Today the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington announced a settlement agreement with Federal Way Public Schools in Washington to resolve an investigation into allegations of peer-on-peer harassment on the basis of religion and national origin.
The complaints made to the United States alleged that students had repeatedly been targeted by their peers with verbal and physical harassment because of their religion or national origin, and that the district did not respond adequately to the students’ complaints about the harassment. The department has authority to investigate and resolve complaints of religious and national origin harassment through its enforcement of Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The settlement agreement also resolves complaints about the district’s failure to properly communicate with parents and guardians in the district who are not English language proficient, as required by the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974.
“School districts must never ignore harassment of students because of their faith or national origin,” said Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division Eric S. Dreiband. “Discrimination in schools based on religion or national origin violates federal law and is antithetical to our nation’s values. We are encouraged by Federal Way’s agreement to change its policies and provide additional training to make sure that its teachers and other staff protect school children from harassment because of their religion or where their families came from. In this country, all people are entitled to be treated with respect and decency and without regard to their faith or their ancestral background.”
“Every student should be able to attend school without fear of being harassed and bullied because of his or her skin color or religious beliefs,” said U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington Brian T. Moran. “I am encouraged by Federal Way’s willingness to take immediate steps to ensure that students attending its schools are free of this type of harassment and bullying.”
Following an investigation into the families’ complaints, the United States notified Federal Way of its concern that the district had failed to respond promptly and appropriately to numerous students’ complaints of harassment, including complaints from Muslim students and a Latino student that they were subjected to serious and repeated verbal and physical harassment. The department also found that the district failed to properly communicate with parents and guardians who are not English language proficient about the complaints. The district worked cooperatively with the United States to ensure appropriate protections for all students and their families. Among other things, the settlement agreement requires the district to: work with a consultant to review and update its anti-harassment policies, ensure that it responds quickly and effectively to student complaints of harassment, and train staff members how to properly communicate with non-English proficient parents and guardians.
The enforcement of Title IV is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which enforces federal laws that protect individuals from discrimination based on their race, color, national origin, disability status, sex, religion, familial status, or loss of other constitutional rights. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.
If you believe your civil rights, or someone else’s, have been violated, submit a report using our online form at www.civilrights.justice.gov/.
- DOD Fraud Risk Management: Actions Needed to Enhance Department-Wide Approach, Focusing on Procurement Fraud RisksBy Sam NewsSeptember 20, 2021What GAO Found The Department of Defense (DOD) faces numerous types of procurement fraud schemes (see figure). For example, in January 2015, the owner of a contracting firm pleaded guilty to bribing DOD officials and defrauding DOD of tens of millions of dollars by overbilling for goods and services. To combat department-wide fraud risks, DOD has taken initial steps that generally align with GAO's Fraud Risk Framework. However, DOD has not finalized and implemented a comprehensive approach. For example: DOD created a Fraud Reduction Task Force—a cross-functional team represented by subject matter experts across the department—to prioritize fraud risks and identify solutions. But its membership is incomplete. A year after formation, 11 of DOD's 59 component organizations, including the Army, had not designated a Task Force representative. Filling vacant Task Force positions would further strengthen DOD's ability to manage its fraud risks. DOD uses its risk management program to assess and report fraud risks. But the policy governing the risk management program does not specifically require fraud risk assessments. As a result, DOD may not be identifying all fraud risks, and its control activities may not be appropriately designed or implemented. DOD officials told GAO that they share fraud risk information with agencies' risk management officials, but documentation of stakeholders' roles and responsibilities remains incomplete. Such documentation can help ensure these stakeholders understand their responsibilities. Examples of Procurement Fraud Schemes DOD Faces DOD has taken steps to ensure components plan for and assess fraud risks. But some selected components did not report procurement fraud risks, as required by DOD. DOD provides guidance, tools, and training to its components to conduct fraud risk assessments and to assess procurement fraud risks. However, GAO found that three of six selected components reported procurement fraud risks in their fiscal-year-2020 risk assessments, and that three—which obligated $180.1 billion in fiscal year 2020—did not. Because DOD consolidates reported procurement risks from the components' fraud risk assessments and uses this information to update the department-wide fraud risk profile, it cannot ensure that its fraud risk profile is complete or accurate. Why GAO Did This Study GAO was