October 19, 2021

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Justice Department Requires Substantial Divestitures in Gray’s Acquisition of Quincy to Protect American Consumers and Small Businesses

12 min read
<div>The Department of Justice announced today that it will require Gray Television Inc. and Quincy Media Inc. to divest 10 broadcast television stations in seven local markets as a condition of resolving a challenge to Gray’s proposed $925 million acquisition of Quincy.</div>
The Department of Justice announced today that it will require Gray Television Inc. and Quincy Media Inc. to divest 10 broadcast television stations in seven local markets as a condition of resolving a challenge to Gray’s proposed $925 million acquisition of Quincy.

More from: July 28, 2021

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  • Investing in Diversity and Inclusion at State
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    A federal court in the Western District of Michigan has permanently enjoined a married couple from preparing returns for others and from owning, operating, or franchising any tax return preparation business in the future.
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  • Military Pay: Army National Guard Personnel Mobilized to Active Duty Experienced Significant Pay Problems
    In U.S GAO News
    In light of the recent mobilizations associated with the war on terrorism and homeland security, GAO was asked to determine if controls used to pay mobilized Army Guard personnel provided assurance that such pays were accurate and timely. GAO's audit used a case study approach to focus on controls over three key areas: processes, people (human capital), and systems.The existing processes and controls used to provide pay and allowances to mobilized Army Guard personnel are so cumbersome and complex that neither DOD nor, more importantly, the mobilized Army Guard soldiers could be reasonably assured of timely and accurate payroll payments. Weaknesses in these processes and controls resulted in over- and underpayments and late active duty payments and, in some cases, largely erroneous debt assessments to mobilized Army Guard personnel. The end result of these pay problems is to severely constrain DOD's ability to provide active duty pay to these personnel, many of whom were risking their lives in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, these pay problems have had a profound financial impact on individual soldiers and their families. For example, many soldiers and their families were required to spend considerable time, sometimes while the soldiers were deployed in remote, combat environments overseas, seeking corrections to active duty pays and allowances. The pay process, involving potentially hundreds of DOD, Army, and Army Guard organizations and thousands of personnel, was not well understood or consistently applied with respect to determining (1) the actions required to make timely, accurate pays to mobilized soldiers, and (2) the organization responsible for taking the required actions. With respect to human capital, we found weaknesses including (1) insufficient resources allocated to pay processing, (2) inadequate training related to existing policies and procedures, and (3) poor customer service. Several systems issues were also a significant factor impeding accurate and timely payroll payments to mobilized Army Guard soldiers, including (1) non-integrated systems, (2) limitations in system processing capabilities, and (3) ineffective system edits.
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    An indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. was unsealed on May 20, 2021, charging the Republic of Chad’s former Ambassador to the United States and Canada and Chad’s former Deputy Chief of Mission for the United States and Canada with soliciting and accepting a $2 million bribe from a Canadian start-up energy company, and conspiring to launder the bribe payment in order to conceal its true nature.
