October 19, 2021

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Texas woman admits to smuggling cocaine

19 min read
A resident of San Antonio has entered a guilty plea to importing almost 17 kilograms of cocaine into the United States

Read full article at: https://www.justice.gov August 18, 2021

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  • Florida Man Sentenced After Fraudulently Obtaining $3.9 Million in PPP Loans
    In Crime News
    A Florida man was sentenced today to more than six years in prison for fraudulently obtaining approximately $3.9 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and using those funds, in part, to purchase a $318,000 Lamborghini luxury car for himself.
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  • Cybersecurity: Clarity of Leadership Urgently Needed to Fully Implement the National Strategy
    In U.S GAO News
    Federal entities have a variety of roles and responsibilities for supporting efforts to enhance the cybersecurity of the nation. Among other things, 23 federal entities have roles and responsibilities for developing policies, monitoring critical infrastructure protection efforts, sharing information to enhance cybersecurity across the nation, responding to cyber incidents, investigating cyberattacks, and conducting cybersecurity-related research. To fulfill their roles and responsibilities, federal entities identified activities undertaken in support of the nation's cybersecurity. For example, National Security Council (NSC) staff, on behalf of the President, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, have developed policies, strategies, standards, and plans to guide cybersecurity efforts. The Department of Homeland Security has helped secure the nation's critical infrastructure through developing security policy and coordinating security initiatives, among other efforts. Other agencies have established initiatives to gather intelligence and share actual or possible cyberattack information. Multiple agencies have mechanisms in place to assist in responding to cyberattacks, and law enforcement components, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are responsible for investigating them. The White House's September 2018 National Cyber Strategy and the NSC's accompanying June 2019 Implementation Plan detail the executive branch's approach to managing the nation's cybersecurity. When evaluated together, these documents addressed several of the desirable characteristics of national strategies, but lacked certain key elements for addressing others. National Cyber Strategy and Implementation Plan are Missing Desirable Characteristics of a National Strategy Characteristic Cyber Strategy and Plan Coverage of Issue Purpose, scope, and methodology Addressed Organizational roles, responsibilities, and coordination Addressed Integration and implementation Addressed Problem definition and risk assessment Did not fully address Goals, subordinate objectives, activities, and performance measures Did not fully address Resources, investments, and risk management Did not fully address Source: GAO analysis of 2018 National Cyber Strategy and 2019 Implementation Plan . | GAO-20-629 For example, the Implementation Plan details 191 activities that federal entities are to undertake to execute the priority actions outlined in the National Cyber Strategy. These activities are assigned a level, or tier, based on the coordination efforts required to execute the activity and the extent to which NSC staff is expected to be involved. Thirty-five of these activities are designated as the highest level (tier 1), and are coordinated by a functional entity within the NSC . Ten entities are assigned to lead or co-lead these critical activities while also tasked to lead or co-lead lower tier activities. Leadership Roles for Federal Entities Assigned as Leads or Co-Leads for National Cyber Strategy Implementation Plan Activities Entity Tier 1 Activities Tier 2 Activities Tier 3 Activities National Security Council 15 7 3 Department of Homeland Security 14 19 15 Office of Management and Budget 7 6 5 Department of Commerce 5 9 35 Department of State 2 5 11 Department of Defense 1 6 17 Department of Justice 1 10 5 Department of Transportation 1 0 5 Executive Office of the President 1 0 0 General Services Administration 1 2 1 Source: GAO analysis of 2018 National Cyber Strategy and 2019 Implementation Plan . | GAO-20-629 Although the Implementation Plan defined the entities responsible for leading each of the activities; it did not include goals and timelines