This report was submitted to the Comptroller General in accordance with Section 5 of the Government Accountability Office Act of 2008. The report summarizes the activities of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the six-month reporting period ending March 31, 2021. During the reporting period, the OIG issued one audit report and began three performance audits. In addition, the OIG closed four investigations and two self-initiated inquiries, and opened seven new investigations. The OIG processed 46 hotline complaints, many of which were referred to other OIGs for action because the matters involved were within their jurisdictions.
The OIG remained active in the GAO and OIG communities by briefing new GAO employees on its audit and investigative missions, and participating in committees and working groups of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, including those related to the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. Details of these activities and other accomplishments are provided in the report.
For more information, contact Tonya R. Ford at (202) 512-5748 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Disqualification of Pan-Democratic Lawmakers in Hong KongBy Sam NewsNovember 12, 2020Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- The United States and Japan Expand Indo-Pacific Economic CooperationBy Sam NewsMarch 16, 2021
- On the Occasion of World Refugee DayBy Sam NewsSeptember 27, 2020Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- Seven Charged in Connection with a $2.1 Million Money Laundering Scheme that Involved Money from the Paycheck Protection ProgramBy Sam NewsSeptember 10, 2020Seven individuals were charged in an indictment in the District of South Carolina with laundering over $750,000 of fraudulently obtained funds, including over $390,000 obtained from a fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. The seven individuals used a variety of methods to launder the money, including laundering the money through a casino. The indictment also identifies over $2.1 million in funds from twelve different bank accounts allegedly associated with the fraud scheme as subject to forfeiture which agents seized.[Read More…]
- ISIS Militant Pleads Guilty to Role in Deaths of Four Americans in SyriaBy Sam NewsSeptember 2, 2021A militant fighter for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a foreign terrorist organization, pleaded guilty today to all charges that were pending against him in the United States relating to his participation in a brutal hostage-taking scheme that resulted in the deaths of four American citizens, as well as the deaths of British and Japanese nationals, in Syria.[Read More…]
- Memphis Physicians Agree To Pay More Than $340,000 for Alleged OverbillingBy Sam NewsOctober 30, 2020Doctor Shoaib Qureshi, Doctor Imran Mirza, Memphis Primary Care Specialists, Lunceford Family Health Center, and Getwell Family Medicine agreed to pay $341,690 to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by knowingly charging Medicare for services rendered by nurse practitioners at the higher reimbursement rate for physician services, the Justice Department announced today.[Read More…]
- Former Union President Sentenced for Violent ExtortionBy Sam NewsSeptember 23, 2020The former president of Iron Workers Local 395 was sentenced today to 42 months in prison for his role in organizing a brutal assault on a group of non-union ironworkers in Dyer, Indiana.[Read More…]
- Final Defendant Sentenced in $7 Billion Investment Fraud SchemeBy Sam NewsFebruary 24, 2021The former chief of Antigua’s Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC) was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for his role in connection with a $7 billion Ponzi scheme involving the Stanford International Bank (SIB).[Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call With Families Of Loved Ones Held Hostage Or Wrongfully Detained AbroadBy Sam NewsFebruary 2, 2021
- Somalia Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsIn TravelSeptember 26, 2020Do not travel to Somalia [Read More…]
- Special Operations Forces: DOD’s Report to Congress Generally Addressed the Statutory Requirements but Lacks DetailBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021What GAO Found GAO found that the Department of Defense’s (DOD) report to Congress on special operations forces (SOF) and U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) addressed or partially addressed each of the eight mandated reporting elements, but did not include additional details on the analysis that underpins the department’s conclusions on several reporting elements. Specifically: Reporting Element 1: The organizational structure of SOCOM and each subordinate component. The report partially addressed this by concluding that the organizational structure of SOCOM is adequate to meet current assigned roles and responsibilities. The report does not provide analysis to justify how the department reached that conclusion. Reporting Element 2: The policy and civilian oversight structures for SOF within DOD. The report partially addressed this by concluding that the oversight and statutory structures and responsibilities meets statutory and assigned oversight responsibilities. The report does not discuss the alignment of resources, including human capital, as it pertains to the offices with oversight responsibilities. Reporting Element 3: The roles and responsibilities of SOCOM and SOF under Title 10 of the U.S. Code. The report addressed this by concluding that SOCOM and SOF have sufficient statutory authorities to accomplish their roles and responsibilities under section 167 of title 10, United States Code. Reporting Element 4: The current and future special operations-peculiar requirements of the geographic combatant commands and the Theater Special Operations Commands.The report partially addressed this by concluding that current and future special-operations peculiar requirements can be met with current and planned resources. The report does not specify the GAO found that the Department of Defense’s (DOD) report to Congress on