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CRS — The Federal Trade Commission’s Regulation of Data Security Under Its Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices (UDAP) Authority (September 11, 2014)

September 18, 2014 Comments off

The Federal Trade Commission’s Regulation of Data Security Under Its Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices (UDAP) Authority (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Federal Trade Commission Act established the Federal Trade Commission (FTC or Commission) in 1914. The protection of consumers from anticompetitive, deceptive, or unfair business practices is at the core of the FTC’s mission. As part of that mission, the FTC has been at the forefront of the federal government’s efforts to protect sensitive consumer information from data breaches and regulate cybersecurity. As the number of data breaches has soared, so too have FTC investigations into lax data security practices. The FTC has not been delegated specific authority to regulate data security. Rather, the FTC has broad authority under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act) to prohibit unfair and deceptive acts or practices.

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CRS — Delayed Federal Grant Closeout: Issues and Impact (September 12, 2014)

September 18, 2014 Comments off

Delayed Federal Grant Closeout: Issues and Impact (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Federal outlays for grants to state and local governments have grown from $15.4 billion in 1940 (in constant FY2009 dollars) to $509.7 billion in 2013 (in constant FY2009 dollars). The number of congressionally authorized grant programs has also increased over time, with over 2,179 congressionally authorized grant programs currently being administered by federal agencies. Recently, congressional interest has focused on the efficient and effective management of federal grant programs. A recent congressional hearing evaluated the impact of alleged inefficient grant management which, according to a GAO report, resulted in more than $794 million in undisbursed federal grant funds in expired grant accounts. GAO concluded that federal agencies needed to improve the timeliness of federal grant closeouts to address the undisbursed funds issue. However, there may be underlying causes, other than inefficient grant management, that might help to explain why undisbursed funds may end up in expired grant accounts. Furthermore, it is possible, if not likely, that the estimated amount of undisbursed funds in expired grant accounts may be inflated. While the undisbursed grant funds identified by GAO represent significantly less than 1% of annual outlays for grants to state and local governments, the existence of undisbursed grant funds in expired grant accounts is an indicator of a systemic grants management challenge; suggesting a lack of coordination between the financial and program management of federal grants.

CRS — Legislative Actions to Repeal, Defund, or Delay the Affordable Care Act (September 12, 2014)

September 18, 2014 Comments off

Legislative Actions to Repeal, Defund, or Delay the Affordable Care Act (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report summarizes legislative actions taken to repeal, defund, delay, or otherwise amend the ACA since the law’s enactment. The information is presented in three appendices. Table A-1 in Appendix A summarizes the authorizing legislation to amend the ACA that has been approved by both chambers and enacted into law. Table B-1 in Appendix B summarizes the ACA provisions in authorizing legislation that passed the House in the 112th Congress (2011-2012) but was not approved by the Senate. It also lists the ACA-related legislation that the House has passed to date in the 113th Congress (2013-2014), but which has not been taken up by the Senate. Table C-1 in Appendix C summarizes the ACA-related provisions in enacted annual appropriations acts for each of FY2011 through FY2014. Also included is a brief overview of all the ACA-related provisions added to appropriations bills considered, and in most cases reported, by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees since FY2011.

To help provide context for the information presented in the appendices, the report continues with some background on the core provisions of the ACA. That is followed by an overview of the law’s impact on federal spending. This report is updated periodically to reflect legislative and other developments. A companion CRS report summarizes administrative actions taken by CMS and the IRS to delay, extend, or otherwise modify implementation of certain ACA provisions.

