This is a publication by GAO’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). The OIG contracted with the independent certified public accounting firm of Williams Adley to audit GAO’s compliance with the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act), and produce this report. This report addresses (1) the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, and quality of GAO’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, fourth quarter financial and award data submitted for publication on USASpending.gov and (2) GAO’s implementation and use of the Government-wide financial data standards established by the OMB and the Department of Treasury, as required by the DATA Act of 2014.
What OIG Found
The audit found that GAO’s data submitted for the fourth quarter of FY 2020 was accurate, complete, timely, of excellent quality, and in accordance with data standards.
For more information, contact Tonya R. Ford at (202) 512-5748 or email@example.com.
- Sexual Harassment: VA Needs to Better Protect EmployeesBy Sam NewsJuly 30, 2020According to data from the most recent Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) survey in 2016, an estimated 22 percent of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees, and 14 percent of federal employees overall, experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace from mid-2014 through mid-2016. VA has policies to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace, but some aspects of the policies and of the complaint processes may hinder those efforts. Misalignment of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Director position: VA's EEO Director oversees both the EEO complaint process, which includes addressing sexual harassment complaints, and general personnel functions. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), this dual role does not adhere to one of its key directives and creates a potential conflict of interest when handling EEO issues. Incomplete or outdated policies and information: VA has an overarching policy for its efforts to prevent and address sexual harassment of its employees. However, some additional policies and information documents are not consistent with VA's overarching policy, are outdated, or are missing information. For example, they may not include all options employees have for reporting sexual harassment, which could result in confusion among employees and managers. Delayed finalization of Harassment Prevention Program (HPP): VA has not formally approved the directive or the implementing guidance for its 4-year-old HPP, which seeks to prevent harassment and address it before it becomes unlawful. Lack of formal approval could limit the program's effectiveness. VA uses complaint data to understand the extent of sexual harassment at the agency, but such data are incomplete. For example, VA compiles information on allegations made through the EEO process and HPP, but does not require managers who receive complaints to report them to VA centrally. As a result, VA is not aware of all sexual harassment allegations across the agency. Without these data, VA may miss opportunities to better track prevalence and to improve its efforts to prevent and address sexual harassment. VA provides training for all employees and managers, but the required training does not have in-depth information on identifying and addressing sexual harassment and does not mention HPP. Some facilities within VA's administrations supplement the training, but providing additional information is not mandatory. Requiring additional training on sexual harassment could improve VA employees' knowledge of the agency's policies and help prevent and address sexual harassment. In June 2020, GAO issued a report entitled Sexual Harassment: Inconsistent and Incomplete Policies and Information Hinder VA's Efforts to Protect Employees (GAO-20-387). This testimony summarizes the findings and recommendations from that report, including (1) the extent to which VA has policies to prevent and address sexual harassment of VA employees, (2) how available data inform VA about sexual harassment of its employees, and (3) training VA provides to employees on preventing and addressing sexual harassment. GAO made seven recommendations in its June 2020 report, including that VA ensure its EEO Director position is not responsible for personnel functions; require managers to report all sexual harassment complaints centrally; and require additional employee training. VA concurred with all but the EEO Director position recommendation, which GAO continues to believe is warranted. For more information, contact Cindy S. Brown Barnes at (202) 512-7215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Four Chinese Nationals Working with the Ministry of State Security Charged with Global Computer Intrusion Campaign Targeting Intellectual Property and Confidential Business Information, Including Infectious Disease ResearchBy Sam NewsJuly 19, 2021A federal grand jury in San Diego, California, returned an indictment in May charging four nationals and residents of the People’s Republic of China with a campaign to hack into the computer systems of dozens of victim companies, universities and government entities in the United States and abroad between 2011 and 2018.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Issues Statement Announcing Decision to Appeal Alabama Association of Realtors v. HHSBy Sam NewsMay 5, 2021Brian M. Boynton, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Division, released the following statement:[Read More…]
