January 25, 2022

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Two Former Tennessee Correctional Officers Sentenced for Civil Rights Offenses

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<div>Two former Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) Correctional Officers were sentenced today for assaulting an inmate in violation of a federal civil rights statute. </div>
Two former Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) Correctional Officers were sentenced today for assaulting an inmate in violation of a federal civil rights statute. 

More from: June 17, 2021

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  • 15 Named In $26 Million International Trade Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Houston, Texas, has returned a criminal indictment against eight individuals, while a related civil complaint has charged 14 individuals and one company relating to international trade fraud violations stemming from a decade-long scheme involving tires from China.  
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    The Department of Justice today announced that it signed a settlement agreement with Ameritech Global Inc., an IT staffing and recruiting company based in Illinois.
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  • Russian National Sentenced for Providing Crypting Service for Kelihos Botnet
    In Crime News
    A Russian national was sentenced today to 48 months in prison for operating a “crypting” service used to conceal the Kelihos malware from antivirus software, which enabled hackers to systematically infect approximately hundreds of thousands of victim computers around the world with malicious software, including ransomware.
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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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  • VA Disability Benefits: Process for Identifying Conditions Presumed to be Service Connected and Challenges in Processing Complex Gulf War Illness Claims
    In U.S GAO News
    GAO has reported on the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) use of research to identify and add new illnesses to its list of presumptive conditions for both Gulf War Illness and Agent Orange—a tactical herbicide used extensively during the Vietnam Era. VA entered into agreements with the National Academy of Sciences to assess the link between certain exposures and illnesses experienced by veterans, and uses the Academy's findings to inform its lists of presumptive conditions. GAO also reported in 2017 that VA did not have a single set of uniform criteria to define Gulf War Illness (a case definition) that could improve research, clinical diagnosis, and treatment of Gulf War veterans. GAO recommended that VA prepare and document a plan to develop a single case definition. In response, VA convened a group of subject matter experts from VA and the Department of Defense to create a multi-step plan to develop a case definition. According to VA, it is in the final stages of the plan and will bring together experts in 2021 to review new research and work toward delineating a definition. Further, according to VA, the department continues to support research on conditions related to Gulf War service as well as Agent Orange exposure and will use the findings to consider future presumptive conditions. In 2017, GAO reported on challenges that VA faced in processing complex, presumptive disability claims for veterans who served in the Gulf War—claims that were being denied at higher rates than other disability claims. At the time of GAO's review, VA officials stated that Gulf War Illness claims may be denied at a higher rate, in part, because they are not always well understood by VA staff, and veterans sometimes do not have medical records to adequately support their claims. The challenges we identified included: Inconsistent requests for disability medical exams. VA claims processors can request that a veteran undergo a disability medical exam to help determine whether the conditions in the claim exist and are linked to service. GAO found that claims processors were inconsistent in asking for an exam, in part, due to confusion about the guidance. VA issued training on the topic and in April 2017 completed a review of Gulf War claims to assess the effectiveness of the training and help ensure future consistency. Inconsistent disability medical exam reports. Veterans Health Administration disability medical examiners did not always complete medical exam reports properly and sometimes offered a medical opinion when one was not necessary. GAO recommended that VA require all examiners to complete Gulf War medical exam training before conducting these exams, and VA implemented this recommendation. Since our 2017 report, VA has allowed contracted medical examiners to complete these exams, and in 2018 GAO found VA was not monitoring whether all contractors completed required training. GAO recommended VA improve its oversight of training, but the department has not fully implemented this recommendation from GAO's 2018 report. VA provides disability compensation to millions of veterans with service-connected disabilities. Veterans are generally entitled to these benefits if they can prove their injuries or illnesses were incurred or aggravated by active military service. For certain claims, VA presumes a condition is due to a veteran's service. For example, VA can provide benefits to any veteran with certain symptoms, from respiratory disorders to gastrointestinal issues, who served in Southwest Asia from 1990 to the present, without the veteran needing to prove cause. GAO refers to these as Gulf War Illness claims. In 2017, GAO issued Gulf War Illness: Improvements Needed for VA to Better Understand, Process, and Communicate Decisions on Claims ( GAO-17-511 ), which identified needed improvements in VA's processing of Gulf War Illness claims. In 2018, GAO issued Agent Orange: Actions Needed to Improve Accuracy and Communication of Information on Testing and Storage Locations ( GAO-19-24 ). This statement summarizes information from these reports on how VA determined certain presumptive conditions and challenges VA faced with processing Gulf War Illness claims. In GAO's 2017 report, it recommended that VA develop a plan to establish a single case definition of Gulf War Illness and make Gulf War Illness training mandatory for medical examiners. VA implemented the recommendations. For more information, contact Elizabeth Curda at (202) 512-7215 or curdae@gao.gov.
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  • Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Request: U.S. Government Accountability Office
    In U.S GAO News
