January 29, 2022

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Owner of Bitcoin Exchange Sentenced to Prison for Money Laundering

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<div>A Bulgarian national who was convicted by a federal jury for his role in a transnational and multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud American victims was sentenced today to 121 months in prison.</div>
A Bulgarian national who was convicted by a federal jury for his role in a transnational and multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud American victims was sentenced today to 121 months in prison.

More from: January 12, 2021

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    In U.S GAO News
    Overall ratings in 2021 for 20 of GAO's 2019 high-risk areas remain unchanged, and five regressed. Seven areas improved, one to the point of removal from the High-Risk List. Two new areas are being added, bringing our 2021 High-Risk List to 36 areas. Where there has been improvement in high-risk areas, congressional actions, in addition to those by executive agencies, have been critical in spurring progress. GAO is removing Department of Defense (DOD) Support Infrastructure Management from the High-Risk List. Among other things, DOD has more efficiently utilized military installation space; reduced its infrastructure footprint and use of leases, reportedly saving millions of dollars; and improved its use of installation agreements, reducing base support costs GAO is narrowing the scope of three high-risk areas by removing segments of the areas due to progress that has been made. The affected areas are: (1) Federal Real Property (Costly Leasing) because the General Services Administration has reduced its reliance on costly leases and improved monitoring efforts; (2) DOD Contract Management (Acquisition Workforce) because DOD has significantly rebuilt its acquisition workforce; and (3) Management of Federal Oil and Gas Resources (Offshore Oil and Gas Oversight) because the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has implemented reforms improving offshore oil and gas oversight. National Efforts to Prevent, Respond to, and Recover from Drug Misuse is being added to the High-Risk List. National rates of drug misuse have been increasing, and drug misuse has resulted in significant loss of life and harmful effects to society and the economy. GAO identified several challenges in the federal government's response, such as a need for greater leadership and coordination of the national effort, strategic guidance that fulfills all statutory requirements, and more effective implementation and monitoring. Emergency Loans for Small Businesses also is being added. The Small Business Administration has provided hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of loans and advances to help small businesses recover from adverse economic impacts created by COVID-19. While loans have greatly aided many small businesses, evidence of fraud and significant program integrity risks need much greater oversight and management attention. Nine existing high-risk areas also need more focused attention (see table). 2021 High-Risk List Areas Requiring Significant Attention High-risk areas that regressed since 2019 High-risk areas that need additional attention USPS Financial Viability IT Acquisitions and Operations Decennial Census Limiting the Federal Government's Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks Ensuring the Cybersecurity of the Nation U.S. Government's Environmental Liability Strategic Human Capital Management Improving Federal Oversight of Food Safety EPA's Process for Assessing and Controlling Toxic Chemicals   Source: GAO. | GAO-21-119SP   GAO's 2021 High-Risk List High-risk area Change since 2019 Strengthening the Foundation for Efficiency and Effectiveness Strategic Human Capital Management ↓ Managing Federal Real Propertya ↑ Funding the Nation's Surface Transportation Systemb c n/a Modernizing the U.S. Financial Regulatory Systemb ● Resolving the Federal Role in Housing Financeb ● USPS Financial Viabilityb ↓ Management of Federal Oil and Gas Resourcesa ● Limiting the Federal Government's Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risksb ● Improving the Management of IT Acquisitions and Operations ● Improving Federal Management of Programs That Serve Tribes and Their Members ● Decennial Census ↓ U.S. Government's Environmental Liabilityb ● Emergency Loans for Small Businesses (new)c n/a Transforming DOD Program Management DOD Weapon Systems Acquisition ● DOD Financial Management ↑ DOD Business Systems Modernization ● DOD Approach to Business Transformation ● Ensuring Public Safety and Security Government-wide Personnel Security Clearance Processb ↑ Ensuring the Cybersecurity of the Nationb ↓ Strengthening Department of Homeland Security Management Functions ● Ensuring the Effective Protection of Technologies Critical to U.S. National Security Interests ● Improving Federal Oversight of Food Safetyb ● Protecting Public Health through Enhanced Oversight of Medical Products ● Transforming EPA's Process for Assessing and Controlling Toxic Chemicals ↓ National Efforts to Prevent, Respond to, and Recover from Drug Misuse (new)c n/a Managing Federal Contracting More Effectively VA Acquisition Managementd n/a DOE's Contract and Project Management for the National Nuclear Security Administration and Office of Environmental Management ↑ NASA Acquisition Management ↑ DOD Contract Managementa ● Assessing the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Tax Law Administration Enforcement of Tax