Panel: Bea (author) Sixth Circuit Judge Thapur Collins Affirming the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the City of Santa Monica, the panel held that the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 does not require landlords to accommodate the disability of an individual who neither entered into a lease nor paid rent in exchange for the right to occupy the premises.
Panel: Wardlaw (author) Collins (concurring in part and concurring in the judgment) Court of International Trade Judge Eaton (dissenting) The panel reversed the district court’s denial of a motion for attorneys’ fees and remanded in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Justice.
En Banc Court: Thomas Tashima Graber W. Fletcher Berzon Rawlinson Bybee M. Smith Ikuta Watford Friedland On remand from the Supreme Court, the en banc court remanded the case to the three-judge panel for further consideration in light of Pereida v. Wilkinson, 141 S. Ct. 754 (2020).
Panel: Sixth Circuit Judge Boggs M. Smith (author) Murguia The panel affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court’s dismissal of an action brought by members of an employee pension plan, alleging breach of fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and state-law professional negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims.
Panel: N.R. Smith Lee (author) District Judge Kennelly The panel affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of Starr Indemnity and Liability Company in a diversity insurance-coverage action.
Panel: Clifton M. Smith (author) District Judge Donato Concurring in the denial of rehearing en banc: M. Smith Dissenting from the denial of rehearing en banc: Collins, joined by Callahan, Bennett, and Bress The panel filed an order amending its opinion, denying a petition for panel rehearing, and denying on behalf of the court a petition for rehearing en banc; and an amended opinion affirming the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the State of Washington, upholding HB 1723, which amended Washington’s workers’ compensation scheme and established for workers at the Hanford site – a decommissioned federal nuclear production site – a presumption that certain conditions and cancers are occupational diseases that is rebuttable only by clear and convincing evidence.
What GAO Found
In its March 2021 high-risk series update, GAO reported that significant attention was needed to improve the federal government's management of information technology (IT) acquisitions and operations, and ensure the nation's cybersecurity. Regarding management of IT, overall progress in addressing this area has remained unchanged. Since 2019, GAO has emphasized that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and covered federal agencies need to continue to fully implement critical requirements of federal IT acquisition reform legislation, known as the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), to better manage tens of billions of dollars in IT investments. For example:
OMB continued to demonstrate leadership commitment by issuing guidance to implement FITARA statutory provisions, but sustained leadership and expanded capacity were needed to improve agencies' management of IT.
Agencies continued to make progress with reporting FITARA milestones and plans to modernize or replace obsolete IT investments, but significant work remained to complete these efforts.
Agencies improved the involvement of their agency Chief Information Officers in the acquisition process, but greater cost savings could be achieved if IT acquisition shortcomings, such as reducing duplicative IT contracts, were addressed.
In March 2021, GAO reiterated the need for agencies to address four major cybersecurity challenges facing the nation: (1) establishing a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy and performing effective oversight, (2) securing federal systems and information, (3) protecting cyber critical infrastructure, and (4) protecting privacy and sensitive data. GAO identified 10 actions for agencies to take to address these challenges. However, since 2019, progress in this area has regressed—GAO's 2021 rating of leadership commitment declined from met to partially met. To help address the leadership vacuum, in January 2021, Congress enacted a statute establishing the Office of the National Cyber Director. Although the director position has not yet been filled, on April 12 the President announced his intended nominee. Overall, the federal government needs to move with a greater sense of urgency to fully address cybersecurity challenges. In particular:
Develop and execute a more comprehensive federal strategy for national cybersecurity and global cyberspace. In September 2020, GAO reported that the cyber strategy and implementation plan addressed some, but not all, of the desirable characteristics of national strategies, such as goals and resources needed.
Mitigate global supply chain risks. In December 2020, GAO reported that few of the 23 civilian federal agencies it reviewed implemented foundational practices for managing information and communication technology supply chain risks.
Enhance the federal response to cyber incidents. In July 2019, GAO reported that most of 16 selected federal agencies had deficiencies in at least one of the activities associated with incident response processes.
