Just the Facts: Trends in Pro Se Civil Litigation from 2000 to 2019

Main content

Just the Facts is a feature that highlights issues and trends in the Judiciary based on data collected by the Judiciary Data and Analysis Office (JDAO) of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Comments, questions, and suggestions can be sent to JDAO.

Most federal pro se cases are civil actions filed by people serving time in prison. Pro se prisoner petitions spiked in 2016 after a pair of Supreme Court rulings made it possible for certain prisoners to petition to have their sentences vacated or remanded. Non-prisoners who file pro se actions most often raise civil rights claims.

Background

The legal term pro se, which refers to self-representation in a court of law, is directly translated from Latin as “for oneself” or “on one’s own behalf.” Each time a party to litigation appears in court without the assistance of counsel, the court proceeding is called pro se. A party to a lawsuit may hire an attorney and terminate pro se status at any time.

All state courts have some form of written or precedent-based rules that allow pro se representation. In federal courts, the rights of self-represented litigants are addressed in the U.S. Judiciary Act, the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Federal Rules of Evidence, the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. Bankruptcy petitioners, parties in appeals cases, and criminal defendants may also represent themselves. This article focuses on civil pro se filings in the U.S. district courts1.   

Facts and Figures

  • Figure 1 displays the total number of civil cases filed in U.S. district courts from 2000 to 2019 by pro se litigants, relative to the overall civil caseload. During that period, civil pro se filings generally were relatively stable, except for a 20 percent increase in 2016.
  • Figure 2 shows that the rise in 2016 stemmed from prisoner petition filings brought in federal court by inmates in federal or state prisons under certain conditions2. As noted above, prisoner petition filings increased in 2016 after the Supreme Court decided in Welch v. United States, that Johnson v. United States applied retroactively, which made prisoners serving sentences that were enhanced under an unconstitutional clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act eligible to have their sentences vacated or remanded3. After 2016, nationwide filings of pro se prisoner petitions dropped to levels seen prior to the Welch decision.
  • The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permit both sides—the plaintiff and the defendant—to proceed pro se in federal court. In federal civil litigation, the self-represented party predominantly is the plaintiff. Figure 3 shows the percentage of civil cases filed from 2000 to 2019 by type of representation. During that period, 27 percent of all civil cases had at least one pro se plaintiff or defendant4.
  • A civil case can be categorized by the type of lawsuit5. Figure 4 presents totals for types of civil pro se cases filed from 2000 to 2019. The types of lawsuits most frequently filed were pro se prisoner petitions and civil rights cases. Prisoner petitions constituted 69 percent of the civil pro se caseload. Civil rights actions accounted for 14 percent of the civil pro se caseload.
  • The majority of prisoner petitions are filed pro se. Figure 5 shows that from 2000 to 2019, in 91 percent of prisoner petition filings, the plaintiffs were self-represented. In contrast, only 11 percent of non-prisoner civil case filings involved plaintiffs and/or defendants who were self-represented.    
  • For pro se civil cases filed by non-prisoners, the proportions of plaintiffs and defendants representing themselves varied according to the type of lawsuit. For most categories, pro se plaintiffs outnumbered pro se defendants. Figure 6 presents data on pro se civil cases filed by non-prisoners by the type of lawsuit from 2000 to 2019. During that period, the category with the highest number of filings involving pro se defendants was contract actions, followed by real property, and other statutes. The category with the highest number of filings involving both pro se plaintiffs and pro se defendants was civil rights.
  • Figure 7 shows the total percentage of pro se filings by type of lawsuit, relative to the overall pro se caseload.  For most of the categories of these pro se civil cases, more than 50 percent of cases filed involved only pro se plaintiffs. In only three categories did more than 50 percent of cases involve only pro se defendants. Seventy-six percent of pro se forfeiture/penalty cases had self-represented defendants, as did 58 percent of pro se contract action cases and 66 percent of pro se intellectual property cases.
  • From 2009 to 2012, filings of pro se civil cases by non-prisoners increased every year. Figure 8 displays data on such filings for each year, 2000 – 2019, by type of lawsuit. The majority of the growth during this period was caused by increased filings of civil rights cases and real property cases. Filings dropped in 2013, the same year that pro se real property case filings started to decline for the first time in five years.     
  • Pro se cases require extra court resources for processing6. Courts are allocated pro se law clerk positions to screen and process pro se cases and courts generally provide resources and instructions designed specifically to assist pro se filers7Map 1 is an interactive map showing the pro se case filings by prisoners and non-prisoners by year and district across the country.   