Lawsb ● Modernizing and Safeguarding Insurance and Benefit Programs Medicare Program & Improper Paymentse ● Strengthening Medicaid Program Integrityb ● Improving and Modernizing Federal Disability Programs ● Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Insurance Programsb c n/a National Flood Insurance Programb ● Managing Risks and Improving VA Health Careb ↑ (↑ indicates area progressed on one or more criteria since 2019; ↓ indicates area declined on one or more criteria ; ● indicates no change; n/a = not applicable) Source: GAO. | GAO-21-119SP aRatings for a segment within this high-risk area improved sufficiently that the segment was removed. bLegislation is likely to be necessary in order to effectively address this high-risk area. cNot rated, because this high-risk area is newly added or primarily involves congressional action. dRated for the first time, because this high-risk area was newly added in 2019. eOnly rated on one segment; we did not rate other elements of the Medicare program. The federal government is one of the world's largest and most complex entities; about $6.6 trillion in outlays in fiscal year 2020 funded a broad array of programs and operations. GAO's High-Risk Series identifies government operations with vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or in need of transformation to address economy, efficiency, or effectiveness challenges. This biennial update describes the status of high-risk areas, outlines actions that are still needed to assure further progress, and identifies any new high-risk areas needing attention by the executive branch and Congress. Solutions to high-risk problems save billions of dollars, improve service to the public, and strengthen government performance and accountability. GAO uses five criteria to assess progress in addressing high-risk areas: (1) leadership commitment, (2) agency capacity, (3) an action plan, (4) monitoring efforts, and (5) demonstrated progress. This report describes GAO's views on progress made and what remains to be done to bring about lasting solutions for each high-risk area. Addressing GAO's hundreds of open recommendations across the high-risk areas and continued congressional oversight and action are essential to achieving greater progress. For more information, contact Michelle Sager at (202) 512-6806 or sagerm@gao.gov.
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    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administers a competitive bidding program (CBP) to determine which suppliers may furnish certain durable medical equipment (DME) to Medicare beneficiaries in designated geographical areas. Specifically, suppliers submit bids to provide specified categories of DME items; CMS determines winning bids based on several factors, including the bid amount, and whether the estimated capacity of suppliers would meet the projected demand for those DME items in each area. Historically, winning suppliers could reject any contract offer to furnish CBP-covered items without penalty. This allowed them to help set CBP payment amounts without being held accountable for furnishing items at those amounts. However, beginning with round 2021—the most recent round of the CBP—bidding suppliers were required by law to obtain a $50,000 bid surety bond for each CBP area in which they submitted a bid. These bonds require a supplier to accept a contract offer when its bid amount is at or below the median of the winning suppliers' bids used to calculate the CBP payment amount offered for each product category. If it does not, the supplier forfeits the bond. GAO found that small suppliers successfully obtained contracts in CBP round 2021. For example, small suppliers accounted for 58 percent of the suppliers awarded contracts in round 2021. Slightly more than half of the bids small suppliers submitted resulted in contracts. Contract Awards by Supplier Size for the Round 2021 Competitions   Suppliers that bid Suppliers awarded contracts Size of bidders Number Percent Number Percent Small suppliers 383 60 207 58 Large suppliers 231 36 148 42 Unknown suppliers 24 4 0 0 Total 638 100 355 100 Source: GAO analysis of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data. I GAO-21-602 Notes: CMS defines small suppliers bidding as those generating $3.5 million or less in total gross Medicare and non-Medicare revenue annually, large suppliers as those generating more than that amount of revenue, and unknown suppliers as those whose entire bid was disqualified for a missing financial document and, therefore, did not advance to the evaluation process where a supplier's size is determined. CMS data suggest that bid surety bonds did not negatively affect small supplier participation in CBP round 2021. Specifically, the data show that the small supplier participation rate in round 2021 was comparable to that of the five prior CBP rounds. The data also indicated that only about 5 percent of small suppliers' bids were disqualified due to submission of invalid bid surety bonds. Representatives from two national DME industry trade organizations, as well as six of their small supplier members, told GAO that the new bid surety bond requirement did not create a barrier for small suppliers, as bid surety bonds were accessible to small suppliers and reasonably priced. However, some of these representatives reported other factors may affect small suppliers' future participation in CBP rounds, such as concerns related to small suppliers' ability to provide items at rates that are competitive with larger suppliers. Why GAO Did This Study To achieve Medicare savings and address fraud concerns, Congress required that CMS, in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), phase in a CBP for certain DME product categories in designated geographical (or CBP) areas. CBP Round 2021 began on January 1, 2021, and included two product categories (off-the-shelf knee braces and off-the-shelf back braces) in a total of 235 CBP area and product category combinations (known as competitions). CMS estimated that round 2021 will save Medicare more than $600 million over the 3-year contract period. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 included a provision for GAO to evaluate the effect of the new bid surety bond requirement on small supplier participation in the CBP. CMS defines small suppliers as those generating $3.5 million or less in total gross Medicare and non-Medicare revenue annually. This report describes 1) the extent to which small suppliers participated in CBP round 2021 and 2) what is known about how the bid surety bond requirement and other factors affected or may affect small supplier participation in the CBP. GAO reviewed bidding process and contract award data; interviewed CMS officials; and interviewed representatives from two national DME industry trade organizations, including six of their small DME supplier members, that GAO selected based on their familiarity with the CBP and the new bid surety bond requirement. HHS provided technical comments on a draft of this report, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Michelle B. Rosenberg at (202) 512-7114 or rosenbergm@gao.gov.
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    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO FoundThe Department of Defense's (DOD) Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has made some recent progress gaining important knowledge for its Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) by successfully conducting several important tests. In addition, the agency made substantial improvements to the clarity of its cost and schedule baselines since first reporting them in 2010, and declared the first major deployment of U.S. missile defense in Europe operational in December 2011. MDA also took steps to reduce acquisition risk by decreasing the overlap between technology and product development for two of its programs.MDA faces considerable challenges in executing acquisition programs; strengthening accountability; assessing alternatives before making new investment commitments; developing and deploying U.S. missile defense in Europe and using modeling and simulations to understand capabilities and limitations of the BMDS. The appointment of a new director for MDA provides an opportunity to address these challenges. More specifically:Interceptor production for three of MDA's systems has been significantly disrupted during the past few years due to high-risk acquisition strategies which have resulted in delaying planned deliveries to the warfighter, raising costs, and disrupting the industrial base. Further, MDA continues to follow high-risk acquisition strategies for other programs. For example, its Targets and Countermeasures program is adding risk to an upcoming complex, costly operational flight test involving multiple MDA systems because it plans to use unproven targets.While MDA made substantial improvements to the clarity of its reported cost and schedule baselines, MDA's estimates are not comprehensive because they do not include costs from military services in reported life-cycle costs for its programs. Instability due to MDA's frequent adjustments to its acquisition baselines makes assessing progress over time using these baselines extremely difficult and, in many cases, impossible.While MDA has conducted some analyses that consider alternatives in selecting which acquisitions to pursue, it did not conduct robust analyses of alternatives for two of its new programs, both of which were recently proposed for cancellation.During the past several years, MDA has been responding to a mandate from the President to develop and deploy new missile defense systems in Europe for the defense of Europe and the United States. GAO's work continues to find that a key challenge facing DOD is to keep individual system acquisitions synchronized with the planned deployment time frames.MDA has also struggled for years to develop the tools--the models and simulations--to understand the capabilities and limitations of the individual systems before they are deployed. While MDA recently committed to a new approach that could enable them to credibly model individual programs and system-level BMDS performance, warfighters will not benefit from this effort until after the first two of the currently planned three phases for U.S. missile defense in Europe have been deployed in 2011 and 2015 respectively.Why GAO Did This StudyIn order to meet its mission, MDA is developing a highly complex group of systems comprised of land-, sea-, and space-based sensors to track missiles, as well as ballistic missile interceptors and a battle management system. These systems can be integrated in different ways to provide protection in various regions of the world. Since its initiation in 2002, MDA has been given a significant amount of flexibility in executing the development and fielding of the ballistic missile defense system. This statement addresses recent MDA progress and the challenges it faces with its acquisition management. It is based on GAO's April 2013 report and reports on missile defense issued from September 2008 through July 2012.
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