January 25, 2022

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Iranian Intelligence Officials Indicted on Kidnapping Conspiracy Charges

10 min read
<div>A New York federal court unsealed an indictment today charging four Iranian nationals with conspiracies related to kidnapping, sanctions violations, bank and wire fraud, and money laundering. A co-conspirator and California resident, also of Iran, faces additional structuring charges.</div>
A New York federal court unsealed an indictment today charging four Iranian nationals with conspiracies related to kidnapping, sanctions violations, bank and wire fraud, and money laundering. A co-conspirator and California resident, also of Iran, faces additional structuring charges.

More from: July 13, 2021

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  • Army Working Capital Fund: Army Faces Challenges in Managing Working Capital Fund Cash Balance during Wartime Environment
    In U.S GAO News
    The Army Working Capital Fund (AWCF) collected over $16 billion for goods and services provided to customers in fiscal year 2009. Cash generated from sales is used by AWCF to cover its expenses such as paying employees. In light of the Army's changing role in the Middle East, GAO was asked to determine whether (1) AWCF's monthly cash balances fell within the Department of Defense's (DOD) cash requirements for fiscal years 2000 through 2009, (2) the cash transfers resulted in AWCF's monthly cash balances falling below the minimum amount required by DOD, and (3) the AWCF's projected monthly cash balances are expected to fall below DOD's minimum cash requirement for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 and actions the Army can take to manage those balances. To address these objectives, GAO (1) reviewed relevant DOD guidance, (2) obtained and analyzed AWCF budget and accounting reports containing cash information, and (3) interviewed DOD and Army officials.GAO analysis showed that the AWCF monthly cash balance fluctuated significantly between fiscal years 2000 and 2009 and exceeded the maximum cash requirement prescribed by DOD regulation for 94 out of 120 months. The fluctuations were due to differences between receipts and disbursements, including the (1) receipt of collections from AWCF operations, (2) appropriations received in support of the wars, (3) disbursements made to pay for AWCF expenses, and (4) transfers made to fund other Army requirements. The Army transferred $4.8 billion out of AWCF from fiscal years 2004 through 2009. Most of the transfers funded requirements of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, or military personnel costs. These transfers helped to reduce the cash balance, but also resulted in the AWCF cash falling below the minimum cash requirement for a 6-month period in fiscal year 2006. GAO analysis of the AWCF fiscal year 2011 budget and cash plan showed that the projected monthly cash balances for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 would exceed DOD's minimum cash requirement for 22 out of 24 months. While the Army does not expect a cash shortfall due primarily to an increase in military build-up activities in Afghanistan, a cash shortfall may occur if certain Army actions are not implemented and monitored effectively. These actions include (1) reducing AWCF obligations to less than the amount of inventory sold, (2) collecting funds from Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) for inventory items transferred from AWCF to DLA, and (3) reducing the amount of inventory at industrial operations activities. Further, the relevant DOD Financial Management Regulation lacks sufficient clarity to determine the appropriate level of inventory to be held at these activities.
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    The Justice Department today announced an agreement with the Borough of Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, to resolve allegations that the Borough violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) by denying zoning approval for an Orthodox Jewish congregation to construct a worship center on its property. 
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    The Department of Justice announced today criminal charges against 138 defendants, including 42 doctors, nurses, and other licensed medical professionals, in 31 federal districts across the United States for their alleged participation in various health care fraud schemes that resulted in approximately $1.4 billion in alleged losses.
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  • Federal Contracting: Noncompetitive Contracts Based on Urgency Need Additional Oversight
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Departments of Defense (DOD) and State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) used the urgency exception to a limited extent, but the reliability of some federal procurement data elements is questionable. For fiscal years 2010 through 2012, obligations reported under urgent noncompetitive contracts ranged from less than 1 percent to about 12 percent of all noncompetitive contract obligations. During that time, DOD obligated $12.5 billion noncompetitively to procure goods and services using the urgency exception, while State and USAID obligated $582 million and about $20 million respectively, almost exclusively to procure services. Among the items procured were personal armor, guard services and communications equipment to support missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. GAO found coding errors that raise concerns about the reliability of federal procurement data on the use of the urgency exception. Nearly half—28 of the 62 contracts in GAO's sample—were incorrectly coded as having used the urgency exception when they did not. GAO found that 20 of the 28 miscoded contracts were awarded using procedures that are more simple and separate from the requirements related to the use of the urgency exception. Ensuring reliability of procurement data is critical as these data are used to inform procurement policy decisions and facilitate oversight. For the 34 contracts in GAO's sample that were properly coded as having used the urgency exception, agencies cited a range of urgent circumstances, primarily to meet urgent needs for combat operations or to avoid unanticipated gaps in program support. The justifications and approvals—which are required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to contain certain facts and rationale to justify use of the urgency exception to competition—generally contained the required elements; however, some were ambiguous about the specific risks to the government if the acquisition was delayed. Ten of the 34 contracts in GAO's sample had a period of performance of more than one year—8 of which were modified after award to extend the period of performance beyond 1 year. The FAR limits contracts using the urgency exception to one year in duration unless the head of the agency or a designee determines that exceptional circumstances apply. Agencies did not make this determination for the 10 contracts. The FAR is not clear about what steps agencies should take when a contract is modified after award to extend the period of performance over 1 year. Some contracting officials noted that these modifications are treated as separate contract actions and would not require the determination by the head of the agency or designee. Others considered them cumulative actions requiring the determination. Standards for Internal Controls in the Federal Government calls for organizations to maintain proper controls that ensure transparency and accountability for stewardship of government resources. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP)—which provides governmentwide policy on federal contracting procedures—is in a position to clarify when the determination of exceptional circumstances is needed to help achieve consistent implementation of this requirement across the federal government. Further, under the urgency exception, the FAR requires agencies to seek offers from as many vendors as practicable given the circumstances. For some contracts in GAO's sample, lack of access to technical data rights and reliance on contractor expertise prevented agencies from obtaining competition. Why GAO Did This Study Competition is a critical tool for achieving the best return on the government's investment. Federal agencies are generally required to award contracts competitively but are permitted to award noncompetitive contracts under certain circumstances, such as when requirements are of such an unusual and compelling urgency that the government would suffer serious financial or other injury. Contracts that use the urgency exception to competition must generally be no longer than one year in duration. The conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2013 mandated GAO to examine DOD's, State's, and USAID's use of this exception. For the three agencies, GAO assessed (1) the pattern of use, (2) the reasons agencies awarded urgent noncompetitive contracts and the extent to which justifications met FAR requirements; and (3) the extent to which agencies limited the duration. GAO analyzed federal procurement data, interviewed contracting officials, and analyzed a non-generalizable sample of 62 contracts with a mix of obligation levels and types of goods and services procured across the three agencies.
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    In U.S GAO News
    A firm requested reconsideration of its dismissed protest of the Navy's decision to perform base operations and support services in-house rather than contract for these services, contending that the Navy's proposed corrective action failed to address all of its concerns. GAO held that it would not consider these issues, since the Navy's proposed corrective action may affect key requirements in the solicitation and render the protester's concerns academic. Accordingly, the request for reconsideration was denied.
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    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found About 1.6 percent of the total available budget authority government-wide was cancelled from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2019, averaging $23.9 billion per year. The variations in cancelled appropriations from year to year can be explained largely by trends in four departments. Together they represent 86 percent of the total government-wide cancelled appropriations, but their rate of cancellations were within a few percentage points of the government-wide rate. Four Agencies Represent the Majority of Total Cancellations from FY2009–FY2019 Cancelled appropriations for the six case study accounts GAO reviewed largely resulted from program-specific factors: Actual program needs were less than estimated. For example, actual versus projected troop levels and warfront movements can contribute to cancelled appropriations at the Department of Defense (DOD). Some program funds are only for specific purposes. For example, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families officials reported that some states declined funding for a teen sex and pregnancy prevention program, and the agency did not have the authority to redirect those funds for other purposes. Some programs' costs are more unpredictable than others. Contract and acquisition costs can be unpredictable . When final costs are less than originally estimated, agencies may have to cancel the difference. In contrast, agencies with a higher proportion of personnel expenses, which are relatively predictable, can more easily avoid cancelled appropriations. All of GAO's case study agencies have procedures in place to help limit discretionary cancelled appropriations. For example, the Army established a program that helps reduce cancelled appropriations by providing management with metrics and tools to help prevent them. Why GAO Did This Study Laws limit the time that agencies have available to use fixed-term appropriations for obligations and expenditures. However, agencies do not always obligate and outlay these funds in time, which ultimately results in cancelled appropriations. Efforts to limit the amount of cancelled appropriations result in more accurate budget estimation and fiscal projections, a more efficient appropriations process, and better service to the public. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 includes a provision for GAO to review the status of cancelled appropriations. This report addresses (1) the extent of appropriations that were cancelled in fiscal years 2009 through 2019 and how the rate of cancelled appropriations and other characteristics differ across agencies, (2) factors that contribute to the level of cancelled appropriations in selected accounts at agencies, and (3) efforts selected agencies make to prevent the cancellation of funds. To provide government-wide trends, GAO analyzed Department of the Treasury and Office of Management and Budget data. GAO also analyzed related documents from six case study accounts at DOD, HHS, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and interviewed officials at these agencies. The selected accounts included the three with the most cancelled appropriations government-wide and three additional accounts to represent the major categories of federal spending: personnel, acquisitions, grants, and contracts. For more information, contact Jeff Arkin at (202) 512-6806 or arkinj@gao.gov.
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    In U.S GAO News
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    In Crime News
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