The bench, bar, and public have been asked to provide comments on proposed interim regulations (pdf) for the administration of a new payment for trustees serving in Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases under the Bankruptcy Administration Improvement Act of 2020.
The comment period runs from Aug. 30, 2021 to Sept. 17, 2021. Interested parties can submit comments electronically through the regulations.gov portal.
The legislation, signed into law on Jan. 12, 2021, adds subsection (e) to 11 U.S.C. § 330, establishing a new Judiciary payment for Chapter 7 trustees, funded by excess collections in the U.S. Trustee System Fund. The new payment supplements the existing $60 payments that bankruptcy courts make to trustees serving in Chapter 7 cases under section 330(b). To accomplish these payments, the statute directs the director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to issue regulations for administering the law.
Trustees serving in cases filed under or converted to Chapter 7 from Jan. 12, 2021 to the end of fiscal year 2026, will be eligible to receive up to $60, depending on the availability of funds in the U.S. Trustee System Fund, for each case in which services were rendered.
The interim regulations for administration of the new payment will take effect on Sept. 30, 2021.
- Over $1 Billion in Misappropriated 1MDB Funds Now Repatriated to MalaysiaBy Sam NewsAugust 5, 2021The Justice Department announced today that it has repatriated an additional $452 million in misappropriated 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds to the people of Malaysia, bringing the total returned to over $1.2 billion.[Read More…]
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- Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco Delivers Remarks Announcing Drug Enforcement and Awareness Raising CampaignBy Sam NewsSeptember 30, 2021Thank you for being here today. I’m pleased to be joined today by DEA Administrator Anne Milgram to shine a light on one of the most significant threats to the public safety and the health in this country: fatal drug overdoses.[Read More…]
- Haiti Reconstruction: Factors Contributing to Delays in USAID Infrastructure ConstructionBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021On January 12, 2010, a powerful earthquake struck Haiti, resulting in an estimated 230,000 deaths, including more than 16,000 Haitian government personnel, and the destruction of many ministry buildings. In addition to immediate relief efforts, in July 2010, Congress appropriated $1.14 billion in supplemental funds for reconstruction, most of which was provided to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State (State). USAID and State are administering about $412 million in supplemental and regular fiscal year appropriations for infrastructure construction activities. In May 2011, in response to a congressional mandate, GAO reported on overall U.S. plans for assistance to Haiti. This report addresses infrastructure construction activities, including (1) USAID and State obligations and expenditures; (2) USAID staffing; (3) USAID planning; and (4) potential sustainability challenges USAID faces. GAO reviewed documents and interviewed U.S. officials in Washington, D.C., and Haiti, and visited ongoing and planned construction sites in Haiti..USAID and State have obligated and expended a small amount of funds for infrastructure construction activities in six sectors: energy, ports, shelter, health, food security, and governance and rule of law. As of September 30, 2011, USAID and State had allocated almost $412 million for infrastructure construction activities, obligated approximately $48.4 million (11.8 percent), and expended approximately $3.1 million (0.8 percent). Of the almost $412 million, about 87 percent was allocated from the 2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act and 13 percent from regular fiscal year appropriations. USAID accounts for about 89 percent of the $412 million, including funds for construction in the energy, ports, shelter, health, and food security sectors. State activities in the governance and rule of law sector account for the remaining 11 percent. USAID had difficulty staffing the Haiti mission after the earthquake, a factor that has contributed to delays in infrastructure construction activities. Soon after the earthquake, 10 of the 17 U.S. citizen Foreign Service Officers, known as U.S. direct-hire staff, in Haiti left. USAID, lacking a process for expediting the movement of staff to post-disaster situations, had difficulty replacing them and recruiting additional staff. These staff included key technical personnel such as engineers and contracting officers needed to plan and implement infrastructure activities in sectors such as energy and ports, where the mission had not previously worked. With limited U.S. direct-hire staff on board, the mission relied heavily on temporary staff, and remaining staff assumed duties outside their normal areas of expertise. The mission plans to have all U.S. direct-hire staff on board by February 2012. Since infrastructure activities will continue until at least 2015, the mission will need to maintain sufficient staff for several years to manage the activities supported by the increase in Haiti reconstruction funds. USAID and State are planning activities in Haiti, but various challenges have contributed to some of USAID's delays. As of October 2011, USAID had drafted eight Activity Approval Documents (AADs) that include planned activities, costs, risks, and assumptions. AADs for the education, energy, food security, governance and rule of law, health, and shelter sectors have been approved. The AAD process has been more comprehensive and involved than