Why GAO Did This Study
The effective management and protection of IT has been a longstanding challenge in the federal government. Each year, the federal government spends more than $100 billion on IT and cyber-related investments; however, many of these investments have failed or performed poorly and often have suffered from ineffective management.
Accordingly, GAO added improving the management of IT acquisitions and operations as a high-risk area in February 2015. Information security has been on the high-risk area since 1997. In its March 2021 high-risk update, GAO reported that significant actions were required to address IT acquisitions and operations. Further, GAO noted the urgent need for agencies to take 10 specific actions on four major cybersecurity challenges.
GAO was asked to testify on federal agencies' efforts to address the management of IT and cybersecurity. For this testimony, GAO relied primarily on its March 2021 high-risk update and selected prior work across IT and cybersecurity topics.
What GAO Found
The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of State (State) have similar processes for formal challenges to the classification of information. For example, if there is reason to believe that information is improperly classified, authorized holders—including executive branch agency or contractor personnel with relevant clearances—can submit a formal classification challenge in writing (see figure). Officials will then review the classification challenge and make a determination. If a formal challenge is denied, the authorized holder can then appeal to senior officials within the agency, and if the agency denies the appeal, the authorized holder can appeal directly to the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP). ISCAP, established by Executive Order, then issues a decision that is final unless the head of the agency appeals ISCAP's decision to the President.
Processes for Formal Challenges to the Classification of Information
aIndividual refers to an authorized holder with access to classified information.
Both DOD and State encourage authorized holders to resolve classification challenges informally before pursuing a formal classification challenge. According to DOD and State officials, informal challenges can be done in person, by phone, or by email. For example, officials told GAO that authorized holders can contact the relevant information security office about whether classified documents are marked properly.
According to DOD and State officials, Members of Congress (Members) may use their existing processes to formally and informally challenge the classification of information. However, according to officials from the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), which provides support to ISCAP, Members cannot appeal a decision to ISCAP. Instead, Members can appeal to the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB), a statutory body that makes recommendations to the President in response to certain congressional requests to evaluate the proper classification of records. DOD officials stated that they do not have any knowledge of ever receiving a formal classification challenge from Members. State officials stated that they did not receive any formal classification challenges from Members in 2017 through 2020. ISOO officials also stated that the panel received its first formal classification challenge from a Member in 2020. ISCAP subsequently denied the challenge and directed the Member to the PIDB.
Why GAO Did This Study
Classified national security information is vital to U.S. national interests. The appropriate protection and handling of this information is a top priority for the executive branch and Congress. Based on guidance, such as Executive Order 13526, Classified National Security Information, authorized holders with access to classified information may submit a classification challenge if there are reasons to believe information is improperly classified. According to DOD and State officials, Members may also submit a classification challenge.
GAO was asked to review the processes for challenging the classification of national security information. This report describes (1) the processes to challenge the classification of information at DOD and State; and (2) the processes that Members of Congress can use to challenge the classification of information at DOD and State.
GAO reviewed applicable laws and regulations, and DOD, State, and other guidance related to the classification of information and classification challenge processes. GAO also interviewed DOD, State and ISOO officials.
For more information, contact Joe Kirschbaum at (202) 512-9971 or Kirschbaumj@gao.gov.
RALEIGH, N.C. -A Fayetteville woman was arrested and was detained pending her trial in federal court today on charges of wire fraud and laundering the proceeds of government contract fraud scams that targeted the United States Department of Defense (DoD) and businesses in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
SAN DIEGO - Irvine resident Joserodel Zavala Candelario was sentenced in federal court yesterday to 36 months in federal custody for his participation in two huge health care fraud schemes, and for concealing income he received from those multi-million dollar schemes.
SAN DIEGO - Liberty Gutierrez pleaded guilty today to conspiring to launder the proceeds of a bribery scheme involving a former employee of the Naval Information Warfare Center in San Diego, California, and various defense contractors.
PROVIDENCE – A Brooklyn, NY, businessman who admitted to arranging the manufacture of counterfeit clothing, apparel, and gear, in China and Pakistan, that was shipped to wholesalers for distribution in the United States, including to the United States military, has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and ordered to pay a $15,000 fine.
