Hearings

Jul 15, 2016

Oversight of the Urban Area Security Initiative Grant Program

PURPOSE: To review the process by which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) determines which Metropolitan Statistical Areas receive Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant funding. To evaluate UASI funding history for the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida area, and the decision not to fund that area for the last two fiscal years. BACKGROUND: The UASI grant program provides financial assistance to ...

Jul 14, 2016

Lagging Behind: The State of High Speed Rail in the United States

PURPOSE: To examine the status and management of the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program across the United States. BACKGROUND: In 2009, President Obama announced a plan to substantially upgrade speeds on existing rail routes and to create new high-speed rail corridors. Congress has appropriated more than $10 billion dollars for high speed rail initiatives to carry out the HSIPR ...

Jul 14, 2016

Examining Mismanagement in Office of Justice Programs Grantmaking

PURPOSE: To understand the difficulties faced in the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and similar grant programs. BACKGROUND: The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (OIG) labeled oversight of grants as a “top management challenge” in fiscal year 2015, and the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s 2012 duplication report found duplication and overlap in DOJ grant programs. Since ...

Jul 14, 2016

Recalcitrant Countries: Denying Visas to Countries that Refuse to Take Back their Deported Nationals

TAKEAWAYS: According to ICE 953,506 aliens with final orders of removal remain in the United States. The Supreme Court’s decision in Zadvydas v. Davis, which limits the length of detention for aliens who cannot be removed in the near future, allows even violent criminal aliens to be put back on U.S. streets if their home country refuses to ...

Jul 13, 2016

From Premium Increases to Failing Co-ops: An Obamacare Checkup

PURPOSE: To assess the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) plans to protect consumers and safeguard billions in taxpayer dollars. To examine the viability of the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) Program, and other concerns related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). BACKGROUND: Under the PPACA, CMS awarded $2.4 billion in loans to help create CO-OPs. ...

Jul 13, 2016

Digital Acts of War: Evolving the Cybersecurity Conversation

PURPOSE: To examine the strategies and policies of the administration’s response to cybersecurity incidents. To review the growing market for threat intelligence, the pros/cons of making attribution after cybersecurity incidents, and the benefits of clarifying international norms of cyber operations. BACKGROUND: Data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management and at private sector companies have validated ...

Jul 13, 2016

Oversight of the FDIC Application Process

TAKEAWAYS: A lack of transparency exists in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) application process for deposit insurance. o   This discretionary process is plagued with unwritten rules and sliding standards, making it next to impossible for an application to be approved. o   The FDIC has only approved three new (de novo) bank applications since 2011. As a result, the U.S. has the lowest number of banks since 1934 ...

Jul 12, 2016

Religious Liberty and H.R. 2802, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA)

TAKEAWAYS: The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodgescreates uncertainty about how the ruling will affect individuals and organizations who maintain a sincerely held religious belief of moral conviction about marriage. Consistent with the 1stAmendment, citizens should be free to follow their conscience without threats from the federal government for living out their beliefs. FADA protects religious liberty by ...

Jul 8, 2016

Contracting Fairness

PURPOSE: To examine when it is appropriate for the federal government to contract with the private sector for goods and services and when it is appropriate for the government to provide goods and services in-house with an emphasis on promoting public-private competition to generate efficiencies and reduce costs. BACKGROUND: Until 2009, the federal government’s long-standing policy preference was to rely on the private ...

Jul 7, 2016

Examining Billion Dollar Waste through Improper Payments

PURPOSE: To examine agency compliance with improper payment laws and the role of Treasury’s Do Not Pay Center in reducing improper payments. BACKGROUND: The Improper Payments Information Act requires federal executive branch agencies to review all programs and identify those that may be susceptible to significant improper payments. Improper payment estimates across the federal government for FY 2015 totaled $136.7 ...