 million to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by knowingly submitting materially false cost and pricing data for contracts with the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Department of the Navy (Navy) to supply and operate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the Department of Justice announced today.[Read More…]
- Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks at the 2021 White House Tribal Nations SummitBy Sam NewsNovember 15, 2021Good afternoon. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to join the first Tribal Nations Summit in five years.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Applauds Passage of the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation ActBy Sam NewsDecember 24, 2020On Dec. 23, 2020, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act (the “Act”), which prohibits employers from retaliating against certain individuals who report criminal antitrust violations. The Act was sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley, passed the Senate on Oct. 17, 2019, and passed the House of Representatives on Dec. 8, 2020.[Read More…]
- Priority Open Recommendation: Securities and Exchange CommissionBy Sam NewsMay 11, 2021What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified two priority recommendations for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Since then, SEC has implemented one of these recommendations, and the other remains open. The open priority recommendation relates to performance management for SEC employees. Specifically, it would help enhance the credibility of SEC's performance management system among its staff, including the ratings, recognition, or feedback that they receive as a result. SEC's continued attention to this issue could lead to significant improvements in government operations. We are not adding any additional priority recommendations this year. 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 Michael Clements at (202) 512-8678 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- U.S. Agency for Global Media: Additional Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of Broadcasting NetworksBy Sam NewsOctober 27, 2021What GAO Found The U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) and the six networks it oversees seek to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. Amendments to legislation have affected USAGM's governing authorities and organizational structure by shifting authority from a bipartisan board to a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), with advice from an Advisory Board. For example, the legislation granted the CEO the authority to name and replace members of USAGM's grantee boards, which manage the grantee networks. However, some network officials have concerns about certain provisions in the legislation, particularly about the process for selecting grantee board members. Determining how to appoint or remove members of USAGM's grantee boards in a way that includes Advisory Board involvement may help ensure the professional independence and integrity of USAGM's grantees. Network and USAGM officials said that previous members of USAGM leadership took several actions that did not align with USAGM's firewall principles. According to USAGM, the firewall protecting the networks' independence is central to the credibility and effectiveness of USAGM's networks (see fig.). However, the parameters of the firewall are not specifically laid out in legislation. Delineation of what is and is not permissible under the firewall may help ensure the professional independence and integrity of the agency and its networks. The U.S. Agency for Global Media's (USAGM) View of Its Legislative Firewall aUnited States International Broadcasting Act of 1994, Pub. L. 103–236, title III (Apr. 30, 1994). According to USAGM, the statutory firewall is found in 22 U.S.C. § 6204(b)) and 22 U.S.C. § 6202(a)(5) and (b)(1). Various USAGM and network officials told us that some past management actions have hindered USAGM's oversight of networks' operations, but current leaders are taking corrective actions. For example, a halt on funding caused 49 of 60 active internet freedom projects to stop, but leaders have now released the funding. Nevertheless, other actions to ensure accountability of grantees, such as establishing Standard Operating Procedures for Monitoring Grants , have not corrected a longstanding significant deficiency in grants monitoring reported by independent audits of USAGM's financial statements for the past 5 years. USAGM's leaders now have a plan aimed at correcting audit deficiencies by hiring a contractor to implement several grant oversight improvements. Why GAO Did This Study USAGM, formerly known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors, is an independent federal agency whose mission is to provide unbiased news in some countries where freedom of information is restricted. With a budget of around $810 million in fiscal year 2020, USAGM oversees two federal networks—Voice of America and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting—and four grantees—Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks, and Open Technology Fund. Each grantee has a separate board. A Senate committee report included a provision for GAO to consult with the Committee on Appropriations on an evaluation of USAGM's governance structure and oversight processes for its broadcasting entities. This report examines (1) how recent statutory amendments affected USAGM's governing authority and organizational structure, (2) the extent to which USAGM's management actions aligned with its policies on protecting editorial independence, and (3) the extent to which USAGM has taken actions to ensure oversight of network operations and accountability of its grantees. GAO reviewed relevant laws and agency documents and interviewed USAGM and network officials, including board members.[Read More…]