New From the GAO

September 18, 2014 Comments off

New From the GAO
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Inspectors General: Improvements Needed in the Office of Inspector General’s Oversight of the Denali Commission. GAO-14-320, September 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-320
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665909.pdf

2. Secure Flight: TSA Should Take Additional Steps to Determine Program Effectiveness. GAO-14-531, September 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-531
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665677.pdf

3. Secure Flight: TSA Could Take Additional Steps to Strengthen Privacy Oversight Mechanisms. GAO-14-647, September 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-647
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665674.pdf

4. VA Health Care: Actions Needed to Address Higher-Than-Expected Demand for the Family Caregiver Program. GAO-14-675, September 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-675
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665929.pdf

5. Large Partnerships: With Growing Number of Partnerships, IRS Needs to Improve Audit Efficiency. GAO-14-732, September 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-732
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665887.pdf

6. Depot Maintenance: Accurate and Complete Data Needed to Meet DOD’s Core Capability Reporting Requirements. GAO-14-777, September 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-777
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665916.pdf

Testimonies

1. Healthcare.gov: Information Security and Privacy Controls Should Be Enhanced to Address Weaknesses, by Gregory C. Wilshusen, director, information security issues, before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-14-871T, September 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-871T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665878.pdf

2. Secure Flight: Additional Actions Needed to Determine Program Effectiveness and Strengthen Privacy Oversight Mechanisms, by Jennifer Grover, acting director, homeland security and justice, before the Subcommittee on Transportation Security, House Committee on Homeland Security. GAO-14-796T, September 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-796T

Press Release

1. GAO Names New Members to PCORI Methodology Committee. September 18.
http://www.gao.gov/press/pcori_methodology_comm2014sep18.htm

Reissue

1. Critical Infrastructure Protection: DHS Action Needed to Enhance Integration and Coordination of Vulnerability Assessment Efforts. GAO-14-507, September 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-507
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665787.pdf

CRS — Diplomatic and Embassy Security Funding Before and After the Benghazi Attacks (September 10, 2014)

September 18, 2014 Comments off

Diplomatic and Embassy Security Funding Before and After the Benghazi Attacks (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report presents a history and analysis of the requested and actual funding for diplomatic/embassy security since FY2008—what actually became available for the Department of State to spend after rescissions, sequestration, and transfers. It also provides funding data that was requested by the Administration, passed by the House of Representatives, passed by the Senate, and enacted by Congress for the two accounts that provide the bulk of the funding: the Worldwide Security Protection (WSP) and Worldwide Security Upgrades (WSU). Combined, these two subaccounts in most years comprise more than 90% of the funding available for diplomatic/embassy security.

This report will continue to track diplomatic/embassy security appropriations and will be updated as changes occur.

Global Billionaires Political Power Index

September 18, 2014 Comments off

Global Billionaires Political Power Index
Source: Brookings Institution

Darrell West’s Global Billionaires Political Power Index is a ranking of the top global billionaires in terms of overall political power. There are a number of existing rankings that rate the net worth of billionaires, but no one has assessed their overall political influence globally or in particular countries around the world. Kings, queens, dictators, or authoritarian heads of state were not considered because of the difficulty of ascertaining their wealth. Gauging wealth is impossible in some places even though it is suspected that certain leaders are billionaires. Families of government leaders who have gained extensive wealth were also left out because it is hard to gauge their specific holdings.

DNI Unveils 2014 National Intelligence Strategy

September 18, 2014 Comments off

DNI Unveils 2014 National Intelligence Strategy
Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence

The Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper today unveiled the 2014 National Intelligence Strategy – the blueprint that will drive the priorities for the nation’s 17 Intelligence Community components over the next four years. The National Intelligence Strategy (NIS) is one of the most important documents for the Intelligence Community (IC) as it sets forth the strategic environment, sets priorities and objectives, and focuses resources on current and future budgets, acquisitions and operations decisions. Most importantly, the strategy builds on the success achieved with integrating intelligence since the previous NIS, as demonstrated by both high-profile operational achievements and significant enterprise improvements.

The National Intelligence Strategy lays out the strategic environment and identifies pervasive and emerging threats. While key nation states such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran will continue to challenge U.S. interests, global power is also becoming more diffuse. New alignments and informal networks, outside of traditional power blocs and national governments, will increasingly have significant impact in global affairs. Competition for scarce resources such as food, water and energy is growing in importance as an intelligence issue as that competition exacerbates instability, and the constant advancements and globalization of technology will bring both benefits and challenges.

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