December 9, 2021

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Six Individuals in Hawaii Charged with Conspiring to Defraud the IRS and Other Fraud Offenses

6 min read
<div>Three individuals were arrested this week in the District of Hawaii on conspiracy to defraud the IRS and other fraud charges.</div>
Three individuals were arrested this week in the District of Hawaii on conspiracy to defraud the IRS and other fraud charges.

More from: October 15, 2021

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  • Rapid Acquisition of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles
    In U.S GAO News
    About 75 percent of casualties in current combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are attributed to improvised explosive devices (IED). To mitigate the threat from these weapons, the Department of Defense (DOD) initiated the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle program, which uses a tailored acquisition approach to rapidly acquire and field the vehicles. In May 2007, the Secretary of Defense affirmed MRAP as DOD's single most important acquisition program. To date, more than $22 billion has been appropriated to acquire more than 15,000 MRAP vehicles, and about 6,600 of the vehicles have been fielded. In view of the importance of this program and the significant cost involved, Congress asked us to (1) describe DOD's approach for and progress in implementing its strategy for rapidly acquiring and fielding MRAP vehicles, and (2) identify the challenges remaining for the program.DOD used a tailored acquisition approach to rapidly acquire and field MRAP vehicles. The program established minimal operational requirements and relied heavily on commercially available products. The program also undertook a concurrent approach to producing, testing, and fielding the vehicles. To expand limited existing production capacity, the department awarded indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts to nine commercial sources for the purchase of up to 4,100 vehicles per year from each vendor. To evaluate design, performance, producibility, and sustainability, DOD committed to buy at least 4 vehicles from all vendors. According to program officials, subsequent delivery orders were based on a phased testing approach with progressively more advanced vehicle test results and other assessments. To expedite the fielding of the vehicles, mission equipment packages including radios and other equipment were integrated into the vehicles after they were purchased. Finally, DOD designated the MRAP program as DOD's highest priority acquisition, which helped contractors and other industry partners to more rapidly respond to the urgent need and meet production requirements. While the department's concurrent approach to producing, testing, and fielding the vehicles has provided an urgently needed operational capability, it has also increased performance, sustainability, and cost risks. For example, safety and performance testing is not yet complete, and any shortcomings revealed may require design changes or postmanufacturing fixes. Operating, maintaining, and sustaining a fleet of more than 15,000 fielded vehicles manufactured by at least five different vendors could also present significant challenges--especially for the Army, whose fleet will include more than 10,000 vehicles from five manufacturers. Future budgets could be significantly affected by these challenges, particularly since the department is still determining its cost estimate to operate and sustain the current MRAP quantities. At the same time, DOD is seeking to develop a replacement for the ubiquitous high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle and to fund various other high-priority weapon systems across the services. Finally, as threats change, performance requirements--and MRAP's role in DOD's overall tactical wheeled vehicle strategy--could change, further exacerbating these challenges.
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  • Southwest Border: Schedule Considerations Drove Army Corps of Engineers’ Approaches to Awarding Construction Contracts through 2020
    In U.S GAO News
    Why This Matters Following a 2019 Presidential Declaration of National Emergency, billions of dollars were made available for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' use on border barrier construction. This report provides information on the Corps' contracting for border barriers during fiscal years 2018–2020. Key Takeaways Some Department of Defense funding was only available for a short time before expiring, giving the Corps a tight schedule for awarding contracts. This—and the emergency declaration—led the Corps to depart from its planned acquisition approach. The Corps focused on starting construction quickly and maximizing the miles of border barrier panels it could build. To do so, it: Awarded $4.3 billion in noncompetitive contracts. Competition helps ensure the government gets a good price. Started work before agreeing to terms. The Corps awarded several contracts before terms, such as barrier specifications and cost, were finalized. By focusing on expediency in contracting, the government risks paying higher costs. Contractors completed most DOD-funded border barrier panels by the end of December 2020 as scheduled. A January 2021 Presidential Proclamation paused border barrier construction to the extent permitted by law, and called for a review. In March 2021, DOD officials said they gave input to the Office of Management and Budget, and OMB will present a plan to the President. The Corps has not developed plans to examine its overall acquisition approach and identify lessons learned. Without doing so, the Corps could miss opportunities to strengthen its contracting strategies in future border support efforts. Border Barrier Obligations, Fiscal Years 2018–2020 How GAO Did This Study We reviewed all of the border barrier construction contracts the Corps awarded for projects from fiscal years 2018 through 2020. We also reviewed relevant federal procurement data and interviewed Corps and Department of Homeland Security officials.
