October 21, 2021

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Justice Department Resolves Lawsuit Alleging Disability-Based Discrimination by Developer and Owners of Eight Senior Living Complexes in Five States

14 min read
<div>The Justice Department announced that the developer and owners of eight senior living complexes in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee have agreed to pay $450,000 to settle claims that they violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to build these properties with required accessible features for people with disabilities. As part of the settlement, the defendants agreed to make substantial retrofits to remove accessibility barriers at the complexes, including more than 1,500 units.</div>
The Justice Department announced that the developer and owners of eight senior living complexes in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee have agreed to pay $450,000 to settle claims that they violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to build these properties with required accessible features for people with disabilities. As part of the settlement, the defendants agreed to make substantial retrofits to remove accessibility barriers at the complexes, including more than 1,500 units.

More from: September 17, 2021

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  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Advance Coordination and Increased Visibility Needed to Optimize Capabilities
    In U.S GAO News
    Combatant commanders carrying out ongoing operations rank the need for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities as high on their priority lists. The Department of Defense (DOD) is investing in many ISR systems, including unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), to meet the growing demand for ISR assets to support the warfighter. GAO was asked to evaluate DOD's efforts to integrate UAS into ongoing operations while optimizing the use of all DOD ISR assets. Specifically, this report addresses the extent that (1) DOD has taken steps to facilitate the integration of UAS into combat operations, and (2) DOD's approach to allocating and tasking its ISR assets considers all available ISR capabilities, including those provided by UAS. GAO also reviewed the extent that DOD evaluates the performance of its ISR assets, including UAS, in meeting warfighters' needs. To perform this work, GAO analyzed data and guidance on the use of ISR assets, and interviewed DOD officials, including those supporting ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.DOD components have developed guidance to facilitate the integration of UAS into combat operations; however, further steps are needed to coordinate the deployment of these assets. For example, DOD developed guidance for the tactical employment of UAS and a Joint UAS Concept of Operations. This guidance is an important first step but does not address coordinating UAS and other ISR assets prior to deploying them to ongoing operations, which U.S. Central Command recognized is a critical factor in integrating UAS into combat operations. Until DOD addresses the need for DOD-wide advance coordination, it may continue to face challenges in successfully integrating UAS and other ISR assets into combat operations and may exacerbate integration challenges such as limited bandwidth. DOD's approach to allocating and tasking its ISR assets, including UAS, hinders its ability to optimize the use of these assets because it does not consider the capabilities of all available ISR assets. The command charged with recommending how theater-level DOD ISR assets should be allocated to support operational requirements does not have awareness of all available ISR assets because DOD does not have a mechanism for obtaining this information. Similarly, the commander responsible for coordinating ongoing joint air operations does not have information on how assets controlled by tactical units are being used or what missions they've been tasked to support. Nor do tactical units have information on how theater-level assets and ISR assets embedded in other units are being tasked, which results in problems such as duplicative taskings. This lack of visibility occurs because DOD does not have a mechanism for tracking the missions both theater- and tactical-level ISR assets are supporting or how they are being used. Without an approach to allocation and tasking that includes a mechanism for considering all ISR capabilities, DOD may be unable to fully leverage all available ISR assets and optimize their use. DOD is unable to fully evaluate the performance of its ISR assets because it lacks a complete set of metrics and does not consistently receive feedback to ensure the warfighter's needs were met. Although the Joint Functional Component Command for ISR has been tasked with developing ISR metrics, DOD currently assesses its ISR missions with limited quantitative metrics such as the number of targets planned versus captured. While these metrics are a good start, DOD officials acknowledge that the current metrics do not capture all of the qualitative considerations associated with measuring ISR asset effectiveness such as the cumulative knowledge provided by numerous ISR missions. There is an ongoing effort within DOD to develop additional quantitative as well as qualitative ISR metrics, but no DOD-wide milestones have been established. Furthermore, DOD guidance calls for an evaluation of the results of joint operations; however, DOD officials acknowledge that this feedback is not consistently occurring due to the fast pace of operations in theater. Without metrics and feedback, DOD may not be able to validate how well the warfighters' needs are being met, whether it is optimizing the use of existing assets, or which new systems would best support warfighting needs.