asked to review issues related to DOD's fraud risk management. DOD obligated $421.8 billion in fiscal year 2020 on contracts. GAO has long reported that DOD's procurement processes are vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse. In 2018, DOD reported to Congress that from fiscal years 2013-2017, over $6.6 billion had been recovered from defense-contracting fraud cases. In 2020, the DOD Office of Inspector General reported that roughly one-in-five of its ongoing investigations are related to procurement fraud. This report assesses the steps DOD took in fiscal year 2020 (1) to combat department-wide fraud risks and (2) to conduct a fraud risk assessment and ensure that DOD's component organizations reported procurement fraud risks. GAO analyzed applicable DOD policy and documents and compared them with Fraud Risk Framework leading practices, interviewed DOD officials, and reviewed fiscal year 2020 fraud risk assessments from six DOD components. GAO selected the six based primarily on fiscal years 2014-2018 contract obligations.[Read More…]
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- Financial Audit: Bureau of the Fiscal Service’s FY 2021 and FY 2020 Schedules of Federal DebtBy Sam NewsNovember 9, 2021What GAO Found GAO found (1) the Bureau of the Fiscal Service's Schedules of Federal Debt for fiscal years 2021 and 2020 are fairly presented in all material respects, and (2) although internal controls could be improved, Fiscal Service maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting relevant to the Schedule of Federal Debt as of September 30, 2021. GAO's tests of selected provisions of applicable laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements related to the Schedule of Federal Debt disclosed no instances of reportable noncompliance for fiscal year 2021. Although Fiscal Service made some progress in addressing previously reported control deficiencies, unresolved information system control deficiencies continued to represent a significant deficiency in Fiscal Service's internal control over financial reporting, which although not a material weakness, is important enough to merit attention by those charged with governance of Fiscal Service. From fiscal year 1997, GAO's first year auditing the schedules, through September 30, 2021, total federal debt managed by Fiscal Service has increased from $5.4 trillion to $28.4 trillion, and the debt limit has been raised 21 times. Total Federal Debt Outstanding, September 30, 1997, through September 30, 2021 During fiscal year 2021, total federal debt increased by $1.5 trillion, with debt held by the public increasing by $1.3 trillion, and intragovernmental debt holdings increasing by $0.2 trillion. The main factor for the increase in debt held by the public was the reported $2.8 trillion federal deficit in fiscal year 2021, which was due primarily to economic disruptions caused by COVID-19 and federal spending in response. The increase in debt held by the public was less than the deficit primarily because of a $1.6 trillion decrease in the government's cash balance. Due to delays in raising the debt limit during fiscal year 2021, the Department of the Treasury deviated from its normal debt management operations and took extraordinary actions—consistent with relevant laws—to avoid exceeding the debt limit. Delays in raising the debt limit have created disruptions in the Treasury market and increased borrowing costs. To improve federal debt management and place the government on a sustainable long-term fiscal path, GAO has previously suggested that Congress consider establishing a long-term plan that includes alternative approaches to the debt limit, and fiscal rules and targets. Why GAO Did This Study GAO audits the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government. Because of the significance of the federal debt to the government-wide financial statements, GAO audits Fiscal Service's Schedules of Federal Debt annually to determine whether, in all material respects, (1) the schedules are fairly presented and (2) Fiscal Service management maintained effective internal control over financial reporting relevant to the Schedule of Federal Debt. Further, GAO tests compliance with selected provisions of applicable laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements related to the Schedule of Federal Debt. Federal debt managed by Fiscal Service consists of Treasury securities held by the public and by certain federal government accounts, referred to as intragovernmental debt holdings. Debt held by the public primarily represents the amount the federal government has borrowed to finance cumulative cash deficits and is held by investors outside of the federal government—including individuals, corporations, state or local governments, the Federal Reserve, and foreign governments. Intragovernmental debt holdings represent balances of Treasury securities held by federal government accounts—primarily federal trust funds such as Social Security and Medicare—that typically have an obligation to invest their excess annual receipts (including interest earnings) over disbursements in federal securities. In commenting on a draft of this report, Fiscal Service concurred with GAO's conclusions. For more information, contact Cheryl E. Clark at (202) 512-3406 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Organ Transplants: Changes in Allocation Policies for Donated Livers and LungsBy Sam NewsNovember 4, 2020The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) develops allocation policies in the United States to determine which transplant candidates receive offers for organs, such as livers or lungs, that are donated from deceased donors. In July 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees OPTN, directed it to change the liver allocation policy to be more consistent with federal regulations. The liver allocation policy changed in February 2020 from a system that, in general, offered donated livers first to the sickest candidates within the fixed boundaries of a donation service area or region