special operations forces (SOF) and U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) addressed or partially addressed each of the eight mandated reporting elements, but did not include additional details on the analysis that underpins the department’s conclusions on several reporting elements. Reporting Element 5: The command relationships between SOCOM, its subordinate component commands, and the geographic combatant commands. The report partially addressed this by concluding that command relationships are adequate. The report includes information on the relationships between SOCOM, the geographic combatant commands, and the Theater Special Operations Commands, but does not discuss command relationships between SOCOM and its service component commands Reporting Element 6: The funding authorities, uses, acquisition processes, and civilian oversight mechanisms of Major Force Program-11. The report addressed this by concluding that these elements of Major Force Program-11 funding, which is used to organize, train, and equip forces to conduct special operations missions and acquire or modify service common systems for special operations when there is no broad conventional force need, are adequate and by including information on the budget development process and uses of Major Force Program-11 funding. The report also addressed the resolution of resourcing disputes between SOCOM and the services; DOD’s assessment of funding authorities and overseas contingency operations requirements; and civilian oversight mechanisms for Major Force Program-11 funding. Reporting Element 7: Changes to areas such as structure, authorities, and oversight mechanisms assumed in the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review. The report partially addressed this by concluding that the structure, authorities, Major Force Program-11 funding, roles, and responsibilities are adequate. However, the report does not provide justification on how the department reached that conclusion. Reporting Element 8: Any other matters the Secretary of Defense determined appropriate to ensure a comprehensive review and assessment. The report addressed this by including information on suicide prevention, health, and family readiness programs, and on initiatives to enhance the professionalization of SOF. Why GAO Did This Study Since 2001, DOD has deployed SOF to conduct a range of military operations, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. To meet an increase in operational demands for SOF, DOD has increased SOCOM’s funding and SOF force levels. DOD strategic guidance indicates that SOF will continue to play a prominent role in support of the defense strategy. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (the Act), Section 1086, required the Secretary of Defense to submit to the congressional defense committees a report on SOF organization, capabilities, structure, and oversight. The Act further mandated GAO to submit to the congressional defense committees an evaluation of the DOD report no later than 60 days after the issuance of the DOD report. GAO examined the extent to which DOD’s report addressed the mandated reporting elements. To address this objective, GAO analyzed the Act to identify the reporting elements, assessed DOD’s report to determine whether each of the eight mandated reporting elements were addressed, and interviewed DOD officials.[Read More…]
- U.S. Law Enforcement Takes Action Against Approximately 2,300 Money Mules In Global Crackdown On Money LaunderingBy Sam NewsDecember 2, 2020The U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and six other federal law enforcement agencies announced the completion of the third annual Money Mule Initiative, a coordinated operation to disrupt the networks through which transnational fraudsters move the proceeds of their crimes. Money mules are individuals who assist fraudsters by receiving money from victims of fraud and forwarding it to the fraud organizers, many of whom are located abroad. Some money mules know they are assisting fraudsters, but others are unaware that their actions enable fraudsters’ efforts to swindle money from consumers, businesses, and government unemployment funds. Europol announced a simultaneous effort, the European Money Mule Action (EMMA) today.[Read More…]
- 5G Wireless: Capabilities and Challenges for an Evolving NetworkBy Sam NewsNovember 24, 2020Fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks promise to provide significantly greater speeds and higher capacity to accommodate more devices. In addition, 5G networks are expected to be more flexible, reliable, and secure than existing cellular networks. The figure compares 4G and 5G performance goals along three of several performance measures. Note: Megabits per second (Mbps) is a measure of the rate at which data is transmitted, milliseconds (ms) is a measure of time equal to one thousandth of a second, and square kilometer (km²) is a measure of area. As with previous generations of mobile wireless technology, the full performance of 5G will be achieved gradually as networks evolve over the next decade. Deployment of 5G network technologies in the U.S. began in late 2018, and these initial 5G networks focus on enhancing mobile broadband. These deployments are dependent on the existing 4G core network and, in many areas, produced only modest performance improvements. To reach the full potential of 5G, new technologies will need to be developed. International bodies that have been involved in defining 5G network specifications will need to develop additional 5G specifications and companies will need to develop, test, and deploy these technologies. GAO identified the following challenges that can hinder the performance or usage of 5G technologies in the U.S. GAO developed six policy options in response to these challenges, including the status quo. They are presented with associated opportunities and considerations in the following table. The policy options are directed toward the challenges detailed in this report: spectrum sharing, cybersecurity, privacy, and concern over possible health effects of 5G technology. Policy options