Figures and Map

Note: Click on the tabs below to view the figures and map.


1 For more information about filing bankruptcy without an attorney, please see https://uscourts.gov/services-forms/bankruptcy/filing-without-attorney.

2 Prisoner petitions may be filed for the following reasons: habeas corpus challenges to the constitutionality of imprisonment, civil rights violations, petitions for writs of mandamus compelling lower courts/officers to perform their duty, and challenges to the constitutionality of the sentence (by federal inmates only). For more information about types of prisoner petitions, see Scalia, John. 1997. Prisoner Petitions in the Federal Courts, 1980 – 96. Report prepared for the Bureau of Justice Statistics. https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ppfc96.pdf. Retrieved August 13, 2020.

3 For more information about these Supreme Court decisions, see:
Johnson v. United States, 576 U. S. ____ (2015)
Welch v. United States, 578 U. S. ____ (2016)  
Office of the General Counsel. Selected Supreme Court Cases on Sentencing Issues. November 2019. https://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/training/case-law-documents/2019-supreme-court-cases.pdf. Retrieved August 13, 2020.

4 Filing counts from the Federal Judicial Center’s Integrated Database (IDB) collects termination and pending case data. As a result, filing counts form the IDB may not match filing counts in the published tables of the Administrative Office of U.S. Federal Courts.
The Federal Judicial Center’s Integrated Database:
https://www.fjc.gov/research/idb
Statistical Tables for the Federal Judiciary: https://www.uscourts.gov/statistics-reports/caseload-statistics-data-tables

5 The type of lawsuit, or nature of suit, is determined by the federal code(s) specified in the complaint.

6 Wood, Jefri. 2016. Pro Se Case Management for Nonprisoner Civil Litigation. Washington, D.C.: Federal Judicial Center. https://www.fjc.gov/sites/default/files/2017/Pro_Se_Case_Management_for_Nonprisoner_Civil_Litigation.pdf. Retrieved August 13, 2020.

7 Stienstra, Donna, Jared Bataillon, and Jason A. Cantone. Assistance to Pro Se Litigants in U.S. District Courts: A Report on Surveys of Clerks of Court and Chief Judges. 2011. Federal Judicial Center. https://www.fjc.gov/sites/default/files/2012/ProSeUSDC.pdf. Retrieved August 13, 2020.

