January 20, 2022

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Justice Department Secures Agreement with Hy-Vee Supermarket Chain to Make Online COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Accessible for People with Disabilities

13 min read
<div>The Justice Department today announced that it has secured a settlement agreement with Hy-Vee Inc. that will help people with disabilities get information about COVID-19 vaccinations and book their vaccination appointments online.</div>
The Justice Department today announced that it has secured a settlement agreement with Hy-Vee Inc. that will help people with disabilities get information about COVID-19 vaccinations and book their vaccination appointments online.

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    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Recent Federal Register notices for the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds direct grantees to demonstrate how their programs will promote housing for vulnerable populations. Grantees generally have been required to spend 70 percent of their funds on low- and moderate-income people. Draft action plans that grantees submit to HUD are to describe how grant funds will be used and the populations to be served, including vulnerable populations such as racial minorities, the elderly, or persons with disabilities. HUD provides tools, such as strategies for reaching people with limited English proficiency, to help grantees serve these populations. When reviewing grantees' draft plans, HUD officials told GAO they typically require revisions to clarify the populations defined as vulnerable, how funds will be used to help them, and how grantees will reach out to traditionally underserved populations. HUD officials also noted that vulnerable populations can be difficult to define because they vary locally and regionally based on factors such as geography, housing stock, and policy, but described steps they plan to take to develop and include a definition in upcoming Federal Register notices. CDBG-DR grantees told GAO they assist low- and moderate-income people who are members of vulnerable populations; however, HUD does not collect and analyze key demographic data needed to fully assess the extent. HUD requires grantees to report selected data (race and ethnicity and the gender of single-headed households) for those served by activities that directly benefit households or individuals (such as housing). However, HUD only requires grantees to report these data on individuals actually served, not on all those who apply. The six grantees GAO reviewed gather additional demographic information on both applicants and those served, including age, disability status, and primary language. A 2021 Executive Order cited the need for better data collection and transparency on assistance to vulnerable populations, noting that a lack of data impedes efforts to measure and advance equity. By collecting, analyzing, and publicly reporting these additional demographic data, HUD and grantees could better assess whether they are effectively reaching the populations CDBG-DR activities are intended to serve. According to grantees and organizations GAO interviewed, and studies GAO reviewed, vulnerable populations may experience several challenges accessing CDBG-DR assistance. These include language barriers, such as the need for translation services for those with limited English proficiency; limited access to transportation, especially for individuals without physical access to assistance intake centers or with mobility impairments; and program requirements, such as those that involve extensive documentation. Some grantees have addressed these challenges by acquiring translation services and developing outreach plans to reach vulnerable populations. Why GAO Did This Study Large-scale disasters, such as the 2017 hurricanes, have resulted in catastrophic damage and particularly have challenged vulnerable populations. Since 1993, Congress has provided over $90 billion in supplemental appropriations through HUD's CDBG-DR funds to help affected areas recover. GAO was asked to evaluate the delivery of CDBG-DR assistance to vulnerable populations. This report examines (1) HUD's approach to assisting vulnerable populations, (2) grantees' actions to assist vulnerable populations, and (3) challenges grantees and vulnerable populations face in implementing and using CDBG-DR. GAO reviewed documentation from HUD and a nongeneralizable sample of six grantees (the four largest 2017 CDBG-DR grantees—Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—and Louisiana and New Jersey, which are further along in implementation). GAO also interviewed HUD officials, grantees, and organizations representing vulnerable populations.
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    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified 20 priority recommendations for the Department of Energy (DOE). Since then, DOE and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have implemented four of those recommendations by, among other things, taking actions to better ensure subcontract audits are conducted so that DOE may be able to recover unallowable costs within the Contract Disputes Act 6-year limitation period. In June 2021, GAO identified nine additional priority recommendations for DOE, bringing the total number to 25. These recommendations address the following areas: project and program management. contract management. financial and cost information. planning for the future of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. nuclear modernization challenges. DOE's environmental liability. cybersecurity. worker protections. electricity grid resilience. DOE'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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    In Crime News
    Today the Justice Department announced a settlement agreement with the Charleston County School District to resolve its investigation into complaints that the school district failed to communicate essential information to thousands of Spanish-speaking, limited English proficient (LEP) parents, denying their children full and equal access to the district’s education programs and services. The Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina conducted the investigation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974.
