Citing the latest act of violence this year, in which a judge’s family and officers at two federal courthouses have come under attack, the Judiciary has stepped up its call to congressional leaders for a series of safety measures “to protect the safety of the public at our nation’s courthouses.”
A letter from James C. Duff, secretary of the Judicial Conference of the United States, cited a Sept. 15 non-fatal shooting of a court security officer outside the federal courthouse in Phoenix, Arizona. On July 19, a gunman attacked the New Jersey home of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, killing her son and gravely wounding her husband. On May 29, a Federal Protective Service officer was fatally shot outside a federal courthouse in Oakland, California.
“This pattern of violence against the Judiciary, at home and at work, underscores the imperative for immediate congressional action to address the critical security needs of federal judges and Judiciary employees across the country,” Duff wrote.
The Sept. 21 letter was sent to Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader; Charles “Chuck” Schumer, Senate minority leader; Steny Hoyer, House majority leader; and Kevin McCarthy, House minority leader.
In two letters sent Sept. 4, Duff and Judge David W. McKeague, chair of the Judicial Conference’s Committee on Judicial Security, urged Congress to approve and fund safety measures to prevent violence targeting judges and federal courthouses.
A letter to the House and Senate appropriations committees requested funding totaling $524 million for the U.S. Marshals Service to install modern home intrusion detection systems in judges’ homes and to hire 1,000 additional deputy U.S. marshals; and for the Federal Protective Service to upgrade exterior security cameras at court facilities nationwide.
The Judiciary committees were asked to support a law restricting the dissemination of personally identifiable information that can reveal where judges live and providing permanent authority for judges to redact certain personal information from financial disclosure reports.
The Judiciary also is developing a proposal to monitor the internet for personal information and online threats that could expose judges and their families to danger.
Congress appropriated money to bolster home security for federal judges in 2005, after U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow found her husband and elderly mother murdered in their Chicago home. Home intrusion alarms purchased for federal judges at that time are now outdated, the Judiciary has informed Congress. Similarly, cameras operated by the Federal Protective Service are not adequate to monitor threats outside courthouses.
Since 1979, four federal judges and three family members have been murdered in attacks apparently targeting judges. The number of identified threats and inappropriate communications directed at judges has risen from 926 in fiscal year 2015 to 4,449 in fiscal year 2019, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
“We implore Congress to act swiftly on these requests,” Duff wrote in his Sept. 21 letter, adding that the Judiciary “is prepared to work with the Congress, Executive Branch, and any other party to preserve, protect, and defend the Third Branch.”
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Vaccine Platform Technologies Supported by Operation Warp Speed, as of January 2021 As of January 30, 2021, five of the six OWS vaccine candidates have entered phase 3 clinical trials, two of which—Moderna's and Pfizer/BioNTech's vaccines—have received an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For vaccines that received EUA, additional data on vaccine effectiveness will be generated from further follow-up of participants in clinical trials already underway before the EUA was issued. Technology readiness. GAO's analysis of the OWS vaccine candidates' technology readiness levels (TRL)—an indicator of technology maturity— showed that COVID-19 vaccine development under OWS generally followed traditional practices, with some adaptations. FDA issued specific guidance that identified ways that vaccine development may be accelerated during the pandemic. Vaccine companies told GAO that the primary difference from a non-pandemic environment was the compressed timelines. To meet OWS timelines, some vaccine companies relied on data from other vaccines using the same platforms, where available, or conducted certain animal studies at the same time as clinical trials. However, as is done in a non-pandemic environment, all vaccine companies gathered initial safety and antibody response data with a small number of participants before proceeding into large-scale human studies (e.g., phase 3 clinical trials). The two EUAs issued in December 2020 were based on analyses of clinical trial participants and showed about 95 percent efficacy for each vaccine. These analyses included assessments of efficacy after individuals were given two doses of vaccine and after they were monitored for about 2 months for adverse events. Manufacturing. As of January 2021, five of the six OWS vaccine companies had started commercial scale manufacturing. OWS officials reported that as of January 31, 2021, companies had released 63.7 million doses—about 32 percent of the 200 million doses that, according to OWS, companies with EUAs have been contracted to provide by March 31, 2021. Vaccine companies face a number of challenges in scaling up manufacturing to produce hundreds of millions of doses under OWS's accelerated timelines. DOD and HHS are working with vaccine companies to help mitigate manufacturing challenges, including: Limited manufacturing capacity: A shortage of facilities with capacity to handle the vaccine manufacturing needs can lead to production bottlenecks. Vaccine companies are working in partnership with OWS to expand production capacity. For example, one vaccine company told GAO that