Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
The United States remains committed to combatting al-Qa’ida and other terrorist groups around the world, including by countering their financing. Today, the United States imposed sanctions against five al-Qa’ida supporters operating in Turkey who provided financial and logistical support to the group. These designations are being taken pursuant to Executive Order 13224, as amended.
The United States will continue to work closely with our partners and allies, including Turkey, in identifying, exposing, and disrupting al-Qa’ida’s financial support networks. We will keep a vigilant eye on these networks to deter them from abusing the international financial system to generate revenues for terrorist operations.
The United States will never forget the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks and al-Qa’ida’s other plots around the world. We will continue to target those who seek to inflict harm on the United States, our citizens, and our interests.
For more information on today’s action, please see the Department of the Treasury’s press release.
- Federal Budget: A Few Agencies and Program-Specific Factors Explain Most Unused FundsBy Sam NewsMay 26, 2021What GAO Found About 1.6 percent of the total available budget authority government-wide was cancelled from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2019, averaging $23.9 billion per year. The variations in cancelled appropriations from year to year can be explained largely by trends in four departments. Together they represent 86 percent of the total government-wide cancelled appropriations, but their rate of cancellations were within a few percentage points of the government-wide rate. Four Agencies Represent the Majority of Total Cancellations from FY2009–FY2019 Cancelled appropriations for the six case study accounts GAO reviewed largely resulted from program-specific factors: Actual program needs were less than estimated. For example, actual versus projected troop levels and warfront movements can contribute to cancelled appropriations at the Department of Defense (DOD). Some program funds are only for specific purposes. For example, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families officials reported that some states declined funding for a teen sex and pregnancy prevention program, and the agency did not have the authority to redirect those funds for other purposes. Some programs' costs are more unpredictable than others. Contract and acquisition costs can be unpredictable . When final costs are less than originally estimated, agencies may have to cancel the difference. In contrast, agencies with a higher proportion of personnel expenses, which are relatively predictable, can more easily avoid cancelled appropriations. All of GAO's case study agencies have procedures in place to help limit discretionary cancelled appropriations. For example, the Army established a program that helps reduce cancelled appropriations by providing management with metrics and tools to help prevent them. Why GAO Did This Study Laws limit the time that agencies have available to use fixed-term appropriations for obligations and expenditures. However, agencies do not always obligate and outlay these funds in time, which ultimately results in cancelled appropriations. Efforts to limit the amount of cancelled appropriations result in more accurate budget estimation and fiscal projections, a more efficient appropriations process, and better service to the public. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 includes a provision for GAO to review the status of cancelled appropriations. This report addresses (1) the extent of appropriations that were cancelled in fiscal years 2009 through 2019 and how the rate of cancelled appropriations and other characteristics differ across agencies, (2) factors that contribute to the level of cancelled appropriations in selected accounts at agencies, and (3) efforts selected agencies make to prevent the cancellation of funds. To provide government-wide trends, GAO analyzed Department of the Treasury and Office of Management and Budget data. GAO also analyzed related documents from six case study accounts at DOD, HHS, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and interviewed officials at these agencies. The selected accounts included the three with the most cancelled appropriations government-wide and three additional accounts to represent the major categories of federal spending: personnel, acquisitions, grants, and contracts. For more information, contact Jeff Arkin at (202) 512-6806 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Former Florida Department of Corrections Officer Sentenced for Civil Rights Conspiracy to Assault Youthful OffendersBy Sam NewsSeptember 9, 2021Former Florida Department of Corrections Officer Terrance Reynolds, 31, was sentenced yesterday to 33 months in prison and two years of supervised release. Reynolds was convicted following a fourteen-day trial for conspiring to assault youthful offender inmates at the South Florida Reception Center, a prison located in Doral, Florida. A second former officer previously pleaded guilty in this case and was sentenced in federal court.[Read More…]
- Financial Fraud in the United States, 2017By Sam NewsIn Justice NewsMay 2, 2021(Publication)
This report details the prevalence of seven types of personal financial fraud victimization and the patterns of reporting fraud to police and other authorities.