is typical for such efforts, according to USAID officials. Although USAID made progress in planning, construction of some activities was delayed for various reasons, and some activities do not yet have planned start dates. For example, the mission was delayed in awarding contracts in the shelter sector due to issues such as identifying sites for shelter and obtaining land title. The sustainability of USAID-funded infrastructure depends, in part, on improvements to the Haitian government's long-standing economic and institutional weaknesses. USAID has considered various sustainability issues and is planning institutional strengthening activities, such as management reform of the power utility, but USAID planning documents acknowledge that these reforms will be challenging and that infrastructure activities face risks. These challenges are consistent with prior GAO reports that address sustainability of U.S. infrastructure projects in other countries. To facilitate USAID's progress in planning and implementing its many post-earthquake infrastructure construction activities in Haiti over the next several years, particularly those requiring key technical staff, GAO recommends that the USAID Administrator ensure that U.S. direct-hire staff are placed at the mission within time frames that avoid future staffing gaps or delays. USAID described certain actions it is currently taking that, if continued, could address the recommendation.[Read More…]
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- Defense Logistics: Army and Marine Corps Cannot Be Assured That Equipment Reset Strategies Will Sustain Equipment Availability While Meeting Ongoing Operational RequirementsBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021Congress has appropriated billions of dollars for equipment repair, replacement, and recapitalization, collectively known as equipment reset. Because of the potential for equipment reset costs to affect the Department of Defense's (DOD) future budget requirements and related readiness concerns, GAO initiated this review under the Comptroller General's authority. GAO's objectives were to determine the extent to which the Army and Marine Corps (1) track and report equipment reset expenditures in a way that confirms that funds appropriated for reset are expended for that purpose and (2) can be assured that their reset strategies will sustain equipment availability while meeting ongoing operational requirements. GAO reviewed equipment reset policies and analyzed related budget data.Although the Army and Marine Corps track and report equipment reset expenditures in the operation and maintenance accounts in detail, they do not report detailed equipment reset expenditures within the procurement accounts in a way that confirms that funds appropriated for reset are expended for that purpose because the DOD Financial Management Regulation does not require them to specifically report procurement expenditures for reset in detail. As directed by the Conference Report accompanying DOD's appropriations act for 2007, the Army and Marine Corps report detailed reset obligations and expenditures in their operation and maintenance accounts. While the Army and Marine Corps track reset expenditures and obligations in detail within the procurement accounts, they do not report those expenditures at the same level of detail as with the operation and maintenance accounts because they are not legally required do so. Neither the Army's nor the Marine Corps' monthly Supplemental and Cost of War Execution Reports identify the types of equipment at the subactivity group level, such as aircraft or vehicles. Until the Army and Marine Corps are required to report the obligation and expenditure of funds appropriated for reset in the procurement accounts at a more detailed level, Congress will not have the visibility it needs to exercise effective oversight and to determine if the amount of funding appropriated for equipment reset has been most appropriately used for the purposes intended. The Army and Marine Corps cannot be assured that their reset strategies will sustain equipment availability for deployed units as well as units preparing for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan while meeting ongoing operational requirements because neither the Army's nor the Marine Corps' reset implementation strategies target shortages of equipment on hand and prioritize equipment needs of units preparing for deployment over longer-term modernization goals. While the Army's Force Generation implementation strategy and reset implementation guidance state that the goal of reset is to prepare units for deployment and to improve next-to-deploy units' equipment-on-hand levels, the Army's reset strategy is based on resetting equipment that it expects will be returning to the United States in a given fiscal year and not on targeting shortages of equipment for units preparing for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. Similarly, the Marine Corps' reset goal is to ensure that the Corps is equipped to perform both ongoing operations and future missions; however, over 80 percent of its reset budget is for procurement of equipment that will not be available for many months. Units can continue to report significant shortages during their training cycles that affect their ability to train. Thus, the services may be sacrificing short-term equipment needs for longer-term modernization goals. Until the services' reset strategies target shortages of equipment needed to equip units preparing for deployment and give priority to those units over longer-term needs, the Army and Marine Corps will be unable to minimize operational risk by ensuring the needs of deploying units can be met.[Read More…]