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  • U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund: Estimated Lump Sum Catch-Up Payments
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found GAO estimated that lump sum catch-up payments to 5,364 9/11 victims, spouses, and dependents would total about $2.7 billion. This amount would result in the proportion of payments provided for claims submitted by 9/11 victims, spouses, and dependents to be equal to the proportion of payments provided for claims submitted by 9/11 family members (for example, a nondependent sibling or parent). GAO estimated that the amount of payments that 9/11 family members received (about $1.2 billion), as a percentage of their net eligible claims during the first two rounds of the Fund distributions (about $19.7 billion), was 5.8573 percent. GAO applied the percentage to the net eligible claims of 9/11 victims, spouses, and dependents (about $45.3 billion) to estimate the lump sum catch-up payments. GAO also estimated that, if authorized, lump sum catch-up payments to these 5,364 9/11 victims, spouses, and dependents would vary widely based on their net eligible claims and other factors, such as court awarded compensation related to the act of international terrorism that gave rise to a claimant's final judgement. Below is a summary of how estimated lump sum catch-up payments could vary across all groups: Victims: The minimum amount is $45,056 and maximum amount is $1,171,460, with an average of $445,634; Spouses: The minimum amount is $281,601 and maximum amount is $732,163, with an average of $675,423; and Dependents: The minimum amount is $179,644 and maximum amount is $497,871, with an average of $432,303. Why GAO Did This Study In 2015, the Justice for United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Act (Terrorism Act) was enacted, which established the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund (Fund) to provide compensation for persons injured in acts of international state-sponsored terrorism. The Fund, which is administered by the Special Master and supported by U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) personnel, has allocated approximately $3.3 billion in three payment rounds, which began in 2017, 2019, and 2020. In 2019, the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund Clarification Act amended the groups of individuals who were eligible to claim payments from the Fund. These changes affected the amounts that 9/11 victims, spouses, and dependents could claim from the Fund, compared with 9/11 family members. The Sudan Claims Resolution Act includes provisions for GAO to (1) estimate lump sum catch-up payments to eligible 9/11 victims, spouses, and dependents, that would result in the percentage of claims received from the Fund being equal to the percentage of claims of 9/11 family members received from the Fund; and (2) estimate amounts of lump sum catch-up payments for 9/11 victims, spouses, and dependents. To conduct this work, GAO reviewed relevant documents, interviewed DOJ officials who support the Fund, and analyzed Fund data. In March 2021 and June 2021, GAO published Federal Register notices requesting public comments on GAO's methodology for calculating lump sum catch-up payments and estimated lump sum catch-up payments. For more information, contact Triana McNeil at (202) 512-8777 or McNeilT@gao.gov and Jason Bair at (202) 512-4128 or BairJ@gao.gov.
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    In U.S GAO News
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  • Southwest Border: Schedule Considerations Drove Army Corps of Engineers’ Approaches to Awarding Construction Contracts through 2020
    In U.S GAO News
    Why This Matters Following a 2019 Presidential Declaration of National Emergency, billions of dollars were made available for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' use on border barrier construction. This report provides information on the Corps' contracting for border barriers during fiscal years 2018–2020. Key Takeaways Some Department of Defense funding was only available for a short time before expiring, giving the Corps a tight schedule for awarding contracts. This—and the emergency declaration—led the Corps to depart from its planned acquisition approach. The Corps focused on starting construction quickly and maximizing the miles of border barrier panels it could build. To do so, it: Awarded $4.3 billion in noncompetitive contracts. Competition helps ensure the government gets a good price. Started work before agreeing to terms. The Corps awarded several contracts before terms, such as barrier specifications and cost, were finalized. By focusing on expediency in contracting, the government risks paying higher costs. Contractors completed most DOD-funded border barrier panels by the end of December 2020 as scheduled. A January 2021 Presidential Proclamation paused border barrier construction to the extent permitted by law, and called for a review. In March 2021, DOD officials said they gave input to the Office of Management and Budget, and OMB will present a plan to the President. The Corps has not developed plans to examine its overall acquisition approach and identify lessons learned. Without doing so, the Corps could miss opportunities to strengthen its contracting strategies in future border support efforts. Border Barrier Obligations, Fiscal Years 2018–2020 How GAO Did This Study We reviewed all of the border barrier construction contracts the Corps awarded for projects from fiscal years 2018 through 2020. We also reviewed relevant federal procurement data and interviewed Corps and Department of Homeland Security officials.