More from: info@uscourts.gov

Hits: 0

News Network

  • Statement from Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall on the Passing of Former Solicitor General Drew S. Days III
    In Crime News
    Today, Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall issued the following statement on the passing of former Solicitor General Drew S. Days III:
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken With John Dickerson of CBS’s Face the Nation
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Seven North Carolina Tax Preparers Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud the IRS
    In Crime News
    Seven Charlotte, North Carolina tax return preparers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States by preparing and filing false tax returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, U.S. Attorney R. Andrew Murray for the Western District of North Carolina, and Special Agent in Charge Matthew D. Line of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
    [Read More…]
  • Comet NEOWISE Sizzles as It Slides by the Sun, Providing a Treat for Observers
    In Space
    Catch the comet in the [Read More…]
  • Remarks of Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt at the ACI 37th Annual Conference on the FCPA
    In Crime News
    Good morning and thank you for that kind introduction. It is an honor to be here with you today, even if only virtually. Just a year ago, addressing a conference of this size and importance via video would have seemed unthinkable. Today, it is — unfortunately — normal. I look forward to the time — hopefully, soon — when we can gather again in person. In the meantime, I am grateful for this opportunity to speak with you, and I look forward to my discussion with Kim after my remarks conclude.
    [Read More…]
  • Colorado Man Sentenced to Prison for Biodiesel Tax Credit Fraud
    In Crime News
    A Colorado resident was sentenced to 15 months in prison yesterday for his role in a biodiesel tax credit fraud scheme, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
    [Read More…]
  • U.S.-Kenya Strategic Consultations
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • The United States Presents its Universal Periodic Review National Report
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Request Denied for Preliminary Injunction on the Administration’s Landmark New Regulations Implementing under the National Environmental Policy Act
    In Crime News
    On Friday, Sept. 11, Judge James T. Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia denied a request for a preliminary injunction against the Administration’s landmark new regulations implementing under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which will modernize environmental review, enhance the information-gathering process, and facilitate more meaningful public participation in the protection of our environment. These regulations had not been subject to a major revision since 1978, when they were first promulgated, and they were in need of modernization to improve the infrastructure permitting process.
    [Read More…]
  • Federal Court Enjoins Tuscon Area Tax Preparer From Preparing Tax Returns
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced today that a federal court in Arizona permanently enjoined a Tucson area tax return preparer from preparing federal income tax returns for others.
    [Read More…]
  • Opening Remarks by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken Before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Civil Rights Division Opens Investigation into Potential Discrimination in Public Contracting
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division has opened an investigation into whether the public contracting and procurement practices of Kansas City, Missouri comply with the U.S. Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
    [Read More…]
  • NASA’s Cold Atom Lab Takes One Giant Leap for Quantum Science
    In Space
    A new study describes [Read More…]
  • Conviction of Three Members of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Cale Brown, Principal [Read More…]
  • Health Care Company Indicted for Labor Market Collusion
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging Surgical Care Affiliates LLC and its related entity (collectively SCA), which own and operate outpatient medical care centers across the country, for agreeing with competitors not to solicit senior-level employees, the Department of Justice announced today. These are the Antitrust Division’s first charges in this ongoing investigation into employee allocation agreements.
    [Read More…]
  • Businessman Indicted for Not Reporting Foreign Bank Accounts and Filing False Documents with the IRS
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, returned an indictment on March 3, 2021, charging a Virginia man with failing to file Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBARs) and filing false documents with the IRS. According to the indictment, Azizur Rahman of Herndon, had a financial interest in and signature authority over more than 20 foreign financial accounts, including accounts held in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Singapore, and Bangladesh. From 2010 through 2016, Rahman allegedly did not disclose his interest in all of his financial accounts on annual FBARs, as required by law. Rahman also allegedly filed false individual tax returns for the tax years 2010 through 2016 that did not report to the IRS all of his foreign bank accounts and income.
    [Read More…]
  • Defenders Navigate Uncharted Territory During Pandemic
    In U.S Courts
    Working on the front lines of justice amid the pandemic, federal defenders are navigating uncharted territory as they work to maintain virtual access to clients in detention facilities and participate in socially distanced trials and hearings.
    [Read More…]
  • Promoting and Protecting Human Rights: A Re-Dedication to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • North Carolina Return Preparers Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud the IRS
    In Crime News
    Two Durham, North Carolina, return preparers pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin of the Middle District of North Carolina.
    [Read More…]
  • The Future of AI in Health and Human Services
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
    As the largest public [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Announces Results in Fight Against the Opioid Crisis Two Years after Launch of Operation S.O.S.
    In Crime News
