September 27, 2021

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Iranian National Sentenced for Illegally Exporting Military Sensitive Items

10 min read
<div>An Iranian national was sentenced today to 63 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).</div>
An Iranian national was sentenced today to 63 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).

More from: September 14, 2021

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  • Antitrust Division and Fellow Members of the Multilateral Pharmaceutical Merger Task Force Seek Public Input
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    Two Louisiana men, former jail supervisors, were sentenced today to five years in prison and over four years in prison respectively for being deliberately indifferent to an inmate’s serious medical needs.
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    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Energy's (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is taking steps to establish a new supply of high-purity depleted uranium (DU) to modernize the nuclear weapons stockpile. DU for fabrication of weapons components must be in high-purity metal form. Producing DU metal generally involves first converting a byproduct of uranium enrichment, known as “tails,” into a salt “feedstock,” which is then converted into metal. (See figure.) To reestablish a supply of feedstock, NNSA plans to install conversion equipment in an existing facility at DOE's Portsmouth site in Ohio. DOE initially estimated costs of $12 million to $18 million to design and install the equipment, with operations beginning in fiscal year 2022. However, in March 2020, NNSA requested an increase in conversion capacity, and an updated proposal in July 2020 estimated costs of $38 million to $48 million and a slight delay to the start of operations. NNSA plans to convert the feedstock into DU metal using a commercial vendor at a cost of about $27 million annually. Conversion of a Byproduct of Uranium Enrichment into Metal NNSA is also taking steps to reestablish and modernize DU component manufacturing capabilities, but it risks delays that could affect the timelines of nuclear stockpile modernization programs, according to officials. NNSA has reestablished processes for manufacturing some DU components but not for components made with a DU-niobium alloy, a material for which NNSA has no alternative. Thus, restarting the alloying process—a complicated, resource-intensive process that has not been done in over a decade—is NNSA's top priority for DU and presents a very high risk to timely supply of components for certain nuclear stockpile modernization programs, according to NNSA documents and officials. NNSA is also developing more efficient manufacturing technologies, in part because the current alloyed component process wastes a very high percentage of the materials and NNSA cannot recycle the waste. For its DU activities, NNSA has requested an increase in funding from about $61 million in fiscal year 2020 to about $131 million in fiscal year 2021. Until recently, NNSA had not managed DU activities as a coherent program in a manner fully consistent with NNSA program management policies. Since October 2019, however, NNSA has taken actions to improve program management. For example, NNSA has consolidated management and funding sources for DU activities under a new office and DU Modernization program with the goal of better coordinating across the nuclear security enterprise. Further, NNSA appointed two dedicated Federal Program Managers to gather and organize information for required program management and planning documents. High-purity DU is an important strategic material for ongoing and planned modernizations of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile. However, according to NNSA estimates, NNSA has a very limited supply of DU feedstock, and its current supply of DU metal will be exhausted in the late 2020s. NNSA also does not have the full range of capabilities needed to manufacture DU into weapon components needed for modernizing the stockpile. GAO has previously reported that NNSA has experienced challenges in restarting some technical manufacturing processes. A Senate committee report accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 included a provision for GAO to examine NNSA's management of DU for nuclear stockpile modernization. GAO's report examines (1) the status of NNSA's efforts to obtain the necessary quantities of DU to meet stockpile modernization requirements; (2) the status of NNSA efforts to develop DU component manufacturing capabilities to meet stockpile modernization requirements; and (3) the extent to which NNSA is managing DU activities as a program, consistent with agency policy. GAO reviewed relevant agency documents; interviewed NNSA officials and contractor representatives; and conducted site visits at headquarters and at research, development, and production locations. For more information, contact Allison Bawden at (202) 512-3841 or bawdena@gao.gov.
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  • DOD Acquisition Outcomes: A Case for Change
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (DOD) is shepherding a portfolio of major weapon systems valued at about $1.3 trillion. How DOD is managing this investment has been a matter of concern for some time. Since 1990, GAO has designated DOD's weapon system acquisitions as a high-risk area for fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement. DOD has experienced cost overruns, missed deadlines, performance shortfalls, and persistent management problems. In light of the serious budget pressures facing the nation, such problems are especially troubling. GAO has issued hundreds of reports addressing broad-based issues, such as best practices, as well as reports focusing on individual acquisitions. These reports have included many recommendations. Congress asked GAO to testify on possible problems with and improvements to defense acquisition policy. In doing so, we highlight the risks of conducting business as usual and identify some of the solutions we have found in successful acquisition programs and organizations.DOD is facing a cascading number of problems in managing its acquisitions. Cost increases incurred while developing new weapon systems mean DOD cannot produce as many of those weapons as intended nor can it be relied on to deliver to the warfighter when promised. Military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq are consuming a large share of DOD resources and causing the department to invest more money sooner than expected to replace or fix existing weapons. Meanwhile, DOD is intent on transforming military operations and has its eye on multiple megasystems that are expected to