January 23, 2022

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Three men guilty for their roles in multimillion-dollar COVID-relief fraud conspiracy

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Read full article at: https://www.justice.gov November 9, 2021
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  • Social Security Disability: Ticket to Work Helped Some Participants, but Overpayments Increased Program Costs
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Disability beneficiaries participate in the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency program (Ticket to Work) by assigning a "ticket" to service providers who, in turn, provide help with employment. SSA compensates the service providers when Ticket to Work participants achieve designated levels of work and earnings. Using SSA data from 2002, when the program began, through 2018, the most recent year available, GAO estimated that 5 years after starting Ticket to Work, participants' average earnings were $2,451 more per year than that of similar nonparticipants. However, the majority of participants remained unemployed 5 years after starting Ticket to Work. Based on GAO's analysis, the costs of Ticket to Work exceeded the savings in disability benefits to SSA by an estimated $806 million from 2002 through 2015, the most recent year with reliable savings data. Savings accrue when Ticket to Work participants receive lower benefits or leave the disability rolls due to earnings from work. GAO estimates that participants were slightly more likely to leave the rolls (9.7 percent) than nonparticipants who are similar across a range of characteristics such as age, gender, disability type, and education level (8.6 percent). A greater percentage of participants left the disability rolls due to work rather than for other reasons, such as medical improvement (see figure). Percentage of Beneficiaries Who Left SSA's Disability Rolls 5 Years after Starting Ticket to Work versus Similar Nonparticipants, By Reason, 2002-2015 Note: Percentages were computed for Ticket to Work participants who began the program from 2002 through 2010 at 5 years after they started Ticket to Work and for a sample of similar nonparticipants. Parts may not sum to total because of rounding. GAO estimates that SSA incurred an additional $133 million to $169 million in costs (above the $806 million) from disability benefit overpayments to Ticket to Work participants. Overpayments can occur when beneficiaries who work do not report earnings to SSA or SSA delays in adjusting their benefit amounts. SSA incurs costs when it allows a beneficiary to keep overpayments or expends resources to recover them. GAO estimates that Ticket to Work participants were more than twice as likely to receive overpayments 5 years after starting the program than nonparticipants. While SSA is investigating the root causes of overpayments across its benefit programs, it has not focused on overpayments among Ticket to Work participants, who face unique circumstances due to their ties to service providers. For example, participants may mistakenly think that service providers report their earnings to SSA. Addressing the root causes of overpayments among Ticket to Work participants would reduce repayment burdens on affected participants and increase savings for SSA and taxpayers. Why GAO Did This Study SSA pays billions of dollars in Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income benefits to people with disabilities. To help beneficiaries obtain employment and reduce dependence on disability benefits, Ticket to Work was established in 1999. The Explanatory Statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 contains a provision for GAO to study the effects of the program. This report examines, among other things, the extent to which Ticket to Work has led to increased earnings and other benefits for participants, and how the costs and savings from Ticket to Work compared over time. GAO conducted statistical analyses of SSA beneficiary data, analysis of Ticket to Work costs, a literature review, and interviews with program officials, service provider representatives, and disability policy experts.
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  • Government Contractor Admits Scheme to Inflate Costs on Federal Projects and Pays $11 Million to Resolve Criminal and Civil Probes
    In Crime News
    Schneider Electric Buildings Americas Inc. (Schneider Electric), a nationwide provider of electricity solutions for buildings and data centers with its principal place of business in Carrollton, Texas, will pay $11 million to resolve criminal and civil investigations relating to kickbacks and overcharges on eight federally-funded energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs), the Department of Justice announced today. Under the contracts, Schneider Electric was to install a variety of energy savings upgrades, such as solar panels, LED lighting, and insulation, in federal buildings.
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  • System Review Report of the GAO OIG Audit Organization (prepared by the Architect of the Capitol OIG)
    In U.S GAO News
    Government Auditing Standards require that each organization conducting engagements in accordance with these standards must obtain an external peer review. The objectives of a peer review are to determine whether (1) the reviewed audit organization's system of quality control is suitably designed and (2) the organization is complying with its quality control system so that it has reasonable assurance that it is performing and reporting in conformity with professional standards and applicable legal and regulatory requirements in all material respects. Peer reviews of Offices of Inspector General (OIGs) must be conducted by reviewers independent of the audit organization being reviewed at least once every three years in accordance with guidance established by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. The GAO OIG received a peer review rating of "pass." The Architect of the Capitol OIG completed the peer review of the GAO OIG audit organization for the year ending March 31, 2021 and concluded that the system of quality control has been suitably designed and complied with to provide the GAO OIG with reasonable assurance of performing and reporting in conformity with applicable professional standards and applicable legal and regulatory requirements in all material respects. For more information, contact Mary Arnold Mohiyuddin at (202) 512-3087 or mohiyuddinm@gao.gov.
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  • Remarks by Attorney General William P. Barr at Hillsdale College Constitution Day Event
    In Crime News
    I am pleased to be at this Hillsdale College celebration of Constitution Day.  Sadly, many colleges these days don’t even teach the Constitution, much less celebrate it.  But at Hillsdale, you recognize that the principles of the Founding are as relevant today as ever—and vital to the success of our free society.  I appreciate your observance of this important day and all you do for civic education in the United States.