to address challenges to the performance or usage of U.S. 5G wireless networks Policy Option Opportunities Considerations Spectrum-sharing technologies (report p. 47) Policymakers could support research and development of spectrum sharing technologies. Could allow for more efficient use of the limited spectrum available for 5G and future generations of wireless networks. It may be possible to leverage existing 5G testbeds for testing the spectrum sharing technologies developed through applied research. Research and development is costly, must be coordinated and administered, and its potential benefits are uncertain. Identifying a funding source, setting up the funding mechanism, or determining which existing funding streams to reallocate will require detailed analysis. Coordinated cybersecurity monitoring (report p. 48) Policymakers could support nationwide, coordinated cybersecurity monitoring of 5G networks. A coordinated monitoring program would help ensure the entire wireless ecosystem stays knowledgeable about evolving threats, in close to real time; identify cybersecurity risks; and allow stakeholders to act rapidly in response to emerging threats or actual network attacks. Carriers may not be comfortable reporting incidents or vulnerabilities, and determinations would need to be made about what information is disclosed and how the information will be used and reported. Cybersecurity requirements (report p. 49) Policymakers could adopt cybersecurity requirements for 5G networks. Taking these steps could produce a more secure network. Without a baseline set of security requirements the implementation of network security practices is likely to be piecemeal and inconsistent. Using existing protocols or best practices may decrease the time and cost of developing and implementing requirements. Adopting network security requirements would be challenging, in part because defining and implementing the requirements would have to be done on an application-specific basis rather than as a one-size-fits-all approach. Designing a system to certify network components would be costly and would require a centralized entity, be it industry-led or government-led. Privacy practices (report p. 50) Policymakers could adopt uniform practices for 5G user data. Development and adoption of uniform privacy practices would benefit from existing privacy practices that have been implemented by states, other countries, or that have been developed by federal agencies or other organizations. Privacy practices come with costs, and policymakers would need to balance the need for privacy with the direct and indirect costs of implementing privacy requirements. Imposing requirements can be burdensome, especially for smaller entities. High-band research (report p. 51) Policymakers could promote R&D for high-band technology. Could result in improved statistical modeling of antenna characteristics and more accurately representing propagation characteristics. Could result in improved understanding of any possible health effects from long-term radio frequency exposure to high-band emissions. Research and development is costly and must be coordinated and administered, and its potential benefits are uncertain. Policymakers will need to identify a funding source or determine which existing funding streams to reallocate. Status quo (report p. 52) Some challenges described in this report may be addressed through current efforts. Some challenges described in this report may remain unresolved, be exacerbated, or take longer to resolve than with intervention. GAO was asked to assess the technologies associated with 5G and their implications. This report discusses (1) how the performance goals and expected uses are to be realized in U.S. 5G wireless networks, (2) the challenges that could affect the performance or usage of 5G wireless networks in the U.S., and (3) policy options to address these challenges. To address these objectives, GAO interviewed government officials, industry representatives, and researchers about the performance and usage of 5G wireless networks. This included officials from seven federal agencies; the four largest U.S. wireless carriers; an industry trade organization; two standards bodies; two policy organizations; nine other companies; four university research programs; the World Health Organization; the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements; and the chairman of the Defense Science Board's 5G task force. GAO reviewed technical studies, industry white papers, and policy papers identified through a literature review. GAO discussed the challenges to the performance or usage of 5G in the U.S. during its interviews and convened a one-and-a-half day meeting of 17 experts from academia, industry, and consumer groups with assistance from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. GAO received technical comments on a draft of this report from six federal agencies and nine participants at its expert meeting, which it incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Hai Tran at (202) 512-6888, email@example.com or Vijay A. D’Souza at (202) 512-6240, firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Two Florida Tax Preparers Plead Guilty to Conspiracy to Defraud the United StatesBy Sam NewsSeptember 21, 2021Two Florida tax preparers pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States and preparing false tax returns.[Read More…]
- Veterans Health Care: Agency Efforts to Provide and Study Prosthetics for Small but Growing Female Veteran PopulationBy Sam NewsNovember 12, 2020The 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 email@example.com.[Read More…]