to a system based on a candidate's level of illness and distance from the donor hospital. The current liver allocation policy offers livers first to the sickest candidates within 500 nautical miles of the donor hospital using a series of distance-based concentric circles, called acuity circles. The processes used to develop the liver and lung allocation policies had various similarities and differences. For example, while the current liver allocation policy, the 2017 liver allocation policy, and the current lung allocation policy each had public comment periods, the length of these comment periods varied—25 days for the current liver allocation policy; two separate 62-day and 64-day periods for the 2017 liver allocation policy; and 61 days (retroactive) for the current lung allocation policy. In addition, the current lung allocation policy resulted in part from a federal district court order directing HHS to initiate emergency review of the policy. However, the 2017 liver allocation policy—that was approved but never implemented—resulted from a 2012 OPTN Board directive to reduce geographic disparities in organ allocation. HHS oversight of OPTN's processes were similar for all three allocation policies and included reviewing the proposed changes to the policies to ensure compliance with federal regulations, according to HHS officials. Timeline of Selected Events Related to Three Organ Allocation Policies Organ transplantation is the leading form of treatment for patients with severe organ failure. OPTN, a nonprofit entity that was established in 1984 under the National Organ Transplant Act, manages the nation's organ allocation system. In 2019, 32,322 organs were transplanted from deceased donors in the United States. Nevertheless, as of July 2020, close to 110,000 individuals remained on waiting lists for donor organs. Previously, donated livers and lungs were generally offered first to the sickest candidates in donation service areas. However, livers and lungs are now generally offered first to the sickest candidates based on distance. GAO was asked to review the changes to the liver and lung allocation policies. This report describes (1) changes to the liver allocation policy, and (2) similarities and differences in the processes OPTN used to change the liver and lung allocation policies, and federal oversight of these processes, among other things. GAO reviewed documents, including those related to the current liver and lung allocation policies, and the 2017 liver allocation policy; interviewed HHS officials and OPTN members; reviewed the National Organ Transplant Act and its implementing regulations; and conducted a literature review of studies published from January 2017 through April 2020 in peer-reviewed and other publications. HHS and the United Network for Organ Sharing (the contractor serving as OPTN) provided technical comments on a draft of this report, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact James Cosgrove at (202) 512-7114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
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- Science & Tech Spotlight: Vaccine SafetyBy Sam NewsFebruary 24, 2021Why this Matters Safe vaccines are critical to fighting diseases, from polio to COVID-19. Research shows that the protection provided by U.S. licensed vaccines outweighs their potential risks. However, misinformation and unjustified safety concerns can cause people to delay or refuse vaccination, which may increase preventable deaths and prolong negative social and economic impacts. The Science What is it? A vaccine is generally considered safe when the benefits of protecting an individual from disease outweigh the risks from potential side effects (fig. 1). The most common side effects stem from the body's immune reaction and include swelling at the injection site, fever, and aches. Figure 1. Symptoms of polio and side effects of the polio vaccine. A vaccine is generally considered safe if its benefits (preventing disease) outweigh its risks (side effects). In rare cases, some vaccines may cause more severe side effects. For example, the vaccine for rotavirus—a childhood illness that can cause severe diarrhea, dehydration, and even death—can cause intestinal blockage in one in 100,000 recipients. However, the vaccine is still administered because this very rare side effect is outweighed by the vaccine's benefits: it saves lives and prevents an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 childhood hospitalizations in the U.S. each year. The two messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines authorized for COVID-19—a disease that contributed to more than 415,000 American deaths between January 2020 and January 2021—can cause severe allergic reactions. However, early safety reporting found that these reactions have been extremely rare, with only about five cases per 1 million recipients, according to data from January 2021 reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In general, side effects from vaccines are less acceptable to the public than side effects from treatments given to people who already have a disease. What is known? Vaccine developers assess safety from early research, through laboratory and animal testing, and even after the vaccine is in use (fig. 2). Researchers may rely on previous studies to inform future vaccine trials. For example, safety information from preclinical trials of mRNA flu vaccine candidates in 2017 allowed for the acceleration of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine development. Vaccine candidates shown to be safe in these preclinical trials can proceed to clinical trials in humans. In the U.S., clinical trials generally proceed through three phases of testing involving increasing numbers of volunteers: dozens in phase 1 to thousands in phase 3. Although data may be collected over years, most common side effects are identified in the first 2 months after vaccination in clinical trials. After reviewing safety and other data from vaccine studies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may