    In July 2018, the Department of Justice announced the launch of Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge (S.O.S), a program aimed at reducing the supply of synthetic opioids in 10 high impact areas and identifying wholesale distribution networks and international and domestic suppliers.
    [Read More…]
  • Department of Justice Marks 20th Anniversary of Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act with Comprehensive 20-Year Report
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today marked the 20th Anniversary of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) by releasing a comprehensive report detailing how RLUIPA has helped preserve the religious liberty rights of thousands of individuals and institutions. 
    [Read More…]
  • New York City Police Department Officer Charged with Acting As an Illegal Agent of the People’s Republic of China
    In Crime News
    A criminal complaint was unsealed today in federal court in the Eastern District of New York charging Baimadajie Angwang, 33, a New York City Police Department officer and United States Army reservist, with acting as an illegal agent of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as well as committing wire fraud, making false statements and obstructing an official proceeding. Angwang was arrested earlier today in Williston Park, New York, and his initial appearance is scheduled for this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Peggy Kuo at the United States Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.
    [Read More…]
  • North Macedonia Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Senior Administration Officials Preview of National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken’s Trip to Anchorage, Alaska
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Fiscal Year 2022 Performance Plan
    In U.S GAO News
    This report presents the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 2022. In the spirit of the Government Performance and Results Act, this annual plan informs the Congress and the American people about what we expect to accomplish on their behalf in the coming fiscal year. It sets forth our plan to make progress toward achieving our strategic goals for serving the Congress and the American people. This framework not only shows the relationship between our strategic goals and strategic objectives, but also show major themes that could potentially affect our work.
    [Read More…]
  • Guinea’s National Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Recognizes the 10th Annual Human Trafficking Prevention Month
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice today commemorates the 10th annual National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and declares a continued commitment to combatting human trafficking in all its forms. The fight against human trafficking remains one of the department’s highest priorities, and the department will remain relentless in its efforts to bring traffickers to justice and seek justice for survivors.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Observes National Missing Children’s Day
    In Crime News
    As part of the 38th annual commemoration of National Missing Children’s Day, the Department of Justice today honored nine courageous individuals for their extraordinary efforts to recover missing children and bring sexual predators to justice. This year’s award recipients include four detectives and a sergeant from Fresno, California; two coordinators in the Missing Child Center-Hawaii in Honolulu; a sergeant from Addison, Illinois; and a U.S. Postal Service employee from Columbia, Maryland.
    [Read More…]
  • Sudan’s State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Rescinded
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Remarks at the United States’ Third Universal Periodic Review
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
    Robert A. Destro, [Read More…]
  • Federal Judges Reinventing the Jury Trial During Pandemic
    In U.S Courts
    A group of federal judges around the country are reinventing the jury trial so that it is not only a fair forum for the administration of justice, but also a safe experience for everyone in the courtroom, including defendants and jurors.
    [Read More…]
  • U.S. Seeks to Recover More Than $300 Million in Additional Assets Traceable to Funds Allegedly Misappropriated from Malaysian Sovereign Wealth Fund
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced today the filing of civil forfeiture complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than $300 million in additional assets allegedly associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.
    [Read More…]
  • Former Air Force Contractor Pleads Guilty to Illegally Taking 2,500 Pages of Classified Information
    In Crime News
    A former contractor with the U.S. Air Force pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio today to illegally taking approximately 2,500 pages of classified documents.
    [Read More…]
  • The United States Announces New Assistance to Respond to the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Chinese National Sentenced for Laundering Millions for Mexican Drug Cartels
    In Crime News
    A Chinese national was sentenced today to five years in prison and ordered to forfeit more than $4.2 million for laundering drug proceeds generated by large-scale cocaine trafficking in the United States.
    [Read More…]
  • Return to Election Negotiations
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • LPR admits to smuggling fentanyl and heroin through Laredo
    In Justice News
    A 37-year-old legal [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Tampa-Area Physician, Pharmacy, and Clinic Owners for Controlled Substances Act Violations
    In Crime News
    The United States filed a civil complaint seeking to permanently enjoin the owners of a Tampa-area clinic and pharmacy from unlawfully dispensing opioids and other controlled substances, the Department of Justice announced today.
    [Read More…]
  • Operation Legend: Case of the Day
    In Crime News
    Each weekday, the Department of Justice will highlight a case that has resulted from Operation Legend. Today’s case is out of the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Operation Legend launched in Milwaukee on July 29, 2020, in response to the city facing increased homicide and non-fatal shooting rates.
    [Read More…]
  • Navy Shipyards: Actions Needed to Address the Main Factors Causing Maintenance Delays for Aircraft Carriers and Submarines