- Four Chinese Nationals Working with the Ministry of State Security Charged with Global Computer Intrusion Campaign Targeting Intellectual Property and Confidential Business Information, Including Infectious Disease ResearchBy Sam NewsJuly 19, 2021A federal grand jury in San Diego, California, returned an indictment in May charging four nationals and residents of the People’s Republic of China with a campaign to hack into the computer systems of dozens of victim companies, universities and government entities in the United States and abroad between 2011 and 2018.[Read More…]
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- Iraqi-U.S. Cost-Sharing: Iraq Has a Cumulative Budget Surplus, Offering the Potential for Further Cost-SharingBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021Since 2003, the United States has reported obligating $642 billion for U.S. military operations in Iraq and provided about $24 billion for training, equipment, and other services for Iraqi security forces. To assist Congress in overseeing efforts to encourage the Iraqi government to contribute more toward the cost of securing and stabilizing Iraq, this report provides information on (1) the amount and availability of Iraq's budget surplus or deficit, (2) the amount of Iraq's financial deposit balances, and (3) the extent to which Iraq has spent its financial resources on security costs. To conduct this audit, GAO analyzed Iraqi financial data, reviewed U.S. and Iraqi documents, and interviewed U.S. and Iraqi officials.GAO analysis of Iraqi government data showed that Iraq generated an estimated cumulative budget surplus of $52.1 billion through the end of 2009. This estimate is consistent with the method that Iraq uses to calculate its fiscal position. Adjusting for $40.3 billion in estimated outstanding advances as of September 2009 reduces the amount of available surplus funds to $11.8 billion. In April 2010, a senior Ministry of Finance official stated that advances should be deducted from the budget surplus because they are committed for future expenditures or have been paid out. According to this official and Board of Supreme Audit reports on Iraq's financial statements, advances include funds for letters of credit, advance payments on domestic contracts, and other advances. However, Iraq's Board of Supreme Audit has raised concerns that weaknesses in accounting for advances could result in the misappropriation of government funds and inaccurate reporting of expenditures. Furthermore, the composition of some of these advances is unclear; about 40 percent of the outstanding advances through 2008 are defined as "other temporary advances." Under the terms of a February 2010 International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrangement, Iraq agreed to prepare a report on its outstanding advances, which will identify those advances that are recoverable and could be used for future spending, and set a time schedule for their recovery. This Iraqi report is to be completed by September 30, 2010. Another means of assessing Iraq's fiscal position is to examine its financial deposit balances. Iraqi government data and an independent audit report show that, through the end of 2009, Iraq had accumulated between $15.3 billion and $32.2 billion in financial deposit balances held at the Central Bank of Iraq, the Development Fund for Iraq in New York, and state-owned banks in Iraq. This range reflects a discrepancy between the amount of government-sector deposits reported by the Central Bank of Iraq to the IMF and the amount that the Ministry of Finance asserts is available for government spending. In November 2009, the Ministry of Finance reclassified $16.9 billion in state-owned banks as belonging to state-owned enterprises and trusts, leaving $15.3 billion of $32.2 billion available to the Iraqi government for other spending. The IMF is seeking clarification on the amount of financial deposits that is available for government spending. Under the terms of Iraq's 2010 arrangement with the IMF, the Ministry of Finance is required to complete a review of all central government accounts and return any idle balances received from the budget to the central Iraqi Treasury by March 31, 2010. As of August 2010, according to the IMF, this review was still under way. Iraqi government data show that Iraq's security ministries--the Ministries of Defense and Interior--increased their spending from 2005 through 2009 and set aside about $5.5 billion for purchases through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program. However, over this 5-year period, these ministries did not use between $2.5 billion and $5.2 billion of their budgeted funds that could have been used to address security needs. The administration is requesting $2 billion in additional U.S. funding in its fiscal year 2011 budget request to support the training and equipping of Iraq's military and police. GAO believes that Congress should consider Iraq's available financial resources when reviewing the administration's fiscal year 2011 budget request and any future funding requests for securing and stabilizing Iraq. Also, GAO recommends that the Departments of State and the Treasury work with the Iraqi government to further identify available resources.[Read More…]
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- California Man Pleads Guilty to Scheme to Defraud Afghan Government on U.S. Funded ContractBy Sam NewsApril 28, 2021A California man pleaded guilty Tuesday for his role in a scheme to defraud the government of Afghanistan of over $100 million. These funds were provided to Afghanistan by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for the purpose of constructing an electric grid in Afghanistan, in connection with the long-standing U.S. effort to strengthen that country’s basic infrastructure.[Read More…]