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  • Coast Guard: Information on Defense Readiness Mission Deployments, Expenses, and Funding
    In U.S GAO News
    Why GAO Did This Study One of the six armed forces, the U.S. Coast Guard is a multimission maritime military service within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It is responsible for implementing 11 statutory missions. One mission—Defense Readiness—requires the Coast Guard to maintain the training and capability needed to integrate with DOD forces. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2021 included a provision for GAO to review the allocation of resources by the Coast Guard to support its Defense Readiness mission. This report examines how the Coast Guard's deployment of vessels and aircraft and associated operating expenses for its Defense Readiness mission compare with those for its other statutory missions for fiscal years 2011 through 2020 and how they relate to its funding for these years. GAO analyzed Coast Guard vessel and aircraft deployments and funding from fiscal years 2011 through 2020. What GAO Found The Defense Readiness mission accounted for a small portion of Coast Guard deployments and operational expenses from fiscal years 2011 through 2020. The Coast Guard's vessel and aircraft deployments for the Defense Readiness mission accounted for about 5 percent of deployments during this 10-year period—ranking eighth out of 11 statutory missions. However, the Coast Guard also deploys vessels and aircraft to support the Department of Defense (DOD) through its other statutory missions, including Drug Interdiction; Ice Operations; and Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security. Similarly, Defense Readiness represented an estimated 7 percent of the service's total operating expenses for fiscal years 2011 through 2020. The share of the Coast Guard's Defense Readiness estimated operating expenses was lower than those of seven of its 11 missions. Coast Guard Vessel and Aircraft Operational Hours Expended by Statutory Mission, Fiscal Years 2011 through 2020 Note: Operational hours include the use of aircraft, cutters, and boats for the Coast Guard’s 11 statutory missions. They do not include the time personnel may spend on missions without using vessels or aircraft. We do not include hours expended for support activities, such as training and technology tests. The Coast Guard's appropriations for operations were relatively flat or declined from fiscal years 2011 through 2020, when adjusted for inflation. Specifically, the operations appropriation—the primary funding source for operations across all missions—was $8 billion in 2011 and $8.2 billion in fiscal year 2020, when adjusted for inflation. The Coast Guard's operations appropriations also included specific funding for defense-related activities, which includes the Defense Readiness mission, as well as its other activities to support DOD. When adjusted for inflation, the Coast Guard's appropriations for defense-related activities declined about 20 percent—from $674 million in fiscal year 2011 to $530 million in fiscal year 2020. In addition to its operations appropriation, the Coast Guard receives reimbursements from DOD for specific activities, such as escorts of Navy submarines conducted by Maritime Force Protection Units and service on combatant commander staffs. About 50 percent of the reimbursements during the 10-year period ($411 million of $844.6 million) were for the Coast Guard's security escorts of navy vessels in U.S. ports. According to the Coast Guard, reimbursements are not designed to replace or cover the costs of its overall commitments to DOD. For more information, contact Heather MacLeod at 206-654-5574 or MacLeodH@gao.gov.
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  • Oil and Gas: Interior Should Strengthen Management of Key Data Systems Used to Oversee Development on Federal Lands
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Department of the Interior (Interior) uses three key data systems to oversee oil and gas development on leased federal lands: the Automated Fluid Minerals Support System (AFMSS), Legacy Rehost 2000 (LR2000), and the Minerals Revenue Management Support System. Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) staff rely on data across these systems to carry out responsibilities such as processing permits for drilling wells and ensuring appropriate payments are made based on production. According to agency documents and officials, limited automated sharing of data among these systems is one of four challenges. Although the systems use some of the same information, such as lease and well numbers, they do not fully connect or communicate with each other, complicating oversight. For example, GAO calculated, based on agency estimates, that ONRR spends the equivalent of approximately 10 full-time employees in staff hours every year on conversion and error correction due to fragmented systems. Best practices call for coordinating and sharing data assets across federal agencies. Though Interior is developing replacement data systems, it does not have a finalized plan to facilitate comprehensive data sharing among them. Without such a plan, Interior risks continuing to spend staff time that could be better spent on other priorities. Example of Oil and Gas Data Shared between BLM and ONRR Data Systems Interior has not fully implemented leading practices in developing requirements to ensure the replacement systems meet user needs. Such practices have been found to improve development of federal data systems. BLM officials said they are developing replacement systems using an agile software development approach, which builds software incrementally based on users' requirements and continuously evaluates functionality, quality, and customer satisfaction. For example, BLM program offices responsible for developing systems to replace AFMSS and LR2000 stated that they meet quarterly with system stakeholders to prioritize and agree on features and functionality. However, the program offices do not have a defined process to implement the agile approach because it is not addressed in Interior's guidance on data system development. By updating the guidance to reflect how program offices can implement an agile development approach, Interior would have better assurance that its new data systems will function as intended to meet user needs and reduce budget and schedule risks. Why GAO Did This Study Development of oil and gas resources on federal lands helps supply the U.S. with energy and generates billions of dollars annually in revenues. To oversee this development, Interior relies on aging data systems, which it is planning to replace. GAO was asked to review the data systems Interior uses to oversee oil and gas development on federal lands and waters. This report (1) describes how Interior uses key data systems to oversee oil and gas development on federal lands, (2) examines challenges Interior faces in using these systems, and (3) evaluates Interior's implementation of leading practices in developing requirements for replacement systems. GAO reviewed documents, interviewed officials from federal and state agencies, visited BLM and ONRR offices in Colorado and New Mexico, and assessed Interior's implementation of relevant leading practices.