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  • U.S. Policy Toward China: Deputy Secretary Biegun’s Remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
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  • Peacekeeping: Observations on Costs, Strengths, and Limitations of U.S. and UN Operations
    In U.S GAO News
    As of June 2007, more than 100,000 military and civilian personnel are engaged in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations in 15 locations in Africa, Europe, Asia, the Americas, and the Middle East. In 2006, the United States provided the UN with about $1 billion to support peacekeeping operations. Given that thousands of U.S. troops are intensively deployed in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, UN peacekeeping operations are an important element in maintaining a secure international environment. As requested, this testimony discusses (1) the costs of the current UN mission in Haiti compared with the estimated cost of a hypothetical U.S. operation and (2) the strengths and limitations of the United States and the UN in leading peace operations. This testimony is based on our prior report and information we updated for this hearing. To estimate U.S. costs, we developed parameters for a U.S. mission similar to the UN mission in Haiti, which the Joint Staff validated as reasonable. We then applied DOD's official cost estimating model. However, it is uncertain whether the United States would implement an operation in Haiti in the same way as the UN.We estimate that it would cost the United States about twice as much as it would the UN to conduct a peacekeeping operation similar to the UN mission in Haiti. The UN budgeted $428 million for the first 14 months of the mission. A similar U.S. operation would have cost an estimated $876 million. Virtually the entire cost difference can be attributed to cost of civilian police, military pay and support, and facilities. First, civilian police costs are less in a UN operation because the UN pays police a standard daily allowance, while U.S. police are given salaries, special pay, and training. Second, U.S. military pay and support reflect higher salaries and higher standards for equipment, ammunition, and rations. Third, U.S. facilities-related costs would be twice those of the UN and reflect the cost of posting U.S. civilian personnel in a secure embassy compound. When we varied specific factors, such as increasing the number of reserve troops deployed, the estimated cost for a U.S. operation increased. Cost is not the sole factor in determining whether the United States or the UN should lead a peacekeeping operation. Each offers strengths and limitations. Traditionally, the United States' strengths have included rapid deployment, strong command and control, and well-trained and equipped personnel. However, ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have reduced personnel and equipment readiness levels and resulted in shortfalls for military police, engineers, and civil affairs experts. The UN provides broad multinational support for its missions, with a UN Security Council mandate and direction for its operations. The UN also has access to international civil servants, police, and senior officials who have nation-building experience and diverse language skills. Finally, the UN has fostered a network of agencies and development banks to coordinate international assistance with peacekeeping missions. However, the UN has traditionally had difficulties in rapidly deploying its forces and ensuring unified command and control over its peacekeeping forces.
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks to Embassy Doha and Mission Afghanistan
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  • Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim Announces Re-Organization of the Antitrust Division’s Civil Enforcement Program
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division announced today that it is creating the Office of Decree Enforcement and Compliance and a Civil Conduct Task Force.  Additionally, it will redistribute matters among its six civil sections in order to build expertise based on current trends in the economy.
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    In Human Health, Resources and Services
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  • Former DEA Agent and His Wife Plead Guilty for Roles in Scheme to Divert Drug Proceeds From Undercover Money Laundering Investigations
    In Crime News
    A former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agent and his wife pleaded guilty Monday to all charges in a 19-count indictment unsealed against them on Feb. 21, 2020. U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Wilson accepted the guilty pleas in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
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  • Veterans Affairs: Use of Additional Funding for COVID-19 Relief
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) received $19.6 billion in supplemental funding—additional funding above the annual appropriation—in March 2020 to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. GAO's analysis of VA data shows that through March 2021, VA had obligated $9.9 billion and expended $8.1 billion of the supplemental funding. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Reported Obligations and Expenditures of CARES Act and Families First Coronavirus Response Act Funding through March 2021 Note: An obligation is a definite commitment that creates a legal liability to pay, and an expenditure is the actual spending of money. The majority of the obligated supplemental funding ($8.3 billion) was obligated by VA's Veterans Health Administration (VHA) for care provided to veterans by non-VA providers, the additional costs of salaries (such as for overtime) and related expenses of VHA staff, supplies and materials, and support for homeless veterans, due to COVID-19 response. The remaining obligations included costs of VA's transition to telehealth and telework during the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily through the Office of Information Technology (OIT). According to spend plan documents and department officials, VA plans to obligate its remaining $9.7 billion in funding on activities including COVID-19 testing, purchasing supplies and equipment, and distributing COVID-19 vaccines. VA mainly relies on its standard financial management processes to oversee the use of supplemental funds, including establishing new versions of standard financial codes to account for and report on use of funds through VA's financial system. VA also collected details about the use of supplemental funding, such as descriptions of the activities for which funds were obligated, that were not available in its financial system. In addition, the VA components that received the majority of the supplemental funding—VHA and OIT—set up additional processes and issued guidance specific to the use of supplemental funding, such as establishing councils to review funding requests. Why GAO Did This Study As of April 14, 2021, VA reported 224,538 cumulative veteran cases of COVID-19, and 11,366 deaths. The CARES Act and Families First Coronavirus Response Act included supplemental funding for COVID-19 relief, and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, permitted VA additional flexibility to transfer these funds across the department. The CARES Act also included a provision for GAO to report on its ongoing monitoring and oversight efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This report examines 1) VA's obligations and expenditures of COVID-19 supplemental funding, as well as its plans to obligate remaining funds, and 2) how VA oversees the use of COVID-19 supplemental funds. GAO reviewed VA data on obligations, expenditures, and spend plans for COVID-19 supplemental funding, as well as contracting documentation and documentation on the processes and guidance VA developed to oversee the use of funds. GAO interviewed VA officials responsible for oversight of the supplemental funding, including officials from five regional networks, selected based on funding levels and geography, to gather information about their roles in overseeing the use of and accounting for supplemental funding. VA reviewed a draft of this report and provided a technical comment, which was incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Sharon M. Silas at (202) 512-7114 or silass@gao.gov.
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  • Former U.S. Army Reservist Sentenced to 40 years in Prison for Sex Trafficking and a Related Offense
    In Crime News
    U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr. of the Western District of North Carolina sentenced Xaver M. Boston, 31, of Charlotte, North Carolina, today to serve 40 years in prison and 30 years of supervised release. Judge Conrad also ordered Boston to pay $354,000 in restitution and $25,000 pursuant 18 U.S.C. 3014 and the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015. A federal jury in Charlotte previously convicted Boston on Oct. 11, 2018, of six counts of sex trafficking and one count of using an interstate facility to promote a prostitution enterprise.  
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  • Management Report: Preliminary Information on Potential Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Receipt of Unemployment Insurance Benefits during the COVID-19 Pandemic
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found As part of ongoing work on unemployment insurance (UI) benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, GAO found potential racial and ethnic disparities in the receipt of UI benefits, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits. Specifically, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau's COVID-19 Household Pulse Survey, a higher percentage of White, non-Hispanic/Latino applicants received benefits from UI programs during the pandemic than certain other racial and ethnic groups. In addition, our preliminary analysis of data obtained from five selected states in our ongoing review of the PUA program—a temporary program providing benefits to individuals not otherwise eligible for UI—identified some racial and ethnic disparities in the receipt of PUA benefits. In two of the five states, for example, the percentage of White PUA claimants who received benefits in 2020 was considerably higher than the percentage of Black PUA claimants who received benefits that year (both groups consist of non-Hispanic/Latino claimants). This analysis of state-provided data is preliminary and we are continuing to examine these data, including their reliability and potential explanations for disparities. Various factors could explain the disparities we identified in our preliminary analyses, such as differences in UI eligibility that may be correlated with race and ethnicity. However, another potential explanation is that states could be approving or processing UI claims differently for applicants in different racial and ethnic groups. Why GAO Did This Study The UI system provides a vital safety net for individuals who become unemployed through no fault of their own, and this support is essential during widespread economic downturns. During the pandemic, the CARES Act supplemented the regular UI program by creating three federally funded temporary UI programs, including the PUA program, which expanded benefit eligibility and enhanced benefits. As part of our ongoing work on the various UI programs during the pandemic, we analyzed the extent to which there have been differences in the receipt of benefits by race and ethnicity. The purpose of this report is to inform DOL about potential racial and ethnic disparities in the receipt of UI benefits. According to DOL, ensuring equitable access to UI benefits is a top priority for the agency. We recognize that the complexity of these issues may take time to examine in depth. However, given that PUA and the other temporary UI programs are scheduled to expire in September 2021, we are sharing this preliminary information for DOL to consider in determining whether it needs to engage with states at this point to ensure equitable access to the UI system. For more information, contact Thomas M. Costa at (202) 512-7215 orcostat@gao.gov.
