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DHS OIG — The DHS Visa Security Program

September 22, 2014 Comments off

The DHS Visa Security Program (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Visa Security Program is intended to prevent terrorists, criminals, and other ineligible applicants from receiving visas. DHS assigns special agents with expertise in immigration law and counterterrorism to U.S. diplomatic posts overseas to perform visa security activities. We reviewed the program’s effectiveness in preventing ineligible applicants from receiving U.S. visas; DHS’ annual reporting to Congress on the program’s expansion; and the efforts to expand the program to additional overseas posts, including the potential impact of a new initiative, the Pre‐Adjudicated Threat Recognition and Intelligence Operations Team.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is required to employ mechanisms that measure and accurately report the program’s performance to determine its value. However, current performance measures for the Visa Security Program do not include key aspects to determine its effectiveness. In addition, ICE has not taken actions to assure that (1) data needed to assess program performance is collected and reported, (2) consular officers receive appropriate advice and training, and (3) Visa Security Program hours are tracked and used to determine staffing and funding needs. Without these types of information, ICE cannot ensure that the Visa Security Program is operating as intended.

DHS has consistently delivered their annual reports to Congress late, reducing their usefulness. ICE should take appropriate steps to ensure that Congress receives future reports in a timely manner.

To date, ICE has established only 20 visa security units. Congressional leaders have repeatedly expressed concerns that the program has not expanded to more visa‐issuing posts. ICE’s responses to these concerns have stressed funding challenges, a limited number of trained special agents, and Department of State challenges to make space and provide support for DHS’ overseas presence.

According to ICE officials, a solution to the program’s slow expansion may be the Pre‐ Adjudicated Threat Recognition and Intelligence Operations Team. ICE officials explained that this new initiative will eventually be capable of screening visa applications from all visa‐issuing posts. However, because it was still being tested at the time of our review, we were not able to determine its effectiveness.

We are making 10 recommendations to improve the Visa Security Program. ICE concurred with each of the recommendations.

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HHS OIG — Medicare Part B Prescription Drug Dispensing and Supplying Fee Payment Rates Are Considerably Higher Than the Rates Paid by Other Government Programs

September 19, 2014 Comments off

Medicare Part B Prescription Drug Dispensing and Supplying Fee Payment Rates Are Considerably Higher Than the Rates Paid by Other Government Programs
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General

Medicare Part B would have saved millions of dollars in 2011 if dispensing fees for inhalation drugs administered through durable medical equipment and supplying fees for immunosuppressive drugs associated with an organ transplant, oral anticancer chemotherapeutic drugs, and oral antiemetic drugs used as part of an anticancer chemotherapeutic regimen had been aligned with the rates that Part D and State Medicaid programs paid. Part B paid $132.9 million in dispensing and supplying fees. We estimated that if Part B rates had been the same as the average Part D rates, Part B would have paid dispensing and supplying fees of $22 million, a savings of $110.9 million. We also estimated that if Part B rates had been the same as the average State Medicaid program rates, Part B would have paid dispensing and supplying fees of $26.6 million, a savings of $106.3 million.

We recommended that CMS amend current regulations to decrease the Part B payment rates for dispensing and supplying fees to rates similar to those of other payers, such as Part D and Medicaid. CMS did not concur with our recommendation and requested that OIG conduct a study to identify the specific activities involved with dispensing inhalation drugs and supplying oral drugs under Part B and collect information about the actual costs that are directly associated with dispensing these Part B drugs. We maintain that pharmacies are overpaid for dispensing drugs under Part B when compared with what they are paid for dispensing the same drugs under Part D and Medicaid.

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

HHS OIG — Hospital Emergency Preparedness and Response During Superstorm Sandy

September 18, 2014 Comments off

Hospital Emergency Preparedness and Response During Superstorm Sandy
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General

WHY WE DID THIS STUDY
Federal regulations require that hospitals prepare for emergencies including natural disasters. The strength of Superstorm Sandy and the population density of the affected areas placed high demands on hospitals and related services. Prior studies by OIG found substantial challenges in health care facility emergency preparedness and response. In a 2006 study, we found that many nursing homes had insufficient emergency plans or did not follow their plans. In a 2012 followup study, we found that gaps continued to exist in nursing home emergency preparedness and response.

HOW WE DID THIS STUDY
For this study, we surveyed 174 Medicare-certified hospitals located in declared disaster areas in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York during Superstorm Sandy. We also conducted site visits to 10 purposively selected hospitals located in areas most affected by the storm. Additionally, we examined information from State survey agency and accreditation organization surveys of hospitals conducted prior to the storm and spoke to surveyors about their survey process related to emergency preparedness. We also interviewed State hospital associations and health care coalitions in the three States.

WHAT WE FOUND
Most hospitals in declared disaster areas sheltered in place during Superstorm Sandy, and 7 percent evacuated. Eighty-nine percent of hospitals in these areas reported experiencing substantial challenges in responding to the storm. These challenges represented a range of interrelated problems from infrastructure breakdowns, such as electrical and communication failures, to community collaboration issues over resources, such as fuel, transportation, hospital beds, and public shelters. Hospitals reported that prior emergency planning was valuable during the storm and that they subsequently revised their plans as a result of lessons learned. Prior to the storm, most hospitals received emergency-related deficiency citations from hospital surveyors, some of which related to the challenges reported by hospitals during Superstorm Sandy.

