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DoD OIG — Section 847 Ethics Requirements for Senior Defense Officials Seeking Employment with Defense Contractors

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Section 847 Ethics Requirements for Senior Defense Officials Seeking Employment with Defense Contractors
Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General

Objective
Our objectives were to (1) address the central database and DoD IG oversight provisions of Public Law 110-181, “The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008,” Section 847, “Requirements for Senior Department of Defense Officials Seeking Employment with Defense Contractors,” January 28, 2008; (hereinafter referred to as “section 847”) (2) address subsequent direction from the House Armed Services Committee (HASC); and (3) accordingly determine:

  • Whether written legal opinions required by section 847 were “being provided and retained in accordance with the requirements of this section.” (Public Law 110-181, section 847 [b][2]).
  • “The Department of Defense’s record of compliance with section 847 of Public Law 110-181.” (HASC Report on the National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2013).
  • Quantitative data specified by the HASC, as follows:
    • “the total number of opinions issued,
    • the total number of opinions retained in accordance with section 847,
    • any instances in which a request for a written opinion pursuant to section 847 lacked a corresponding written opinion, or
    • in which the written opinion was not provided to the requesting official or former official of the Department of Defense by the appropriate ethics counselor within 30 days after the request for a written opinion.”

DoD did not retain all required section 847 records in its designated central repository, the After Government Employment Advice Repository (AGEAR).

This occurred because the Department did not:

  • implement the 2010 DoD Inspector General (IG) report recommendation to transfer historical records into AGEAR when the database became operational,
  • centrally supervise section 847 activities by its decentralized Components, and
  • comply with Deputy Secretary guidance making AGEAR use mandatory as of January 1, 2012.

As a result:

  • The AGEAR database was incomplete with limited or no use by specific DoD organizations with significant contracting activity.
  • Individual section 847 records were located in multiple or decentralized locations, and in a number of cases were inaccurate, incomplete, and not readily accessible for examination.
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New From the GAO

April 17, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Army Modular Force Structure: Annual Report Generally Met Requirements, but Challenges in Estimating Costs and Assessing Capability Remain. GAO-14-294, April 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-294
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662577.pdf

2. Foreign Aid: USAID Has Increased Funding to Partner-Country Organizations but Could Better Track Progress. GAO-14-355, April 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-355
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662597.pdf

3. Defense Contracting: DOD’s Use of Class Justifications for Sole-Source Contracts. GAO-14-427R, April 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-427R

Commander’s Legal Handbook 2013

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Commander’s Legal Handbook 2013 (PDF)
Source: Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, United States Army

This Handbook is designed to assist you in taking proper immediate action when faced with a variety of legal issues that might arise during your command. The purpose of your actions should be to preserve the legal situation until you can consult with your servicing Judge Advocate. However, like most aspects of your command responsibilities, you can fail if you just wait for things to come to you. You need to be proactive in preventing problems before they occur.

In the legal arena, this means establishing and enforcing high standards, ensuring your Soldiers are fully aware of those standards and properly trained to comply with them. You must also properly train your Soldiers on all Army policies and higher level command standards so that they also understand and comply with them. Soldiers must also be well-versed in the Army Values and be able to apply those values to real-world situations, which will usually keep them well within legal bounds.

All Soldiers have seen issues in the news that can occur when we are not proactive about discipline and standards: Abuse of prisoners, desecration of corpses, hazing, and sexual assault to name recent examples. All of these circumstances present serious legal issues. But, fundamentally, they also represent a breakdown in unit standards, training, and discipline. Your objective as a Commander should be to develop solid systems and a command climate that prevents legal issues, rather than just reacting to them. In sum, it is every bit as important to train your Soldiers to maintain a high level of discipline and compliance with law, policy, and military standards, as it is to train them to perform your Mission Essential Task List (METL). In legal circles, we call this effort to prevent legal problems before they arise by properly training Soldiers, “preventive law.” The responsibility to practice preventive law belongs to the Commander.

See also: 2013 Fiscal Law Deskbook (PDF)
See also: Military Citation Guide (PDF)

CRS — Navy Shipboard Lasers for Surface, Air, and Missile Defense: Background and Issues for Congress

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Navy Shipboard Lasers for Surface, Air, and Missile Defense: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Department of Defense (DOD) development work on high-energy military lasers, which has been underway for decades, has reached the point where lasers capable of countering certain surface and air targets at ranges of about a mile could be made ready for installation on Navy surface ships over the next few years. More powerful shipboard lasers, which could become ready for installation in subsequent years, could provide Navy surface ships with an ability to counter a wider range of surface and air targets at ranges of up to about 10 miles.

