December 8, 2021

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Jury convicts Cuban national for assaulting federal officers

17 min read
A federal jury has returned a guilty verdict against a Cuban woman for assaulting two Border Patrol (BP) agents at the Javier Vega Checkpoint

Read full article at: https://www.justice.gov June 29, 2021

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  • Nuclear Weapons: Actions Needed to Improve Management of NNSA’s Lithium Activities
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In December 2019, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) preliminarily estimated construction would cost between $955 million and $1.645 billion for a new lithium processing facility (LPF) at the Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12) in Tennessee and would be completed between May 2028 and September 2031. This is a substantial increase in cost and schedule; in 2015, NNSA initially estimated that a new facility would cost between $300 and $631 million and could be completed between 2023 and 2025. One reason for the cost and schedule changes is increased facility size, as reflected in a more mature design. GAO's evaluation of the LPF's preliminary cost estimate found it to be substantially comprehensive. NNSA also plans to include a new technology in the facility design based on its most recent technology assessment. In this assessment, NNSA did not collect certain data needed to fully evaluate the lithium produced with the technology. GAO best practices recommend agencies ensure all necessary evidence is collected when assessing the maturity of a new technology. Otherwise, NNSA faces some risks to ensuring the technology is ready to start construction in 2024 and could face future delays to the LPF if testing reveals unexpected problems with lithium produced with this technology. Preliminary Cost and Schedule Estimates for NNSA's New Lithium Processing Facility Increased Over Timea aNNSA's estimates are reported as actual dollars and were not adjusted for inflation. Important program management tools that NNSA could use to help ensure that the agency meets lithium demand are under development and are not consistent with best practices. For example, the lithium program's current schedule and scope of work—as expressed in a work breakdown structure—do not track the same program activities. According to GAO best practices, a program's schedule should be aligned with its work breakdown structure to ensure that activities are completed on time. By aligning these management tools, NNSA could help ensure that the comprehensive scope of work for the program is reflected in the schedule and that NNSA is accomplishing all program activities on time. Why GAO Did This Study Since the 1940s, the nation's supply of lithium used in some nuclear weapons components has been processed at NNSA's Y-12 site. However, due to deteriorating facilities and equipment and the need to reestablish dormant processing capabilities, NNSA faces risks in meeting future lithium demand. To address these challenges, NNSA has developed a strategy to meet lithium demand until the 2030s, by which time it expects the new LPF will be fully operational. The Senate committee report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 includes a provision for GAO to examine NNSA's lithium programs and projects. GAO's report examines, among other things, (1) the status of current cost and schedule estimates and design activities for NNSA's LPF project and (2) the extent to which NNSA has developed management tools for the lithium program that are consistent with best practices. GAO reviewed NNSA and contractor documentation, compared NNSA's efforts against agency requirements and best practices, and interviewed NNSA officials and Y-12 contractor representatives.
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    In Crime News
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  • Social Security Contracting: Relevant Guidance Should Be Revised to Reflect the Role of Contracting Personnel in Software Development
    In U.S GAO News
    The approach followed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in awarding and overseeing contracts generally aligns with the requirements GAO reviewed. For the 27 contracts and orders GAO reviewed, SSA varied its approach depending on the contract type used and the dollar value. For example, one of SSA's written acquisition plans acknowledged the risks to the government associated with time-and-materials contracts. From fiscal year 2015 through 2019, SSA obligated 22.7 percent of its contract dollars on time-and-material contracts compared with 10.5 percent at other civilian agencies. In addition, from fiscal year 2015 through 2019, the rate at which SSA used competitive award procedures to achieve the best value for the agency increased by nearly 20 percentage points. This increase was the result of the agency's increased use of competition in its contracting for information technology (IT). SSA relies heavily on IT resources to support the administration of its programs and related activities. During fiscal years 2015 through 2019, about 65 percent of the $8.3 billion in contract obligations were for IT goods and services compared with about 16 percent at other civilian agencies. The figure shows the percentage of obligations for IT goods and services at SSA. Percentage of Social Security Administration's Contract Obligations for Goods and Services during Fiscal Years 2015 through 2019 SSA adopted an Agile approach to software development for some of its critical IT programs in 2015. An Agile approach to software development involves incremental improvements to software rather than the more traditional single-track approach. Subsequently, SSA developed an IT modernization plan in 2017 that states SSA will use an Agile methodology. GAO's draft Agile Assessment Guide states that an organization's acquisition policies and guidance should support an Agile development approach