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Category Archives: Defense

Security Clearances: Tax Debts Owed by DOD Employees and Contractors

SECURITY CLEARANCES: Tax Debts Owed by DOD Employees and Contractors, GAO-14-686R: Published: Jul 28, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 28, 2014.

“In summary, GAO found that about 83,000 Department of Defense (DOD) employees and contractors who held or were determined eligible for secret, top secret, or sensitive compartmented information (SCI) clearances, or related interim clearances, had unpaid federal tax debt totaling more than $730 million as of June 30, 2012. DOD reported to GAO that about 3.2 million civilian and military employees and contractorsheld or were approved for similar clearances from January 1, 2006, to December 31, 2011, which was the time frame for GAO’s analysis. According to data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), about 34,000 of these 83,000 individuals (about 40 percent) with tax debt had a repayment plan with the IRS to pay back their debt as of June 30, 2012. GAO’s analysis cannot be generalized to individuals that were granted eligibility for security clearances and were non-DOD employees of the executive branch, employees of the legislative branch, or employees of the intelligence community. As part of this work, GAO also identified individuals with unpaid tax debts who also had access to classified information. DOD officials stated that individualshaving access to classified information pose a greater risk because they have more opportunity toactually compromise classified information than a person who is only eligible to access classified information. GAO found that about 26,000 of the 83,000 DOD employees and contractors with eligibilities who owed taxes (about 31 percent) had access to classified information, and they owed about $229 million in federal taxes as of June 2012.”

New GAO Reports – Defense Contracting, Federal Grants, Healthcare.gov, Littoral Combat Ship

DEFENSE CONTRACTING: Factors DOD Considers When Choosing Best Value Processes Are Consistent with Guidance for Selected Acquisitions, GAO-14-584: Published: Jul 30, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 30, 2014. FEDERAL GRANTS: Agencies Performed Internal Control Assessments Consistent with Guidance and Are Addressing Internal Control Deficiencies, GAO-14-539: Published: Jul 30, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 30, 2014. HEALTHCARE.GOV: Contract Planning and Oversight Practices Were IneffectiveContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – CFPB, Drinking Water, Media Ownership, Railroad Retirement, Security Clearances

CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU: Opportunity Exists to Improve Transparency of Civil Penalty Fund Activities, GAO-14-551: Published: Jun 26, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 28, 2014. DRINKING WATER: EPA Program to Protect Underground Sources from Injection of Fluids Associated with Oil and Gas Production Needs Improvement, GAO-14-555: Published: Jun 27, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 28, 2014. MEDIA OWNERSHIP: FCC Should Review the Effects ofContinue Reading

The hallowed ground of World War I, then and now – WaPo

“Today marks 100 years since the start of WW I. On July 28, 1914, Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria the month before, thrusting the world into a war unlike any seen before. It would rage on until November 1918, killing more than 5 million troopsContinue Reading

DHS Infrastructure Sector Resilience Report: Electric Power Delivery

“The Department of Homeland Security Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis (DHS/OCIA) Homeland Infrastructure Threat and Risk Analysis Center (HITRAC) produces Sector Resilience Reports to improve partner understanding of the interdependencies and resilience of certain sectors. Specifically, this report provides a brief overview of the electric power system, and analysis of key electric power systemContinue Reading

Mapbox – interactive map of no fly zones for unmanned aerial vehicles

Wired – “To help with the question of where it is legal to fly a drone, Mapbox has put together an interactive map of all the no-fly zones for UAVs they could find. Most of the red zones on the map are near airports, military sites and national parks. But as WIRED’s former Editor-in-Chief, Chris Anderson, nowContinue Reading

The Rhyme of History: Lessons of the Great War – Brookings

Margaret MacMillan, author of The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 (Random House, 2013) – an essay from the book – snipped – “The one-hundredth anniversary of 1914 should make us reflect anew on our vulnerability to human error, sudden catastrophes, and sheer accident. So we have good reason to glance over our shoulders evenContinue Reading

Reflections on the Tenth Anniversary of The 9/11 Commission Report

Bipartisan Policy Center: “Ten years ago today, we issued The 9/11 Commission Report, the official report of the devastating attacks of September 11, 2001. As we wrote in that report, we were acutely mindful of the responsibility we bore to the American people—and the families of the victims—to provide the most complete account possible of theContinue Reading

The Kurds and Possible Iraqi Kurdish Independence

CRS – The Kurds and Possible Iraqi Kurdish Independence. Jim Zanotti, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs; Kenneth Katzman, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs. July 15, 2014 (IN10105) “Approximately 30 million ethnic Kurds inhabit a largely mountainous region at the intersection of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran. In recent years, Kurdish populations have increasingly influenced regional developments, particularly given ongoing conflictContinue Reading

U.S. Sanctions on Russia in Response to Events in Ukraine

CRS Report, July 18, 2014 (IN10048): “Many view Russia’s annexation of the Crimean region of Ukraine on March 18, 2014, and efforts to destabilize eastern and southern Ukraine as the culmination of long-standing Russian resentment of the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. Russian leaders have claimed they have the right to protect Russian citizens and “compatriots” (thoseContinue Reading

U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians – CRS

U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians. Jim Zanotti - Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs. July 3, 2014. “Since the establishment of limited Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the mid-1990s, the U.S. government has committed more than $5 billion in bilateral assistance to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, who are among theContinue Reading

Former State Dept Exec Calls Executive Order 12333 a “Legal Loophole” for Spying on Americans

EFF – “What kind of data is the NSA collecting on millions, or hundreds of millions, of Americans?” That’s the question John Napier Tye, a former StateDepartment section chief for Internet freedom, calls on the government to answer in his powerful op-ed published today by the Washington Post. In it, Tye calls the NSA’s surveillance operations abroad, conducted under ExecutiveContinue Reading