Community Tools to Improve Transportation Options for Veterans, Military Service Members, and Their Families

April 13, 2014 Comments off

Community Tools to Improve Transportation Options for Veterans, Military Service Members, and Their Families
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 164: Community Tools to Improve Transportation Options for Veterans, Military Service Members, and Their Families explores ways to enhance transportation options for veterans, military service members, and their families by building on the concepts of transportation coordination and mobility management.

The report provides guidance and tools to assess transportation needs of veterans, service members, and their families and ways to potentially improve public transit, specialized transportation, volunteer services, and other local transportation options needed to meet those needs.

The report includes foundational information on community transportation services and initiatives currently available for veterans, service members, and their families. The report is designed to guide users through an organized process to help improve transportation options, building on the framework of coordination.

New From the GAO

April 11, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Ballistic Missile Defense: Actions Needed to Address Implementation Issues and Estimate Long-Term Costs for European Capabilities. GAO-14-314, April 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-314
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662493.pdf

New From the GAO

April 10, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. KC-46 Tanker Aircraft: Program Generally on Track, but Upcoming Schedule Remains Challenging. GAO-14-190, April 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-190
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662449.pdf

2. Air Force: Actions Needed to Strengthen Management of Unmanned Aerial System Pilots. GAO-14-316, April 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-316
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662468.pdf

3. Presidential Helicopter Acquisition: Update on Program’s Progress toward Development Start. GAO-14-358R, April 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-358R

4. Status of Efforts to Initiate an Amphibious Combat Vehicle Program. GAO-14-359R, April 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-359R

Testimony

1. Inspectors General: Oversight of Small Federal Agencies and the Role of the Inspectors General, by Beryl H. Davis, director, financial management and assurance, before the Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. GAO-14-503T, April 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-503T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662442.pdf

New From the GAO

April 9, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Defense Infrastructure: In-Kind Projects Initiated during Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012. GAO-14-280R, April 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-280R

2. Mine Safety: Basis for Proposed Exposure Limit on Respirable Coal Mine Dust and Possible Approaches for Lowering Dust Levels. GAO-14-345, April 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-345
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662411.pdf

Testimonies

1. Health Care Workforce: Federal Investments in Training and the Availability of Data for Workforce Projections, by Linda T. Kohn, director, health care, before the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. GAO-14-510T, April 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-510T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662392.pdf

2. VA Health Care: Ongoing and Past Work Identified Access Problems That May Delay Needed Medical Care for Veterans, by Debra A. Draper, director, health care, before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. GAO-14-509T, April 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-509T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662396.pdf

3. Social Security Disability Programs: SSA Could Take Steps to Improve Its Assessment of Continued Eligibility, by Daniel Bertoni, director, education, workforce, and income security, before the Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care, and Entitlements, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-14-492T, April 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-492T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662399.pdf

Preventing a Nuclear-Armed Iran: Requirements for a Comprehensive Nuclear Agreement

April 9, 2014 Comments off

Preventing a Nuclear-Armed Iran: Requirements for a Comprehensive Nuclear Agreement
Source: Brookings Institution

After a dozen-year standoff between Iran and the international community over the Iranian nuclear program, negotiations are underway between representatives of Iran, on the one hand, and the P5+1 countries (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China) and the European Union, on the other, on a comprehensive agreement aimed at ensuring that an Iranian nuclear program declared to be devoted to peaceful purposes will not be turned into a program for producing nuclear weapons.

However, key differences exist on the requirements of an acceptable deal, not just among negotiators at the table but also among key players outside the negotiations. Israeli officials and a number of members of Congress are demanding the elimination of key elements of Iran’s nuclear program, and the Obama administration and its supporters counter that several of those demands are neither achievable nor necessary for a sound agreement.

U.S. Army — Uniform Policy: Leaders Training

April 8, 2014 Comments off

Uniform Policy: Leaders Training (PDF of PPT slides)
Source: U.S. Army
Army’s new grooming/appearance regulations

CRS — Military Funeral Honors and Military Cemeteries: Frequently Asked Questions

April 8, 2014 Comments off

Military Funeral Honors and Military Cemeteries: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)

This report is written in response to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about military funeral honors and military cemeteries. It provides information on the eligibility criteria, required components of the honor detail, and the funeral ceremony. It also cites legislation that mandates that the Department of Defense (DOD) make military funeral honors available to every eligible veteran upon request. This report will be updated as needed. For related reading, see CRS Report R41386, Veterans’ Benefits: Burial Benefits and National Cemeteries, by Christine Scott.