license a vaccine to be marketed in the U.S. There are also programs to expedite—but not bypass—development and review processes, such as a priority review designation, which shortens FDA’s goal review time from 10 to 6 months. Safety monitoring continues after licensing. For example, health officials are required to report certain adverse events—such as heart problems—following vaccination, in order to help identify potential long-term or rare side effects that were not seen in clinical trials and may or may not be associated with the vaccine. Figure 2. Vaccine safety is assessed at every stage: development through post-licensure. Following a declared emergency, FDA can also issue emergency use authorizations (EUA) to allow temporary use of unlicensed vaccines if there is evidence that known and potential benefits of the vaccine outweigh known and potential risks, among other criteria. As of January 2021, two COVID-19 vaccines had received EUAs, after their efficacy and short-term safety were assessed through large clinical trials. However, developers must continue safety monitoring and meet other requirements if they intend to apply for FDA licensure to continue distribution of these vaccines after the emergency period has ended. What are the knowledge gaps? One knowledge gap that can remain after clinical trials is whether side effects or other adverse events may occur in certain groups. For example, because clinical trials usually exclude certain populations, such as people who are pregnant or have existing medical conditions, data on potential adverse events related to specific populations may not be understood until vaccines are widely administered. In addition, it can be difficult to determine the safety of new vaccines if outbreaks end suddenly. For example, vaccine safety studies were hindered during the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic when a large increase in the number of cases was followed by a sharp decrease. This disrupted the clinical trials of Ebola vaccine candidates, because the trials require many infected and non-infected people. Furthermore, a lack of understanding and/or misinformation about the steps taken to ensure the safety of vaccines hinders accurate public knowledge about safety concerns, which may cause people to delay or refuse vaccination. This resulting hesitancy may, in turn, increase deaths, social harm, and economic damage. Opportunities Continuing and, where necessary, improving existing vaccine safety practices offers the following opportunities to society: Herd immunity. Widespread immunity in a population, acquired in large part through safe and effective vaccines, can slow the spread of infection and protect those most vulnerable. Health care improvements. Vaccinations can reduce the burden on the health care system by reducing severe symptoms that require individuals to seek treatment. Eradication. Safe vaccination programs, such as those combatting smallpox, may eliminate diseases to the point where transmission no longer occurs. Challenges There are a number of challenges to ensuring safe vaccines: Public confidence. Vaccine hesitancy, in part due to misinformation or historic unethical human experimentation, decreases participation in clinical trials, impeding identification of side effects across individuals with different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Mutating viruses. Some viruses, such as those that cause the flu or COVID-19, may mutate rapidly and thus may require new or updated vaccines, for which ongoing safety monitoring is important. Long-term and rare effects. Exceedingly rare or long-term effects may not be identified until after vaccines have been widely administered. Further study is needed to detect any such effects and confirm they are truly associated with the vaccine. Policy Context & Questions What steps can policymakers take to improve public trust and understanding of the process of assessing vaccine safety? How can policymakers convey the social importance of vaccines to protect the general public and those who are most vulnerable? How can policymakers leverage available resources to support ongoing vaccine development and post-licensure safety monitoring? For more information, contact Karen Howard at (202) 512-6888 or HowardK@gao.gov.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Anticorruption Task Force Launches New Measures to Combat Corruption in Central AmericaBy Sam NewsOctober 15, 2021The Department of Justice today announced a tip line to help assist its Anticorruption Task Force fight corruption in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, a key component of the Vice President’s work to address the root causes of migration.[Read More…]
- Opioid Use Disorder: Treatment with Injectable and Implantable BuprenorphineBy Sam NewsAugust 4, 2020Of the medications used to treat opioid use disorder (OUD), only buprenorphine is both a controlled substance and available as an injection or implant. Buprenorphine is used to treat patients with OUD because it reduces or eliminates opioid withdrawal symptoms and blunts the euphoria or dangerous side effects of other opioids, such as heroin. When used to treat OUD, buprenorphine, in any form, is subject to additional laws and regulations that are overseen by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), within the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). To ensure patient safety when injectable and implantable buprenorphine is used, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), within HHS has also required drug companies to establish risk evaluation and mitigation strategies to help ensure the benefits of these medications outweigh their risks. Providers and pharmacies must follow a number of specific steps based on federal requirements when providing treatment with injectable and implantable buprenorphine. Providers are responsible for prescribing, storing, and administering injectable and implantable buprenorphine, while pharmacies are responsible for dispensing these medications (see