HHS's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority helped them identify an additional manufacturing partner to increase production. Additionally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing construction projects to expand capacity at vaccine manufacturing facilities. Disruptions to manufacturing supply chains: Vaccine manufacturing supply chains have been strained by the global demand for certain goods and workforce disruptions caused by the global pandemic. For example, representatives from one facility manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines stated that they experienced challenges obtaining materials, including reagents and certain chemicals. They also said that due to global demand, they waited 4 to 12 weeks for items that before the pandemic were typically available for shipment within one week. Vaccine companies and DOD and HHS officials told GAO they have undertaken several efforts to address possible manufacturing disruptions and mitigate supply chain challenges. These efforts include federal assistance to (1) expedite procurement and delivery of critical manufacturing equipment, (2) develop a list of critical supplies that are common across the six OWS vaccine candidates, and (3) expedite the delivery of necessary equipment and goods coming into the United States. Additionally, DOD and HHS officials said that as of December 2020 they had placed prioritized ratings on 18 supply contracts for vaccine companies under the Defense Production Act, which allows federal agencies with delegated authority to require contractors to prioritize those contracts for supplies needed for vaccine production. Gaps in the available workforce: Hiring and training personnel with the specialized skills needed to run vaccine manufacturing processes can be challenging. OWS officials stated that they have worked with the Department of State to expedite visa approval for key technical personnel, including technicians and engineers to assist with installing, testing, and certifying critical equipment manufactured overseas. OWS officials also stated that they requested that 16 DOD personnel be detailed to serve as quality control staff at two vaccine manufacturing sites until the organizations can hire the required personnel. As of February 5, 2021, the U.S. had over 26 million cumulative reported cases of COVID-19 and about 449,020 reported deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The country also continues to experience serious economic repercussions, with the unemployment rate and number of unemployed in January 2021 at nearly twice their pre-pandemic levels in February 2020. 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GAO also collected and reviewed supporting documentation on vaccine development and conducted interviews with representatives from each of the companies on vaccine development and manufacturing. For more information, contact Karen L. Howard and Candice N. Wright at (202) 512-6888 or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
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- Technology Assessment Design HandbookBy Sam NewsFebruary 18, 2021The Technology Assessment (TA) Design Handbook identifies tools and approaches GAO staff and others can consider in the design of robust and rigorous technology assessments. The handbook underscores the importance of TA design (Chapter 1), outlines the process of designing TAs (Chapter 2), and describes approaches for mitigating select TA design and implementation challenges (Chapter 3). While the primary audience of this handbook is GAO staff, other organizations may also find portions of this handbook useful as they consider or conduct TAs. This is an update to the handbook published in December 2019, based on the experiences of GAO teams and a review of relevant literature and comments submitted by external experts and the public between December 2019 and December 2020. The handbook identifies three general design stages, as shown in the figure below. The handbook also highlights seven cross-cutting considerations for designing TAs: the iterative nature of TA design, congressional and policymakers' interests, resources, independence, engaging internal and external stakeholders, potential challenges, and communication strategy. In addition, the handbook provides a high-level process for developing policy options, as a tool for analyzing and articulating a range of possible actions a policymaker could consider that may enhance the benefits or mitigate the challenges of a technology. Steps in developing policy options include, as applicable: determining the potential policy objective; gathering evidence; identifying possible policy options and the relevant dimensions along which to analyze them; analyzing policy options; and presenting the results of the analysis. Summary of Key Stages of Technology Assessment Design We found that GAO TAs can use a variety of design approaches and methods. The handbook includes TA design and methodology examples, along with example objectives commonly found in GAO TAs, such as: describe a technology, assess opportunities and challenges of a technology, and assess policy implications or options. For example, some GAO TAs include an objective related to describing the status and feasibility of a technology, which GAO teams have addressed by using methodologies such as expert panels, interviews, literature and document reviews, site visits, and determining the technology readiness level. Also included in the handbook are examples of TA design and implementation challenges, along with possible mitigation strategies. We identified four general categories of challenges: (1) ensuring that the design and implementation of TAs result in useful products for Congress and other policymakers; (2) determining the policy objective and measuring potential effects; (3) researching and communicating complicated issues; and (4) engaging relevant stakeholders. For