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  • Nuclear Security Enterprise: NNSA Should Use Portfolio Management Leading Practices to Support Modernization Efforts
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has partially implemented selected leading practices to manage the work necessary to maintain and modernize the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile. GAO found that NNSA is in the early stages of initiating its portfolio management processes and has partially implemented leading practices, such as establishing a clearly defined portfolio of work. For example, NNSA officials stated that its Weapons Activities appropriations account is a portfolio of work. However, NNSA has not developed clearly defined and appropriately empowered governance roles, such as a portfolio manager, for its Weapons Activities portfolio. As NNSA continues to develop its approach to portfolio management, establishing a portfolio management framework—consistent with selected leading practices—may allow NNSA to fully implement all leading practices, better define how program offices will pursue strategic stockpile modernization objectives, and optimize portfolio performance in the event that budget trade-offs become necessary. NNSA's offices have undertaken four separate efforts to identify and assess the capabilities needed across the nuclear security enterprise to meet its stockpile maintenance and modernization mission, but NNSA has not developed a comprehensive or complete capability assessment that could support its portfolio management approach (see fig.). NNSA undertook three of these four independent efforts to identify and assess capabilities in response to different legislative direction and did not incorporate information on all elements of a capability (knowledge, human capital, and infrastructure) in any of the individual efforts. Working across the agency to conduct a comprehensive, complete capability assessment would provide NNSA with a portfolio-level view of the enterprise's capabilities and needs, allowing for planning that considers interdependencies that have been missed in the past when planning focused on individual programs or projects. Relationship between Capability Assessment and Portfolio Management Why GAO Did This Study NNSA is simultaneously modernizing the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile and the infrastructure on which weapons research and production programs depend. These efforts include multi-billion-dollar defense programs and projects that provide the capabilities needed for maintenance and modernization programs. Congress previously directed NNSA to identify its needed capabilities. The Senate report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 includes a provision for GAO to review NNSA's approach to managing its defense programs and to identifying capabilities. This report examines the extent to which NNSA (1) used selected portfolio management leading practices to manage its maintenance and modernization programs and projects and (2) developed a comprehensive and complete capability assessment to support portfolio management. GAO reviewed NNSA documentation related to portfolio management and capabilities and compared it with leading practices and legislative requirements. GAO also interviewed NNSA officials from six agency offices.
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  • Security Assistance: State and DOD Need to Assess How the Foreign Military Financing Program for Egypt Achieves U.S. Foreign Policy and Security Goals
    In U.S GAO News
    Since 1979, Egypt has received about $60 billion in military and economic assistance with about $34 billion in the form of foreign military financing (FMF) grants that enable Egypt to purchase U.S.-manufactured military goods and services. In this report, GAO (1) describes the types and amounts of FMF assistance provided to Egypt; (2) assesses the financing arrangements used to provide FMF assistance to Egypt; and (3) evaluates how the U.S. assesses the program's contribution to U.S. foreign policy and security goals.Egypt is currently among the largest recipients of U.S. foreign assistance, along with Israel, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Egypt has received about $1.3 billion annually in U.S. foreign military financing (FMF) assistance and has purchased a variety of U.S.-manufactured military goods and services such as Apache helicopters, F-16 aircraft, and M1A1 tanks, as well as the training and maintenance to support these systems. The United States has provided Egypt with FMF assistance through a statutory cash flow financing arrangement that permits flexibility in how Egypt acquires defense goods and services from the United States. In the past, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) accumulated large undisbursed balances in this program. Because the flexibilities of cash flow financing permit Egypt to pay for its purchases over time, Egypt currently has agreements for U.S. defense articles and services worth over $2 billion--some of which are not due for full payment until 2011. The Departments of State (State) and Defense (DOD) have not conducted an assessment to identify the risks and impacts of a potential shift in FMF funding. Officials and many experts assert that the FMF program to Egypt supports U.S. foreign policy and security goals; however, State and DOD do not assess how the program specifically contributes to these goals. U.S. and Egyptian officials cited examples of Egypt's support for U.S. interests, such as maintaining Egyptian-Israeli peace and providing access to the Suez Canal and Egyptian airspace. DOD has not determined how it will measure progress in achieving key goals such as interoperability and modernizing Egypt's military. For example, the U.S. Central Command, the responsible military authority, defines modernization as the ratio of U.S.-to-Soviet equipment in Egypt's inventory and does not include other potentially relevant factors, such as readiness or military capabilities. Achieving interoperability in Egypt is complicated by the lack of a common definition of interoperability and limitations on some types of sensitive equipment transfers. Given the longevity and magnitude of FMF assistance to Egypt, evaluating the degree to which the program meets its goals would be important information for congressional oversight, particularly as Congress assesses the balance between economic and military assistance to Egypt as well as the impact on U.S. foreign policy interests.
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