for 46 of the activities or identify the resources needed to execute 160 activities. Additionally, discussion of risk in the National Cyber Strategy and Implementation Plan was not based on an analysis of threats and vulnerabilities. Further, the documents did not specify a process for monitoring agency progress in executing Implementation Plan activities. Instead, NSC staff stated that they performed periodic check-ins with responsible entities, but did not provide an explanation or definition of specific level of NSC staff involvement for each of the three tier designations. Without a consistent approach to engaging with responsible entities and a comprehensive understanding of what is needed to implement all 191 activities, the NSC will face challenges in ensuring that the National Cyber Strategy is efficiently executed. GAO and others have reported on the urgency and necessity of clearly defining a central leadership role in order to coordinate the government's efforts to overcome the nation's cyber-related threats and challenges. The White House identified the NSC staff as responsible for coordinating the implementation of the National Cyber Strategy . However, in light of the elimination of the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator position in May 2018, it remains unclear which official ultimately maintains responsibility for not only coordinating execution of the Implementation Plan , but also holding federal agencies accountable once activities are implemented. NSC staff stated responsibility for duties previously attributed to the White House Cyber Coordinator were passed to the senior director of NSC's Cyber directorate; however, the staff did not provide a description of what those responsibilities include. NSC staff also stated that federal entities are ultimately responsible for determining the status of the activities that they lead or support and for communicating implementation status to relevant NSC staff. However, without a clear central leader to coordinate activities, as well as a process for monitoring performance of the Implementation Plan activities, the White House cannot ensure that entities are effectively executing their assigned activities intended to support the nation's cybersecurity strategy and ultimately overcome this urgent challenge. Increasingly sophisticated cyber threats have underscored the need to manage and bolster the cybersecurity of key government systems and the nation's cybersecurity. The risks to these systems are increasing as security threats evolve and become more sophisticated. GAO first designated information security as a government-wide high-risk area in 1997. This was expanded to include protecting cyber critical infrastructure in 2003 and protecting the privacy of personally identifiable information in 2015. In 2018, GAO noted that the need to establish a national cybersecurity strategy with effective oversight was a major challenge facing the federal government. GAO was requested to review efforts to protect the nation's cyber critical infrastructure. The objectives of this report were to (1) describe roles and responsibilities of federal entities tasked with supporting national cybersecurity, and (2) determine the extent to which the executive branch has developed a national strategy and a plan to manage its implementation. To do so, GAO identified 23 federal entities responsible for enhancing the nation's cybersecurity. Specifically, GAO selected 13 federal agencies based on their specialized or support functions regarding critical infrastructure security and resilience, and 10 additional entities based on analysis of its prior reviews of national cybersecurity, relevant executive policy, and national strategy documents. GAO also analyzed the National Cyber Strategy and Implementation Plan to determine if they aligned with the desirable characteristics of a national strategy. GAO is making one matter for congressional consideration, that Congress should consider legislation to designate a leadership position in the White House with the commensurate authority to implement and encourage action in support of the nation's cybersecurity. GAO is also making one recommendation to the National Security Council to work with relevant federal entities to update cybersecurity strategy documents to include goals, performance measures, and resource information, among other things. The National Security Council neither agreed nor disagreed with GAO's recommendation. For more information, contact Nick Marinos at (202) 512-9342 or marinosn@gao.gov.