Flores-Silva was charged in a federal indictment on August 13, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The indictment charges Flores-Silva with conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and one kilogram or more of heroin for importation into the United States, as well as carrying, using and possessing a firearm in relation to a drug offense.
Panel: McKeown Hunsaker (author) Bumatay The panel granted a petition for review of a decision of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission that concluded that the petitioner failed to prove a prima facie case of discrimination under Section 105(c) of the Mine Safety and Health Act, and remanded for further proceedings.
Panel: Wallace (author) M. Smith Court of International Trade Judge Restani The panel reversed the district court denial of defendants’ motion to compel arbitration of statutory employment discrimination and civil rights claims, and remanded with the direction that all claims be sent to arbitration and the case be dismissed without prejudice.
What GAO Found
Deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting and other limitations on the scope of GAO's work resulted in conditions that prevented GAO from expressing an opinion on the Schedules of the General Fund as of and for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2020. Such scope limitations also prevented GAO from obtaining sufficient appropriate audit evidence to provide a basis for an opinion on the effectiveness of the Bureau of the Fiscal Service's (Fiscal Service) internal control over financial reporting relevant to the Schedules of the General Fund as of September 30, 2020. In addition, such scope limitations limited tests of compliance with selected provisions of applicable laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements for fiscal year 2020.
Fiscal Service was unable to readily provide sufficient appropriate evidence to support certain information reported in the accompanying Schedules of the General Fund. Specifically, Fiscal Service was unable to readily (1) identify and trace General Fund transactions to determine whether they were complete and properly recorded in the correct general ledger accounts and line items within the Schedules of the General Fund and (2) provide documentation to support the account attributes assigned to Treasury Account Symbols that determine how transactions are reported in the Schedules of the General Fund. The resulting scope limitations, the first of which GAO reported in its fiscal year 2018 audit, are the basis for GAO's disclaimer of opinion on the Schedules of the General Fund. As a result of these limitations, GAO cautions that amounts Fiscal Service reported in the Schedules of the General Fund and related notes may not be reliable.
Three significant deficiencies in Fiscal Service's internal control over financial reporting relevant to the Schedules of the General Fund, which GAO reported in its fiscal year 2018 audit, continue to exist. One of the continuing significant deficiencies contributed to the first scope limitation discussed above. In addition, GAO identified four other control deficiencies, three newly identified and one reported in its fiscal year 2018 audit, which GAO does not consider to be material weaknesses or significant deficiencies.
Fiscal Service worked extensively, both internally and with other federal agencies, to address two scope limitations from GAO's fiscal year 2018 audit, such that GAO no longer considers these to be scope limitations for fiscal year 2020. Fiscal Service also (1) took action to close six of the 12 recommendations that GAO issued as a result of its fiscal year 2018 audit, (2) is implementing plans for remediating the remaining six recommendations over the next few years, and (3) plans to develop corrective actions for the three new recommendations issued in this report. Fiscal Service expressed its commitment to remediating the scope limitations and significant deficiencies reported for fiscal year 2020, acknowledging that it expects to take several years to resolve them, given the nature and complexity of certain identified issues.
In addition, GAO is issuing a separate LIMITED OFFICIAL USE ONLY report on information systems controls.
Why GAO Did This Study
Because GAO audits the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government and the significance of the General Fund of the United States (General Fund) to the government-wide financial statements, GAO audited the fiscal year 2020 Schedules of the General Fund to determine whether, in all material respects, (1) the schedules are fairly presented and (2) Fiscal Service management maintained effective internal control over financial reporting relevant to the Schedules of the General Fund. Further, GAO tested compliance with selected provisions of laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements related to the Schedules of the General Fund.
As the reporting entity responsible for accounting for the cash activity of the U.S. government, in fiscal year 2020, the General Fund reported over $23 trillion of cash inflows and nearly $22 trillion of cash outflows. It also reported a budget deficit of $3.1 trillion, the largest recorded federal deficit in history. The CARES Act, enacted in March 2020, and other COVID-19 pandemic relief laws, contained a number of funding provisions that resulted in a significant increase in the cash activity and budget deficit reported by the General Fund during fiscal year 2020.