October 19, 2021

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Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton Delivers Remarks at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Fourth Annual National Cybersecurity Summit

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<div>Good afternoon. My name is Brian Boynton and I am the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division at the Department of Justice. </div>
Good afternoon. My name is Brian Boynton and I am the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division at the Department of Justice. 

More from: October 13, 2021

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    A former contractor with the U.S. Department of Justice pleaded guilty today for unlawfully using her government computer to access government records and providing sensitive, non-public information to another individual, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
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    What GAO Found During the last decade, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) undertook targeted efforts to encourage states to enhance the climate resilience of federally funded roads, such as by developing agency policy, providing technical assistance, and funding resilience research. GAO identified projects in four states that planned or made resilience enhancements using FHWA's resources. For example, Maryland used FHWA resources to raise a bridge by about 2 feet to account for projected sea level rise. Such efforts show the potential to enhance the climate resilience of federally funded roads on a wider scale. GAO identified 10 options to further enhance the climate resilience of federally funded roads through a comprehensive literature search and interviews with knowledgeable stakeholders (see table). Some of these options are similar to recommendations made previously by GAO. Each option has strengths and limitations. For example, adding climate resilience requirements to formula grant programs could compel action but complicate states' efforts to use federal funds. Options to Further Enhance the Climate Resilience of Federally Funded Roads 1. Integrate climate resilience into Federal Highway Administration policy and guidance. 2. Update design standards and building codes to account for climate resilience. 3. Provide authoritative, actionable, forward-looking climate information. 4. Add climate resilience funding eligibility requirements, conditions, or criteria to formula grant programs. 5. Expand the availability of discretionary funding for climate resilience improvements. 6. Alter the Emergency Relief (ER) program by providing incentives for, or conditioning funding on, pre-disaster resilience actions. 7. Expand the availability of ER funding for post-disaster climate resilience improvements. 8. Establish additional climate resilience planning or project requirements. 9. Link climate resilience actions or requirements to incentives or penalties. 10. Condition eligibility, funding, or project approval on compliance with climate resilience policy and guidance. Source: GAO analysis of literature and interviews with knowledgeable stakeholders. | GAO-21-436 Implementing multiple options offers the most potential to improve the climate resilience of federally funded roads, according to knowledgeable stakeholders and GAO's analysis using the Disaster Resilience Framework , a guide for analyzing federal disaster and climate resilience efforts. This Framework states that integrating strategic resilience goals can help decision makers focus on a wide variety of opportunities to reduce risk. FHWA officials said that they likely would need additional authority from Congress to act on some, or a combination of, options and that the most effective way for Congress to ensure its priorities are implemented for any option is to put it in law. The most recent authorization of federal funding for roads covers fiscal year 2016 through fiscal year 2021, which ends on September 30, 2021. This provides Congress with an opportunity to improve the climate resilience of federally funded roads and better ensure they can withstand or more easily recover from changes in the climate. Providing FHWA with additional authority to implement one or more of the options could enhance the climate resilience of more—or all—federally funded roads. Why GAO Did This Study Changes in the climate pose a risk to the safety and reliability of the U.S. transportation system, according to the 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment. Congress authorized about $45 billion per year in federal funding for roads through 2021 and appropriated about $900 million per year in disaster assistance for fiscal years 2016 through 2020. In 2013, GAO included Limiting the Federal Government's Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks on its High-Risk List. Enhancing climate resilience—acting to reduce potential losses by planning for climate hazards such as extreme rainfall—can help manage climate risks. GAO was asked to review climate resilience efforts for federally funded roads. This report examines (1) FHWA's climate resilience efforts and (2) options to further enhance them. GAO reviewed FHWA documents and a non-generalizable sample of projects that used FHWA's climate resilience resources, analyzed the content of 53 reports and pieces of legislation to identify options, interviewed stakeholders and agency officials, and analyzed options and FHWA efforts using GAO's October 2019 Disaster Resilience Framework .
