January 25, 2022

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Naturalized U.S. Citizen from Ethiopia Arrested on Charge of Fraudulently Obtaining Citizenship

12 min read
<div>A Georgia man has been arrested on criminal charges related to allegations that he lied to obtain U.S. citizenship.</div>
A Georgia man has been arrested on criminal charges related to allegations that he lied to obtain U.S. citizenship.

More from: June 21, 2021

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    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Department of Labor (DOL) took initial steps to implement GAO's recommendations to improve its oversight of self-insured coal mine operators, but its reform effort was hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic and a review of the program by the current administration, according to DOL officials. Black lung benefits are generally paid by liable coal mine operators, and federal law generally requires coal mine operators to secure their black lung benefit liability. Operators are allowed to self-insure if they meet certain DOL conditions. The federal government's Black Lung Disability Trust Fund (Trust Fund) pays benefits when no responsible mine operator can be identified or the liable mine operator does not pay. This can happen, for example, when an operator goes bankrupt. As GAO reported in 2020, the bankruptcies of some self-insured operators that occurred from 2014 through 2016 led to the transfer of $865 million in estimated benefit responsibility to the Trust Fund, according to DOL. This occurs when the amount of collateral DOL requires from a self-insured coal operator does not fully cover the operator's benefit responsibility should the operator become insolvent. Since 2016, several other self-insured operators have also filed for bankruptcy, according to DOL. In February 2020, DOL sent letters to 14 self-insured operators asking them to provide about $251 million in total collateral. Half of the coal operators provided the collateral DOL requested and the other half appealed, according to DOL. DOL officials said their ability to resolve the appeals was hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic and they suspended reviews of coal operator appeals. In December 2020, DOL issued a preliminary bulletin for coal operator self-insurance that described significant changes and included actions that would have addressed GAO's recommendations. For instance, DOL set a goal to resolve coal operator appeals within 90 days after receiving supporting documents or meeting with the operator to discuss their concerns. However, in February 2021, DOL rescinded the preliminary bulletin due to a program review by the current administration, according to DOL officials. DOL officials said they have taken no further actions to resolve appeals or to collect any additional collateral or other information from self-insured operators. As a result, DOL has not obtained about $186 million in requested collateral from self-insured operators that appealed DOL's requested collateral. In addition, one of these operators, Lighthouse Resources, filed for bankruptcy in December 2020; this could result in a transfer of about $2.4 million in estimated benefit responsibility to the Trust Fund, according to DOL. In addition, two operators DOL said no longer met their requirements to self-insure almost two years ago remain self-insured. In November 2021, DOL officials said the current administration's program review is complete, but could not describe any anticipated changes to coal operator self-insurance going forward. Given that the Trust Fund had to borrow about $2.3 billion from the U.S. Treasury in fiscal year 2021 to make needed expenditures, we reiterate that DOL should take action to address our previous recommendations to help prevent additional benefit liabilities from transferring to the Trust Fund. Why GAO Did This Study The Trust Fund, which pays benefits to coal miners disabled due to black lung, faces financial challenges. It has borrowed from the U.S. Treasury's general fund almost every year since 1979 to make needed expenditures. In February 2020, GAO found that DOL's limited oversight of coal mine operator insurance exposed the Trust Fund to additional financial risk. This testimony is based on reports GAO issued in 2020 and 2018. GAO found in 2020 that in overseeing coal operator self-insurance DOL did not (1) estimate future benefit liability when setting the amount of collateral required to self-insure, (2) regularly review operators to assess whether the required amount of collateral should change, or (3) always take action to protect the Trust Fund by revoking an operator's ability to self-insure as appropriate. To obtain updated information for this hearing statement, GAO interviewed DOL officials in November 2021 and reviewed agency documentation.