figure). Representatives GAO interviewed from provider groups and pharmacies said they did not find the steps involved in treating patients to be difficult overall. However, they stated that careful and timely coordination with each other and patients is needed at key steps of the process to ensure that the patient receives treatment. Representatives from provider groups and pharmacies reported that the risk of diversion of injectable and implantable buprenorphine is low. For example, all of the provider groups GAO spoke with said that diversion of injectable or implantable buprenorphine is unlikely, and representatives from three of the six provider groups said that the design of these formulations reduces opportunities for diversion due to how they are administered. Process for Treating Opioid Use Disorder with Injectable and Implantable Buprenorphine The use of injectable and implantable buprenorphine to treat OUD is relatively low compared to oral forms of buprenorphine. HHS has reported that about 7,250 prescriptions were issued for injectable and implantable buprenorphine in fiscal year 2019, compared to over 700,000 patients who received buprenorphine prescriptions for oral formulations to treat OUD or pain in that year. In 2018, SAMHSA estimated that about one-quarter of the estimated 2 million people with OUD had received some form of substance use treatment in the prior year. One form of treatment—medication-assisted treatment (MAT)— combines behavioral therapy with the use of certain medications. HHS has identified expanding access to treatment for OUD as an important strategy for reducing opioid morbidity and mortality, which includes increasing the number of injectable and implantable buprenorphine prescriptions. Congress included a provision in the SUPPORT Act for GAO to review access to and the potential for the diversion of controlled substances administered by injection or implantation. This report focuses on injectable and implantable controlled substances that can be used to treat OUD and specifically, describes the process for treating OUD with injectable and implantable buprenorphine and what is known about their use. GAO reviewed laws, regulations, and documentation from DEA, FDA, and SAMHSA governing the process of providing treatment with buprenorphine and interviewed officials from those agencies. GAO also interviewed representatives from stakeholder groups representing MAT providers; drug companies that manufacture injectable or implantable buprenorphine; and pharmacies that dispense these medications. HHS and DOJ reviewed a draft of this report, and GAO incorporated their technical comments, as appropriate. For more information, contact James Cosgrove at (202) 512-7114 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
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- Medicare Physician Services: Payment Rates, Utilization, and Expenditures of Selected Services in Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S. TerritoriesBy Sam NewsSeptember 24, 2021What GAO Found Using the most recently available Medicare data, GAO found that Medicare Part B fee-for-service (FFS) populations in Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S. territories—American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—varied considerably in size, demographic, and other key characteristics. For example, the number of beneficiaries enrolled in Part B FFS at any time in 2019 ranged from 2,091 in CNMI to 122,480 in Hawaii. In terms of Medicare eligibility, most Part B FFS beneficiaries nationally were eligible because they were age 65 or older (85.1 percent), followed by beneficiaries eligible due to a disability (14.6 percent), and beneficiaries with end stage renal disease (ESRD; 0.3 percent). However, the proportions varied across Alaska, Hawaii, and the territories. For example, the proportion of Part B FFS beneficiaries eligible because they were age 65 or older ranged from 71.9 percent in American Samoa to 92.4 percent in the U.S. Virgin Islands; due to a disability ranged from just over half the national rate in the U.S. Virgin Islands (7.4 percent) to 26.3 percent in American Samoa; and due to ESRD ranged from 0.2 percent in Alaska to 2.5 percent in Guam. GAO also analyzed Medicare payment rates—which are adjusted to account for local differences in the costs of providing care—for 12 selected services that each accounted for at least $950 million in Medicare expenditures in 2019. GAO found that Medicare payment rates (that reflect local adjustments) for selected services were higher in Alaska, Hawaii, and the territories compared to national rates (which do not reflect local adjustments). However, utilization of and expenditures for these services were generally lower. Specifically, payment rates in Alaska were considerably higher than the national payment rates, whereas payment rates in Hawaii and the territories were largely somewhat higher than the national payment rates for services examined. For example, payment rates for selected services in Alaska ranged from about 26 percent higher for an eye exam and treatment to about 39 percent higher for an emergency department visit. For Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, payment rates were less than 1 percent greater than the national payment amount. GAO analysis of 2019 Medicare Part B FFS claims data shows that utilization and expenditures for the 12 selected services in its review were generally lower in Alaska, Hawaii, and the territories when compared to national rates. For example, Alaska, Hawaii, and all U.S. territories had lower per beneficiary utilization of outpatient evaluation and management services under the Physician Fee Schedule than national per beneficiary utilization in 2019. Per beneficiary use for these services ranged from 1.1 services in American Samoa to 5.6 services in Hawaii, less than the national rate of 6.1 services. Partly due to lower per beneficiary utilization, per beneficiary expenditures for all selected services were also lower in Alaska, Hawaii, and the territories compared to national Part B FFS per beneficiary expenditures in 2019. Specifically, they ranged from about $183 in American Samoa to about $627 in Alaska, compared with national per beneficiary expenditures of about $735. Why GAO Did This Study Certain state and territory stakeholders have raised questions about payment rates under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for Alaska, Hawaii, and the territories. They noted that the rates might not take into account unique characteristics which may affect the delivery of care. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) determines payment rates for services covered under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule based on estimates that the agency assigns to each service. These estimates reflect the time and intensity of provider work, practice expenses (e.g., cost of non-provider labor or office rent), and malpractice premiums needed to provide one service relative to other services. CMS separately adjusts the estimates to account for a provider’s geographic location, which affects the cost of providing care. House Report 116-62 includes a provision for GAO to examine Medicare funding for Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S. territories. This report describes 1) demographic and other key characteristics of Medicare Part B FFS beneficiaries in Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S territories; and 2) payment rates, utilization, and expenditures under the Physician Fee Schedule across these states and territories. GAO analyzed Medicare data from 2019—the most recent year of data available at the time of its review—to describe Medicare beneficiaries in Alaska, Hawaii, and the territories. GAO used the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Search Tool to determine payment rates for the 12 selected services based on Medicare spending in 2019 and compared them to the national payment amount. GAO also analyzed Medicare claims data from 2019 to determine per beneficiary utilization and expenditures for Alaska, Hawaii, and the territories. GAO compared them to national Medicare per beneficiary utilization and expenditures. To supplement this work, GAO obtained information from health officials in the states and territories and examined key documents. For more information, contact Jessica Farb at (202) 512-7114 or FarbJ@gao.gov.[Read More…]
- Boeing Charged with 737 Max Fraud Conspiracy and Agrees to Pay over $2.5 BillionBy Sam NewsJanuary 7, 2021The Boeing Company (Boeing) has entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice to resolve a criminal charge related to a conspiracy to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Evaluation Group (FAA AEG) in connection with the FAA AEG’s evaluation of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplane.[Read More…]
- Columbia Class Submarine: Delivery Hinges on Timely and Quality Materials from an Atrophied Supplier BaseBy Sam NewsJanuary 14, 2021The Navy's schedule for constructing the first submarine of the new Columbia class is threatened by continuing challenges with the computer-aided software tool that Electric Boat, the lead shipbuilder, is using to design the submarine. These challenges will likely impede construction because the shipbuilder is late in completing design products used for building the submarine. To ensure construction begins on schedule, the Navy modified its design contract with Electric Boat to include an option for constructing the first two submarines and requested sufficient authority from Congress for fiscal year 2021 to exercise it. Navy officials stated, however, that the Navy's budget request is lower than its current cost estimate, and it is not informed by an independent cost assessment. As a result, the program will likely need more funding to reflect the increased estimate. Quality problems with supplier materials caused delays during early construction. These quality problems included missile tubes (depicted below) with defective welds. As the shipbuilders expand outsourcing to suppliers, quality assurance oversight at supplier facilities will be critical for avoiding further delays. Quad Pack of Four Submarine Missile Tubes However, the Navy has not comprehensively reassessed when to seek additional inspections at supplier facilities that could better position it to identify quality problems early enough to limit delays. The Navy plans to invest about $128 billion in 12 Columbia class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. The shipbuilders will construct the Columbia class at the same time as the Virginia class attack submarines. They plan to rely on materials produced by a supplier base that is roughly 70 percent smaller than in previous shipbuilding booms. Congress included a provision in statute for GAO to examine the program's status. This report assesses the Navy's efforts to complete the design for the lead Columbia class submarine and actions the shipbuilders and the Navy have taken to prepare for construction and ensure the lead submarine is delivered according to schedule and quality expectations. GAO assessed Navy and shipbuilder design progress against cost and schedule estimates, reviewed documents, and interviewed officials about supplier readiness and quality assurance. This is a public version of a sensitive report that GAO issued in November 2020. Information that the Department of Defense (DOD) deemed sensitive has been omitted. GAO recommends that the Navy (1) provide Congress with updated cost information, (2) include information on supplier readiness in its annual report to Congress, and (3) reassess when to seek additional inspections at supplier facilities. DOD concurred with the recommendations but disagreed with some of the report's details. GAO incorporated DOD's comments as appropriate and maintains the validity of the findings, as discussed in the report. For more information, contact Shelby S. Oakley at (202) 512-4841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
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