January 22, 2022

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Justice Department Announces Civil Investigation into Chemical Restraint Use at Two Nevada Juvenile Facilities

8 min read
<div>The Justice Department announced today that it has opened an investigation into the use of pepper spray at two juvenile correctional facilities run by the Nevada Juvenile Justice Services Agency: the Nevada Youth Training Center and the Summit View Youth Center.  The investigation will examine whether staff at the two facilities use pepper spray in a manner that violates youth’s rights under the Constitution.</div>
The Justice Department announced today that it has opened an investigation into the use of pepper spray at two juvenile correctional facilities run by the Nevada Juvenile Justice Services Agency: the Nevada Youth Training Center and the Summit View Youth Center.  The investigation will examine whether staff at the two facilities use pepper spray in a manner that violates youth’s rights under the Constitution.

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  • Telecomunicaciones: La FCC Asistió en la Restauración de Redes después del Huracán María, pero es Necesario Clarificar Su Función en las Labores de Respuesta a los Desastres y Mejorar la Comunicación
    In U.S GAO News
    This is the Spanish language highlights associated with GAO-21-297. Conclusiones de la GAO La Comisión Federal de Comunicaciones (FCC, por sus siglas en inglés) tomó múltiples medidas para apoyar la restauración de las telecomunicaciones en el periodo posterior al huracán María. Por ejemplo, la FCC recopiló información sobre fallas del sistema, proporcionó asistencia de personal a Puerto Rico, estableció el Grupo de trabajo para la recuperación tras los huracanes para apoyar la restauración de las telecomunicaciones en Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes de los EE. UU., y puso fondos a disposición para la restauración de las redes. Sin embargo, la GAO descubrió que la función de respuesta a los desastres de la FCC no quedaba claramente definida en las directrices publicadas por el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS, por sus siglas en inglés), aunque las directrices establecen que todos los niveles del gobierno deberían comprender sus respectivas funciones. En particular, el DHS no definió acciones específicas para la FCC en las directrices de funciones de apoyo a emergencias relacionadas con la restauración de la infraestructura de comunicaciones. Esta falta de claridad pudo haber contribuido a la confusión y los retrasos en el periodo posterior al huracán. Por medio de la actualización de las directrices de apoyo a emergencias y una clara definición de la función de la FCC en ellas, el DHS podría ayudar a reducir la confusión y aprovechar el conocimiento de la FCC sobre tecnologías nuevas o en evolución que podrían ayudar a restaurar las redes con mayor rapidez después de los desastres. Vista aérea de una torre caída en Puerto Rico después del huracán María, septiembre de 2017 En el periodo posterior a la temporada de huracanes en el Atlántico de 2017, la FCC determinó cuáles fueron las lecciones aprendidas que le permitirán mejorar su respuesta a los desastres y labores de recuperación, y emitió un informe en agosto de 2018 que contenía observaciones sobre cuatro huracanes, incluido el huracán María. Por ejemplo, la FCC mencionó que pudo mejorar sus funciones en materia de capacitación y mejorar su colaboración con socios federales. Sin embargo, y específicamente relacionado con el huracán María, la GAO descubrió que la FCC obtuvo aportes limitados del público y que las labores del Grupo de trabajo para la recuperación tras los huracanes no fueron lo suficientemente transparentes porque la FCC no comunicó públicamente sus acciones ni sus hallazgos. Debido a la falta de comunicación sobre las acciones del grupo de trabajo y sus hallazgos, el público no tiene una explicación completa y precisa de las labores de respuesta de la FCC al huracán María. Una explicación de esta índole podría asistir con la preparación de desastres futuros. Al presentar al público informes sobre las labores del grupo de trabajo, la FCC podría ayudar a asegurar que los funcionarios del gobierno territorial y demás partes entiendan lo que la FCC ha logrado y qué medidas adicionales son necesarias para construir redes de telecomunicaciones que sean más resilientes. Propósito de Este Estudio El huracán María azotó a Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes de los EE. UU. en 2017 y ocasionó grandes daños físicos a los residentes, así como graves daños a la infraestructura crítica de las islas, incluida la infraestructura de redes de telecomunicaciones (véase la foto). Las agencias federales han enfrentado desafíos sin precedentes en el periodo posterior al huracán que complicaron las labores para resolver las fallas de servicio de las redes de telecomunicaciones. Si bien el DHS es la agencia que lidera la respuesta a los desastres, la FCC desempeña una función de apoyo en asuntos de telecomunicaciones. Se le solicitó a la GAO que analizara la respuesta de la FCC a las fallas en las redes de telecomunicaciones posteriores al huracán María. Este informe analiza 1) las acciones de la FCC para apoyar la restauración de las redes de telecomunicaciones después del huracán María y hasta qué grado está claramente definida la función de respuesta a los desastres de la FCC, y 2) las labores de la FCC para identificar las lecciones aprendidas gracias a los aportes del público y determinar hasta qué punto la FCC comunicó esas labores al público. La GAO analizó informes de agencias y evaluó sus labores contra los criterios pertinentes, y entrevistó a funcionarios gubernamentales y a representantes del sector de las telecomunicaciones y grupos de activistas para obtener una amplia gama de puntos de vista no generalizables.