- Further Sanctions on Entities Trading in or Transporting Iranian PetrochemicalsBy Sam NewsMarch 18, 2020Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month By Sam NewsOctober 1, 2021
- Military Housing: DOD Has Taken Key Steps to Strengthen Oversight, but More Action Is Needed in Some AreasBy Sam NewsFebruary 16, 2021In 1996 Congress provided DOD with authorities enabling it to obtain private-sector financing and management to repair, renovate, construct, and operate military housing. DOD has since privatized about 99 percent of its domestic housing. The Department of Defense (DOD) has made progress in addressing weaknesses in its privatized housing program, and GAO has identified additional opportunities to strengthen the program. GAO reported in March 2020 on DOD's oversight and its role in the management of privatized housing. Specifically, GAO found that 1) the military departments conducted some oversight of the physical condition of privatized housing, but some efforts were limited in scope; 2) the military departments used performance metrics to monitor private developers, but the metrics did not provide meaningful information on the condition of housing; 3) the military departments and private developers collected maintenance data on homes, but these data were not captured reliably or consistently, and 4) DOD provided reports to Congress on the status of privatized housing, but some data in these reports were unreliable, leading to misleading results. GAO made 12 recommendations, including that DOD take steps to improve housing condition oversight, performance indicators, maintenance data, and resident satisfaction reporting. DOD generally concurred with the recommendations. As of February 2021, DOD fully implemented 5 recommendations and partially implemented 7 recommendations. DOD should also take action to improve the process for setting basic allowance for housing (BAH)—a key source of revenue for privatized housing projects. In January 2021, GAO reported on DOD's process to determine BAH. GAO found that DOD has not always collected rental data on the minimum number of rental units needed to estimate the total housing cost for certain locations and housing types. Until DOD develops ways to increase its sample size, it will risk providing housing cost compensation that does not accurately represent the cost of suitable housing for servicemembers. GAO recommended that DOD review its methodology to increase sample sizes. GAO has also determined, in a report to be issued this week, that DOD should improve oversight of privatized housing property insurance and natural disaster recovery. GAO assessed the extent to which the military departments and the Office of the Secretary of Defense exercise oversight of their projects' insurance coverage. GAO found that the military departments have exercised insufficient oversight, and that the Office of the Secretary of Defense has not regularly monitored the military departments' implementation of insurance requirements. Without establishing procedures for timely and documented reviews, the military departments cannot be assured that the projects are complying with insurance requirements and assuming a proper balance of risk and cost. The draft of this report, which GAO provided to DOD for official comment, included 9 recommendations, 2 of which DOD addressed in January 2021 by issuing policy updates. The final report's 7 remaining recommendations, including that the military departments update their respective insurance review oversight procedures, will help strengthen DOD's oversight of privatized housing, once implemented. DOD concurred with all of the recommendations. Congress enacted the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) in 1996 to improve the quality of housing for servicemembers. DOD is responsible for general oversight of privatized housing projects. Private-sector developers are responsible for the ownership, construction, renovation, maintenance, and repair of about 99 percent of military housing in the United States. GAO has conducted a series of reviews of MHPI, following reports of hazards (such as mold) in homes, questions about DOD's process to determine the basic allowance for housing rates, which is a key revenue source for privatized housing, and concerns about how DOD ensures appropriate property insurance for privatized housing projects impacted by severe weather. This statement summarizes 1) steps DOD has taken to strengthen oversight and management of its privatized housing program, and work remaining; 2) actions needed to improve DOD's BAH process; and 3) actions needed to enhance DOD's oversight of privatized housing property insurance. The statement summarizes two of GAO's prior reports, and a report to be issued, related to privatized housing. For this statement, GAO reviewed prior reports, collected information on recommendation implementation, and interviewed DOD officials. In prior reports, GAO recommended that DOD improve oversight of housing conditions; review its process for determining basic allowance for housing rates; and that the military departments update their housing insurance review oversight procedures. For more information, contact Elizabeth A. Field at (202) 512-2775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Former IRS Employee Charged with Tax FraudBy Sam NewsOctober 20, 2021A federal grand jury in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, returned an indictment in July, which was unsealed yesterday, charging a South Carolina man with tax evasion and attempting to obstruct an IRS civil audit and an IRS criminal investigation.[Read More…]