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  • Aviation Security Technology: TSA Lacks Outcome-oriented Performance Measures and Data to Help Reach Objectives to Diversify its Marketplace
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    The Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) January 2020 TSA Efforts to Diversify Security Technology (strategy) addresses the requirements of the 2018 TSA Modernization Act (the Act) and outlines 12 strategic initiatives to increase small business participation in its marketplace. Moreover, the strategy's initiatives are generally consistent with common practices cited by comparable federal agencies, including vendor outreach and linking small businesses together with bigger contractors. TSA has not developed outcome-oriented performance measures, such as baseline goals or target timeframes to assess the effectiveness of the initiatives in its strategy. While TSA collects some output metrics on its initiatives, leading practices note that outcome-based measures can help track progress in meeting goals. TSA also has not collected data on small businesses' progress across its acquisition phases, such as capturing the overall time, costs, and ability to meet security requirements. Federal standards call for the use of quality information to achieve objectives. Small businesses GAO met with told us they continue to face challenges entering TSA's marketplace—such as navigating it's testing and evaluation process and identifying security requirements—despite TSA's efforts to address them through ongoing and planned initiatives. Developing outcome-oriented performance measures and collecting data, will better position TSA to assess the effectiveness of its initiatives to diversify its security technology marketplace. Examples of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Security-Related Technologies With the ongoing threat of terrorism, TSA is looking to innovative technologies to improve security. In response to the Act, TSA developed a strategy to promote innovation and increase small business participation in its security technology marketplace. The Act includes a provision for GAO to review this strategy. This report examines, among other things, (1) the extent to which TSA's strategy includes the statutory requirements of the Act and compares to common practices of federal agencies to increase small business participation and (2) the extent to which TSA has performance measures and data to assess the effectiveness of its initiatives. GAO compared TSA's strategy to statutory requirements and practices of comparable federal agencies; interviewed TSA and federal officials from five selected agencies responsible for small and disadvantaged business programs, and a nongeneralizable set of small businesses selected to provide various perspectives on participating in TSA's acquisition processes; and analyzed data from the Federal Procurement Data System–Next Generation. GAO is making two recommendations, including that TSA (1) develop outcome-oriented performance measures and (2) collect data, where appropriate, on small businesses' progress across TSA's acquisition phases. DHS concurred with our recommendations. For more information, contact Triana McNeil at (202) 512-8777 or McNeilT@gao.gov.
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  • Capital One CEO to Pay Civil Penalty for Violating Antitrust Pre-Transaction Notification Requirements
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  • Indian Health Service: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of Federal Facilities’ Decision-Making About the Use of Funds
    In U.S GAO News
    The Indian Health Service's (IHS) oversight of federally operated health care facilities' decision-making process about the use of funds has been limited and inconsistent. Funds include those from appropriations, as well as payments from federal programs, such as Medicaid and from private insurance, for care provided by IHS to American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN). While some oversight functions are performed at IHS headquarters, the agency has delegated primary responsibility for the oversight of health care facilities' decision-making about the use of funds to its area offices. Area office officials said the oversight they provide has generally included (1) reviewing facilities' scope of services, and (2) reviewing facilities' proposed expenditures. However, GAO's review found that this oversight was limited and inconsistent across IHS area offices, in part, due to a lack of consistent agency-wide processes. While IHS officials from all nine area offices GAO interviewed said they reviewed facilities' scope of services and coordinated with tribes when doing so, none reported systematically reviewing the extent to which their facilities' services were meeting local health needs, such as by incorporating the results of community health assessments. Such assessments can involve the collection and assessment of data, as well as the input of local community members and leaders to identify and prioritize community needs. These assessments can be used by facilities to assess their resources and identify priorities for facility investment. While IHS has identified such assessments as a priority, the agency does not require federally operated facilities to conduct such assessments or require the area offices to use them as they review facilities' scope of services. To ensure that facilities are effectively managing their resources, IHS has a process to guide its review of facilities' proposed construction projects that cost at least $25,000. However, IHS does not have a similar process to guide its oversight of other key proposed expenditures, such as those involving the purchase of major medical equipment, the hiring of providers, or the expansion of services. Specifically, GAO found limitations and inconsistencies with respect to requiring a documented justification for proposed expenditures; documenting the review and approval of decisions; and conducting an impact assessment on patient access, cost, and quality of care. The limitations and inconsistencies that GAO found in IHS's oversight are driven by the lack of consistent oversight processes across the area offices. Without establishing a systematic oversight process to compare federally operated facilities' current services to population needs, and to guide the review of facilities' proposed expenditures, IHS cannot ensure that its facilities are identifying and investing in projects to meet the greatest community needs, and therefore that federal resources are being maximized to best serve the AI/AN population. IHS, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, provides care to AI/AN populations through a system of federally operated and tribally operated health care facilities. AI/AN have experienced long standing problems accessing needed health care services. GAO has previously reported that IHS has not been able to pay for all eligible health care services; however, the resources available to federally operated facilities have recently grown. This report assesses IHS oversight of federal health care facilities' decision-making about the use of funds. GAO reviewed IHS policies and documents; and interviewed IHS officials from headquarters, nine area offices, and three federally operated facilities (two hospitals and one health clinic). GAO recommends that IHS develop processes to guide area offices in (1) systematically assessing how federally operated facilities will effectively meet the needs of their patient populations, and (2) reviewing federal facilities' spending proposals. HHS concurred with these recommendations. For more information, contact Jessica Farb at (202) 512-7114 or farbj@gao.gov.