4/15/2021, NCJ 255817, Rachel E. Morgan [Read More…]
- Puerto Rico CPA Indicted and Arrested on Wire Fraud Charges in Relation to Act 20 and Act 22 SchemeBy Sam NewsOctober 23, 2020On Oct. 14, 2020, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment charging Gabriel F. Hernández, with ten counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1343, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney, District of Puerto Rico, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, and Tyler R. Hatcher, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami Field Office. The indictment was unsealed this week after the arrest of the defendant by federal law enforcement officers from IRS-CI.[Read More…]
- Defense Infrastructure: Overseas Master Plans Are Improving, but DOD Needs to Provide Congress Additional Information about the Military Buildup on GuamBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021Over the next several years, implementation of the Department of Defense's (DOD) Integrated Global Presence and Basing Strategy will result in the realignment of U.S. forces and the construction of new facilities costing billions of dollars at installations overseas. The Senate and House reports accompanying the fiscal year 2004 military construction appropriation bill directed GAO to monitor DOD's overseas master plans and to provide congressional defense committees with assessments each year. The Senate report accompanying the fiscal year 2007 military construction appropriation bill directed GAO to review DOD's master planning effort for Guam as part of these annual reviews. This report, first, examines how the overseas plans have changed and the extent to which they address the challenges faced by DOD and, second, assesses the status of DOD's planning effort and the challenges associated with the buildup of military forces and infrastructure on Guam.The fiscal year 2008 overseas master plans, which provide infrastructure requirements at U.S. military facilities in each of the overseas regional commands' area of responsibility, have been updated to reflect U.S. overseas defense basing strategies and requirements as well as GAO's prior recommendations for improving the plans. The plans also address DOD's challenges to a greater extent than they did in previous years. However, two areas continue to be of concern. First, the master plans do not address the issue of residual value--that is, the value of property being turned over to the host nation based on its reuse of property. Although DOD officials believe that residual value cannot be readily predicted and therefore should not be in the master plans, compensation received for U.S capital improvements at installations returned to host nations could affect U.S. funding requirements for overseas construction. Second, the master plan for PACOM, which provides details on the command's training limitations in Japan and several other challenges, does not provide details regarding training limitations for the Air Force in South Korea, which could cause the United States to pursue alternatives, such as training in other locations, downsizing, or relocating that could affect overseas basing plans. Without addressing the residual value issue and providing details on these training challenges, DOD cannot provide Congress a comprehensive view enabling it to make informed decisions regarding funding. GAO has previously recommended that overseas regional commands address residual value issues and that PACOM explain how it plans to address existing training limitations. Because these recommendations have not been fully addressed, GAO considers them to be open and believes that they still have merit. DOD's planning effort for the buildup of military forces and infrastructure on Guam is in its initial stages, with many key decisions and challenges yet to be addressed. Among the challenges to be addressed is completing the required environmental impact statement, initiated in March 2007. According to DOD officials, this statement and associated record of decision could take up to 3 years to complete and will affect many of the key decisions on the exact location, size, and makeup of the military infrastructure development--decisions needed to develop a master plan for the military buildup on Guam. DOD and the services are still determining the exact size and makeup of the forces to be moved to Guam, needed in order to identify the housing, operational, quality of life, and services support infrastructure required for the Marine Corps realignment and the other services' buildup. DOD officials said that additional time is needed to fully address other challenges associated with the Guam military buildup, including funding requirements, operational requirements, and community impact. Until the environmental assessment and initial planning efforts are completed, Congress will need to be kept abreast of developments and challenges affecting infrastructure and funding decisions to make appropriate funding and oversight decisions.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Attorney General Merrick Garland, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, Mexican Security Secretary Rosa Icela Rodriguez, and Mexican Interior Secretary Adan Augusto Lopez Hernandez Remarks Before the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Security DialogueBy Sam NewsOctober 8, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- SAP Admits to Thousands of Illegal Exports of its Software Products to Iran and Enters into Non-Prosecution Agreement with DOJBy Sam NewsApril 29, 2021Software company, SAP SE, headquartered in Walldorf, Germany, has agreed to pay combined penalties of more than $8 million as part of a global resolution with the U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ), Commerce and Treasury.[Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with African Union Commission Chairperson FakiBy Sam NewsJanuary 29, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
- Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsIn TravelSeptember 26, 2020Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
- Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program: Additional Actions Needed to Improve Communication with Applicants and Address Fraud RisksBy Sam NewsJuly 31, 2021What GAO Found Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) applicants and recipients varied in terms of business size, years in operation, and industry, based on GAO's analysis of Small Business Administration (SBA) data from March 2020 through February 2021: Business size. A majority of EIDL applicants (about 81 percent) and EIDL recipients (about 86 percent) were smaller businesses (10 or fewer employees). Years in operation. A majority of EIDL applicants (about 63 percent) had been in operation for less than 5 years. However, businesses in operation for more than 5 years received the majority of total EIDL loan dollars and had higher approval rates compared to newer businesses. Industry. Businesses in the personal services and transportation industries made up the largest share of applicants, while those in the legal services and lodging industries were approved for loans at the highest rates (see figure). Top Loan Applicants and Approval Rates by Business Industry In addition, small businesses in counties with higher median household income, better internet access, and more diverse populations generally received more loans per 1,000 businesses and larger loans. EIDL applicants have faced a number of challenges, according to applicants and other business stakeholders GAO interviewed between August 2020 and February 2021. For example, applicants from five discussion groups and several stakeholders cited lack of information and uncertainty about application status as major concerns. In addition, until February 2021, SBA did not provide important information to potential applicants, such as limits on loan amounts and definitions of certain program terms. Lack of important program information and application status put pressure on SBA's resources and negatively affected applicants' experience. For example, SBA's customer service line experienced call surges that resulted in long wait times, and SBA's data showed that 5.3 million applications were duplicates. SBA's planning documents describe in general terms the public outreach to be conducted following disasters, but they do not detail the type or timing of the information to be provided. Developing and implementing a comprehensive communication strategy that includes these details could improve the quality, clarity, and timeliness of information SBA provides to its applicants and resource partners following catastrophic disasters. GAO's ongoing review of the EIDL program related to COVID-19 has found that the program is susceptible to providing funding to ineligible and fraudulent applicants. For example, as GAO reported in January 2021, SBA had approved at least 3,000 loans totaling about $156 million to businesses that SBA policies state were ineligible for the EIDL program, such as real estate developers and multilevel marketers, as of September 30, 2020. In addition, GAO found that between May and October 2020, over 900 U.S. financial institutions filed more than 20,000 suspicious activity reports related to the EIDL program with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Further, GAO's analysis of 51 Department of Justice cases involving fraud charges for EIDL loans as of March 2021 found that these cases involved identity theft, false attestation, fictitious or inflated employee counts, and misuse of proceeds. Over the course of its COVID-19 response, SBA has made some changes to address these risks. For example, beginning in June 2020, SBA took actions to improve loan officers' ability to withhold funding for applicants suspected of fraud. However, SBA has not yet implemented recommendations GAO has previously made to address EIDL program risks. In January 2021, GAO recommended that SBA conduct data analytics across the EIDL portfolio to detect potentially ineligible and fraudulent applications (GAO-21-265). SBA did not agree or disagree with this recommendation. However, in May 2021, SBA officials stated the agency was in the process of developing analysis to apply certain fraud indicators to all application data. In March 2021, GAO recommended that SBA (1) implement a comprehensive oversight plan to identify and respond to risks in the EIDL program, (2) conduct and document a fraud risk assessment, and (3) develop a strategy to address the program’s assessed fraud risks on a continuous basis (GAO-21-387). SBA agreed with all three recommendations. In May 2021, SBA officials stated that the agency had started to assess fraud risk for the program. Fully implementing these recommendations would help SBA to safeguard billions of dollars of taxpayer funds and improve the operation of the EIDL program. Why GAO Did This Study Between March 2020 and February 2021, SBA provided about 3.8 million low-interest EIDL loans and 5.8 million grants (called advances) totaling $224 billion to help small businesses adversely affected by COVID-19. Borrowers can use these low-interest loans and advances to pay for operating and other expenses. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to monitor funds provided for the COVID-19 pandemic. This report examines, among other objectives, the characteristics of program applicants and recipients; the challenges EIDL applicants experienced and the extent to which SBA has addressed them; and the steps SBA has taken to address risks of fraud and provision of funds to ineligible applicants. GAO reviewed documents from SBA, an EIDL contractor, and two of its subcontractors. In addition, GAO analyzed loan application data, conducted five discussion groups with applicants, and interviewed staff from SBA, six Small Business Development Centers, and six business associations. GAO also analyzed socioeconomic, demographic, and geographic data on EIDL program participants.[Read More…]
