October 21, 2021

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Man Pleads Guilty to Obstruction of an Official Proceeding for Breaching U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6

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<div>A Florida man pleaded guilty today to crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 which disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the presidential election.</div>
A Florida man pleaded guilty today to crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 which disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the presidential election.

More from: June 2, 2021

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  • Federal Land Management: Key Differences and Stakeholder Views of the Federal Systems Used to Manage Hardrock Mining
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Stakeholders GAO interviewed provided their views on the two systems used to manage hardrock mining on federal lands (see figure). Under the location system, the public generally has the right to explore federal lands, stake mining claims, hold the claims in perpetuity, and extract minerals without paying a federal royalty. Under the leasing system, the public generally must obtain agency approval to explore federal lands for minerals and must obtain a mining lease, which sets time limits and other conditions, including paying a federal royalty. GAO found collective differences between the views of different stakeholder groups. For example: Industry stakeholders' comments reflected a general emphasis on certainty: certainty that federal lands will be open and available for exploration, that they will be able to develop the deposits they find, and that they will have ample time to accommodate the lengthy mine development process. These are characteristics that these stakeholders generally described as advantages of the location system. Public interest and tribal government stakeholders' comments reflected a general emphasis on balance: that mining will be equitably balanced with other land uses, that the public will have the opportunity to participate in land- use decisions, and that mining will not preclude other future uses of the land. These are characteristics that these stakeholders generally described as advantages of the leasing system. Number of Hardrock Mining Operations Authorized to Produce Minerals on Federal Lands by System and State, as of September 30, 2018 However, collective comments from stakeholders suggested that neither system wholly advances their goals in all respects and those stakeholders identified areas for improvement in the management of hardrock mining on federal lands. These areas fell in three broad categories: Environmental stewardship. For example, some stakeholders said abandoned mines pose various challenges and suggested establishing federal funding sources for reclamation. Administrative resources. For example, some stakeholders said greater agency staff expertise, as well as an appropriate level of staffing, could improve overall agency management of hardrock mining activity. Governance and transparency. For example, some stakeholders identified public engagement as an overall area for improvement and said steps should be taken to increase public access to information about mining activities. Why GAO Did This Study Hardrock minerals, such as gold and copper, are crucial resources for modern technology. However, mining by its nature can create lasting health hazards and environmental contamination. The Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Agriculture's Forest Service are responsible for managing hardrock mining on the federal lands they manage. Federal management of hardrock mining has been a source of ongoing debate, in part because the agencies use two different systems, depending on where the resources occur: the location system under the General Mining Act of 1872 to manage hardrock mining on public domain lands (those usually never in state or private ownership), and the leasing system first adopted in the 1940s to manage hardrock mining on acquired lands (those granted or sold to the United States by a state or citizen). GAO was asked to review hardrock mining on federal lands. This report describes, among other things, stakeholder views on the systems and areas for improvement. GAO reviewed relevant laws, regulations, policies, and literature about mining systems. GAO interviewed agency officials. GAO interviewed stakeholders selected to reflect a broad range of perspectives from industry, public interest groups such as environmental organizations, and tribal governments. For more information, contact Mark E. Gaffigan, (202) 512-3841 or gaffiganm@gao.gov.
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  • Priority Open Recommendations: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified seven priority recommendations for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Since then, NRC implemented one of these recommendations by issuing a risk management strategy that addresses key elements foundational to effectively managing cybersecurity risks. The remaining six priority recommendations involve the following areas: addressing the security of radiological sources. improving the reliability of cost estimates. improving strategic human capital management. NRC's continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations. Why GAO Did This Study Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015, GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations. For more information, contact Mark Gaffigan at (202) 512-3841 or gaffiganm@gao.gov.
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  •  Secretary Blinken’s Call with Czech Prime Minister Babiš
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  • FBI Employee Indicted for Illegally Removing National Security Documents, Taking Material to Her Home
    In Crime News
    An employee of the FBI’s Kansas City Division has been indicted by a federal grand jury for illegally removing numerous national security documents that were found in her home.