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  • Indivior Solutions Sentenced To Pay $289 Million In Criminal Penalties For Unlawful Marketing Of Opioid Drug
    In Crime News
    Indivior Solutions was sentenced to pay $289 million in criminal penalties in connection with a previous guilty plea related to the marketing of the opioid-addiction-treatment drug Suboxone, the Department of Justice announced today.
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  • Warfighter Support: DOD Should Have a More Comprehensive Approach for Addressing Urgent Warfighter Needs
    In U.S GAO News
    This testimony discusses the challenges that the Department of Defense (DOD) faces in fulfilling urgent operational needs identified by our warfighters. Over the course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. forces have encountered changing adversarial tactics, techniques, and procedures, which challenged DOD to quickly develop and provide new equipment and new capabilities to address evolving threats. Further, U.S. troops faced shortages of critical items, including body armor, tires, and batteries. DOD's goal is to provide solutions as quickly as possible to meet urgent warfighter needs to prevent mission failure or loss of life. To meet its urgent needs, DOD had to look beyond traditional acquisition procedures, expand the use of existing processes, and develop new processes and entities designed to be as responsive as possible to urgent warfighter requests. In addition to requests for equipment from DOD's existing stocks, warfighters have requested new capabilities, such as: technology to counter improvised explosive devices (IED); technology related to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) to provide increased situational awareness; and equipment related to command and control to enhance operations on the battlefield. In meeting urgent needs, it is important for DOD to efficiently use the department's financial resources. DOD has spent billions of dollars over the past several years to address urgent warfighter needs. Our past work on weapons acquisition has shown that the department has often pursued more programs than its resources can support. Additionally, our past work also has shown that DOD has had difficulty translating needs into programs, which often has led to cost growth and delayed delivery of needed capabilities to the warfighter. Today, we are publicly releasing a report that addresses (1) what entities exist within DOD for responding to urgent operational needs, and the extent to which there is fragmentation, overlap, or duplication; (2) the extent to which DOD has a comprehensive approach for managing and overseeing its urgent needs activities; and (3) the extent to which DOD has evaluated the potential for consolidations of its various activities and entities. This statement will first briefly discuss challenges we reported in April 2010 that affected the overall responsiveness of DOD's urgent needs processes and then highlight the key findings and recommendations of today's report. Today's report contributed to our findings in another report being released today that addresses opportunities to reduce potential duplication in government programs.We reported in April 2010 on several challenges that affected DOD's responsiveness to urgent needs: (1) Training: We found challenges in training personnel that process urgent needs requests. For example, we found that while the Army required selected officers to attend training on how to address requirements and identify resources for Army forces, officers at the brigade level responsible for drafting and submitting Army and joint urgent needs requests--and those at the division level responsible for reviewing the requests prior to submission for headquarters approval--were not likely to receive such training.(2) Funding: We found that funding was not always available when needed to acquire and field solutions to joint urgent needs. This result occurred in part because the Office of the Secretary of Defense had not given any one organization primary responsibility for determining when to implement the department's statutory rapid acquisition authority or to execute timely funding decisions. (3) Technical maturity and complexity: We found that attempts to meet urgent needs with immature technologies or with solutions that are technologically complex could lead to longer time frames for fielding solutions to urgent needs. Also, we found that DOD guidance was unclear about who is responsible for determining whether technologically complex solutions fall within the scope of DOD's urgent needs processes. In our report being released today, we identified cases of fragmentation, overlap, and potential duplication of efforts of DOD's urgent needs processes and entities. However, the department is hindered in its ability to identify key improvements to its urgent needs processes because it does not have a comprehensive approach to manage and oversee the breadth of its efforts. Many of these entities were created, in part, because the department had not anticipated the accelerated pace of change in enemy tactics and techniques that ultimately heightened the need for a rapid response to the large number of urgent needs requests submitted by the combatant commands and military services. While many entities started as ad hoc organizations, several have been permanently established. DOD has taken some steps to improve its fulfillment of urgent needs. These steps include developing policy to guide joint urgent need efforts, establishing a Rapid Fielding Directorate to rapidly transition innovative concepts into critical capabilities, and working to establish a senior oversight council to help synchronize DOD's efforts. Despite these actions, the department does not have a comprehensive approach to manage and oversee the breadth of its activities to address capability gaps identified by warfighters in-theater. In addition to not having a comprehensive approach for managing and overseeing its urgent needs efforts, DOD has not conducted a comprehensive evaluation of its urgent needs processes and entities to identify opportunities for consolidation. Given the overlap and potential for duplication we identified, coupled with similar concerns raised by other studies, there may be opportunities for DOD to further improve its urgent needs processes through consolidation. In the report we publicly release today, we make several recommendations to promote a more comprehensive approach to planning, management, and oversight of DOD's fulfillment of urgent needs. In summary, we are recommending that: (1) DOD develop and promulgate DOD-wide guidance across all urgent needs processes that establishes baseline policy for the fulfillment of urgent needs, clearly defines common terms, roles, responsibilities, and authorities, designates a focal point to lead DOD's urgent needs efforts, and directs the DOD components to establish minimum urgent needs processes and requirements; and (2) DOD's Chief Management Officer evaluate potential options for consolidation to reduce overlap, duplication, and fragmentation, and take appropriate action.
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken Before Virtual Meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Virtual Meeting with Japanese Women Entrepreneurs
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  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with German Foreign Minister Maas 
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  • U.S.-Saudi Arabia Joint Statement Addressing the Climate Challenge
    In Crime Control and Security News
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