- COVID-19: DOD Has Focused on Strategy and Oversight to Protect Military Servicemember HealthBy Sam NewsJune 4, 2021What GAO Found Since January 2020, the Department of Defense (DOD) has developed a strategy to protect the health of military servicemembers from COVID-19, with a goal of minimizing risks while continuing operations. The strategy tailors protection measures to local conditions and risks to health and force readiness. GAO found that DOD's strategy applies several key considerations. DOD Application of Key Considerations to Protect Servicemembers from COVID-19 DOD officials oversee the implementation of the department's COVID-19 health protection strategy for servicemembers through: Sustained leadership attention. In January 2020, the Secretary of Defense initiated COVID-19 planning and established a senior task force to oversee the response. Combatant command and installation officials continuously evaluate regional and local implementation and perform compliance checks. Notwithstanding these efforts, DOD officials stated that they expect some limited incidents of personnel not following protocols. Data monitoring. Senior leaders and local commanders assess data on cases, community spread, and testing, among other metrics, to inform strategy implementation and assess its effectiveness. Lessons learned analyses. While these analyses are ongoing as the pandemic continues, DOD has implemented mitigations to address some challenges identified, such as a new system to collect more timely and specific COVID-19 case data. DOD has research and development projects underway to advance COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics and improve detection methods. DOD's investments include many projects that have specific applications for servicemembers, such as pre- and postexposure prophylactic treatments to prevent the onset of the disease. Why GAO Did This Study The COVID-19 pandemic poses risks to the health of U.S. servicemembers. Protecting forces from COVID-19 is therefore essential to DOD's ability to defend the United States, maintain warfighting readiness, and support the whole-of-government response to the pandemic. To help facilitate the COVID-19 pandemic response, Congress appropriated about $10.5 billion to DOD through the CARES Act. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to report on its ongoing monitoring and oversight related to the pandemic. GAO was also asked to examine the military health system response to COVID-19. This report examines, in regard to COVID-19, DOD's (1) strategy for protecting military servicemember health, (2) oversight of its strategy, and (3) research and development projects for vaccines, therapeutics, and testing. GAO reviewed guidance and plans for health protection and pandemic response that comprise DOD's strategy, and evaluated alignment of the strategy with key considerations from prior GAO work on pandemic preparedness. To identify oversight efforts, GAO reviewed DOD briefings on the progress of health protection measures, and analyzed 2020 DOD data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and testing. GAO also interviewed DOD leaders, officials from the military department medical organizations, combatant commands, and four military medical treatment facilities selected on the basis of military department and location. For more information, contact Brenda S. Farrell at (202) 512-3604 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Security Assistance: Efforts to Secure Colombia’s Cano Limon-Covenas Oil Pipeline Have Reduced Attacks, but Challenges RemainBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021Oil is one of Colombia's principal exports. The Cano Limon-Covenas oil pipeline transports almost 20 percent of Colombia's oil production. The pipeline originates in the Department of Arauca in northeast Colombia. It carries oil nearly 500 miles to the Caribbean port of Covenas. The pipeline has been a principal infrastructure target for terrorist attacks by Colombia's insurgent groups. During 2001, attacks on the pipeline cost the Colombian government an estimated $500 million in lost revenues for the year. The United States agreed to assist Colombia in protecting the first 110 miles of the pipeline where most of the attacks were occurring. We examined how the U.S. funding and resources provided to Colombia have been used, and what challenges remain in securing the pipeline.Since fiscal year 2002, the United States has provided about $99 million in equipment and training to the Colombian Army to minimize terrorist attacks along the first 110 miles of the Cano Limon-Covenas oil pipeline, mostly in the Arauca department. U.S. Special Forces have provided training and equipment to about 1,600 Colombian Army soldiers. However, the delivery of 10 helicopters purchased for the program was delayed--arriving mid 2005. Without the helicopters, the Colombian Army's ability to respond rapidly to pipeline attacks has been limited. Additionally, some equipment, such as night vision goggles, has not arrived due to the long lead-time required to obtain these items because of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite the delays in equipment deliveries, the number of attacks on the Cano Limon-Covenas oil pipeline has declined and security in the area has improved. In addition, the Colombian Army and Colombian National Police have improved relations with the civilian population and new oil exploration is occurring in the area due to the improved security. However, challenges to securing the pipeline remain. More attacks are occurring on the Cano Limon-Covenas oil pipeline outside the 110-mile long area originally addressed. Most of the Colombian Army stationed in these other areas has not received U.S. training. In addition, the insurgents have attacked the electrical grid system that provides energy to the Cano Limon oilfield. Without electricity, oil cannot be pumped. Because the U.S. funds provided for the program will be depleted by the end of September 2005, sustainability of the progress made is uncertain. Colombia cannot fully operate and maintain the helicopters provided without continued U.S. support; and due to U.S. commitments in other parts of the world, U.S. Special Forces will be reducing personnel in Colombia, which will limit future training.[Read More…]
- U.S. Assistance for the Palestinian PeopleBy Sam NewsMay 26, 2021Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
- U.S.-ROK Director General/Deputy-Level Consultation MeetingBy Sam NewsAugust 5, 2021
- Declining Media Pluralism in HungaryBy Sam NewsFebruary 10, 2021Ned Price, Department [Read More…]