    This testimony discusses the U.S. Government Accountability Office's (GAO) budget request for fiscal year 2011. In fiscal year 2009, GAO supported congressional decision making and oversight on a range of critical issues, including the government's efforts to help stabilize financial markets and address the most severe recession since World War II. In addition to providing oversight for the 2008 Economic Stabilization Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), we continued to provide the Congress updates on programs that are at high risk for waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement or are in need of broad reform, and delivered advice and analyses on a broad array of pressing domestic and international issues that demand urgent attention and continuing oversight. These include modernizing the regulatory structure for financial institutions and markets to meet 21st century demands; controlling escalating health care costs and providing more effective oversight of medical products; restructuring the U.S. Postal Service to ensure its financial stability; and improving the Department of Defense's management approaches to issues ranging from weapons system acquisitions to accounting for weapons provided to Afghan security forces. Overall, we responded to requests from every standing committee of the Senate and the House and over 70 percent of their subcommittees.As a knowledge-based organization, our ability to timely assist the Congress as it addresses the nation's challenges depends on our ability to sustain our current staffing levels. We are submitting for consideration a prudent request for $601 million for fiscal year 2011, which will allow us to maintain our capacity to assist the Congress in addressing a range of financial, social, economic, and security challenges going forward. This amount represents a 4.1 percent increase ($22.6 million) to maintain our fiscal year 2010 staffing level for "base operations," cover mandatory pay and uncontrollable costs, and reinvest savings from nonrecurring costs and efficiencies to further enhance our productivity and effectiveness. We have also requested a 3.8 percent increase ($21.6 million) to maintain the current staffing level of 144 FTEs to continue mandated Recovery Act oversight beyond the expiration of the funding we received to help offset the cost of this new responsibility. The total requested increase of 7.9 percent will allow us to continue to be responsive in supporting congressional mandates and requests.
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    In Crime News
    Oglethorpe Inc. and its three Ohio facilities, Cambridge Behavioral Hospital, Ridgeview Behavioral Hospital, and The Woods at Parkside, will pay $10.25 million to resolve alleged violations of the False Claims Act for improperly providing free long-distance transportation to patients and admitting patients at Cambridge and Ridgeview who did not require inpatient psychiatric treatment, resulting in the submission of false claims to the Medicare program. 
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    In Crime News
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  • Florida Corporation and Executives Plead Guilty to Conspiracy to Sell Anabolic Steroids and Unlawful Dietary Supplements
    In Crime News
    Blackstone Labs LLC (“Blackstone”) and two of its executives pleaded guilty to conspiring to sell illegal anabolic steroids and other unlawful products marketed as dietary supplements, the Justice Department announced.  
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken at Virtual Meet and Greet with Mission Republic of Korea Staff and Family Members
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  • VA COVID-19 Procurements: Pandemic Underscores Urgent Need to Modernize Supply Chain
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Like most medical institutions nationwide, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) faced difficulties obtaining medical supplies, including personal protective equipment for its medical workforce, particularly in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Long-standing problems with its antiquated inventory management system exacerbated VA's challenges. GAO found VA obligated over $4 billion for COVID-19-related products, such as ventilators, and services, such as information technology to support VA's telework environment, as of May 2021. GAO also found that some vendors were unable to deliver personal protective equipment, which resulted in VA terminating some contracts, particularly early in the pandemic. VA also took additional steps to screen vendors. VA has several initiatives underway to modernize its supply chain and prepare for future public health emergencies, but each faces delays and is in early stages (see figure). For example: Inventory management. VA intended to replace its system with the Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support (DMLSS), with initial implementation in October 2019, and enterprise-wide implementation by 2027. Prior to the pandemic, however, this schedule was at significant risk. VA hopes to accelerate full implementation to 2025, and has received COVID-19 supplemental funds to help, but it is too soon to tell if this will occur. Regional Readiness Centers. VA planned to establish four centers—as central sources of critical medical supplies—by December 2020. As of March 2021, VA has not completed a concept of operations or implementation plan for the project. VA faces an additional year delay in achieving full operational capability, which is now expected in 2023. According to VA officials, the pandemic, among other things, contributed to delays. Warstopper program. VA seeks participation in this Defense Logistics Agency program, which would allow VA emergency access to critical supplies. Legislation recently was introduced to require VA participation. However, as GAO reported in March 2021, several questions remain, such as the range of products the program will cover, the amount of funding needed, and the way the program links to Regional Readiness Centers. Department of Veterans Affairs' Selected Ongoing and New Supply Chain Initiatives, Fiscal Years 2021 through 2028 Why GAO Did This Study In March 2020 and March 2021, Congress appropriated $19.6 billion and $17 billion in supplemental funds, respectively, for VA's COVID-19 response effort. VA also authorized use of emergency flexibilities and automated aspects of its inventory system. In accordance with Congress's direction in the CARES Act to monitor the exercise of authorities and use of funds provided to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the pandemic, relevant committees requested our sustained focus on VA. GAO was asked to assess VA's acquisition management during its COVID-19 pandemic response. This report examines VA's efforts to obtain and track COVID-19-related products and services amid its ongoing struggle to improve its inventory and supply chain management. GAO reviewed federal procurement data, analyzed selected VA contract documents, reviewed selected interagency agreements, assessed VA documents on modernization and other initiatives, and interviewed VA officials and staff.
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  • Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Justice
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified 18 priority recommendations for the Department of Justice (DOJ). Since then, DOJ has implemented nine of those recommendations by, among other things, improving the accuracy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) face recognition capabilities and the public's understanding of how the FBI uses and protects personal information, assessing its progress in its efforts to more efficiently handle FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints, developing better ways to assess its ability to combat illicit opioids, better addressing immigration judge staffing needs, and overseeing implementation of an electronic-filing system for immigration courts. In June 2021, GAO identified three additional priority recommendations for DOJ, bringing the total number to 12. The 12 recommendations fall into the following areas: Efforts to combat illicit opioid abuse. Federal prison system. FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints. Immigration courts. Cybersecurity. Improper payments. DOJ'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 Charles M. Johnson, Jr. at (202) 512-8777 or johnsoncm@gao.gov.
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