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  • Multiple U.S. Agencies Provided Billions of Dollars to Train and Equip Foreign Police Forces
    In U.S GAO News
    Over the past few years, the United States has increased its emphasis on training and equipping foreign police as a means of supporting a wide range of U.S. foreign-policy goals, including countering terrorists overseas and stopping the flow of narcotics to the United States. Funding for these activities has increased significantly since we last reported on these issues in 1992. In response to congressional request, this report provides estimates of the funding the U.S. government provided for activities to train and equip foreign police, hereafter referred to as "police assistance," during fiscal year 2009. We defined "police" as all law-enforcement units or personnel with arrest, investigative, or interdiction authorities.During fiscal year 2009, seven federal agencies and 24 components within them funded or implemented police-assistance activities to support their counternarcotics, counterterrorism, and anticrime missions. Five of these agencies provided an estimated $3.5 billion for police assistance to 107 countries in fiscal year 2009. This amount compares to about $180 million in inflationadjusted dollars provided for these efforts in 1990, when we last compiled a similar inventory. DOD and State provided an estimated 97 percent of all U.S. government funds ($3.4 billion) for police assistance; DOD provided about 55 percent of the total and State about 42 percent. DOE, USAID, and DOJ provided the remaining 3 percent of U.S. funds for activities such as procuring nucleardetection devices and training law-enforcement officers on their use, establishing community-based police training programs, and developing terrorist crime-scene investigation capabilities. Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Mexico, Colombia, and the Palestinian Territories each received an estimated $100 million or more in police assistance. Both DOD and State provided funds for police assistance in 39 of the 107 recipient countries. In a subsequent review, we plan to assess how the two agencies coordinate efforts in these 39 countries to avoid duplication and overlap.
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  • Queens Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud
    In Crime News
    A New York man pleaded guilty today to tax evasion and employment tax fraud.
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  • Nuclear Weapons: Actions Needed to Improve Management of NNSA’s Lithium Activities
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In December 2019, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) preliminarily estimated construction would cost between $955 million and $1.645 billion for a new lithium processing facility (LPF) at the Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12) in Tennessee and would be completed between May 2028 and September 2031. This is a substantial increase in cost and schedule; in 2015, NNSA initially estimated that a new facility would cost between $300 and $631 million and could be completed between 2023 and 2025. One reason for the cost and schedule changes is increased facility size, as reflected in a more mature design. GAO's evaluation of the LPF's preliminary cost estimate found it to be substantially comprehensive. NNSA also plans to include a new technology in the facility design based on its most recent technology assessment. In this assessment, NNSA did not collect certain data needed to fully evaluate the lithium produced with the technology. GAO best practices recommend agencies ensure all necessary evidence is collected when assessing the maturity of a new technology. Otherwise, NNSA faces some risks to ensuring the technology is ready to start construction in 2024 and could face future delays to the LPF if testing reveals unexpected problems with lithium produced with this technology. Preliminary Cost and Schedule Estimates for NNSA's New Lithium Processing Facility Increased Over Timea aNNSA's estimates are reported as actual dollars and were not adjusted for inflation. Important program management tools that NNSA could use to help ensure that the agency meets lithium demand are under development and are not consistent with best practices. For example, the lithium program's current schedule and scope of work—as expressed in a work breakdown structure—do not track the same program activities. According to GAO best practices, a program's schedule should be aligned with its work breakdown structure to ensure that activities are completed on time. By aligning these management tools, NNSA could help ensure that the comprehensive scope of work for the program is reflected in the schedule and that NNSA is accomplishing all program activities on time. Why GAO Did This Study Since the 1940s, the nation's supply of lithium used in some nuclear weapons components has been processed at NNSA's Y-12 site. However, due to deteriorating facilities and equipment and the need to reestablish dormant processing capabilities, NNSA faces risks in meeting future lithium demand. To address these challenges, NNSA has developed a strategy to meet lithium demand until the 2030s, by which time it expects the new LPF will be fully operational. The Senate committee report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 includes a provision for GAO to examine NNSA's lithium programs and projects. GAO's report examines, among other things, (1) the status of current cost and schedule estimates and design activities for NNSA's LPF project and (2) the extent to which NNSA has developed management tools for the lithium program that are consistent with best practices. GAO reviewed NNSA and contractor documentation, compared NNSA's efforts against agency requirements and best practices, and interviewed NNSA officials and Y-12 contractor representatives.
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