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  • Forced Labor Imports: DHS Increased Resources and Enforcement Efforts, but Needs to Improve Workforce Planning and Monitoring
    In U.S GAO News
    Since 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has increased its resources to enforce a prohibition on importing goods made with forced labor, but has not determined its workforce needs. CBP formed the Forced Labor Division in 2018 to lead its efforts, and increased expenditures for the division from roughly $1 million in fiscal year 2018 to $1.4 million in fiscal year 2019. However, CBP has not assessed and documented the staffing levels or skills needed for the Forced Labor Division. For example, the division suspended some ongoing investigations due to a staff shortage and has plans to expand and train its workforce; however, the division has not assessed the number, type, locations, or specialized skills of positions it needs to achieve programmatic results. Without assessing its workforce needs, the division lacks reasonable assurance that it has the right number of people, with the right skills, in the right places. CBP has increased forced labor investigations and civil enforcement actions, but managers lack complete and consistent data summarizing cases. CBP detained shipments under 13 Withhold Release Orders (WRO) from 2016 through 2019, as shown in the figure below. However, the Forced Labor Division uses incomplete and inconsistent summary data to monitor its investigations. For example, data were missing on the sources of evidence collected for almost all active cases. Incomplete and inconsistent summary data on the characteristics and status of cases may hinder managers' effective monitoring of case progress and enforcement efforts. Figure: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Forced Labor Withhold Release Orders, 2016 through 2019 With regard to criminal violations, DHS's U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has increased its resources to investigate allegations of forced labor, including those related to U.S. imports. ICE coordinates criminal investigations of forced labor, conducted in the U.S. and abroad. ICE reported spending about $40 million on forced labor investigations in fiscal year 2019, an increase of over 50 percent since 2016. Forced labor investigations often involve a range of criminal violations, including violations that are not related to the importation of goods. As such, reported expenditures include costs for cases on related issues, such as human trafficking. Forced labor is a global problem in which individuals are exploited to perform labor or services. The International Labour Organization estimates that forced labor generates profits of $150 billion a year globally. CBP is responsible for enforcing Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930, which prohibits the importation of goods made with forced labor. CBP has authority to detain shipments when information indicates that forced labor produced the goods. ICE is responsible for investigating potential crimes related to forced labor, and importers may be subject to prosecution. GAO was asked to review the status of DHS resources for implementing the Section 307 prohibition on forced labor imports, following an amendment of the law in 2016. This report examines (1) the extent to which CBP assessed agency needs for the enforcement of the prohibition on forced labor imports, (2) the outcome of CBP enforcement activities and monitoring of such efforts, and (3) ICE resources for investigations on forced labor. GAO reviewed CBP and ICE documents and data, and interviewed agency officials. This is a public version of a sensitive report GAO issued in July 2020. Information that CBP deemed sensitive has been omitted. GAO is making three recommendations, including that CBP assess the workforce needs of the Forced Labor Division, and improve its forced labor summary case data. CBP concurred with all three recommendations. For more information, contact Kimberly Gianopoulos at (202) 512-8612 or gianopoulosk@gao.gov.
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  • West Texas Gas Companies Agree to Pay $3 Million Civil Penalty in Federal Settlement Requiring $5 Million in Safety Improvements and Clean Air Act Compliance at Eight Natural Gas Processing Plants
    In Crime News
    Five subsidiaries of West Texas Gas Inc. will spend up to $5 million on compliance measures in a settlement that resolves allegations in the United States’ complaint, lodged today, that they violated federal Clean Air Act chemical accident prevention requirements at several of their natural gas processing plants. The companies will pay more than $3 million in civil penalties to resolve claims stemming from fatal chemical accidents and accident prevention program violations.
