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Medical Device Company Arthrex to Pay $16 Million to Resolve Kickback Allegations

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    JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPMorgan), a New York, New York-based global banking and financial services firm, has entered into a resolution with the Department of Justice to resolve criminal charges related to two distinct schemes to defraud: the first involving tens of thousands of episodes of unlawful trading in the markets for precious metals futures contracts, and the second involving thousands of episodes of unlawful trading in the markets for U.S. Treasury futures contracts and in the secondary (cash) market for U.S. Treasury notes and bonds.
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  • Decennial Census: Bureau Should Assess Significant Data Collection Challenges as It Undertakes Planning for 2030
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In March 2020, the Census Bureau (Bureau) delayed the start of field data collection because of COVID-19 safety, and then revised several operational timelines in response to the pandemic and Department of Commerce (Commerce) decisions. Nationally the Bureau reported completing more than 99 percent of nonresponse follow-up cases (households that have not responded to the census) by October 15, 2020. The Bureau attributes the use of technology as among the reasons it completed the work by this date. The Bureau, however, had lower completion percentages ranging between 94 and 99 for 10 local geographic areas, in part because of natural disasters and COVID-19. For example, according to the Bureau, in Shreveport, Louisiana, short-term closures stemming from the hurricane impacted data collection for 82,863 housing units. As a mitigation strategy, the Bureau shifted the Shreveport operation to telephone enumeration and brought in more than 1,200 enumerators from travel teams. Despite these efforts, the Bureau was unable to complete 22,588 cases in Shreveport before data collection ended. For these cases the Bureau will need to rely on alternate methods including imputation, which draws data from similar nearby households to determine whether a housing unit exists, whether it is occupied, and, if so, by how many people. In addition to the challenges brought on by natural disasters, the Bureau encountered other difficulties during nonresponse follow-up, such as, the inability of supervisors to reassign open cases in a timely fashion. GAO found that census field supervisors did not have the authority to reassign cases and had to wait for the field manager to make those reassignments. Bureau officials told GAO it would consider the reassignment of cases as it moves towards planning for the 2030 Census. To monitor nonresponse follow-up, the Bureau used quality control procedures, such as real-time monitoring of enumerator activities by supervisors and training assessments. However, GAO found the Bureau did not have proper controls in place, allowing some enumerators to work without having passed the required training assessment. The Bureau agreed that additional controls were necessary. The Bureau planned to count individuals living in group quarters, such as skilled-nursing and correctional facilities, between April 2, 2020, and June 5, 2020, but revised those dates to July 1, 2020, through September 3, 2020. The pandemic made it difficult to count group quarters. For example, Bureau staff found it challenging to locate a point of contact at some group quarters because facilities were closed due to the pandemic. Bureau officials told us that in December 2020 they decided to re-contact more than 24,000 out of approximately 272,000 group quarter facilities to collect data, and that imputation would be used to count individuals at the remaining facilities still reporting a zero population count. The Bureau is updating plans to assess operations and identify resulting lessons learned from the 2020 Census. As part of its planning for 2030, it will be important for the Bureau to assess the impact of the 2020 late design changes and the operations' challenges that arose. Why GAO Did This Study The 2020 Census was conducted under extraordinary circumstances. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and related Commerce decisions, the Bureau made a series of late changes to the design of the census. As GAO previously reported, these changes introduced risks to the quality of data that the Bureau provides for congressional apportionment and redistricting purposes. GAO was asked to review the Bureau's implementation of the 2020 Census. This report assesses the Bureau's implementation of the: (1) nonresponse follow-up operation, (2) group quarters enumeration, and (3) plans to assess those operations. To address these objectives, GAO conducted a series of surveys of all 248 census offices during the collection of data for those operations. GAO also monitored the cost and progress of operations and interviewed census field supervisors for each operation.
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  • Justice Department Settles Disability Discrimination Claims Against 19 Building Owners
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    The Justice Department today announced that it reached a single agreement with 19 building owners* who rent space in their buildings to stores and restaurants. 
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  • Judiciary Informs Congress of Its Opposition to Bill
    In U.S Courts
    The Judiciary has informed Congress that it opposes the proposed Judiciary Accountability Act. In a letter to key lawmakers today, Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf, secretary of the Judicial Conference of the United States, wrote that the bill “fails to recognize the robust safeguards that have been in place within the Judiciary to protect Judiciary employees, including law clerks, from wrongful conduct in the workplace, including protections against discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and abusive conduct.”
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    In Crime News
    The chief executive officer (CEO) of Multinational Logistics Services (MLS), a large ship husbanding company that has received over $1 billion in U.S. Navy contracts since 2010, appeared in the United States today to face a criminal charge for his alleged participation in a bribery scheme.
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    A California business executive pleaded guilty today in the District of Columbia for conspiring to make and conceal conduit and excessive campaign contributions during the U.S. presidential election in 2016 and thereafter.
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  • Emergency Watershed Protection: Assistance Program Helps Meet Post-Disaster Needs and Could Be Improved with Additional Guidance
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides assistance to project sponsors (e.g., state, local, or tribal governments) through the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program using a process that includes assessing damage, overseeing implementation of projects, and reimbursing project costs. To be eligible for the EWP program, a project must address damage that poses a threat to life or property (see figure), and the benefits of the project must generally outweigh the costs. NRCS officials said that if a site meets these conditions, the agency generally approves it. If NRCS has insufficient EWP funds, an approved project may be waitlisted until the agency receives additional funds from Congress. Flood Damage to Homes in Colorado, 2013 Sponsors and other stakeholders generally described the EWP program as an important program that helps sponsors respond to disasters, but they also identified challenges, including the clarity of program guidance for sponsors. For example, many stakeholders identified areas where guidance was limited or unclear, including guidance related to the steps and forms needed for sponsors to request assistance. Some said it would be helpful to have such guidance, so potential sponsors can quickly learn key policies and procedures, such as time frames for applying for assistance and project time limits. Some NRCS state offices have developed guides to help sponsors understand program requirements, but NRCS does not have a national sponsor guide for the EWP program. As of October 2021, NRCS officials said that they were in the process of developing a national sponsor guide, which they anticipated issuing in 2022. However, from GAO's review of NRCS documents and discussions with NRCS officials, it is not clear whether the guide will address the challenges identified by stakeholders GAO interviewed. As NRCS continues developing its national sponsor guide, it should ensure that the guide clarifies these areas to help NRCS and sponsors better achieve their objectives of protecting life and property after a natural disaster. Why GAO Did This Study Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters can damage watersheds, creating threats to life and property. According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, extreme weather events in the United States are becoming more frequent and intense, in part due to climate change, which GAO has reported poses a significant fiscal risk to the federal government. USDA's EWP program provides technical and financial assistance to help project sponsors relieve imminent threats to life and property created by natural disasters. Congress appropriated over $1.3 billion to the EWP program from fiscal years 2015 through 2020. GAO was asked to review the EWP program. This report (1) describes the process through which USDA provides assistance under the EWP program and (2) examines stakeholder perspectives on the EWP program, including any challenges and opportunities for improvement. GAO reviewed statutes, regulations, program guidance, and other documents. GAO also interviewed USDA officials and sponsors and other stakeholders in six states selected, among other reasons, because they received the most EWP funds from fiscal years 2015 through 2019.
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