- Virginia Man Sentenced for Producing Images of Child Sex AbuseBy Sam NewsJune 25, 2021A Virginia man was sentenced today in the Eastern District of Virginia to 19 years in prison for the production and distribution of child pornography.[Read More…]
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- New Jersey Man Indicted for Tax Evasion and Not Filing Tax ReturnsBy Sam NewsApril 26, 2021A federal grand jury in Newark, New Jersey, returned an indictment on April 1, 2021, charging a Springfield man with tax evasion and willful failure to file individual income tax returns.[Read More…]
- Defense Logistics: Army and Marine Corps’s Individual Body Armor System IssuesBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021Since combat operations began in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. forces have been subjected to frequent and deadly attacks from insurgents using various weapons such as improvised explosive devices (IED), mortars, rocket launchers, and increasingly lethal ballistic threats. Since 2003, to provide protection from ballistic threats, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which is responsible for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and other areas, has required service members and Department of Defense (DOD) civilians in its area of operations to be issued the Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) system. Used by all U.S. military service members and DOD civilians in the area of operations, the IBA consists of an outer tactical vest with ballistic inserts or plates that cover the front, back, and sides. As the ballistic threat has evolved, ballistic requirements have also changed. The vest currently provides protection from 9mm rounds, while the inserts provide protection against 7.62mm armor-piercing rounds. Additional protection can also be provided for the shoulder, throat, and groin areas. Concerns also regarding the level of protection and amount of IBA needed to protect U.S. forces have occurred in recent years, prompted by a number of reports, newspaper articles, and recalls of issued body armor by both the Army and the Marine Corps. In May 2005, the Marine Corps recalled body armor because it concluded that the fielded body armor failed to meet contract specifications, and in November 2005, the Army and Marine Corps recalled 14 lots of body armor that failed original ballistic testing. Additionally, in April 2005, we reported on shortages of critical force protection items, including individual body armor. Specifically, we found reasons for the shortages in body armor were due to material shortages, production limitations, and in-theater distribution problems. In the report, we did not make specific recommendations regarding body armor, but we did make several recommendations to improve the effectiveness of DOD's supply system in supporting deployed forces for contingencies. DOD agreed with the intent of the recommendations and cited actions it had or was taking to eliminate supply chain deficiencies. Congress has expressed strong interest in assuring that body armor protects ground forces. Additionally, as part of our efforts to monitor DOD's and the services' actions to protect deployed ground forces, we reviewed the Army and Marine Corps's actions to address concerns regarding body armor to determine if they had taken actions to address these concerns. Because of broad congressional interest in the adequacy of body armor for the ground forces, we prepared this report under the Comptroller General's authority to conduct evaluations on his own initiative. Our objectives for this review were to determine to what extent the Army and Marine Corps (1) are meeting the theater requirements for body armor, (2) have the controls in place to assure that the manufacturing and fielding of body armor meet requirements, and (3) are sharing information regarding their efforts on body armor ballistic requirements and testing.In this review, we found that the Army and Marine Corps have taken several actions to meet theater requirements, assure testing, and share information on body armor. We also found that contractors and non-DOD civilians receive body armor if this provision is included in a negotiated contract. Specifically, we found that the Army and Marine Corps are currently meeting theater ballistic requirements and the required amount needed for personnel in theater, including the amounts needed for the surge of troops into Iraq; have controls in place during manufacturing and after fielding to assure that body armor meets requirements; and share information regarding ballistic requirements and testing, and the development of future body armor systems, although they are not required to do so. Regarding contractors or non-DOD civilians, we found that DOD Instruction 3020.41 allows DOD to provide body armor to contractors where permitted by applicable DOD instructions and military department regulations and where specified under the terms of the contract. CENTCOM's position is that body armor will be provided to contractors if it is part of a negotiated contract.[Read More…]
- Gilead Agrees To Pay $97 Million To Resolve Alleged False Claims Act Liability For Paying KickbacksBy Sam NewsSeptember 23, 2020Pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Gilead), based in Foster City, California, has agreed to pay $97 million to resolve claims that it violated the False Claims Act by illegally using a foundation as a conduit to pay the copays of thousands of Medicare patients taking Gilead’s pulmonary arterial hypertension drug, Letairis, the Justice Department announced today.[Read More…]