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  • Rebuilding Iraq: Resource, Security, Governance, Essential Services, and Oversight Issues
    In U.S GAO News
    Rebuilding Iraq is a U.S. national security and foreign policy priority. According to the President, the United States intends to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom and has a vital national interest in the success of free institutions in Iraq. As of April 30, 2004, billions of dollars in grants, loans, assets, and revenues from various sources have been made available or pledged to the reconstruction of Iraq. The United States, along with its coalition partners and various international organizations and donors, has embarked on a significant effort to rebuild Iraq following multiple wars and decades of neglect by the former regime. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), established in May 2003, was the U.N.-recognized coalition authority led by the United States and the United Kingdom that was responsible for the temporary governance of Iraq. Specifically, the CPA wasresponsible for overseeing, directing, and coordinating the reconstruction effort. On June 28, 2004, the CPA transferred power to a sovereign Iraqi interim government, and the CPA officially dissolved. To pave the way for this transfer, the CPA helped the Iraq Governing Council develop the Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period in March 2004. The transitional law provides a framework for governance of Iraq while a permanent government is formed. In June 2004, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546 provided international support to advance this process, stating that, by June 30, CPA will cease to exist and Iraq will reassert full sovereignty. Resolution 1546 also endorsed the formation of a fully sovereign Iraqi interim government; endorsed a timetable for elections and the drafting of an Iraqi constitution; and decided that the United Nations, at the Iraq government's request, would play a leading role in establishing a permanent government. Resolution 1546 further noted the presence of the multinational force in Iraq and authorized it to take all necessary measures to contribute to security and stability in Iraq, in accordance with letters annexed to the resolution. Such letters provide, in part, that the multinational force and the Iraqi government will work in partnership to reach agreement on security and olicy issues, including policy on sensitive offensive operations. Resolution 1546 stated that the Security Council will review the mandate of the multinational force in 12 months or earlier if requested by the government of Iraq and that it will terminate the mandate if requested by the government of Iraq. As part of our broad effort to monitor Iraq reconstruction, which we undertook at the request of Congress, this report provides information on the status of the issues we have been monitoring, as well as key questions that will assist Congres in its oversight responsibilities. Specifically, this report focuses on issues associated with (1) resources, (2) security, (3) governance, and (4) essential services. For the essential services issue, we focused on the Army Corps of Engineers' Restore Iraqi Electricity project, a major component of the U.S. assistance effort to rebuild the power sector.As of the end of April 2004, about $58 billion in grants, loans, assets, and revenues from various sources had been made available or pledged to the relief and reconstruction of Iraq. Resource needs are expected to continue after the transfer of power to a sovereign Iraqi interim government. Of the funds available, the United States obligated about $8 billion of the available $24 billion in U.S. funds. The CPA obligated about $15.5 billion of the nearly $21 billion in available Iraqi funds. The international community pledged nearly $14 billion. In December 2003, the CPA put into effect an Iraqi-led process to coordinate reconstruction efforts. An October 2003 U.N./World Bank assessment noted that Iraq's ability to absorb resources as the country gains sovereignty and decision-making authority will be one of the most significant challenges to reconstruction. The security situation in Iraq has deteriorated since June 2003, with significant increases in attacks against the coalition and coalition partners. The increase in attacks has had a negative impact on military operations and the work of international civilian organizations in Iraq. As part of the effort to provide stability, the coalition plans to transfer security responsibilities from the multinational force to Iraqi security forces and to dissolve Iraqi militias operating outside the central government's control. During the escalation of violence that occurred during April 2004, these security forces collapsed in several locations. However, key elements of the CPA's transition and reintegration process remain to be finalized. With U.S. and others' assistance, Iraqis have taken control of government institutions at the national and subnational levels. National ministries are providing some services to citizens as their facilities are being rebuilt, reforms are being introduced, and their staffs trained. According to the head of the now-dissolved CPA, all ministries were under Iraqi authority as of the transfer of power on June 28, 2004. However, the security situation hinders the ability of the ministries to provide needed services and maintain daily operations. To reform the rule of law, ongoing efforts have begun to establish a functioning independent judiciary, although courts are not at their pre-war capacity. However, efforts to rebuild Iraq's judicial system and restore the rule of law face multiple challenges. U.S. officials said that rehabilitating and reforming Iraq's judicial system will likely take years. The Coalition considers reconstruction of the power sector critical to reviving Iraq's economy, supporting essential infrastructure, improving daily well-being, and gaining local support for the coalition presence in Iraq. The CPA set a goal of 6,000 megawatts of generating capacity by June 30, 2004, in anticipation of the higher demand for power during the summer months. As part of the overall effort to achieve this goal, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has undertaken $1.4 billion in work under the Restore Iraqi Electricity (RIE) program. As of late May, the Corps anticipated that 59 of the 66 RIE projects expected to help meet the goal would be completed by June 30. However, electrical service in the country as a whole has not shown a marked improvement over the immediate postwar levels of May 2003 and has worsened in some governorates. RIE contractors report numerous instances of project delays due to difficulties in getting employees and materials safely to project sites. Further, the security environment continues to affect the cost of rebuilding the power sector.
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  • Two Companies and Nine Individuals Indicted for Alleged Large-Scale Visa Fraud Employment Scheme
    In Crime News
    An indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia has been unsealed charging two businesses and nine of their officers and managers located across the country for their roles in an alleged conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and commit various fraud and criminal immigration offenses for profit.
