October 21, 2021

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Justice Department Reaches Agreement with Nevada to End Discriminatory Policies Against Inmates with HIV and Inmates with Disabilities

8 min read
<div>The Justice Department today reached a settlement agreement with Nevada to ensure that inmates with HIV are not illegally segregated or otherwise discriminated against on the basis of HIV status and that inmates with disabilities are provided an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) programs.</div>
The Justice Department today reached a settlement agreement with Nevada to ensure that inmates with HIV are not illegally segregated or otherwise discriminated against on the basis of HIV status and that inmates with disabilities are provided an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) programs.

More from: February 11, 2021

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    The Department of Labor (DOL) completed over 5,000 Service Contract Act (SCA) cases, which for many resulted in the awarding of back wages to federally contracted security guards, janitors, and other service workers, in fiscal years 2014 through 2019, according to available data. DOL enforces the SCA, which was enacted to protect workers on certain types of federal service contracts. DOL found SCA violations—primarily of wage and benefit protections—in 68 percent of cases. Employers across a range of service industries agreed to pay around $224 million in back wages (see figure for examples). Sixty cases resulted in debarment—a decision to prevent an employer from being awarded new federal contracts for 3 years. DOL's strategic plan emphasizes optimizing resources for resolving cases using all available enforcement tools. However, DOL does not analyze its use of enforcement tools, such as debarment or employer compliance agreements. Therefore, DOL may lack a complete picture of how it uses resources on different strategies for resolving SCA cases, as well as the effectiveness of these enforcement strategies. Back Wages Paid for SCA Cases in Example Industries, Fiscal Years 2014-2019 Note: Mail haul refers to surface mail transportation by contract carriers. Values are adjusted for inflation and expressed in fiscal year 2019 dollars using the Gross Domestic Product Price Index from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. DOL reported various challenges to enforcing the SCA, including difficulty communicating with contracting agencies. For example, DOL officials told GAO that poor communication with contracting agencies—particularly with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS)—can affect and delay cases, though USPS officials told GAO they were unaware of any communication gaps. Without addressing communication issues between USPS and DOL, USPS's implementation and DOL's enforcement of the SCA may be weakened. GAO found that contracting agencies may face SCA implementation challenges, including not having key information about SCA debarments and violations from DOL. When recording SCA debarments, DOL does not always include the unique identifier for an employer so that contracting agencies can accurately identify debarred firms. DOL also does not have a process that consistently or reliably informs contracting agencies about SCA violations by employers. Without improved information sharing by DOL, an agency may award a contract to an employer without being aware of or considering its past SCA violations. The SCA ensures that service workers on certain federal contracts receive pay and benefits that reflect current employment conditions in their locality. From fiscal years 2014 through 2019, the U.S. government obligated over $720 billion on service contracts covered under the SCA. GAO was asked to review SCA implementation and enforcement. This report examines (1) what available data reveal about past SCA cases, (2) what challenges DOL reports facing in enforcing the SCA, and (3) how contracting agencies implement the SCA. GAO analyzed DOL and federal procurement data for fiscal years 2014 through 2019, the most recent years available; reviewed a nongeneralizable sample of contract performance assessments; examined practices at three agencies selected to represent a range of contracting services and agency size; interviewed DOL officials; and reviewed relevant federal laws, policy, and guidance. GAO is making six recommendations, including that DOL analyze its use of enforcement tools; that DOL and USPS implement written protocols to improve communication with each other; and that DOL improve its information sharing with contracting agencies on SCA debarments and investigation outcomes. DOL and USPS generally concurred with the recommendations. For more information, contact Thomas M. Costa at (202) 512-7215 or costat@gao.gov.
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    Since 2002, destroying the terrorist threat and closing safe havens have been key national security goals. The United States has provided Pakistan, a key ally in the war on terror, more than $10 billion in funds and assistance. Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas' (FATA) rugged terrain, poor economic conditions, low literacy, underdeveloped infrastructure, and unique legal structure, all add to the complexity of efforts to address the terrorist threat in the FATA. This testimony discusses the (1) progress of U.S. national security goals in the FATA, (2) status of U.S. efforts to develop a comprehensive plan, and (3) oversight of U.S. Coalition Support Funds (CSF) provided to Pakistan. The testimony is based on recent reports on the status of a comprehensive plan (GAO-08-622) and preliminary observations on the use and oversight of U.S. CSF (GAO-08-735R).The United States has not met its national security goals to destroy terrorist threats and close the safe haven in Pakistan's FATA. According to U.S. officials and intelligence documents, since 2002, al Qaeda and the Taliban have used Pakistan's FATA and the border region to attack Pakistani, Afghan, as well as U.S. and coalition troops; plan and train for attacks against U.S. interests; destabilize Pakistan; and spread radical Islamist ideologies that threaten U.S. interests. GAO found broad agreement that al Qaeda had established a safe haven in the FATA. A 2008 DNI assessment states that al Qaeda is now using the FATA to put into place the last elements necessary to launch another attack against America. The United States has relied principally on the Pakistani military to address its national security goals in the FATA. Of the approximately $5.8 billion directed at efforts in the FATA border region from 2002 through 2007, about 96 percent ($5.56 billion) was U.S. CSF, used to reimburse the Pakistani military. U.S. and Pakistani government officials recognize that relying primarily on the Pakistani military has not succeeded in neutralizing al Qaeda and preventing the establishment of a safe haven in the FATA. The National Strategy for Combating Terrorism (2003), independent 9/11 Commission (2004), and congressional legislation (2004 and 2007) called for a comprehensive plan that included all elements of national power--diplomatic, military, intelligence, development assistance, economic, and law enforcement support to address the threat in the FATA. Since 2002, the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan has not had a Washington-supported, comprehensive plan to combat terrorists and close the terrorist safe haven. In 2006, the United States and Pakistan began an effort to focus on other elements of national power beyond military. However, as of last month there was not a formally approved comprehensive plan and support from the recently elected Pakistani government was uncertain. Continued oversight is required to ensure the development and effective implementation of a comprehensive plan and the proper use of the billions of U.S. dollars devoted to assisting Pakistan in its efforts to combat terrorism in the FATA. Preliminary results from GAO's ongoing work on the oversight of U.S. CSF indicate that Defense may have recently increased its oversight of CSF. In 2007, Defense officials at the U.S. embassy in Pakistan--the Office of the Defense Representative to Pakistan (ODRP)--began playing a larger role in overseeing CSF reimbursement claims. Furthermore, Defense recently deferred or disallowed a larger amount of Pakistani claims. For the months September 2004 - February 2007, Defense disallowed or deferred an average of just over 2 percent of the Pakistani government's CSF claims. For the most recent claims (March - June 2007) processed in February 2008, Defense disallowed or deferred over 20 percent. The extent of ODRP's oversight in the future is unclear, given that its role has not been formalized.
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    In U.S GAO News
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