    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. 
    [Read More…]
  • Benin Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Michigan Restaurant and Strip Club Owner Sentenced to Two Years n Prison for Tax Crimes
    In Crime News
    A Walled Lake, Michigan, business owner was sentenced today to two years in prison, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
    [Read More…]
  • Armenian Independence Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Owner of Oil Chem Inc. Pleads Guilty to Violating the Clean Water Act
    In Crime News
    The president and owner of Oil Chem Inc. pleaded guilty in federal court in Flint, Michigan, to a criminal charge of violating the Clean Water Act stemming from illegal discharges of landfill leachate — totaling more than 47 million gallons — into the city of Flint sanitary sewer system over an eight and a half year period.
    [Read More…]
  • Foreign-Language Training Companies Admit to Participating in Conspiracy to Defraud the United States
    In Crime News
    Two providers of foreign-language services, Comprehensive Language Center Inc. (CLCI), based in the Washington, D.C., area, and Berlitz Languages Inc. (Berlitz), based in New Jersey, were charged with participating in a conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding, impairing, obstructing, and defeating competitive bidding for a multi-million dollar foreign-language training contract issued by the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2017, the Department of Justice announced today. 
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Files Complaint against Jeffrey Lowe and Tiger King LLC for Violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Animal Welfare Act
    In Crime News
    Today, the Department of Justice filed a civil complaint against Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe, Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park LLC, and Tiger King LLC, to address recurring inhumane treatment and improper handling of animals protected by the Endangered Species Act.
    [Read More…]
  • Puerto Rico Legislator and Two Capitol Employees Indicted for Theft and Bribery
    In Crime News
    On Wednesday, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an eight-count indictment against legislator Nelson Del Valle Colon (Del Valle), a member of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, as well as two of his employees, Nickolle Santos-Estrada (Santos) and her mother Mildred Estrada-Rojas (Estrada), for their alleged participation in a multi-year theft, bribery, and kickback conspiracy.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau Before Their Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • State Department Terrorist Designations of HASM and Its Leaders and Maintenance of PIJ FTO Designation
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Maryland Man Sentenced to Prison for Intentionally Damaging the Computers of His Former Employer
    In Crime News
    A Maryland man was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake today to 12 months and one day in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for illegally accessing and damaging the computer network of his former employer. Judge Blake also entered an order requiring Stafford to pay restitution in the amount of $193,258.10 to his former employer.
    [Read More…]
  • New International Ocean Satellite Completes Testing
    In Space
    A team of engineers in [Read More…]
  • Iran Threatening to Expel UN Investigators
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Veterans’ Growing Demand for Mental Health Services
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found This capsule examines how VA plans to meet the need for mental health care among veterans. In this capsule, GAO cites policy considerations and reiterates recommendations to the Department of Veterans Affairs. 
    [Read More…]
  • Oman Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Do not travel to Oman [Read More…]
  • Federal Telework: Key Practices That Can Help Ensure the Success of Telework Programs
    In U.S GAO News
    The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (the act) defines telework as a work flexibility arrangement under which an employee performs the duties and responsibilities of their position and other authorized activities from an approved worksite other than the location from which the employee would otherwise work. GAO previously identified key practices in telework-related literature and guidelines that federal agencies should implement in ensuring successful telework programs. These key practices may be grouped under seven categories. Program planning. Consistent with a key practice GAO identified, agencies are required to have a telework managing officer. Other key practices related to planning for a telework program include establishing measurable telework program goals, and providing funding to meet the needs of the telework program. Telework policies. Agencies can help ensure their workforces are telework ready by establishing telework policies and guidance. To ensure that teleworkers are approved on an equitable basis, agencies should establish eligibility criteria, such as suitability of tasks and employee performance. Agencies should also have telework agreements for use between teleworkers and their managers. Performance management. Agencies should ensure that the same performance standards are used to evaluate both teleworkers and nonteleworkers. Agencies should also establish guidelines to minimize adverse impacts that telework can have on nonteleworkers. Managerial support. For telework programs to be successful agencies need support from top management. They also need to address managerial resistance to telework. Training and publicizing. Telework training helps agencies ensure a common understanding of the program. The act requires agencies to provide telework training to employees eligible to telework and to managers of teleworkers. Keeping the workforce informed about the program also helps. Technology. Agencies need to make sure teleworkers have the right technology to successfully perform their duties. To that end, agencies should assess teleworker and organization technology needs, provide technical support to teleworkers, and address access and security issues. Program evaluation. Agencies should develop program evaluation tools and use such tools from the very inception of the program to identify problems or issues. Agencies can then use this information to make any needed adjustments to their programs. GAO has previously reported