be the most expensive and complex ever. These costly conditions are running head-on into the nation's unsustainable fiscal path. DOD knows what to do to achieve more successful outcomes but finds it difficult to apply the necessary discipline and controls or assign much-needed accountability. DOD has written into policy an approach that emphasizes attaining a certain level of knowledge at critical junctures before managers agree to invest more money in the next phase of weapon system development. This knowledge-based approach results in evolutionary--that is, incremental, manageable, predictable--development and inserts several controls to help managers gauge progress in meeting cost, schedule, and performance goals. But DOD is not employing the knowledge-based approach, discipline is lacking, and business cases are weak. Persistent practices show a decided lack of restraint. DOD's requirements process generates more demand for new programs than fiscal resources can support. DOD compounds the problem by approving so many highly complex and interdependent programs. Once too many programs are approved to start, the budgeting process exacerbates problems. Because programs are funded annually and departmentwide, cross-portfolio priorities have not been established, competition for funding continues over time, forcing programs to view success as the ability to secure the next funding increment rather than delivering capabilities when and as promised. Improving this condition requires discipline in the requirements and budgetary processes. Determining who should be held accountable for deviations and what penalties are needed is crucial. If DOD cannot discipline itself now to execute programs within fiscal realities, then draconian, budget-driven decisions may have to be made later.
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    In U.S GAO News
    The Navy's four shipyards completed 38 of 51 (75 percent) maintenance periods late for aircraft carriers and submarines with planned completion dates in fiscal years 2015 through 2019, for a combined total of 7,424 days of maintenance delay. For each maintenance period completed late, the shipyards averaged 113 days late for aircraft carriers and 225 days late for submarines. Maintenance Delays at Navy Shipyards for Fiscal Years 2015 through 2019 Unplanned work and workforce factors—such as shipyard workforce performance and capacity (having enough people to perform the work)—were the main factors GAO identified as causing maintenance delays for aircraft carriers and submarines. The Navy frequently cited both factors as contributing to the same days of maintenance delay. Unplanned work—work identified after finalizing maintenance plans—contributed to more than 4,100 days of maintenance delays. Unplanned work also contributed to the Navy's 36 percent underestimation of the personnel resources necessary to perform maintenance. The workforce factor contributed to more than 4,000 days of maintenance delay on aircraft carriers and submarines during fiscal years 2015 through 2019. The Navy has taken steps but has not fully addressed the unplanned work and workforce factors causing the most maintenance delays. First, the Navy updated planning documents to improve estimates and plans to annually update these data, but knowing whether changes improve results may take several years. Second, the Navy has consistently relied on high levels of overtime to carry out planned work. GAO's analysis found that high overtime among certain production shops, such as painting or welding, averaged from 25 to 32 percent for fiscal years 2015 through 2019, with peak overtime as high as 45 percent. Furthermore, shipyard officials told us that production shops at all four shipyards are working beyond their capacity. Overtime at such rates has been noted as resulting in diminished productivity. Third, the Navy initiated the Shipyard Performance to Plan initiative in the fall of 2018 to address the unplanned work and workforce factors, but it has not yet developed 13 of 25 planned metrics that could improve the Navy's understanding of the causes of maintenance delays. In addition, the Shipyard Performance to Plan initiative does not include goals, milestones, and a monitoring process along with fully developed metrics to address unplanned work and workforce weaknesses. Without fully developing metrics and implementing goals, action plans, milestones, and a monitoring process, the shipyards are not likely to address unplanned work and workforce weaknesses and the Navy is likely to continue facing maintenance delays and reduced time for training and operations with its aircraft carriers and submarines. For fiscal years 2015 through 2019, the Navy spent $2.8 billion in capital investments to address shipyard performance, among other things. However, the shipyards continue to face persistent and substantial maintenance delays that hinder the readiness of aircraft carriers and submarines. The Senate Armed Services Committee, in a report accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, included a provision for GAO to review Navy shipyards' performance. GAO evaluated the extent to which the Navy (1) completed maintenance at its shipyards on time on aircraft carriers and submarines in fiscal years 2015 through 2019, (2) has identified the main factors leading to maintenance delays, and (3) has addressed the main factors affecting any delays in that maintenance. GAO reviewed data related to Navy shipyard maintenance for fiscal years 2015 through 2019, analyzed factors contributing to delays and plans to address them, visited all four Navy shipyards, and met with Navy and shipyard officials. GAO is making three recommendations to the Navy, including updating workforce planning requirements to avoid the consistent use of overtime; completing the development of shipyard performance metrics; and developing and implementing goals, action plans, milestones, and monitoring results. The Navy concurred with all three recommendations. For more information, contact Diana Maurer, (202) 512-9627, MaurerD@gao.gov, or Asif A. Khan, (202) 512-9869, KhanA@gao.gov. 
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    In Crime News
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    In Crime News
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    In Crime News
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    In Crime News
    An Ecuadorian businessman living in Miami was sentenced today to 35 months in prison for his role in a $4.4 million bribery and money laundering scheme that funneled bribes to then-public officials of Empresa Pública de Hidrocarburos del Ecuador (PetroEcuador), the state-owned and state-controlled oil company of Ecuador.
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