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Texas Physician Found Guilty for Unlawfully Prescribing Over 1.3 Million Doses of Opioids

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<div>A federal jury convicted a Houston-area physician for unlawfully prescribing more than 1.3 million doses of opioids.</div>
A federal jury convicted a Houston-area physician for unlawfully prescribing more than 1.3 million doses of opioids.

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  • Child Welfare: Better Data and Guidance Could Help States Reinvest Adoption Savings and Improve Federal Oversight
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found From fiscal years 2015 through 2019, states collectively reinvested $516 million of the $843 million they accrued in “adoption savings” (see figure). Adoption savings are state funds saved due to the increasing number of children eligible for federal adoption assistance payments. States spent $224 million of these savings on post-adoption or post-guardianship (“post-permanency”) services, $67 million on services for youth at risk of entering foster care (“preventative services”), and $225 million on other child welfare services. States' individual spending varied widely. For example, 10 states spent all of their adoption savings, but 23 spent less than half, and nine of those spent none. Spent and Unspent State Adoption Savings, Fiscal Years 2015 through 2019 The Children's Bureau—part of the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF)—monitors states' adoption savings reinvestment, but its oversight is hindered by a lack of detailed data. Further, there is no statutory deadline for states to spend their savings, and Children's Bureau officials said states can delay their spending indefinitely. Also, the state data the Children's Bureau collects annually does not always allow it to definitively determine states' compliance with the requirement to spend at least 30 percent of their annual adoption savings on post-permanency and preventative services, including at least 20 percent on post-permanency services (the 20 and 30 percent requirements). If states do not reinvest their adoption savings or meet the 20 and 30 percent requirements, children will not benefit from the additional spending as intended by the law. Nearly half (23 of 52) of the states reported in GAO's survey at least one significant challenge to reinvesting their adoption savings, most often citing early spending difficulties such as needing time to understand the new requirements and competing state budget priorities. Most of the 28 states that received technical assistance from the Children's Bureau in fiscal year 2019 reported it was helpful, but 22 states wanted more assistance. Of those, 13 wanted more guidance on allowable adoption savings expenditures and/or other states' best practices and strategies for spending their savings. Further, 10 of these states had not yet spent 30 percent of their cumulative savings on required services. Without additional guidance or technical assistance, states may have difficulty meeting the 20 and 30 percent requirements or reinvesting their savings overall. Why GAO Did This Study The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 expanded eligibility for federal adoption assistance and required states to reinvest any resulting adoption savings in their child welfare systems. The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act required states to spend a minimum percentage of these savings on specific types of services starting in fiscal year 2015. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 included a provision for GAO to study states' adoption savings reinvestment. This report examines (1) the extent to which states are reinvesting their adoption savings, (2) how the Children's Bureau monitors these reinvestments, and (3) any challenges states face in reinvesting savings and what guidance the Children's Bureau provides. GAO analyzed state adoption savings and spending data for fiscal years 2015 through 2019, all available years of data at the time of this review. GAO surveyed 53 state child welfare agencies and 52 completed the survey. GAO also interviewed child welfare officials in eight states selected to provide variation in several areas, including the percent of adoption savings they had reinvested.
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  • Contingency Contracting: Observations on Actions Needed to Address Systemic Challenges
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (DOD) obligated about $367 billion in fiscal year 2010 to acquire goods and services to meet its mission and support its operations, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan. GAO's work, as well as that of others, has documented shortcomings in DOD's strategic and acquisition planning, contract administration and oversight, and acquisition workforce. These are challenges that need to be addressed by DOD and by the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as they carry out their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and prepare for future contingencies. Today's statement discusses (1) contract management challenges faced by DOD, including those that take on heightened significance in a contingency environment; (2) actions DOD has taken and those needed to address these challenges; and (3) similar challenges State and USAID face. The statement is drawn from GAO's body of work on DOD contingency contracting, contract management, and workforce, as well as prior reports on State and USAID's contracting and workforce issues.DOD faces a number of longstanding and systemic challenges that hinder its ability to achieve more successful acquisition outcomes--obtaining the right goods and services, at the right time, at the right cost. These challenges include addressing the issues posed by DOD's reliance on contractors, ensuring that DOD personnel use sound contracting approaches, and maintaining a workforce with the skills and capabilities needed to properly manage acquisitions and oversee contractors. The issues encountered with contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan are emblematic of these systemic challenges, though their significance and impact are heightened in a contingency environment. GAO's concerns regarding DOD contracting predate the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. GAO identified DOD contract management as a high-risk area in 1992 and raised concerns in 1997 about DOD's management and use of contractors to support deployed forces in Bosnia. In the years since then, GAO has continued to identify a need for DOD to better manage and oversee its acquisition of services. DOD has recognized the need to address the systemic challenges it faces, including those related to operational contract support. Over the past several years, DOD