instances where selected agencies faced challenges implementing telework programs that aligned with key practices. For example, three of four selected agencies did not require review or document their review of ongoing telework agreements. These reviews are important to provide assurance that the agreements reflect and support their current business needs. GAO also previously reported that managers at three of four selected agencies were not required to complete telework training before approving staff's telework agreements. The training is important to ensure managers fully understood agency telework policy and goals before approving or denying requests to telework. Telework offers benefits to federal agencies as well as to the federal workforce. These include improving recruitment and retention of employees, reducing the need for costly office space, and an opportunity to better balance work and family demands. In addition, telework is a tool that agencies can use to help accomplish their missions during periods of disruption, including during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Congress has encouraged federal agencies to expand staff participation in telework, most recently by passing the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (the act). The act established requirements for executive agencies' telework policies and programs, among other things. This statement provides key practices to help ensure the success of telework programs. The statement is based on GAO's body of work on federal telework issued from July 2003 through February 2017. GAO has recently initiated two reviews related to federal telework. One is examining the extent to which agencies have used telework during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the successes and challenges agencies experienced. The second is reviewing agencies' telework information technology infrastructure. For more information, contact Michelle B. Rosenberg at (202) 512-6806 or rosenbergm@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty in False Returns Scheme
    In Crime News
    A Georgia woman pleaded guilty today to preparing false tax returns for clients.
    [Read More…]
  • On the Passing of Former Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Morauta
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Domestic Abuse: DOD Needs to Enhance Its Prevention, Response, and Oversight
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In its May 2021 report, GAO found that the Department of Defense (DOD) met a statutory requirement to collect and report data for incidents that it determined met its criteria for domestic abuse. In fiscal years 2015-2019, DOD determined that over 40,000 domestic abuse incidents met its criteria, of which 74 percent were physical abuse. However, DOD has not collected and reported accurate data for all domestic abuse allegations received, including those that did not meet DOD's criteria, as statutorily required. Thus, DOD is unable to assess the scope of alleged abuse and its rate of substantiation. In addition, despite a statutory requirement since 1999, DOD has not collected comprehensive data on the number of allegations of domestic violence—a subcategory of different types of domestic abuse that constitute offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice—and related actions taken by commanders. Improving collection of these data could enhance DOD's visibility over actions taken by commanders to address domestic violence. DOD and the military services have taken steps to implement and oversee domestic abuse prevention and response activities, but gaps exist in key areas, including creating awareness of domestic abuse reporting options and resources, allegation screening, and victim risk assessment. For example, while DOD and the military services have taken steps to promote awareness of reporting options and resources, DOD has not fully addressed challenges in doing so, and may miss opportunities to provide available resources to victims. In addition, the military services perform limited monitoring of installation incident-screening decisions and therefore lack reasonable assurance that all domestic abuse allegations are screened in accordance with DOD policy. DOD and the military services have developed risk assessment tools in accordance with DOD policy, but the Army, the Navy, and the Marine Corps have not ensured their consistent implementation across installations, and may therefore be limited in their ability to identify and convey the need for any critical safety measures for victims of domestic abuse. Finally, GAO found that the military services perform limited oversight of commanders' disposition of domestic violence incidents, referred to as command actions. These command actions can have significant implications, including for victims' eligibility for transitional compensation and Lautenberg Amendment restrictions to firearm possession for alleged abusers. DOD has not assessed the potential risks associated with its current disposition model for domestic violence incidents and the feasibility of potential alternatives that may respond to such risks. Performing such an assessment could provide the department and military services with a better understanding of such risks and their resulting potential impacts. Why GAO Did This Study This testimony summarizes the information contained in GAO's May 2021 report, entitled Domestic Abuse: Actions Needed to Enhance DOD's Prevention, Response, and Oversight (GAO-21-289). Specifically, this testimony discusses the extent to which 1) DOD has met statutory requirements to collect and report complete data on reports of domestic abuse and 2) DOD and the military services have implemented and overseen domestic abuse prevention and response activities, including commanders' disposition of incidents, in accordance with DOD policy.
    [Read More…]
  • Science & Tech Spotlight: Vaccine Safety
    In U.S GAO News