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    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Quantum information technologies aim to use the properties of nature at atomic scales to accomplish tasks that are not achievable with existing technologies. These technologies rely on qubits, the quantum equivalent of classical computer bits. Scientists are creating qubits from particles, such as atoms or particles of light, or objects that mimic them, such as superconducting circuits. Unlike classical bits, qubits can be intrinsically linked to each other and can be any combination of 0 and 1 simultaneously. These capabilities enable two potentially transformational applications—quantum computing and communications. However, quantum information cannot be copied, is fragile, and can be irreversibly lost, resulting in errors that are challenging to correct. Examples of quantum computing hardware Some quantum computing and communications technologies are available for limited uses, but will likely require extensive development before providing significant commercial value. For example, some small error-prone quantum computers are available for limited applications, and a quantum communications technology known as quantum key distribution can be purchased. According to agency officials and stakeholders, additional quantum technology development may take at least a decade and cost billions, but such estimates are highly uncertain. Quantum computing and communications technologies will likely develop together because of some shared physics principles, laboratory techniques, and common hardware.  Quantum computers may have applications in many sectors, but it is not clear where they will have the greatest impact. Quantum communications technologies may have uses for secure communications, quantum networking, and a future quantum internet. Some applications—such as distributed quantum computing, which connects multiple quantum computers together to solve a problem—require both quantum computing and communications technologies. Potential drawbacks of quantum technology include cost, complexity, energy consumption, and the possibility of malicious use. GAO identified four factors that affect quantum technology development and use: (1) collaboration, (2) workforce size and skill, (3) investment, and (4) the supply chain. The table below describes options that policymakers—legislative bodies, government agencies, standards-setting organizations, industry, and other groups—could consider to help address these factors, enhance benefits, or mitigate drawbacks of quantum technology development and use. Policy Options to Help Address Factors that Affect Quantum Technology Development and Use, or to Enhance Benefits or Mitigate Drawbacks Policy options and potential implementation approaches Opportunities Considerations Collaboration (report p. 37) Policymakers could encourage further collaboration in developing quantum technologies, such as collaboration among: Scientific disciplines Sectors Countries Collaboration among disciplines could enable technology breakthroughs. Collaboration could help accelerate research and development, as well as facilitate technology transfer from laboratories to the private sector, federal agencies, and others. International collaboration could bring mutual benefits to the U.S. and other countries by accelerating scientific discovery and promoting economic growth. Intellectual property concerns could make quantum technology leaders reluctant to collaborate. Institutional differences could make collaboration difficult. Export controls may complicate international collaboration, but are also needed to manage national security risks. Workforce (report p. 39) Policymakers could consider ways to expand the quantum technology workforce by, for example: Leveraging existing programs and creating new ones Promoting job training Facilitating appropriate hiring of an international workforce who are deemed not to pose a national security risk Educational programs could provide students and personnel with the qualifications and skills needed to work in quantum technologies across the private sector, public sector, and academia. Training personnel from different disciplines in quantum technologies could enhance the supply of quantum talent. International hiring could allow U.S. quantum employers to attract and retain top talent from other countries. Efforts to increase the quantum technology labor force may affect the supply of expertise in other technology fields with high demand. It may be difficult to adequately develop workforce plans to accommodate quantum technology needs. International hiring could be challenging because of visa requirements and export controls, both in place for national security reasons. Investment (report p. 41) Policymakers could consider ways to incentivize or support investment in quantum technology development, such as: Investments targeted toward specific results Continued investment in quantum technology research centers Grand challenges to spur solutions from the public More targeted investments could help advance quantum technologies. These may include investments in improving access to quantum computers and focusing on real-world applications. Quantum technologies testbed facility investments could support technology adoption, since