- Iraq Contract Costs: DOD Consideration of Defense Contract Audit Agency’s FindingsBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021The government has hired private contractors to provide billions of dollars worth of goods and services to support U.S. efforts in Iraq. Faced with the uncertainty as to the full extent of rebuilding Iraq, the government authorized contractors to begin work before key terms and conditions were defined. This approach allows the government to initiate needed work quickly, but can result in additional costs and risks being imposed on the government. Helping to oversee their work is the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), which examined many Iraq contracts and identified costs they consider to be questioned or unsupported. The Conference Report on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 directed GAO to report on audit findings regarding contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. As agreed with the congressional defense committees, GAO focused on Iraq contract audit findings and determined (1) the costs identified by DCAA as questioned or unsupported; and (2) what actions DOD has taken to address DCAA audit findings, including the extent funds were withheld from contractors. To identify DOD actions in response to the audit findings, GAO selected 18 audit reports representing about 50 percent of DCAA's questioned and unsupported costs on Iraq contracts. GAO requested comments from DOD on a draft of this report, but none were provided.Defense Contract Audit Agency audit reports issued between February 2003 and February 2006 identified $2.1 billion in questioned costs and $1.4 billion in unsupported costs on Iraq contracts. DCAA defines questioned costs as costs that are unacceptable for negotiating reasonable contract prices, and unsupported costs as costs for which the contractor has not provided sufficient documentation. This information is provided to DOD for its negotiations with contractors. Based on information provided by DCAA, DOD contracting officials have taken actions to address $1.4 billion in questioned costs. As a result, DOD contracting officials negotiated contract cost reductions of $386 million according to DCAA. Based on the information provided by DCAA, as of July 2006, the remaining $700 million in questioned costs is still in process. Because unsupported costs indicate a lack of contractor information that is needed to assess costs, DCAA cannot and does not render an opinion on those costs. Therefore, DCAA does not track the resolution of unsupported costs. For the 18 audit reports selected for this review, GAO found that DOD contracting officials took a variety of actions to address DCAA's audit findings, including not allowing some contractor costs. In the contract documentation GAO reviewed, DOD contracting officials generally considered DCAA's questioned and unsupported cost findings when negotiating with the contractor. GAO found DOD contracting officials were more likely to use DCAA's advice when negotiations were timely and occurred before contractors had incurred substantial costs. For example, in three audit reports related to a logistics support task order negotiated prior to the onset of work, DCAA questioned $204 million. According to DCAA's calculations, $120 million of these questioned costs was removed from the contractor's proposal as a result of its audit findings. In contrast, DOD officials were less likely to remove questioned costs from a contract proposal when the contractor had already incurred these costs. For example, in five audit reports comprising about $600 million of questioned costs reviewed, GAO found that the DOD contracting officials determined that the contractor should be paid for all but $38 million of the questioned costs, but reduced the base used to calculate the contractor's fee by $205 million. By reducing the base, the DOD contracting official reduced the contractor's fee by approximately $6 million. In addition to identifying questioned and unsupported costs, DCAA has the option of withholding funds from the contractor and chose to withhold a total of $236 million for eight cases included in this review.[Read More…]
- Colorado Man Sentenced to 16 Years in Federal Prison for Unprovoked Stabbing of Black ManBy Sam NewsSeptember 9, 2021A Colorado man was sentenced to federal prison today for stabbing a Black man from Ontario, Oregon, while the man was sitting in a fast-food restaurant.[Read More…]
- Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks at Announcement of Pattern or Practice Investigation into the Louisville Police DepartmentBy Sam NewsApril 26, 2021Remarks as delivered.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at a Joint Press AvailabilityBy Sam NewsJune 25, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- G7 Statement on Hong Kong Electoral ChangesBy Sam NewsMarch 12, 2021
- Tiny Asteroid Buzzes by Earth – the Closest Flyby on RecordBy Sam NewsIn SpaceSeptember 26, 2020An SUV-size space rock [Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Acting Haitian Prime Minister JosephBy Sam NewsJuly 9, 2021
- Houston bounty hunter sentenced for running international sex trafficking conspiracyBy Sam NewsIn Justice NewsMay 2, 2021A 30-year-old Houston [Read More…]
- U.S. Army Soldier Arrested for Attempting to Assist ISIS to Conduct Deadly Ambush on U.S. TroopsBy Sam NewsJanuary 19, 2021The Justice Department, along with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and U.S. Army Counterintelligence, announced today the arrest of a private first class in the U.S. Army, on federal terrorism charges based on Bridges’ alleged efforts to assist ISIS to attack and kill U.S. soldiers in the Middle East.[Read More…]
- Defendants Charged in Connection with Multi-State Racketeering Conspiracy Involving the Forced Labor of Mexican Agricultural H-2A WorkersBy Sam NewsSeptember 22, 2021A federal grand jury in the Middle District of Florida has returned a six-count indictment against three defendants for their alleged roles in a federal racketeering conspiracy that victimized Mexican H-2A workers who, between 2015 and 2017, had worked in the United States harvesting fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products.[Read More…]