WHAT WE RECOMMEND
The experiences of hospitals during Superstorm Sandy and the deficiencies cited prior to the storm reveal gaps in emergency planning and execution that might be applicable to hospitals nationwide. Given that insufficient community-wide coordination among affected entities was a common thread through the challenges identified by hospital administrators, we recommend that ASPR continue to promote Federal, State, and community collaboration in major disasters. We also recommend that CMS examine existing policies and provide guidance regarding flexibility for reimbursement under disaster conditions. ASPR and CMS concurred with the recommendations.

Annual Review of the United States Coast Guard’s Mission Performance (FY 2013)

September 18, 2014 Comments off

Annual Review of the United States Coast Guard’s Mission Performance (FY 2013) (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

This report presents our annual review of the United States Coast Guard’s (USCG) mission performance, as required by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The act defines the USCG’s 11 statutory missions as either non-homeland security missions or homeland security. The act also prohibits the Secretary of Homeland Security from substantially reducing any of the USCG’s missions after its transfer to the Department of Homeland Security, except as specified in subsequent acts.

The objective of this review was to determine the extent to which the USCG is maintaining its historical level of effort on non-homeland security missions. To address our objective, we reviewed the resource hours the USCG used to perform its various missions. We also reviewed the USCG’s performance measures and results for each non-homeland security and homeland security mission. We did not verify the accuracy of the USCG-provided data.

According to USCG’s data, the majority of resource hours are no longer dedicated to homeland security missions. For fiscal year 2013, the USCG dedicated about the same percentage of resource hours to homeland security missions as to non-homeland security missions.

The USCG reported that it met or exceeded 15 of 23 summary performance measure targets in fiscal year 2013. This includes 9 of 12 non-homeland security performance measures and 6 of 11 homeland security performance measures targets. In fiscal year 2013, the USCG budgeted nearly the same percentage of funding to its nonͲhomeland security and homeland security missions.

This report contains no recommendations.

DHS OIG — CBP Did Not Effectively Plan and Manage Employee Housing in Ajo, Arizona

September 11, 2014 Comments off

CBP Did Not Effectively Plan and Manage Employee Housing in Ajo, Arizona (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General
From email:

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) vastly overpaid for an overly elaborate employee housing project in remote Ajo, Arizona, a new Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, report has found.

OIG Report No. OIG 14-131, “CBP Did Not Effectively Plan and Manage Employee Housing in Ajo, Arizona,” found that CBP paid an average of $680,000 each to build 21 single-family homes in Ajo, where home prices average $86,500. The units are for CBP employees stationed on and near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Specifically, the OIG found that CBP:

·Paid a premium price for land;
·Built two- and three-bedroom family-style houses rather than the recommended one -bedroom apartment-style housing; and
·Included nonessential items and amenities in the project without adequate justification.

“This is a classic example of inadequate planning and management leading to wasteful spending,” said Inspector General John Roth. “This project could have been completed at much less cost to the taxpayers.”

USPS OIG — Management of Cloud Computing Contracts and Environment

September 10, 2014 Comments off

Management of Cloud Computing Contracts and Environment (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

Background
The Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency asked inspectors general in the federal community to participate in an audit of cloud computing contracts. Cloud computing provides on-demand network access to shared resources that can be rapidly released and allows customers to take advantage of cutting edge technologies at a reduced cost. Hosted services are offered by providers that host physical servers in a different location. The audit was designed to provide insight on how well the federal government is protecting data and its progress in moving towards cloud computing.

As a participant in this audit, our objectives were to determine if the U.S. Postal Service’s cloud service contracts comply with applicable standards and evaluate management’s efforts to adopt cloud computing technologies.

What the OIG Found
The Postal Service’s cloud computing contracts did not comply with all applicable Postal Service’s standards. Specifically, the Postal Service has not defined “cloud computing” and “hosted services,” established an enterprise-wide inventory of cloud computing services, required suppliers and their employees to sign non-disclosure agreements, or included all required information security clauses in its contracts.

In addition, management did not appropriately monitor applications to ensure system availability. Management also did not complete the required security analysis process for three cloud services reviewed and did not follow Postal Service policy requiring cloud service providers to meet federal government guidelines. This occurred because no group is responsible for managing cloud services, and personnel were not aware of all policy and contractual obligations.

Without proper knowledge of and control over applications in the cloud environment, the Postal Service cannot properly secure cloud computing technologies and is at increased risk of unauthorized access and disclosure of sensitive data. We claimed $33,517,151 in contractual costs for the Postal Service not following their policy and contract requirements.

What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management define “cloud computing” and “hosted services,” develop an inventory of cloud services, monitor suppliers and require them to be certified, and revise contracts to include security clauses. We also recommended management evaluate best practices for cloud computing contracts, complete the security analysis process, and ensure compliance with non-disclosure clauses.

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