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  • Justice Department Acts To Shut Down Fraudulent Websites Exploiting The Covid-19 Pandemic
    In Crime News
    The United States Department of Justice announced today that it has obtained a Temporary Restraining Order in federal court to combat fraud related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The enforcement action, filed in Tampa, Florida, is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts prioritizing the detection, investigation, and prosecution of illegal conduct related to the pandemic. The action was brought based on an investigation conducted by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in coordination with the Vietnam Ministry of Public Security.
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    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today filed suit against Yale University for race and national origin discrimination. The complaint alleges that Yale discriminated against applicants to Yale College on the grounds of race and national origin, and that Yale’s discrimination imposes undue and unlawful penalties on racially-disfavored applicants, including in particular most Asian and White applicants.
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  • Priority Open Recommendations: Department of the Interior
    In U.S GAO News
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  • Taylor Energy Company to Pay Over $43 Million and Transfer $432 Million Decommissioning Trust Fund to the United States for Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
    In Crime News
    Taylor Energy Company LLC (Taylor Energy), a Louisiana oil and gas company, has agreed to turn over all its remaining assets to the United States upon liquidation to resolve its liability for the oil spill at its former Gulf of Mexico offshore oil production facility — the source of the longest-running oil spill in U.S. history, ongoing since 2004.
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    In Crime News
    Two current tribal government officials and one former tribal government official of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation (MHA Nation) were charged by criminal complaint unsealed today for their alleged acceptance of bribes and kickbacks from a contractor providing construction services on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation (FBIR), which is the home of the MHA Nation.
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  • Human Capital: Administration and Implementation of the General Schedule Locality Pay Program
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found To help determine the locality-based pay adjustments for federal employees paid under the General Schedule (GS) pay system, the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (FEPCA) created the President's Pay Agent (Pay Agent) and Federal Salary Council (council) to annually recommend locality pay amounts to the President and modifications to locality pay areas (see figure below). Annual Process for the General Schedule Locality Pay Program aDesignated by the President, the Pay Agent is comprised of the Secretary of Labor and the Directors of the Office of Management and Budget and OPM. The council is comprised of three experts in labor relations and pay policy and six representatives of employee organizations representing large numbers of General Schedule employees. Since 1994, the council has recommended defining locality pay areas using the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) statistical area definitions, which provide nationally consistent delineations for a set of geographic areas. Based on the recommendations of the council, the Pay Agent has updated the locality areas, as needed, when OMB updates its statistical area definitions. Currently, the council uses definitions from OMB's April 2018 update. OMB issued an update in March 2020. Some of the council members told GAO that the council plans to discuss these updates once the administration appoints new council members. Using the 2020 definitions could affect GS employees' pay if locations within existing locality pay areas were moved to separate locality pay areas (higher or lower paying). In its 2019 memorandum, the council identified five alternatives to the survey methodology for setting locality pay, including verifying Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey data with other human capital data—such as attrition data—and establishing a commission to periodically review federal civilian compensation. According to council members, these alternatives represent the most recent discussion by the council of different methodologies. This is also consistent with the results of GAO's literature search. Why GAO Did This Study FEPCA authorized annual locality-based pay adjustments for GS employees. The act's goal was to reduce reported pay gaps between federal and nonfederal employees in specific areas of the U.S. to no more than 5 percent. While this goal has not been met since its authorization in 1994, some amount of locality pay increases has been provided for 22 of the 28 years since FEPCA took effect. House Report 116-442 accompanying the bill that would become the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 included a provision for GAO to review the administration of the locality pay program. This report describes (1) the process for administering the GS locality pay program, including establishing or modifying existing geographical boundaries for locality pay areas and the amount of time required for such changes; (2) the status of incorporating OMB's statistical area definitions to determine the boundaries for locality pay areas; and (3) the council's potential alternatives for administering and implementing the locality pay program. GAO reviewed legislation, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations, council memorandums and Pay Agent reports, and BLS, OMB, and OPM documents. GAO also interviewed OPM and BLS officials, OMB staff, and council members; and conducted a literature search. The Department of Labor and OPM provided technical comments on a draft of this report, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. OMB had no comments. For more information, contact Jeff Arkin at (202) 512-6806 or arkinj@gao.gov.
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