- IT Modernization: HUD Needs to Improve Its Estimation and Oversight Practices for Single-Family HousingBy Sam NewsSeptember 29, 2021What GAO Found For the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Catalyst program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) substantially implemented leading practices for managing information technology (IT) requirements and risk management. The Catalyst program is intended to modernize the single-family housing loan life cycle and associated IT systems. Specifically, the department fully implemented two of four requirements management leading practices, and partially implemented the other two. For example, HUD established requirements and performed testing on all FHA Catalyst modules. However, the department did not document agreements among the project managers responsible for managing requirements or subject FHA Catalyst to an independent review to ensure modules were performing as expected. As a result, the FHA Catalyst program is at risk of not performing as intended or of not meeting requirements. In addition, HUD established a risk management plan, and identified and analyzed risks to FHA Catalyst. However, HUD did not develop contingency plans for the identified risks. Without established contingency plans, the department could be unprepared to handle a critical risk, should one occur. HUD developed cost and schedule estimates for the FHA Catalyst program that exhibited significant weaknesses in addressing leading practices for cost and schedule estimation and, therefore, were unreliable. According to GAO's Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide, the characteristics of a high-quality, reliable cost estimate are that it is comprehensive, well-documented, accurate, and credible. The FHA Catalyst cost estimate was unreliable because it partially addressed the “comprehensive” characteristic, minimally addressed the “well-documented” and “accurate” characteristics, and did not address the “credible” characteristic. For example, although the estimate included life-cycle costs, it did not include the cost of full-time government employees and infrastructure. Without a reliable cost estimate, the department faces an increased risk that the program will cost more than the planned $91.9 million. GAO's Schedule Assessment Guide states that a sound schedule estimate is comprehensive, well-constructed, credible, and controlled. The FHA Catalyst schedule was unreliable because it partially addressed the comprehensive, credible, and controlled characteristics, and did not address the well-constructed characteristic found in the guide. The absence of a reliable schedule estimate raises increased doubt that HUD will be able to complete the modernization by December 2023 as planned. Although HUD took early action to establish FHA Catalyst oversight and partially implemented four related categories of leading practices, gaps exist in the established processes to oversee the program. These gaps include a lack of fully defined roles and responsibilities, and the absence of measures to assess performance. Accordingly, HUD lacks assurance that oversight will be performed and that decision makers have the information needed to monitor the program. Why GAO Did This Study For many years, HUD has insured a portfolio of single-family mortgages worth over $1 trillion, relying on an outdated IT infrastructure and manual processes. HUD has made several unsuccessful attempts to modernize IT in the past, leaving it dependent on legacy systems. In April 2019, FHA and HUD's Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), initiated FHA Catalyst. GAO was requested to review HUD's single-family housing modernization program. This report examines (1) the extent to which HUD has implemented leading practices for managing requirements and identifying and mitigating risks for FHA Catalyst, (2) the reliability of the program's estimated costs and schedule, and (3) the extent to which HUD has established effective oversight for the program. GAO compared FHA Catalyst documentation on requirements, risk, cost, schedule, and oversight to leading practices identified in the Capability Maturity Model Integration, and GAO's guides on cost, schedule, and investment management. GAO also interviewed FHA and OCIO officials.[Read More…]
- Joint Communiqué by Ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISISBy Sam NewsJune 28, 2021
- Justice Department Recognizes the 10th Annual Human Trafficking Prevention MonthBy Sam NewsJanuary 29, 2021The 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…]
- Two Former Louisiana Correctional Officers Sentenced for Cover Up Following Death of an InmateBy Sam NewsMarch 11, 2021Two Louisiana women, former jail deputies, were sentenced today to over a year in prison and six months in prison respectively for their roles in covering up a civil rights violation arising out of an inmate’s death at the St. Bernard Parish Prison (SBPP).[Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Gary Pruitt, President and CEO of the Associated PressBy Sam NewsMay 17, 2021
- Las Vegas Man Sentenced to Prison for Fraudulent Tax Return SchemeBy Sam NewsOctober 7, 2020A Las Vegas, Nevada, man was sentenced to 70 months in prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman, U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada, and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Tara Sullivan.[Read More…]
- Hospital Researcher Sentenced to Prison for Conspiring to Steal Trade Secrets, Sell Them in ChinaBy Sam NewsFebruary 1, 2021A former Dublin, Ohio, woman was sentenced in U.S. District Court today to 30 months in prison for conspiring to steal exosome-related trade secrets concerning the research, identification and treatment of a range of pediatric medical conditions. Li Chen, 47, also conspired to commit wire fraud. Chen admitted in her guilty plea in July 2020 to stealing scientific trade secrets related to exosomes and exosome isolation from Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Research Institute for her own personal financial gain.[Read More…]