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  • Data Center Optimization: Agencies Report Progress and Billions Saved, but OMB Needs to Improve Its Utilization Guidance
    In U.S GAO News
    The 24 agencies participating in the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) continue to report progress toward meeting OMB's goals for closing data centers and achieving the related cost savings. According to data submitted by the 24 agencies, almost all of them met or planned to meet their closure and cost savings goals for fiscal years 2019 and 2020. As of August 2020, the agencies reported that they expected to achieve 230 data center closures, resulting in $1.1 billion in savings, over the 2-year period. Agencies expected to realize a cumulative total of $6.24 billion in cost savings and avoidances from fiscal years 2012 through 2020. However, agencies have excluded approximately 4,500 data centers from their inventories since May 2019 due to a change in the definition of a data center. Specifically, in June 2019, OMB narrowed the definition of a data center to exclude certain facilities it had previously identified as having potential cybersecurity risks. GAO reported that each such facility provided a potential access point, and that unsecured access points could aid cyber attacks. Accordingly, GAO recommended that OMB require agencies to report those facilities previously reported as data centers so that visibility of the risks of these facilities was retained. However, OMB has not taken action to address the recommendation. Overall, GAO has made 125 recommendations since 2016 to help agencies meet their DCOI goals, but agencies have not implemented 53. The 24 agencies reported varied progress against OMB's data center optimization targets for fiscal year 2020 (see figure). Agency-Reported Progress towards Meeting Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Data Center Optimization Targets, as of August 2020 Notes: Virtualization measures the number of servers and mainframes serving as a virtual host. Advanced energy metering counts data centers with metering to measure energy efficiency. A metric is not applicable if an agency does not have any agency-owned data centers or if its remaining centers are exempted from optimization by OMB. In June 2019, OMB revised the server utilization metric to direct agencies to develop their own definitions of underutilization, and then count their underutilized servers. As a result, agencies adopted widely varying definitions and were no longer required to report actual utilization, a key measure of server efficiency. In December 2014, Congress enacted federal IT acquisition reform legislation known as FITARA, which included provisions related to ongoing federal data center consolidation efforts. OMB's federal Chief Information Officer launched DCOI to build on prior data center consolidation efforts and improve federal data centers' performance. FITARA included a provision for GAO to annually review agencies' data center inventories and strategies. This report addresses (1) agencies' progress on data center closures and the related savings that have been achieved, and agencies' plans for future closures and savings; (2) agencies' progress against OMB's data center optimization targets; and (3) the effectiveness of OMB's metric for server utilization and how the agencies are implementing it. To do so, GAO reviewed the 24 DCOI agencies' data center inventories as of August 2020, their reported cost savings documentation and data center optimization strategic plans, and OMB's revised utilization metric. GAO reiterates that agencies need to address the 53 recommendations previously made to them that have not yet been implemented. GAO is making one new recommendation to OMB to revise its server utilization metric to more consistently address server efficiency. OMB had no comments on the report and the recommendation directed to the agency. Of the 24 DCOI agencies, five agreed with the information in the report, six did not state whether they agreed or disagreed, and 13 had no comments. For more information, contact Carol C. Harris at (202) 512-4456 or harriscc@gao.gov.
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  • U.S. Public Diplomacy: State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors Expand Efforts in the Middle East but Face Significant Challenges
    In U.S GAO News
    The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were a dramatic reminder of the importance of our need to cultivate a better public opinion of the United States abroad. Yet recent opinion research indicates that foreign publics, especially in countries with large Muslim populations, view the United States unfavorably. GAO issued two studies in 2003 that examined changes in U.S. public diplomacy resources and programs since September 11 within the State Department (State) and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG); the U.S. government's strategies for its public diplomacy programs and how it measures their effectiveness; and the challenges that remain in executing U.S. public diplomacy efforts. Although the studies did not focus exclusively on the Middle East, they identified systemic problems that would apply to public diplomacy activities there.Since September 11, State has expanded its public diplomacy efforts in Muslim-majority countries considered to be of strategic importance in the war on terrorism. It significantly increased resources in South Asia and the Near East and launched new initiatives targeting broader, younger audiences--particularly in predominantly Muslim countries. Also since September 11, the BBG has initiated several new programs focused on attracting larger audiences in priority markets, including Radio Sawa and Arabic language television in the Middle East, the Afghanistan Radio Network, and Radio Farda in Iran. State and BBG have increased their efforts to support the war on terrorism. However, State does not have a strategy that integrates all of its diverse public diplomacy activities and directs them toward common objectives. In addition, we found that while the BBG did have a strategic plan, the plan lacked a long-term strategic goal or related program objective to gauge the Board's success in increasing audience size, the key focus of its plan. Furthermore, there is no interagency strategy to guide State's, BBG's, and all federal agencies' communication efforts and thus ensure consistent messages to overseas audiences. In addition to strategy deficiencies, we found that State and the BBG were not systematically and comprehensively measuring progress toward the goals of reaching broader audiences and increasing publics' understanding about the United States. In addition to weaknesses in planning and performance measurement, State and BBG face several internal challenges in carrying out their programs. Challenges at State include insufficient public diplomacy resources and a lack of officers with foreign language proficiency. The BBG also faces a number of media market, organizational, and resource challenges that may hamper its efforts to generate large audiences in priority markets.
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