New From the GAO

April 8, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Medicare: Second Year Update for CMS’s Durable Medical Equipment Competitive Bidding Program Round 1 Rebid. GAO-14-156, March 7.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-156
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661475.pdf

2. 2014 Annual Report: Additional Opportunities to Reduce Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication and Achieve Other Financial Benefits. GAO-14-343SP, April 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-343SP
Podcast - http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/662283

3. Aviation Safety: FAA Should Improve Usability of its Online Application System and Clarity of the Pilot’s Medical Form. GAO-14-330, April 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-330
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662388.pdf

4. Military Capabilities: Navy Should Reevaluate Its Plan to Decommission the USS Port Royal. GAO-14-336, April 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-336
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662377.pdf

5. Information Security: IRS Needs to Address Control Weaknesses That Place Financial and Taxpayer Data at Risk. GAO-14-405, April 8
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-405
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662372.pdf
Podcast - http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/662350

Testimonies

1. Paid Tax Return Preparers: In a Limited Study, Preparers Made Significant Errors, by James R. McTigue Jr., director, strategic issues, before the Senate Committee on Finance. GAO-14-467T, April 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-467T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662357.pdf

2. Tobacco Products: FDA Spending and New Product Review Time Frames, by Marcia Crosse, director, health care, before the Subcommittee on Health, House Committee on Energy and Commerce. GAO-14-508T, April 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-508T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662361.pdf

3. Government Efficiency and Effectiveness: Opportunities to Reduce Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication and Achieve Other Financial Benefits, by Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States, before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-14-478T, April 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-478T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662367.pdf

CRS — Reducing Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Military Retirees and the Bipartisan Budget Act: In Brief

April 8, 2014 Comments off

Reducing Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Military Retirees and the Bipartisan Budget Act: In Brief (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)

In addition to raising budget caps in FY2014 and FY2015, the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) reduced the cost of living adjustments (COLAs) provided to working-age military retirees under the age of 62 from the full Consumer Price Index (CPI) to the CPI less 1%. Military retirees would then receive a “bump-up” at age 62 that would raise their benefit level to an amount that included full rather than partial CPI adjustments for each year below the age of 62. This new benefit level would then be increased for full CPI adjustments in later years. According to CBO, this change would save the Department of Defense $6.235 billion over the decade.

This CPI adjustment in the BBA originally applied to nearly all military retirees including those receiving military disability benefits, as well as those receiving survivors benefits. In response to concerns about potential effects, Congress restored full CPI COLA adjustments for disabled military retirees and survivors in the FY2014 Omnibus (H.R. 3547/P.L. 113-76) signed by the President on January 17, 2014. Several bills have recently been introduced that would reverse the COLA decrease for nondisabled military retirees as well. Although the reduced COLAs do not go into effect until December 1, 2015, some Members have called for action sooner.

Many of today’s nondisabled retired military are 62 or older, so the COLA adjustments in the BBA will not affect them. Most nondisability retirees under age 62 would be affected, with the greatest effect on recently retired and future nondisablity military retirees, who could face reduced COLAs for 20 years or more. As a point of comparison, had disabled retirees continued to face these adjustments, the effect would have been larger because they tend to retire younger and thus would have faced COLA reductions for more years.

CRS — Health Care for Veterans: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (updated)

April 7, 2014 Comments off

Health Care for Veterans: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA), within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), operates the nation’s largest integrated health care delivery system, provides care to approximately 5.75 million unique veteran patients, and employs more than 270,000 full-time equivalent employees.

CRS — Membership of the 113th Congress: A Profile (updated)

April 7, 2014 Comments off

Membership of the 113th Congress: A Profile (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

This report presents a profile of the membership of the 113th Congress (2013-2014). Statistical information is included on selected characteristics of Members, including data on party affiliation, average age, occupation, education, length of congressional service, religious affiliation, gender, ethnicity, foreign births, and military service.

Improving Interagency Information Sharing Using Technology Demonstrations: The Legal Basis for Using New Sensor Technologies for Counterdrug Operations Along the U.S. Border

April 3, 2014 Comments off

Improving Interagency Information Sharing Using Technology Demonstrations: The Legal Basis for Using New Sensor Technologies for Counterdrug Operations Along the U.S. Border
Source: RAND Corporation

The Department of Defense (DoD) has developed new sensor technologies to support military forces operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. These new capabilities may be useful in counterdrug (CD) operations along the southern U.S. border. DoD has held technology demonstrations to test and demonstrate new technologies along the southern border — because the field conditions along the border closely resemble those in current military theaters of operation and because they can also reveal whether new technologies are useful for CD operations led by domestic law enforcement agencies. However, there are legal questions about whether such technology demonstrations fully comply with U.S. law and whether advanced DoD sensors can legally be used in domestic CD operations when they are operated by U.S. military forces.