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  • Retirement Security: Debt Increased for Older Americans over Time, but the Implications Vary by Debt Type
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Americans age 50 or older had significantly more debt in 2016 than in 1989, according to GAO's analysis of Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) data. Debt. The share of older households with debt was 71 percent in 2016 compared to 58 percent in 1989 (see figure). The median debt amount for older households with debt was about three times higher in 2016 ($55,300) than in 1989 ($18,900 in real 2016 dollars) and the share of older households with home, credit card, and student loan debt was significantly higher in 2016 than in 1989. Debt stress. The median ratio of debt to assets—known as the leverage ratio, a measure of debt stress—for older households was twice as high in 2016 than in 1989. Adverse debt outcomes. Measures of older individuals' adverse debt outcomes, including their share of mortgage and credit card debt that was late by at least 90 days, generally followed economic trends, peaking after the Great Recession of 2007-2009, according to GAO's analysis of Consumer Credit Panel (CCP) data from 2003 to 2019. However, the share of student loan debt that was late was significantly higher for older individuals in 2019 than in 2003. These trends in debt, debt stress, and adverse debt outcomes varied by older Americans' demographic and economic characteristics, including their age, credit score, and state of residence. For example, from 2003 to 2019, individuals in their late 70s often had higher shares of credit card and student loan debt that was late than those aged 50-74. In addition, older individuals with credit scores below 720—including those with subprime, fair, or good credit—had median student loan debt amounts that were more than twice as high in 2019 as in 2003. Further, older individuals in the Southeast and West had much higher median mortgage and student loan debt, as well as student loan delinquency rates, in 2019 than in 2003. Percent of Households Age 50 or Older with Any Debt (Left) and Median Leverage Ratio (Right) for These Households, 1989 to 2016 Note: The bars above and below the lines represent the bounds of 95 percent confidence intervals. While older Americans' overall debt and debt stress decreased as they aged, those in low-income households experienced greater debt stress according to GAO's analysis of Health and Retirement Study (HRS) data, a nationally representative survey that follows the same individuals over time. The share of older households in this cohort that had debt continuously decreased as they aged, from about 66 percent of households in 1992 to 38 percent in 2016, and the median leverage ratio declined from about 19 to 13 percent over this period (see figure). However, low-income households in this cohort consistently had greater levels of debt stress than high-income households. This disparity in debt stress increased as these households aged. Estimated Percent of Households with Any Debt for Those Born in 1931-1941 (Left) and Median Leverage Ratio for Those Households from 1992-2016 (Right) Notes: The lines overlapping the bars represent 95 percent confidence intervals. According to experts GAO interviewed, differences in debt type (that is, credit card versus housing debt) and debt stress levels will have varying effects on the retirement security of different groups. For example, experts noted that credit card debt has negative implications for older Americans' retirement security because credit cards often have high, variable interest rates and are not secured by any assets. In contrast, an increase in mortgage debt may have positive effects on retirement security because a home is generally a wealth-building asset. Experts also said that older individuals with lower incomes and unexpected health expenses are likely to experience greater debt stress, which can negatively affect retirement security. Similarly, experts noted that the increased debt stress faced by low-income households is also faced by non-White households. Further, GAO's analysis of data from the Survey of Consumer Finances found that in 2016, debt stress levels were about two times higher for Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Other/multiple-race households than for White households. Experts GAO interviewed noted it is too early to evaluate the retirement security implications of the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, in part because CARES Act provisions suspend or forbear certain debt payments. However, as with past recessions, the COVID-19-related recession may reveal any economic fragility among older Americans who, for example, lost jobs or cannot work because of the pandemic. Why GAO Did This Study GAO reported in 2019 that an estimated 20 percent of older American households aged 55 or older had less than $22,000 in income in 2016 and GAO reported in 2015 that about 29 percent of older households had neither retirement savings accounts (such as a 401(k) plan) nor a defined benefit plan in 2013. Older Americans held nearly half of the total outstanding debt in 2020—and these debts may affect retirement security. The Census Bureau projects the number of older Americans will increase. GAO was asked to report on debt held by older Americans. This report examines (1) how the types, levels, and outcomes of debt changed for older Americans over time, including for different demographic and economic groups; (2) how the types and levels of debt held by the same older Americans changed as they aged, including for those in different demographic groups; and (3) the implications of these debt trends for the general retirement security of older Americans and their families. GAO analyzed data from two nationally representative surveys–the SCF (1989 through 2016 data) and the HRS (1992 through 2016 longitudinal data)–and nationally representative administrative data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's CCP (2003 through 2019). These datasets were the most recent available at the time of GAO's analyses. GAO also reviewed studies and interviewed experts that GAO identified from these studies to further analyze the relationship between debt and retirement security. For more information, contact Kris Nguyen, (202) 512-7215 or NguyenTT@gao.gov.