example, allowing sufficient time for writing, review, and any needed revisions is one potential mitigation strategy that could help teams write simply and clearly about technical subjects and ensure that the design and implementation of TAs result in useful products for Congress and other policymakers. In 2019, GAO created the Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics team to expand its work on cutting-edge science and technology issues, and to provide oversight, insight, and foresight for science and technology. TAs can be used to strengthen decision-making, enhance knowledge and awareness, and provide early insights into the potential effects of technology. Systematically designing a TA can enhance its quality, credibility, and usefulness; ensure independence of the analysis; and ensure effective use of resources. Under Comptroller General Authority, we developed this handbook by generally following the format of the 2012 GAO methodology transfer paper, Designing Evaluations. Below is a summary of the approach we used to affirm and document TA design steps and considerations for this handbook. Reviewed select GAO documents, including Designing Evaluations (GAO-12-208G), published GAO TAs, select GAO products using policy analysis approaches to present policy options, and other GAO reports Reviewed select Office of Technology Assessment reports Reviewed select Congressional Research Service reports Reviewed select English-language literature regarding TAs and related to development and analysis of policy options Consulted with external experts and performed outreach, including holding an expert meeting to gather input on TA design, soliciting comments from external experts who contributed to GAO TAs published since 2015, and soliciting comments from the public Reviewed experiences of GAO teams that have successfully assessed and incorporated policy options into GAO products and TA design, including challenges to TA design and implementation and possible solutions GAO is not making any recommendations. For more information, contact Timothy M. Persons or Karen L. 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- North Carolina Man Sentenced to 78 Months for Money Laundering and Filing False Tax Return in Tobacco Smuggling SchemeBy Sam NewsMay 20, 2021A North Carolina man was sentenced today to 78 months in prison for conspiring to commit money laundering and filing a false tax return.[Read More…]
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- Two Louisiana Return Preparers Plead Guilty to Tax Fraud ConspiracyBy Sam NewsFebruary 10, 2021Two Louisiana tax preparers pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to defraud the United States, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser for the Eastern District of Louisiana.[Read More…]
- Largest U.S. Seizure of Iranian Fuel from Four TankersBy Sam NewsAugust 14, 2020The Justice Department today announced the successful disruption of a multimillion dollar fuel shipment by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization that was bound for Venezuela. These actions represent the government’s largest-ever seizure of fuel shipments from Iran.[Read More…]
- Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Greg Kelly of Greg Kelly Reports on Newsmax TVBy Sam NewsOctober 10, 2020
- Remarks at the Keynote Session of B20 2021 Inception MeetingBy Sam NewsJanuary 22, 2021John Kerry, Special [Read More…]
- Federal Charges Against Stanford University Researcher ExpandedBy Sam NewsFebruary 19, 2021A federal grand jury issued a superseding indictment charging Chen Song with visa fraud, obstruction of justice, destruction of documents, and false statements in connection with a scheme to conceal and lie about her status as a member of the People’s Republic of China’s military forces while in the United States, the Justice Department announced yesterday.[Read More…]
- NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Has a Bold, New LookBy Sam NewsDecember 9, 2020A giant version of [Read More…]
- The Expected Parole of Hampig “Harry” SassounianBy Sam NewsMarch 12, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- Over 500K Rapid Coronavirus Tests Being Distributed to HBCUsBy Sam NewsSeptember 29, 2020In yet another effort by [Read More…]
- Secretary Michael R. Pompeo At the Three Seas Virtual Summit and Web ForumBy Sam NewsOctober 19, 2020
- Priority Open Recommendations: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve SystemBy Sam NewsJune 3, 2021What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified eight priority recommendations for the Federal Reserve. Since then, the Federal Reserve has implemented five of those recommendations. As of April 2021, the remaining open three priority recommendations for the Federal Reserve involve the following areas: Collaborating with other financial regulators to communicate with banks that have third-party relationships with fintech lenders about using alternative data in underwriting. Communicating uncertainties surrounding stress testing, including capital ratio estimates. Communicating uncertainties surrounding stress testing, including tolerance levels for key risks, and the degree of uncertainty in projected estimates. The Federal Reserve's continued attention to these issues could improve its ability to more effectively oversee risks to consumers and the safety and soundness of the U.S. banking system. Why GAO Did This Study Priority open recommendations are GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015 GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations. For more information, contact Daniel Garcia-Diaz at (202) 512-8678 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Prasad Dodangodage of Rupavahini TVBy Sam NewsOctober 28, 2020
- Department of State Offers Reward Increase for Information to Bring Transnational Criminal to JusticeBy Sam NewsMarch 4, 2021Ned Price, Department [Read More…]