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    In Justice News
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  • Cybersecurity: HHS Defined Roles and Responsibilities, but Can Further Improve Collaboration
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of Information Security is responsible for managing department-wide cybersecurity. HHS clearly defined responsibilities for the divisions within that office to, among other things, document and implement a cybersecurity program, as required by the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014. For healthcare and public health critical infrastructure sector cybersecurity, HHS also defined responsibilities for five HHS entities. Among these entities are the Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center, which was established to improve cybersecurity information sharing in the sector, and the Healthcare Threat Operations Center, a federal interagency program co-led by HHS and focused on, among other things, providing descriptive and actionable cyber data. Private-sector partners that receive information provided by the Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center informed GAO that they could benefit from receiving more actionable threat information. However, this center does not routinely receive such information from the Healthcare Threat Operations Center, and therefore is not positioned to provide it to sector partners. This lack of sharing is due, in part, to HHS not describing coordination between the two entities in procedures defining their responsibilities for cybersecurity information sharing. Until HHS formalizes coordination for the two entities, they will continue to miss an opportunity to strengthen information sharing with sector partners. Further, HHS entities led, or participated in, seven collaborative groups that focused on cybersecurity in the department and healthcare and public health sector. These entities regularly collaborated on cyber response efforts and provided cybersecurity information, guidance, and resources through these groups and other means during COVID-19 between March 2020 and December 2020. In addition, the HHS entities coordinated with the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to address cyber threats associated with COVID-19. Further, the HHS entities fully demonstrated consistency with four of the seven leading collaboration practices that GAO identified, and partially addressed the remaining three (see table). Until HHS takes action to fully demonstrate the remaining three leading practices, it cannot ensure that it is improving cybersecurity within the department and the healthcare and public health sector. Extent to Which the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Demonstrated Leading Practices for Collaborating Leading practice Extent to which the HHS working groups demonstrated the leading practice Define and track outcomes and accountability ◑ - five groups met this practice Bridge organizational cultures ● – all seven groups met this practice Identify leadership ● – all seven groups met this practice Clarify roles and responsibilities ◑ - six groups met this practice Include relevant participants in the group ● – all seven groups met this practice Identify resources ● – all seven groups met this practice Document and regularly update written guidance and agreements ◑ - six groups met this practice Source: GAO analysis of HHS documentation. | GAO-21-403 Why GAO Did This Study HHS and the healthcare and public health sector rely heavily on information systems to fulfill their missions, including delivering healthcare-related services and responding to national health emergencies, such as COVID-19. Federal laws and guidance have set requirements for HHS to address cybersecurity within the department and the sector. Federal guidance also requires collaboration and coordination to strengthen cybersecurity at HHS and in the sector. GAO was asked to review HHS's organizational approach to address cybersecurity. This report discusses HHS's roles and responsibilities for departmental cybersecurity; HHS's roles and responsibilities for healthcare and public health sector cybersecurity; and HHS's efforts to collaborate to manage its cybersecurity responsibilities. To perform its work, GAO reviewed documentation describing HHS's cybersecurity roles and responsibilities, assessed those responsibilities for fragmentation, duplication, and overlap, and evaluated the department's collaborative efforts against GAO's leading practices for collaboration. GAO also interviewed relevant officials at HHS and CISA, and in the sector.
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  • The United States Applauds the Interim Government’s “People’s Vote”
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Justice Department Requires Substantial Divestitures in Gray’s Acquisition of Quincy to Protect American Consumers and Small Businesses
    In Crime News
    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.