- Joint Statement of the United States and Germany on Support for Ukraine, European Energy Security, and our Climate GoalsBy Sam NewsJuly 21, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
- Medicaid Long-Term Services and Supports: Access and Quality Problems in Managed Care Demand Improved OversightBy Sam NewsDecember 16, 2020At the state and federal levels, GAO found weaknesses in the oversight of Medicaid managed long-term services and supports (MLTSS), which assist individuals with basic needs like bathing or eating. Through various monitoring approaches, six selected states identified significant problems in their MLTSS programs with managed care organization (MCO) performance of care management, which includes assessing beneficiary needs, authorizing services, and monitoring service provision to ensure quality and access to care. State efforts may not be identifying all care management problems due to limitations in the information they use to monitor MCOs, allowing some performance problems to continue over multiple years. Performance Problems in Managed Care Organization (MCO) Care Management, Identified by Selected States GAO found that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) oversight of state implementation of its 2016 requirements, and of access and quality in MLTSS more broadly, was limited. This hinders the agency's ability to hold states and MCOs accountable for quality and access problems beneficiaries may face. Oversight did not detect quality and access problems. GAO identified cases where CMS learned about problems not through its regular oversight, but instead from beneficiary complaints, media reports, or GAO. CMS officials said that states had not reported these problems to the agency. Lack of national oversight strategy and assessment of problems in MLTSS. Weaknesses in oversight reflect a broader area of concern—namely, that CMS lacks a strategy for oversight. CMS also has not assessed the nature and extent of access and quality problems across states. Without a strategy and more robust information, CMS risks being unable to identify and help address problems facing beneficiaries. As of July 2020, CMS had convened a new workgroup focused on MLTSS oversight, though the goals and time frames for its work were unclear. An increasing number of states are using managed care to deliver long-term services and supports in their Medicaid programs, thus delegating decisions around the amounts and types of care beneficiaries receive to MCOs. Federal guidance requires that MLTSS programs include monitoring procedures to ensure the appropriateness of those decisions for this complex population, which includes adults and children who may have physical, cognitive, and mental disabilities. GAO was asked to review care management in MLTSS programs. Among other things, this report examines state monitoring of care management, and CMS oversight of state implementation of 2016 requirements related to MLTSS quality and access. GAO examined documentation of monitoring procedures and problems identified in six states selected for variation in program age and location. GAO reviewed federal regulations and oversight documents, interviewed state and federal Medicaid officials, and assessed CMS's policies and procedures against federal internal control standards. GAO is making two recommendations to CMS to (1) develop a national strategy for overseeing MLTSS, and (2) assess the nature and prevalence of MLTSS quality and access problems across states. CMS did not concur with the recommendations. GAO maintains the recommendations are warranted, as discussed in this report. For more information, contact at (202) 512-7114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Settles With Texas Based Furniture and Appliances Chain for Charging Servicemembers Excess InterestBy Sam NewsSeptember 15, 2020The Justice Department reached an agreement today with Conn Credit I, LP, Conn Appliances, Inc., and Conn’s, Inc. (“Conn’s”), to resolve allegations that they violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”) by charging at least 184 servicemembers excess interest on their purchases.[Read More…]
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- Department Press Briefing – May 4, 2021By Sam NewsMay 6, 2021Jalina Porter, Principal [Read More…]
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- Harvard University Professor Charged with Tax OffensesBy Sam NewsJuly 28, 2020The former Chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department was charged today in a superseding indictment with tax offenses for failing to report income he received from Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) in Wuhan, China.[Read More…]