    Why this Matters Safe vaccines are critical to fighting diseases, from polio to COVID-19. Research shows that the protection provided by U.S. licensed vaccines outweighs their potential risks. However, misinformation and unjustified safety concerns can cause people to delay or refuse vaccination, which may increase preventable deaths and prolong negative social and economic impacts. The Science What is it? A vaccine is generally considered safe when the benefits of protecting an individual from disease outweigh the risks from potential side effects (fig. 1). The most common side effects stem from the body's immune reaction and include swelling at the injection site, fever, and aches. Figure 1. Symptoms of polio and side effects of the polio vaccine. A vaccine is generally considered safe if its benefits (preventing disease) outweigh its risks (side effects). In rare cases, some vaccines may cause more severe side effects. For example, the vaccine for rotavirus—a childhood illness that can cause severe diarrhea, dehydration, and even death—can cause intestinal blockage in one in 100,000 recipients. However, the vaccine is still administered because this very rare side effect is outweighed by the vaccine's benefits: it saves lives and prevents an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 childhood hospitalizations in the U.S. each year. The two messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines authorized for COVID-19—a disease that contributed to more than 415,000 American deaths between January 2020 and January 2021—can cause severe allergic reactions. However, early safety reporting found that these reactions have been extremely rare, with only about five cases per 1 million recipients, according to data from January 2021 reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In general, side effects from vaccines are less acceptable to the public than side effects from treatments given to people who already have a disease. What is known? Vaccine developers assess safety from early research, through laboratory and animal testing, and even after the vaccine is in use (fig. 2). Researchers may rely on previous studies to inform future vaccine trials. For example, safety information from preclinical trials of mRNA flu vaccine candidates in 2017 allowed for the acceleration of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine development. Vaccine candidates shown to be safe in these preclinical trials can proceed to clinical trials in humans. In the U.S., clinical trials generally proceed through three phases of testing involving increasing numbers of volunteers: dozens in phase 1 to thousands in phase 3. Although data may be collected over years, most common side effects are identified in the first 2 months after vaccination in clinical trials. After reviewing safety and other data from vaccine studies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may license a vaccine to be marketed in the U.S. There are also programs to expedite—but not bypass—development and review processes, such as a priority review designation, which shortens FDA’s goal review time from 10 to 6 months. Safety monitoring continues after licensing. For example, health officials are required to report certain adverse events—such as heart problems—following vaccination, in order to help identify potential long-term or rare side effects that were not seen in clinical trials and may or may not be associated with the vaccine. Figure 2. Vaccine safety is assessed at every stage: development through post-licensure. Following a declared emergency, FDA can also issue emergency use authorizations (EUA) to allow temporary use of unlicensed vaccines if there is evidence that known and potential benefits of the vaccine outweigh known and potential risks, among other criteria. As of January 2021, two COVID-19 vaccines had received EUAs, after their efficacy and short-term safety were assessed through large clinical trials. However, developers must continue safety monitoring and meet other requirements if they intend to apply for FDA licensure to continue distribution of these vaccines after the emergency period has ended. What are the knowledge gaps? One knowledge gap that can remain after clinical trials is whether side effects or other adverse events may occur in certain groups. For example, because clinical trials usually exclude certain populations, such as people who are pregnant or have existing medical conditions, data on potential adverse events related to specific populations may not be understood until vaccines are widely administered. In addition, it can be difficult to determine the safety of new vaccines if outbreaks end suddenly. For example, vaccine safety studies were hindered during the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic when a large increase in the number of cases was followed by a sharp decrease. This disrupted the clinical trials of Ebola vaccine candidates, because the trials require many infected and non-infected people. Furthermore, a lack of understanding and/or misinformation about the steps taken to ensure the safety of vaccines hinders accurate public knowledge about safety concerns, which may cause people to delay or refuse vaccination. This resulting hesitancy may, in turn, increase deaths, social harm, and economic damage. Opportunities Continuing and, where necessary, improving existing vaccine safety practices offers the following opportunities to society: Herd immunity. Widespread immunity in a population, acquired in large part through safe and effective vaccines, can slow the spread of infection and protect those most vulnerable. Health care improvements. Vaccinations can reduce the burden on the health care system by reducing severe symptoms that require individuals to seek treatment. Eradication. Safe vaccination programs, such as those combatting smallpox, may eliminate diseases to the point where transmission no longer occurs. Challenges There are a number of challenges to ensuring safe vaccines: Public confidence. Vaccine hesitancy, in part due to misinformation or historic unethical human experimentation, decreases participation in clinical trials, impeding identification of side effects across individuals with different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Mutating viruses. Some viruses, such as those that cause the flu or COVID-19, may mutate rapidly and thus may require new or updated vaccines, for which ongoing safety monitoring is important. Long-term and rare effects. Exceedingly rare or long-term effects may not be identified until after vaccines have been widely administered. Further study is needed to detect any such effects and confirm they are truly associated with the vaccine. Policy Context & Questions What steps can policymakers take to improve public trust and understanding of the process of assessing vaccine safety? How can policymakers convey the social importance of vaccines to protect the general public and those who are most vulnerable? How can policymakers leverage available resources to support ongoing vaccine development and post-licensure safety monitoring? For more information, contact Karen Howard at (202) 512-6888 or HowardK@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]