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  • Imminent Danger Pay: Actions Needed Regarding Pay Designations in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO FoundThe Department of Defense (DOD) obligated more than $1 billion in imminent danger pay from fiscal years 2010 through 2013 in the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility, excluding Afghanistan, according to data from the military services. In June 2011, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness requested the geographic Combatant Commands to assess existing imminent danger pay areas. The last such review had been completed in 2007. In January 2013, the U.S. Central Command recommended terminating imminent danger pay designations in many locations within its area of responsibility. However, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness had not completed its current review or made a decision as of December 20, 2013, when we transmitted a draft of our report to DOD. DOD's guidance on imminent danger pay requires a periodic review but neither specifies the frequency with which periodic reviews must be completed, nor stipulates a time frame by which the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness should render a final decision regarding the findings of the review. The Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government highlights, among other things, the importance of management-led reviews and clear policies and procedures as well as assurance that the findings of reviews are promptly resolved. In the absence of clear procedures and policies specifying time frames for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to complete reviews of imminent danger pay area designations and render a final decision, DOD is spending millions of dollars annually for imminent danger pay in areas within U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility that may not warrant this designation.Why GAO Did This StudyDOD relies on forward-stationed or rotationally deployed forces, bases and infrastructure, and host nation agreements to execute its mission around the world. This combination of forces, footprint, and agreements constitutes DOD's defense posture in a given geographic region.In December 2012, GAO began work reviewing DOD's posture in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, as part of series of reports examining DOD's global defense posture initiatives in response to direction from the Senate Appropriations Committee. As part of this review on posture in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, GAO examined posture costs in the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility--including special pays, such as imminent danger pay, and benefits for service members who are assigned, deployed, or on temporary duty travel. In the course of that review, GAO identified issues related to DOD's process for reviewing and making decisions on imminent danger pay area designations, with regard to the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility.To conduct this work, GAO analyzed imminent danger pay and family housing cost data in the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility from the military departments for fiscal years 2010 through 2013. To assess the reliability of the data, we interviewed cognizant DOD officials regarding the accuracy of data entry, limitations of the data, and the results of previous audits conducted on the data systems used. We determined the data were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of our review. GAO reviewed, and compared DOD Instruction 1340.09, Hostile Fire Pay and Imminent Danger Pay with GAO's Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government to evaluate the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness's process for reviewing imminent danger pay designated locations. Further, GAO obtained documentation from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and U.S. Central Command related to U. S. Central Command's recommendation to terminate imminent danger pay.
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    Yesterday, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra co-hosted a listening session with stakeholders on the bipartisan COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which was signed into law by President Biden on May 20. Under the legislation, the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in coordination with the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force and community-based organizations, are required to issue guidance aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The session was moderated by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta.  
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    The Justice Department, in an announcement by Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Eric S. Dreiband, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Katharine T. Sullivan, and U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Erica H. MacDonald, unveiled a new National Response Center Initiative and offered the assistance to the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) to support law enforcement, and review, enhance and reform policies and practices to prevent the use of excessive force. The BJA Law Enforcement Training and Technical Assistance Response Center will be a national resource for all state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.
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    An Albuquerque man was charged on Sept. 29, 2020, in federal court for possessing fentanyl, heroin, and more than a kilo of methamphetamine, as well as four firearms.
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