has announced new policies, guidance, and training initiatives, but not all of these actions have been implemented and their expected benefits have not yet been fully realized. While DOD's actions are steps in the right direction, DOD needs to (1) strategically manage services acquisition, including defining desired outcomes; (2) determine the appropriate mix, roles, and responsibilities of contractor, federal civilian, and military personnel; (3) assess the effectiveness of efforts to address prior weaknesses with specific contracting arrangements and incentives; (4) ensure that its acquisition workforce is adequately sized, trained, and equipped; and (5) fully integrate operational contract support throughout the department through education and predeployment training. In that regard, in June 2010 GAO called for a cultural change in DOD that emphasizes an awareness of operational contract support throughout all aspects of the department. In January 2011, the Secretary of Defense expressed concerns about DOD's current level of dependency on contractors and directed the department to take a number of actions. The Secretary's recognition and directions are significant steps, yet instilling cultural change will require sustained commitment and leadership. State and USAID face contracting challenges similar to DOD's, particularly with regard to planning for and having insight into the roles performed by contractors. In April 2010, GAO reported that State's workforce plan did not address the extent to which contractors should be used to perform specific functions. Similarly, GAO reported that USAID's workforce plan did not contain analyses covering the agency's entire workforce, including contractors. The recently issued Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review recognized the need for State and USAID to rebalance their workforces and directed the agencies to ensure that they have an adequate number of government employees to carry out their core missions and to improve contract administration and oversight. GAO has made multiple recommendations to the agencies to address contracting and workforce challenges. The agencies have generally agreed with the recommendations and have efforts under way to implement them.
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  • Electricity Grid Resilience
    In U.S GAO News
    This brief draws from a number of GAO reports to provide examples of the multiple risks facing the electricity grid. It also identifies opportunities for the federal government to improve its efforts to enhance grid resilience. For more information, contact Frank Rusco at 202-512-3841 or RuscoF@gao.gov.
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  • Justice Department Sues Guam and the Guam Retirement Fund for Denying Servicemembers Proper Pension Credits During Military Service
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced today that it has filed suit against the Territory of Guam and the Guam Retirement Fund (GRF) alleging defendants violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) when they refused to properly provide pension credit to servicemembers who used leave from Guam’s leave-sharing program while on active military duty. As a result, Guam and the GRF shorted the retirement benefits and pension annuities of at least five servicemembers and potentially many more.
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  • Federal Court Permanently Enjoins Tax Return Preparers in Louisiana
    In Crime News
    A federal court in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana has permanently enjoined two New Orleans-area tax return preparers from preparing returns for others and from owning, operating, or franchising any tax return preparation business in the future.
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  • Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley’s Travel to Moscow and Paris
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Escort Sentenced to Prison for Underreporting Income
    In Crime News
    A Florida man was sentenced today to 21 months in prison for filing a false tax return. Jami Kopacz, of Fort Lauderdale, pleaded guilty to filing a false corporate tax return on Dec. 16, 2020. According to court documents and statements made in court, Kopacz worked as a paid escort for clients across the United States. Kopacz received payments directly from his escort clients, and from a private business for whom he worked as an independent contractor. From 2015 to 2018, Kopacz used his corporation, JK Training LLC, to receive income, and then filed false corporate tax returns (Forms 1120S) that substantially underreported the company’s gross receipts and total income.
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  • Counselor Chollet’s Trip to Ukraine
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar After Their Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Justice Department Sues Florida Man for Flagrant Violations of the Rivers and Harbors Act
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) announced that the United States has filed a civil lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida against Fane Lozman for violations of the Rivers and Harbors Act (RHA) in connection with Mr. Lozman’s obstruction of Lake Worth Lagoon, a navigable waterway, in Riviera Beach, Florida.
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  • Judiciary Addresses Cybersecurity Breach: Extra Safeguards to Protect Sensitive Court Records
    In U.S Courts
    After the recent disclosure of widespread cybersecurity breaches of both private sector and government computer systems, federal courts are immediately adding new security procedures to protect highly sensitive confidential documents filed with the courts.
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  • United Arab Emirates Travel Advisory
    In Travel
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    In Travel
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  • United States Announces Settlement of Civil Action Addressing Clean Air Act Violations at New York City Public Schools
    In Crime News
    The United States filed suit today under the Clean Air Act (CAA) against the City of New York and the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) and lodged a proposed consent judgment to address the defendants’ longstanding failure to properly monitor and control harmful emissions from NYCDOE oil-fired boilers in New York City public schools. 
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  • New York Brothers Charged With COVID-Relief Fraud
    In Crime News
    Two New York brothers were charged in a criminal complaint unsealed today for their alleged participation in a scheme to file fraudulent loan applications seeking nearly $7 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York.