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  • Government Contractor Agrees to Pay More Than $1 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Lawsuit for Overbilling in Federal Contracts
    In Crime News
    Airbus U.S. Space & Defense Inc., formerly known as Airbus Defense and Space Inc. (ADSI), has agreed to pay to the United States $1,043,475 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by billing impermissible fees in contracts with a number of federal agencies. 
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  • Quadrennial Defense Review: 2010 Report Addressed Many but Not All Required Items
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (DOD) is facing the complex challenge of simultaneously supporting continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and preparing its military forces to meet emerging threats of the new security environment. Congress appropriated $626 billion for DOD's fiscal year 2010 budget and to support current operations. As we have emphasized in previous reports, the federal government is facing serious long-term fiscal challenges, and DOD may confront increased competition over the next decade for federal discretionary funds. The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the fourth since 1997 and the second since the start of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, articulates DOD's strategic plan to rebalance capabilities in order to prevail in current operations and develop capabilities to meet future threats. The QDR acknowledged that the country faces fiscal challenges and that DOD must make difficult trade-offs where warranted. Also, the QDR results are intended to guide the services in making resource allocation decisions when developing future budgets. This letter provides our assessment of the degree to which DOD addressed each of these items in its 2010 report on the QDR and the supplemental information provided to the defense committees.DOD used the 2008 National Defense Strategy as the starting point for the 2010 QDR review. The strategy described an environment shaped by globalization, violent extremist movements, rogue and unstable states, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. For its 2010 QDR analyses, DOD examined forces needed for three different sets of scenarios, each consisting of multiple concurrent operations, chosen to reflect the complexity and range of events that may occur in multiple theaters in overlapping timeframes in the mid-term (5 to 7 years in the future). The range of potential operations included homeland defense, defense support to civil authorities responding to a catastrophic event in the United States, a major stabilization operation, deterring and defeating regional aggressors, and a medium-sized counterinsurgency mission. According to the QDR report, DOD used the results of its analyses to make decisions on how to size and shape the force and to inform its choices on resourcing priorities. For example, according to DOD officials, the proposed fiscal year 2011 defense budget focuses investments toward the priorities outlined in the QDR report, such as rebalancing the force. Our analysis showed that of the 17 required reporting items, DOD addressed 6, partially addressed 7, and did not directly address 4. The items not directly addressed included items addressing the anticipated roles and missions of the reserve component, the advisability of revisions to the Unified Command Plan, the extent to which resources must be shifted among two or more theaters, and the appropriate ratio of combat to support forces. According to DOD officials, these items were not directly addressed for a variety of reasons such as changes in the operational environment, the difficulty of briefly summarizing a large volume of data generated through the QDR analyses, or departmental plans to report on some items separately. The 2010 QDR report presented the results of DOD's review and, together with the supplemental information, addressed many of the reporting items that are required by law. The reasons for not directly addressing four of the required items are varied and include: reporting on items separately; the changing operational environment; or difficulty in succinctly characterizing voluminous data resulting from the scenario analyses.
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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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  • Justice Department Settles with New York-Based Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Company to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced yesterday that it reached a settlement with LNK International Inc. (LNK), a Hauppauge, New York-based manufacturer of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. The settlement resolves the department’s claims that LNK violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when it discriminated against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens.  
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    In Crime News
    A Montana chiropractor and his wife pleaded guilty today to tax evasion, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Kurt G. Alme for the District of Montana.
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    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that CenturyLink, Inc. has agreed to settle allegations that CenturyLink violated the court-ordered Final Judgment designed to prevent anticompetitive effects arising from its acquisition of Level 3 Communications, Inc. 