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  • Afghanistan Reconstruction: Progress Made in Constructing Roads, but Assessments for Determining Impact and a Sustainable Maintenance Program Are Needed
    In U.S GAO News
    The Afghan government, the United States, and other donors consider road reconstruction a top development priority for Afghanistan. Almost 20 percent of the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) $5.9 billion in assistance to Afghanistan has been for roads. The Department of Defense (Defense) has committed about $560 million for roads, of which Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP) funds account for over half. GAO examined (1) the status of road reconstruction and challenges affecting project implementation, (2) U.S. agencies' efforts to evaluate the impact of road projects, and (3) efforts to develop a sustainable road maintenance program. GAO reviewed U.S. and Afghan governments' planning, evaluation, and funding documents and interviewed relevant stakeholders in Afghanistan.The United States and other donors have completed construction of several regional and national highways since 2002, but the status of other roads is uncertain and various challenges have delayed construction. The Afghan government and international donors planned to complete the high-priority regional highways by the end of 2008, and as of February 2008, about 60 percent of these roads were built. USAID has completed its portion, but completion of other portions is not expected until late 2009. Donors have committed to construct over 30 percent of national highways, which connect provincial capitals to the regional highways, and only USAID has completed portions of these highways. Detailed information on the status of provincial and rural roads is lacking. Although Defense reported committing CERP funds for 1,600 kilometers of roads, data on the roads were incomplete and Defense has not reported information on these roads to USAID, as required. Poor security, project implementer limitations, and starting construction with limited planning have contributed to project delays and cost increases. U.S. agencies have not conducted sound impact evaluations to determine the degree to which projects achieved the objective of economic development. Limitations of USAID's funding, data collection, and frameworks to assess results have impeded its ability to evaluate project impact. Defense has not conducted any impact evaluations and lacks clear guidance on project evaluation. However, agency officials have noted some anecdotal examples of road construction impact, such as reduced travel times and increased commerce. Moreover, no other donor has performed impact evaluations. A sustainable road maintenance program has not been established, although it is a goal of the Afghan government and international donors. The Afghan government's support of this goal has been limited due to factors such as a lack of resources and a fragmented institutional organization. As a result, international donors have agreed to temporarily fund road maintenance to protect their investments. While USAID plans to maintain about 1,500 kilometers of roads it built, it did not meet its 2007 target to maintain 100 kilometers of reconstructed roads.
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    In U.S GAO News
    The current generation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) has been in development for defense applications since the 1980's. As of February 2006, the Department of Defense (DOD) had more than 3,000 unmanned aircraft, about 2,000 of which are supporting ongoing operations in Iraq. DOD's 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review validates the importance of unmanned systems and establishes plans to significantly expand investment in unmanned systems and their use in military operations over the next several years. The Congress has been particularly interested in DOD's approach to determining UAS needs and managing the growing number of UAS programs. This testimony addresses GAO's prior work and preliminary observations on (1) the operational successes and challenges U.S. forces are experiencing with UAS in combat operations, and the extent to which DOD has taken steps to address challenges; (2) DOD's progress in establishing a strategic plan and oversight framework to guide joint and service-specific UAS development efforts and related investment decisions; and (3) our assessment of the Global Hawk and Predator programs' business cases and acquisition strategies and the lessons learned that can be applied to the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems program.DOD has experienced a high level of mission successes with UAS, but continues to face challenges in fully maximizing the use of these assets. In operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. forces have used UAS for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and offensive strike missions in support of joint and service-specific operations. As the numbers of UAS operating in the same airspace as manned aircraft grows, DOD continues to face operational challenges related to interoperability, availability of communications bandwidth, and airspace integration. While DOD and the services have taken some positive initial steps to address these challenges, such as issuing guidance and developing initiatives to improve interoperability, limited progress has been made and the effectiveness of these efforts cannot be adequately assessed until they are fully implemented. While DOD continues to request funds to support service plans for acquiring UAS, it still lacks a viable strategic plan to guide UAS development and investment decisions. Since GAO last reported, DOD established new oversight bodies and updated its UAS Roadmap, but it is too early to tell how the new entities will interrelate and whether they will be able to influence service plans. Also, the updated roadmap identifies broad goals, desired capabilities, and service acquisition plans, but lacks critical elements, such as a clear link among goals, capabilities, and plans, opportunities for joint endeavors, and funding priorities and needs. Until DOD develops a strategic plan, it will not be well positioned to validate requirements, evaluate and integrate services plans, and establish program and funding priorities, nor will Congress have all the information it needs to evaluate funding requests. Such a plan would also help DOD anticipate and minimize the types of challenges that are being experienced today. While there have been successes on the battlefield, UAS development programs have shared many of the same problems as other major weapon systems that begin an acquisition program too early, with many uncertainties about requirements, funding, and immature technology, design, and production. Unmanned systems have also experienced similar outcomes--changing requirements, cost growth, delays in delivery, performance shortfalls, and reliability and support problems. Future acquisition programscan learn from past efforts to craft better and less risky acquisition plans. Key steps conducive to success include preparing a comprehensive business case, adopting a knowledge-based and incremental acquisition strategy, and sustaining disciplined leadership and direction. Frequent changes to the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems technology demonstration program and recent budget actions raise some questions about the Department's priorities and future directions for UAS. Concerns have also been raised about possible duplication of systems as the services look to expand individual fleets. Ongoing Army and Air Force efforts to coordinate the Warrior and Predator programs are encouraging and could be a model for limiting duplication and fostering jointness and interoperability.