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  • Priority Open Recommendations: U.S. Department of Agriculture
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified 12 priority recommendations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Since then, USDA has implemented two of those recommendations. The department publicized information on state agencies’ use of data matching to reduce recipient fraud. USDA also ensured its workforce data are more reliable. In July 2021, GAO identified one additional priority recommendation for USDA, bringing the total number to 11. These recommendations involve the following areas: protecting the safety of the food supply. reducing improper payments. strengthening protections for wage earners. improving oversight of federal assistance and awards. improving cybersecurity. USDA’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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  • Next Generation Combat Vehicles: As Army Prioritizes Rapid Development, More Attention Needed to Provide Insight on Cost Estimates and Systems Engineering Risks
    In U.S GAO News
    The four efforts within the Next Generation Combat Vehicles (NGCV) portfolio all prioritize rapid development, while using different acquisition approaches and contracting strategies. Some of the efforts use the new middle-tier acquisition approach, which enables rapid development by exempting programs from many existing DOD acquisition processes and policies. Similarly, the efforts use contracting strategies that include both traditional contract types as well as more flexible approaches to enable rapid development of technology and designs. Vehicles of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Portfolio The two programs within the portfolio that recently initiated acquisitions—Mobile Protected Firepower and Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle—have taken some steps to mitigate risks in cost and technology consistent with GAO's leading practices. The Army's use of the middle-tier approach for these efforts may facilitate rapid development, but the programs could benefit from additional application of GAO's leading practices. For example, the programs identified some risks in their cost estimates, but because each presented a single estimate of the total cost—referred to as a point estimate—these estimates do not fully reflect how uncertainty could affect costs. Similarly, the programs took some steps to mitigate technical risk by limiting development to 6 years or less and incrementally introducing new technologies, steps consistent with GAO's leading practices. However, by delaying key systems engineering reviews, the programs took some steps not consistent with leading practices, which could increase technical risk. While trade-offs may be necessary to facilitate rapid development, more consistent application of GAO's leading practices for providing cost estimates that reflect uncertainty and conducting timely systems engineering reviews could improve Army's ability to provide insight to decision makers and deliver capability to the warfighter on time and at or near expected costs. The Army has taken actions to enhance communication, both within the Army and with Department of Defense stakeholders, to mitigate risks. Within the Army, these actions included implementing a cross-functional team structure to collaboratively develop program requirements with input from acquisition, contracting, and technology development staff. Program officials also coordinated with other Army and Department of Defense stakeholders responsible for cost and test assessment, even where not required by policy, to mitigate risk. The Army views the NGCV portfolio as one of its most critical and urgent modernization priorities, as many current Army ground combat vehicles were developed in the 1980s or earlier. Past efforts to replace some of these systems failed at a cost of roughly $23 billion. In November 2017, the Army began new efforts to modernize this portfolio. GAO was asked to review the Army's plans for modernizing its fleet of ground combat vehicles. This report examines (1) the acquisition approaches and contracting strategies the Army is considering for the NGCV portfolio, (2) the extent to which the Army's efforts to balance schedule, cost, and technology are reducing acquisition risks for that portfolio, and (3) how the Army is communicating internally and externally to reduce acquisition risks. GAO reviewed the acquisition and contracting plans for each of the vehicles in the portfolio to determine their approaches; assessed schedule, cost, and technology information—where available—against GAO's leading practice guides on these issues as well as other leading practices for acquisition; and interviewed Army and DOD officials. GAO is making three recommendations, including that the Army follow leading practices on cost estimation and systems engineering to mitigate program risk. In its response, the Army concurred with these recommendations and plans to take action to address them. For more information, contact Jon Ludwigson at (202) 512-4841 or ludwigsonj@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department, EPA and the State of Michigan Reach Clean Air Act Settlement with Arbor Hills Energy LLC
    In Crime News
    Arbor Hills Energy LLC (AHE) has agreed to significantly reduce, if not virtually eliminate, AHE’s sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions at its landfill gas-to-energy facility (Facility) in Northville, Michigan, to resolve alleged Clean Air Act and State law violations.
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  • Political Scientist Author Charged With Acting As An Unregistered Agent Of The Iranian Government
    In Crime News
    A criminal complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, also known as “Lotfolah Kaveh Afrasiabi,” with acting and conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Afrasiabi was arrested yesterday at his home in Watertown, Massachusetts, and will make his initial appearance this morning in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts, before United States Magistrate Judge Jennifer C. Boal.
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  • Los Angeles Man Arrested for $27 Million PPP Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A California man was arrested today in Los Angeles on criminal charges related to his alleged bank fraud, false statements in a loan application and money laundering arising from the submission of fraudulent applications for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds.
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