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- Supplemental Security Income: SSA Faces Ongoing Challenges with Work Incentives and Improper PaymentsBy Sam NewsSeptember 21, 2021What GAO Found The Social Security Administration (SSA) has undertaken several efforts to encourage employment for individuals with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and who would like to work, but few benefit from these supports. Work incentives and supports for transition-age youth. SSA administers work incentives and other employment supports for transition-age youth (ages 14 to 17) on SSI. These supports encourage work by allowing these youth to keep at least some of their benefits even if they have earnings. In 2017, GAO analysis of SSA data from 2012 to 2015 found that less than 1.5 percent of SSI youth benefitted from these incentives. According to SSA and other officials, this may be because SSI youth and their families are often unaware of or do not understand the incentives, and may fear that work will negatively affect their benefits or eligibility. Work incentives for working-age adults. The Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program (Ticket) is a voluntary program that was established to assist individuals with disabilities in obtaining and retaining employment, and help reduce dependency on benefits. Preliminary GAO analysis of Ticket indicates that SSI recipients participated more often than other disability beneficiaries, and benefited modestly from the program. GAO analysis of SSA data from 2002 to 2015 found, 5 years after participating in Ticket, about 4 percent of SSI participants had left the disability rolls due to earnings from work, compared with 2 percent of nonparticipants who were similar in characteristics such as age, disability type, and education. However, earnings for SSI Ticket participants remained low. GAO's analysis of data from 2002 to 2018 shows that average earnings for SSI Ticket participants, 5 years after participating, were $3,940 per year, including 57 percent who did not report any earnings at all. GAO's preliminary work also indicates that Ticket participants face a number of challenges to returning to work, including their primary disabling condition, which may not improve sufficiently to allow for fulltime employment, and disincentives to work such as the loss of cash and medical benefits. Prior and ongoing GAO work has identified issues with SSA's efforts to reduce improper payments, including overpayments, to SSI beneficiaries in general and beneficiaries who are working in particular. Overpayments can occur when beneficiaries who work do not timely report earnings to SSA or SSA delays in adjusting their benefit amounts. SSA reported that SSI's overpayment rate in fiscal year 2019 was estimated at 8.13 percent, higher than other SSA programs. Further, SSA reported it made approximately $4.6 billion in SSI overpayments in fiscal year 2019. Overpayments may have to be repaid, which may be burdensome for recipients, especially those who were not aware that they were overpaid and already spent the money. While SSA has taken steps to reduce overpayments, SSA's Office of Inspector General found that SSA had not resolved lags in updating information on beneficiaries' earnings. In addition, SSA has not implemented a 2020 GAO priority recommendation that it develop and implement a process to measure the effectiveness of its corrective actions for improper payments, including overpayments. Why GAO Did This Study SSI is a federal assistance program administered by SSA that provides cash benefits to certain individuals who are elderly, blind, or have a disability. SSI acts as a safety net for individuals who have limited resources and little or no other income. As such, SSI is a means-tested program. As of July 2021, approximately 71 percent of SSI beneficiaries were children or working-age individuals with disabilities. SSA faces longstanding challenges related to administering SSI and its other disability programs. GAO has issued multiple reports with recommendations on how SSA might address these challenges. This testimony describes SSA's challenges with (1) incentivizing employment for SSI recipients who wish to work, and (2) preventing improper payments to SSI recipients, including overpayments. This statement is based primarily on prior GAO reports issued between 2010 and 2021, as well as preliminary observations from an ongoing GAO review of the Ticket program. To conduct the work for these reports and the ongoing review, GAO used a variety of methods including analyzing data; reviewing relevant federal laws, regulations, and guidance; reviewing key agency documents, such as SSA's strategic plan and annual SSI stewardship reports; and interviewing experts and SSA officials. For more information, contact Elizabeth H. Curda at (202) 512-7215 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Sues to Block Unprecedented Domestic Alliance Between American Airlines and JetBlueBy Sam NewsSeptember 21, 2021The U.S. Department of Justice, together with Attorneys General in six states and the District of Columbia, sued today in the District of Massachusetts to block an unprecedented series of agreements between American Airlines and JetBlue through which the two airlines will consolidate their operations in Boston and New York City. The civil antitrust complaint alleges that this extensive combination, which they call the “Northeast Alliance,” will not only eliminate important competition in these cities, but will also harm air travelers across the country by significantly diminishing JetBlue’s incentive to compete with American elsewhere, further consolidating an already highly concentrated industry.[Read More…]