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Released on September 17, 2019
Commercial Aviation: Information on Passenger Assaults against Airline Customer Service Agents at Airports[back to top]
GAO-19-683: Published: Sep 17, 2019. Publicly Released: Sep 17, 2019.
When travel plans go awry, airline passengers may take out their frustrations on customer service agents. We surveyed 104 customer service agents. About half said passengers had verbally threatened them and 10% said passengers had physically assaulted them in the past year. We spoke with stakeholders (including prosecutors and airport police) who said current assault laws and law enforcement reso...
Released on September 16, 2019
DOD Education Benefits: Data on Officer Participation in and Views on Proposed Changes to the Tuition Assistance Program
GAO-19-699R: Published: Sep 16, 2019. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 2019.
In fiscal year 2018, DOD provided tuition assistance for about 200,000 servicemembers who enrolled in over 600,000 courses. The cost was about $425 million. About 7% of this assistance benefited active-duty officers. When active-duty officers use this benefit, they increase the length of time they must remain in military service. Congress may change the policy so that this committed time is serve...
Medicaid: Additional CMS Data and Oversight Needed to Help Ensure Children Receive Recommended Screenings
GAO-19-481: Published: Aug 16, 2019. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 2019.
Medicaid, which provides health care for low-income and medically needy people, has an early screening and treatment benefit to help young people get the health care services they need. Goals of the benefit include getting blood lead screenings for young children and well-child exams for at least 80% of eligible young people. We found 59% of those eligible got at least one recommended exam in 20...
Science & Tech Spotlight: Blockchain & Distributed Ledger Technologies
GAO-19-704SP: Published: Sep 16, 2019. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 2019.
The technology that allows Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to function could profoundly change the way government and industry do business. Distributed ledger technology allows the secure transfer of digital assets without management by a central authority. Instead, participants share synchronized copies of a ledger that records assets and transactions. Changes are visible to all participants. ...
Science & Tech Spotlight: Hypersonic Weapons
GAO-19-705SP: Published: Sep 16, 2019. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 2019.
Hypersonic weapons are expected to: Fly at least 3,800 mph (about 5 times the speed of sound) Fly at lower altitudes than ballistic missiles Be highly maneuverable Be able to change targets during flight Be extremely difficult to defend against Key technologies for these weapons remain under development. Policy considerations include whether the goals for hypersonic weapons are realistic, as...
Science & Tech Spotlight: Opioid Vaccines
GAO-19-706SP: Published: Sep 16, 2019. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 2019.
More than 10 million people in the United States abused opioids such as heroin and fentanyl in 2017, and there were over 47,000 opioid-related overdose deaths. One treatment under development is an opioid vaccine, which could block the drugs from entering the central nervous system. It essentially immunizes patients from drug-induced euphoria, as well as addiction and overdose. Advantages of a va...
Science & Tech Spotlight: Probabilistic Genotyping Software
GAO-19-707SP: Published: Sep 16, 2019. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 2019.
Faced with minimal or complicated DNA evidence—a sample with DNA from more than 1 person, for example—investigators can use a forensic tool called probabilistic genotyping software. It estimates how likely it is that the genetic material in the sample is linked to a person of interest. Users of this software include crime labs, police, and the FBI. However, more work is needed to establish it...
VA Health Care: Actions Needed to Improve Family Caregiver Program[back to top]
GAO-19-618: Published: Sep 16, 2019. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 2019.
The Family Caregiver Program has provided financial and other types of assistance to caregivers of veterans seriously injured in the line of duty since 9/11. VA is still working on implementing a new IT system for the program, which will allow it to expand the program to help all veterans’ caregivers as required by the VA MISSION Act of 2018. VA doesn’t have the data it needs to determine wh...
Released on September 13, 2019
Disaster Response: Federal Assistance and Selected States and Territory Efforts to Identify Deaths from 2017 Hurricanes[back to top]
GAO-19-486: Published: Sep 13, 2019. Publicly Released: Sep 13, 2019.
In 2017, 3 hurricanes struck Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico, causing severe damage and deaths. States and territories are responsible for identifying disaster-related deaths. Initially, Puerto Rico had reported 65 deaths directly related to Hurricane Maria, but later revised the official count to 2,975. Puerto Rico officials said damaged roads, power outages, and shortages of medical examiner s...
Released on September 12, 2019
Higher Education: More Information Could Help Student Parents Access Additional Federal Student Aid[back to top]
GAO-19-522: Published: Aug 20, 2019. Publicly Released: Sep 12, 2019.
About 1 in 5 undergraduates were raising children in 2015-16, according to the Education Department. Child care costs can make it harder for them to graduate. An Education program helps students with low incomes pay for child care. Among other things, we found: Education is not accurately calculating program outcomes, such as the graduation rate. Student parents may be eligible for bigger loans...