testbeds allow researchers to explore new technologies and test the functionality of devices. Grand challenges have shown success in providing new capabilities and could be leveraged for quantum technologies. It may be difficult to fund projects with longer-term project timeframes. A lack of standards or, conversely, developing standards too early, could affect quantum technology investments. Without standards, businesses and consumers may not be confident that products will work as expected. Developing standards too early may deter the growth of alternative technology pathways. Supply Chain (report p. 43) Policymakers could encourage the development of a robust, secure supply chain for quantum technologies by, for example: Enhancing efforts to identify gaps in the global supply chain Expanding fabrication capabilities for items with an at-risk supply chain A robust supply chain could help accelerate progress and mitigate quantum technology development risks by expanding access to necessary components and materials or providing improved economies of scale. Quantum material fabrication capabilities improvements could ensure a reliable supply of materials to support quantum technology development. Facilities dedicated to producing quantum materials could help support scalable manufacturing of component parts needed for quantum technology development. The current quantum supply chain is global, which poses risks. For example, it is difficult to obtain a complete understanding of a component’s potential vulnerabilities. Some critical components, such as rare earths, are mined primarily outside of the U.S., which may pose risks to the supply chain that are difficult to mitigate. Quantum manufacturing facilities take a long time to develop and can be costly. Source: GAO. | GAO-21-104422 Why GAO Did This Study Quantum information technologies could dramatically increase capabilities beyond what is possible with classical technologies. Future quantum computers could have high-value applications in security, cryptography, drug development, and energy. Future quantum communications could allow for secure communications by making information challenging to intercept without the eavesdropper being detected. GAO conducted a technology assessment on (1) the availability of quantum computing and communications technologies and how they work, (2) potential future applications of such technologies and benefits and drawbacks from their development and use, and (3) factors that could affect technology development and policy options available to help address those factors, enhance benefits, or mitigate drawbacks. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed key reports and scientific literature; interviewed government, industry, academic representatives, and potential end users; and convened a meeting of experts in collaboration with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. GAO is identifying policy options in this report. For more information, contact Karen L. Howard at (202) 512-6888 or howardk@gao.gov.
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  • Veterans Health Care: Agency Efforts to Provide and Study Prosthetics for Small but Growing Female Veteran Population
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) provides veterans with prosthetic services to assist with their mobility, vision, and hearing needs. The proportion of prosthetics VHA provided to female veterans has been small compared to the share provided to male veterans. However, in fiscal years 2015 to 2019, this proportion grew from 6.8 percent to 7.9 percent and accounted for about $889.1 million of the $15.4 billion total cost of prosthetics. Artificial limbs comprised a relatively small number of the total prosthetics VHA provided to veterans in fiscal years 2015 to 2019; however, veterans who use artificial limbs have complex needs and are significant users of health care services. VHA provided prosthetic services to a small but growing female veteran amputee population (almost 3 percent of veteran amputees in fiscal year 2019), who were generally younger than male veteran amputees. VHA has established an individualized patient care approach in its Amputation System of Care that seeks to address the prosthetic needs of each veteran, including accounting for gender-specific factors. VHA officials said that using a standardized, multidisciplinary approach across VA medical facilities also helps them incorporate the concerns and preferences of female veterans. For example, veterans are provided care by a team that includes a physician, therapist, prosthetist (clinician who helps evaluate prosthetic needs and then designs, fabricates, fits, and adjusts artificial limbs), and other providers as needed. Female veteran amputees GAO spoke with at one VA medical facility said they were satisfied with their VHA care. They also noted a lack of commercially available prosthetic options that VHA providers can use to meet women's needs. Examples of Female Veterans' Artificial Limb Prosthetics Women are generally studied less than their male counterparts in prosthetic and amputee rehabilitation research. VHA designated prosthetics for female veterans a national research priority in 2017, and has funded eight related studies as of May 2020: four pertain to lower limb amputation, three pertain to upper