and identify clear roles for contracting personnel, since this is a different approach than federal agencies previously used. However, GAO found SSA's acquisition handbook does not specifically identify a role for contracting personnel with respect to contracts and task orders involving Agile, which GAO has identified as a leading practice. Identifying a role for contracting personnel in the Agile process should better position SSA to achieve its IT modernization goals and provide appropriate levels of oversight. SSA is responsible for delivering services that touch the lives of virtually every American. To do so, SSA relies on a variety of products and services, including information technology (IT) systems. SSA obligates approximately $1.5 billion annually to procure goods and services, 65 percent of which are IT-related. GAO was asked to assess how SSA implements its contracting and acquisition processes. This report examines: (1) how SSA awards and oversees contracts for products and services, and (2) the extent to which SSA has updated its guidance regarding the role of contracting personnel in software development efforts. GAO reviewed SSA's acquisition policies, interviewed contracting officials, and reviewed a non-generalizable sample of 27 high- and lower value contracts and orders with dollars obligated in fiscal years 2014 through 2018. GAO also examined data from fiscal years 2015-2019 to determine what SSA contracted for and reviewed IT guidance. GAO compared SSA's practices to leading practices for Agile software development with respect to the roles of contracting personnel. GAO recommends that SSA revise relevant guidance to identify the roles of contracting personnel in Agile software development. SSA agreed with this recommendation. For more information, contact William Woods at (202) 512-4841 or woodsw@gao.gov.
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  • Warfighter Support: DOD Needs a Complete Picture of the Military Services’ Prepositioning Programs
    In U.S GAO News
    The services preposition combat and support assets ashore and afloat worldwide, including in the Indo-Pacific region. Prepositioned assets include combat vehicles, equipment sets for engineering and construction, and protective gear for chemical or biological attacks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Defense (DOD) used prepositioned medical assets for personnel in Guam, South Korea, and Germany. All of the services have reported some shortfalls in their prepositioned assets from 2015 through 2019—including mortars, combat vehicles, and medical equipment. In the Indo-Pacific region, for example, the Army reported shortfalls in equipment to construct bridges over difficult terrain. All services also cited challenges, such as insufficient storage space, storage facilities located far away from intended points of use, and the perishability of some assets. In some cases, the services are taking actions to address these shortfalls and challenges. In others, the services are accepting risk because, according to officials, not all shortfalls and challenges can be fully addressed. Sailors and Marines Offload Assets from a Prepositioning Ship during the COVID-19 Response in Guam DOD has taken steps to implement a joint oversight framework but does not have a complete view of the services' prepositioning programs. DOD revised two guidance documents—an instruction in 2019 and a strategic implementation plan in 2020—to establish a joint oversight framework. However, DOD has focused much of its joint efforts to date on preparing a required annual report to Congress on the status of the services' prepositioning programs. While the report provides some useful information, GAO found inaccurate and inconsistent information in multiple annual reports, which hinder their utility. DOD does not have a reporting mechanism or information-collection tool to develop a complete picture of the services' prepositioning programs. The current annual reporting requirement expires in 2021, which provides DOD with an opportunity to create a new reporting mechanism, or modify existing mechanisms or tools, to enable a complete picture of the services' prepositioning programs. By doing so, DOD could better identify gaps or redundancies in the services' programs, make more informed decisions to mitigate asset shortfalls and challenges, reduce potential duplication and fragmentation, and improve its joint oversight. The U.S. military services preposition critical assets at strategic locations around the world for access during the initial phases of an operation. DOD uses these prepositioned assets for combat, support to allies, and disaster and humanitarian assistance. For many years, GAO has identified weaknesses in DOD's efforts to establish a joint oversight framework to guide its ability to assess the services' prepositioning programs. This has led to fragmentation and the potential for duplication. Senate Report 116-48 included a provision for GAO to evaluate the services' prepositioning programs and associated challenges. This report (1) describes the types of assets the services preposition worldwide, as well as asset shortfalls and challenges the services have identified, and (2) assesses the extent to which DOD has made progress in implementing a joint oversight framework for the services' programs. To conduct this work, GAO reviewed DOD prepositioning documents and interviewed DOD and State Department officials from over 20 offices. This is a public version of a sensitive report that GAO issued in December 2020. Information that DOD deemed sensitive has been omitted. GAO recommends that DOD develop a reporting mechanism or tool to gather complete information about the military services' prepositioning programs for joint oversight and to reduce duplication and fragmentation. DOD concurred with the recommendation. For more information, contact Cary B. Russell at (202) 512-5431 or russellc@gao.gov.
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