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  • Human Capital: Status of Actions Needed to Improve the Timely and Accurate Delivery of Compensation and Medical Benefits to Deployed Civilians
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (DOD) and other executive agencies increasingly deploy civilians in support of contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prior GAO reports show that the use of deployed civilians has raised questions about the potential for differences in policies on compensation and medical benefits. When these civilians are deployed and serve side by side, differences in compensation or medical benefits may become more apparent and could adversely impact morale. This statement is based on GAO's 2009 congressionally requested report, which compared agency policies and identified any issues in policy or implementation regarding (1) compensation, (2) medical benefits, and (3) identification and tracking of deployed civilians. GAO reviewed laws, policies, and guidance; interviewed responsible officials at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM); and conducted a survey of civilians deployed from the six agencies between January 1, 2006 and April 30, 2008. GAO made ten recommendations for agencies to take actions such as reviewing compensation laws and policies, establishing medical screening requirements, and creating mechanisms to assist and track deployed civilians. Seven of the agencies--including DOD-- generally agreed with these recommendations; U.S. Agency for International Development did not. This testimony also updates the actions the agencies have taken to address GAO's recommendations.While policies concerning compensation for deployed civilians are generally comparable, GAO found some issues that can lead to differences in the amount of compensation and the accuracy, timeliness, and completeness of this compensation. For example, two comparable supervisors who deploy under different pay systems may receive different rates of overtime pay because this rate is set by the employee's pay system and grade/band. While a congressional subcommittee asked OPM to develop a benefits package for civilians deployed to war zones and recommend enabling legislation, at the time of GAO's 2009 review, OPM had not yet done so. Also, implementation of some policies may not always be accurate or timely. For example, GAO estimates that about 40 percent of the deployed civilians in its survey reported experiencing problems with compensation, including danger pay. In June 2009, GAO recommended, among other things, that OPM oversee an executive agency working group on compensation to address differences and, if necessary, make legislative recommendations. OPM generally concurred with this recommendation and recently informed GAO that an interagency group is in the process of developing proposals for needed legislation. Although agency policies on medical benefits are similar, GAO found some issues with medical care following deployment and post deployment medical screenings. Specifically, while DOD allows its treatment facilities to care for non-DOD civilians after deployment in some cases, the circumstances are not clearly defined and some agencies were unaware of DOD's policy. Further, while DOD requires medical screening of civilians before and following deployment, State requires screenings only before deployment. Prior GAO work found that documenting the medical condition of deployed personnel before and following deployment was critical to identifying conditions that may have resulted from deployment. GAO recommended, among other things, that State establish post-deployment screening requirements and that DOD establish procedures to ensure its post-deployment screening requirements are completed. While DOD and State agreed, DOD has developed guidance establishing procedures for post-deployment screenings; but, as of April 2010, State had not provided documentation that it established such requirements. Each agency provided GAO with a list of deployed civilians, but none had fully implemented policies to identify and track these civilians. DOD had procedures to identify and track civilians but concluded that its guidance was not consistently implemented. Some agencies had to manually search their systems. Thus, agencies may lack critical information on the location and movement of personnel, which may hamper their ability to intervene promptly to address emerging health issues. GAO recommended that DOD enforce its tracking requirements and the other five agencies establish tracking procedures. While DOD and four agencies concurred with the recommendations and are now in various stages of implementation, U.S. Agency for International Development disagreed stating that its current system is adequate. GAO continues to disagree with this agency's position.
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  • Joint Statement on the Occasion of a Trilateral Discussion among Afghanistan, Tajikistan and the United States
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • The Department of Justice Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Owner of Rental Properties in Elizabeth, New Jersey
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it has filed a lawsuit alleging that the owner of rental properties in Elizabeth, New Jersey violated the Fair Housing Act by subjecting tenants to sexual harassment. 
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  • Former Alabama Correctional Supervisor Convicted for Allowing Inmate Abuse
    In Crime News
    After a three-day trial, a federal jury convicted former Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) shift commander Willie Burks, 42, of failing to stop an officer under his command from assaulting an inmate at ADOC’s Elmore Correctional Facility.
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    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • [Request for Reconsideration of Dismissed Protest of CIA Contract Award]
    In U.S GAO News
    A firm requested reconsideration of its dismissed protest challenging a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) contract award for support of its Records Declassification Program, contending that GAO wrongly concluded that it was not an interested party to challenge the award. In addition to the reconsideration request, the protester contended that CIA improperly failed to disclose funding limitations in the solicitation. GAO held that: (1) the protester lacked sufficient interest to protest the contract award, since its proposed and evaluated costs exceeded the available project funding level, and at least one other bidder was below the funding limitation; and (2) there was no requirement for agencies to reveal budgetary information in solicitations. Accordingly, the request for reconsideration and the protest were denied.
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  • Facing Long Post-Hurricane Recovery, Court in La. Gets Help From Friends
    In U.S Courts
    Hurricane Laura has left a lasting impact on the Western Louisiana community of Lake Charles, and the federal courthouse could be closed a year or more. Despite the disarray, courts in New Orleans, Texas, and even Alaska have reached out to support the court’s staff in getting back on their feet.  
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