In this report, the authors examine federal law and DoD policy to answer these questions. Some parts of U.S. law mandate information sharing among federal departments and agencies for national security purposes and direct DoD to play a key role in domestic CD operations in support of U.S. law enforcement agencies, while other parts of the law place restrictions on when the U.S. military may participate in law enforcement operations. Reviewing relevant federal law and DoD policy, the authors conclude that there is no legal reason why a DoD sensor should be excluded from use in an interagency technology demonstration or in an actual CD operation as long as a valid request for support is made by an appropriate law enforcement official and so long as no personally identifiable or private information is collected. The authors recommend DoD policy on domestic CD operations be formally clarified and that an approval process should be established for technology demonstrations with a CD nexus.

New From the GAO

April 3, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. International Financial Reforms: U.S. and Other Jurisdictions’ Efforts to Develop and Implement Reforms. GAO-14-261, April 3.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-261
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662259.pdf

2. Defense Infrastructure: Army Has a Process to Manage Litigation Costs for the Military Housing Privatization Initiative. GAO-14-327, April 3.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-327
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662264.pdf

3. 2020 Census: Prioritized Information Technology Research and Testing Is Needed for Census Design Decisions. GAO-14-389, April 3.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-389
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662279.pdf

Subject Resource Guide: Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Operations

April 3, 2014 Comments off

Subject Resource Guide: Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Operations
Source: Air University (Muir S. Fairchild Research Information Center)
Topics covered:

  • Aerial Reconnaissance
  • Dissemination
  • Electronic Collection
  • Exploitation
  • Gathering
  • Integrated Planning
  • Intelligence
  • ISR
  • Military Intelligence
  • Military Surveillance
  • Military Reconnaissance
  • Network Centric
  • Reconnaissance
  • Surveillance

New From the GAO

April 2, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office

Report

1. Information Technology: IRS Needs to Improve the Reliability and Transparency of Reported Investment Information. GAO-14-298, April 2.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-298
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662231.pdf

Testimonies

1. Information Security: Federal Agencies Need to Enhance Responses to Data Breaches, by Gregory C. Wilshusen, director, information security issues, before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. GAO-14-487T, April 2.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-487T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662228.pdf

2. Veterans’ Health Care: Oversight of Tissue Product Safety, by Marcia Crosse, director, health care, before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. GAO-14-463T, April 2.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-463T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662225.pdf

3. Missile Defense: Mixed Progress in Achieving Acquisition Goals and Improving Accountability, by Cristina T. Chaplain, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Senate Committee on Armed Services. GAO-14-481T, April 2.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-481T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662252.pdf

Audit of VHA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program

April 2, 2014 Comments off

Audit of VHA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General

At the request of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Subcommittee on Health, we conducted this audit to determine if the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program grantees appropriately expended program funds. In December 2010, VA established the SSVF program to rapidly re-house homeless veteran families and prevent homelessness for those at imminent risk due to a housing crisis. For fiscal years (FYs) 2012 and 2013, the VHA awarded about $60 million and $100 million in SSVF grants, respectively, and has increased awards to nearly $300 million for FY 2014. We found that VHA’s SSVF program has adequate financial controls in place that are working as intended to provide reasonable assurance that funds are appropriately expended by grantees. We determined program staff were reviewing grantee timecards, invoices for temporary financial assistance, subcontractor costs, and conducted annual inspections. However, SSVF program officials can improve controls to ensure only eligible veterans and their family members participate in the program. We found three of five grantees used outdated area median income (AMI) limits to determine eligibility for the program. In addition, four of five grantees did not verify veterans’ discharge status with the required “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty” (DD 214). This occurred because some grantees were not aware when new AMI limits were published. To avoid delaying program participation, grantees did not always follow up to ensure receipt of the required DD 214 when an interim eligibility document was used. As a result, VHA risks providing SSVF services to ineligible veterans or excluding eligible veterans from the program. We recommended the Under Secretary for Health ensure SSVF program management implements a mechanism to inform grantees when the most current AMI limits are published and ensure grantees comply with eligibility documentation requirements. The Under Secretary for Health concurred with our recommendations and provided an appropriate action plan. We consider the SSVF program actions sufficient and closed the recommendations as completed.

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