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  • COVID-19: Federal Agencies’ Initial Reentry and Workplace Safety Planning
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Federal agencies adopted a maximum telework posture following the March 2020 national emergency declaration related to COVID-19. In April 2020, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance established a framework for agencies to plan for the reentry of employees to the workplace and cognizant agencies issued guidance in 2020 on how to plan for the eventual return of the workforce to office locations. In response to the call for office reentry, the 24 Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Act agencies developed reentry plans. Agencies' 2020 reentry plans varied considerably. All the agencies developed phased approaches for reentry, though agencies did not progress through the established phases at the same rate and the characteristics of each phase differed by agency. None of the agencies' plans consistently covered all aspects of recommended federal guidance. For example, reentry planning documents for 10 or more agencies did not fully address employee training on reentry, office ventilation controls, and face covering requirements, as recommended by federal guidance. In January 2021, the new administration established the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force) to provide guidance to agencies and required a 25 percent capacity limit for federal buildings, subject to exceptions with approval. It also issued guidance directing agencies to submit plans addressing a set of model workplace safety principles to the Task Force. Agencies' workplace safety plans, in contrast to initial reentry plans, were generally consistent with the updated federal guidance. Agencies' plans cited most safety principles described in the guidance, including the occupancy limit and additional safety measures to protect the workforce, such as face mask requirements and optimized ventilation and air filtration. Agencies also established COVID-19 coordination teams, as required by January 2021 guidance. These teams developed and monitored agency plans, led decision-making regarding safety procedures and exceptions, and coordinated with external groups, including the Task Force. Federal oversight and coordination were limited for 2020 reentry planning but increased under 2021 guidance related to workplace safety. Initial reentry guidance did not include clear oversight roles and responsibilities. As a result, there was no government-wide oversight or review of initial agency reentry plans. Guidance issued in January 2021 established model safety principles and specific roles for the Task Force, directing Task Force members to guide and oversee agency COVID-19 workplace safety efforts. This increased clarity and oversight and supported consistency in workplace safety planning. The Task Force also used approaches to coordinate workplace safety planning that GAO previously identified as beneficial to support and sustain effective interagency collaboration. For example, the Task Force is made up of relevant participants, including agencies with expertise in health, emergency response, and employee safety. The Task Force supported agencies' COVID-19 response efforts and contributed input to agency workplace safety plans. Updated guidance released in June 2021 indicates that the Task Force and its members plan to continue these oversight and coordination efforts for continued workplace safety and updated reentry planning. Why GAO Did This Study The federal government employs approximately 2.8 million civilian workers, a workforce that plays an important role in maintaining vital government services. The White House, OMB, and other cognizant agencies issued guidance to support federal agencies as they developed tailored plans for bringing the federal workforce back to offices and safely conducting on-site work. The CARES Act included a provision for GAO to monitor and oversee the federal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This report (1) examines agencies' approaches to initial reentry planning, (2) assesses the extent to which agencies' workplace safety plans are consistent with federal guidance, and (3) examines the coordination and oversight of federal reentry and workplace safety planning across the government. GAO analyzed federal guidance from cognizant agencies to identify crosscutting themes for reentry planning, and reviewed OMB guidance on workplace safety principles. GAO assessed workplace safety plans, reentry plans, and relevant documentation from the 24 CFO Act agencies against the themes and principles identified in guidance and interviewed agency officials. GAO also reviewed guidance to identify oversight and coordination responsibilities and reviewed prior GAO work on pandemic preparedness and interagency collaboration. For more information, contact Michelle B. Rosenberg at (202) 512-6806 or rosenbergm@gao.gov.
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    In U.S GAO News
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