limb amputation, and one pertains to wheelchairs. VHA officials noted the importance of this research priority and the ongoing challenge of recruiting study participants due to the small female veteran population. VHA researchers said they employ various tactics to address this challenge, such as using multi-site studies and recruiting participants from the non-veteran population. Women are the fastest growing veteran subpopulation, with the number of female veterans using VHA health care services increasing 29 percent from 2014 to 2019. Female veterans accounted for an estimated 10 percent of the total veteran population in fiscal year 2019. They are eligible to receive a full range of VHA health care services, including obtaining prosthetics. House Report 115-188 included a provision for GAO to review VHA's prosthetic services for female veterans. This report examines 1) trends in prosthetics provided by VHA to female veterans; 2) characteristics of the female veteran population with limb loss and how VHA provides prosthetic services to these veterans through its Amputation System of Care; and 3) VHA's research efforts and the challenges that exist in studying prosthetics for female veterans with limb loss. GAO analyzed VHA documents, as well as data from fiscal years 2015 to 2019 on prosthetics and veterans with amputations. GAO interviewed agency officials from VHA central office and officials and female veteran amputees at two VA medical facilities selected for expertise in amputation care and prosthetics research activities. In addition, GAO interviewed VHA researchers conducting studies on prosthetics for female veterans. GAO provided a draft of this report to VA. VA provided general and technical comments, which were incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Jessica Farb at (202) 512-7114 or farbj@gao.gov.
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  • Olympic Security: U.S. Support to Athens Games Provides Lessons for Future Olympics
    In U.S GAO News
    The 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, were held against the backdrop of growing concerns about international terrorism. Despite widespread fears of a potential terrorist attack on the Olympics, Greece hosted a safe and secure event with no terrorist incidents. To assist Greece in securing the 2004 Games, U.S. government agencies provided training and other support in the four years leading up to the Games. In addition, the U.S. government provided some security and other assistance to American athletes, spectators, and commercial investors, and expects to continue such support for future Olympics, including the upcoming 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. GAO was asked to (1) determine the U.S. approach and coordination efforts for providing security assistance to the 2004 Summer Olympics; (2) examine the roles of U.S. agencies in Athens Olympics security and their financial outlays; and (3) review lessons learned in providing security assistance in support of the Olympics and how they are being incorporated into preparations for future Olympics. The Departments of State, Homeland Security, Defense, and Justice concurred with the report or had no comments.In 2001, the United States began planning its security assistance for the 2004 Summer Olympics, responding to the heightened worldwide anxiety following the September 11 attacks and Greece's request for international advice on its security plan. The United States based much of its security assistance on knowledge gained through Greece's participation in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance Program and through the staging of a major U.S. military exercise in March 2004. Based on these assessments, the United States employed a coordinated approach in providing security assistance to Greece for the Olympics. The U.S. Ambassador in Greece coordinated and led the U.S. interagency efforts in-country, while the State-chaired interagency working group in Washington, D.C., coordinated domestic contributions. Furthermore, the United States participated in a seven-country coordination group that aimed to identify potential areas of cooperation on security and support for Greece. Almost 20 entities and offices within a number of U.S. agencies provided more than $35 million in security assistance and support to the government of Greece. The Departments of State, Homeland Security, Defense, and Justice provided security training to various elements of the Greek government; the Departments of Energy and Justice provided crisis response assistance during the Olympics; and the State Department also provided special security and other assistance to U.S. athletes, spectators, and corporate sponsors. Following the 2004 Summer Games, these U.S. agencies identified a number of lessons learned, such as the importance of assessing host governments' security capabilities early to assist in planning U.S. support, appointing key personnel to craft unified messages for the U.S. security efforts, and coordinating with multilateral and other organizing entities. These lessons were then communicated by Washington, D.C.- and Athens-based personnel to U.S. officials in Italy who are preparing to support the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
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