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  • July 29, 2021, letter commenting on AICPA’s February 2021 Exposure Draft, “Proposed Statements on Quality Management Standards – Quality Management”
    In U.S GAO News
    This letter provides GAO's response to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Auditing Standards Board's (ASB) Proposed Statement on Quality Management Standards – Quality Management: A Firm's System of Quality Management (SQMS No. 1); Proposed Statement on Quality Management Standards – Engagement Quality Reviews (SQMS No. 2); and Proposed Statement on Auditing Standards, Quality Management for an Engagement Conducted in Accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (QM SAS). GAO provides standards for performing high-quality audits of government organizations, programs, activities, and functions and of government assistance to contractors, nonprofit organizations, and other nongovernment organizations with competence, integrity, objectivity, and independence. These standards, often referred to as generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS), are to be followed when required by law, regulation, agreement, contract, or policy. For financial audits, GAGAS incorporates by reference the AICPA's Statements on Auditing Standards (SAS). For attestation engagements, GAGAS incorporates by reference the AICPA's Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements.
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  • Data Center Optimization: Agencies Report Progress and Billions Saved, but OMB Needs to Improve Its Utilization Guidance
    In U.S GAO News
    The 24 agencies participating in the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) continue to report progress toward meeting OMB's goals for closing data centers and achieving the related cost savings. According to data submitted by the 24 agencies, almost all of them met or planned to meet their closure and cost savings goals for fiscal years 2019 and 2020. As of August 2020, the agencies reported that they expected to achieve 230 data center closures, resulting in $1.1 billion in savings, over the 2-year period. Agencies expected to realize a cumulative total of $6.24 billion in cost savings and avoidances from fiscal years 2012 through 2020. However, agencies have excluded approximately 4,500 data centers from their inventories since May 2019 due to a change in the definition of a data center. Specifically, in June 2019, OMB narrowed the definition of a data center to exclude certain facilities it had previously identified as having potential cybersecurity risks. GAO reported that each such facility provided a potential access point, and that unsecured access points could aid cyber attacks. Accordingly, GAO recommended that OMB require agencies to report those facilities previously reported as data centers so that visibility of the risks of these facilities was retained. However, OMB has not taken action to address the recommendation. Overall, GAO has made 125 recommendations since 2016 to help agencies meet their DCOI goals, but agencies have not implemented 53. The 24 agencies reported varied progress against OMB's data center optimization targets for fiscal year 2020 (see figure). Agency-Reported Progress towards Meeting Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Data Center Optimization Targets, as of August 2020 Notes: Virtualization measures the number of servers and mainframes serving as a virtual host. Advanced energy metering counts data centers with metering to measure energy efficiency. A metric is not applicable if an agency does not have any agency-owned data centers or if its remaining centers are exempted from optimization by OMB. In June 2019, OMB revised the server utilization metric to direct agencies to develop their own definitions of underutilization, and then count their underutilized servers. As a result, agencies adopted widely varying definitions and were no longer required to report actual utilization, a key measure of server efficiency. In December 2014, Congress enacted federal IT acquisition reform legislation known as FITARA, which included provisions related to ongoing federal data center consolidation efforts. OMB's federal Chief Information Officer launched DCOI to build on prior data center consolidation efforts and improve federal data centers' performance. FITARA included a provision for GAO to annually review agencies' data center inventories and strategies. This report addresses (1) agencies' progress on data center closures and the related savings that have been achieved, and agencies' plans for future closures and savings; (2) agencies' progress against OMB's data center optimization targets; and (3) the effectiveness of OMB's metric for server utilization and how the agencies are implementing it. To do so, GAO reviewed the 24 DCOI agencies' data center inventories as of August 2020, their reported cost savings documentation and data center optimization strategic plans, and OMB's revised utilization metric. GAO reiterates that agencies need to address the 53 recommendations previously made to them that have not yet been implemented. GAO is making one new recommendation to OMB to revise its server utilization metric to more consistently address server efficiency. OMB had no comments on the report and the recommendation directed to the agency. Of the 24 DCOI agencies, five agreed with the information in the report, six did not state whether they agreed or disagreed, and 13 had no comments. For more information, contact Carol C. Harris at (202) 512-4456 or harriscc@gao.gov.
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