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The Charity and Security Network monitors U.S. and foreign government activities and a wide range of news sources to identify developments in national security policy that impact civil society and nonprofit organizations. We collect and disseminate relevant information on our website, via our Twitter and Facebook accounts, and through our biweekly email newsletter, which contains links to a variety of news articles. To read the most recent issues of our email newsletter or to subscribe, click here

Our staff also creates news pieces on events and developments of particular interest to our members that are not covered in other news outlets. Those stories can be found below, in revese chronological order. 

House Bill Would Make Nonprofit Data Publicly Available and Searchable

Date: 
April 18, 2018

A bill that passed the House of Representatives this week, the  (HR 5443) would require electronic filing of nonprofit tax returns and make those forms available to the public in a machine-readable, searchable format. 

The measure grew out of work by The Aspen Institute's Nonprofit Data Project, an effort to improve nonprofit information and transparency, in partnership with GuideStar, Urban Institute, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Foundation Center and Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies. It would enable the public to use IRS Form 990 data for research, fraud reduction, informed charitable giving and other purposes, according to a statement from The Aspen Institute. In committee markup of the bill last week, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) described it as "sound and good policy." 

IRS Form 990s contain information on the missions, governance and finances of nonprofit organizations. Until recently, they were only available as non-searchable images, greatly limiting their potential. This system led the Nonprofit Data Project to issue the report, Information for Impact: Liberating Nonprofit Sector Data, in 2013. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the report detailed the benefits of open data, such as increased transparency, improved speed and accuracy, and new opportunities for nonprofit innovation. In June 2016, electronically filed Form 990s were released as open data by the IRS on Amazon Web Services. Approximately 60% of the forms are electronically filed and available through this service. 

The bill now moves to the Senate, and if passed, would go into effect the tax year after the law's enactment. 

Bill Calls for Bank Regulators to Consider Risk Profiles

Date: 
March 28, 2018

The TAILOR Act (HR 1116), which passed the House of Representative on March 14, 2018, appears to promote implementation of the risk-based approach by bank regulators. It requires federal bank regulators to take “risk profiles and business models” of financial institutions into account when taking regulatory action.  Regulators would be required to determine the appropriateness and impact of regulatory action and tailor regulatory action to limit compliance impact, cost, etc. via a risk profile. Regulaory action is defined as "any proposed, interim, or final rule or regulation, guidane, or published interpretation." The agencies would also have to review all rules promulgated in past seven years and make them consistent with this standard. The bill was sent to the Senate and referred to the Banking Committee.  A companion bill, (S 366)  was filed in the Senate in 2017 by Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD). Democrats on the House committee filed a minority report opposing the bill because it could result in litigation by banks that would tie up the regulatory system.

House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Derisking

Date: 
February 20, 2018
Author: 

The effect of derisking on nonprofit organizations (NPOs) was raised during the first of what is hoped to be several Congressional hearings on derisking was held by the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee on February 15.

Titled “Examining De-Risking and Its Effect on Access to Financial Services” the hearing centered largely on Operation Choke Point, a former government program that resulted in the closure of accounts of businesses in a handful of sectors, including payday lenders and gun dealers. Two members of the subcommittee, however, specifically addressed how derisking has impacted NPOs and consequently, the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-TX) formally introduced statements submitted by Charity & Security Network, the Global Center on Cooperative Security, and John Byrne, formerly of the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists and the co-facilitator of a multi-stakeholder dialogue on derisking and NPOs.

Opportunity to Comment on SARS and CTR Regulations

Date: 
February 12, 2018
Author: 

The U.S. Treasury Department is soliciting input on continuing its suspicious activity (SARS) and currency transaction reporting (CTR) requirements without change for another three years.

In two Federal Register notices (83 FR 5829 and 83 FR 5828) February 9, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) published notices and requests for comment on these two regulatory programs under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).

The BSA authorizes the U.S. Treasury to require financial institutions to keep records and file reports that are determined to have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax, and regulatory matters, or in the conduct of intelligence or counter-intelligence activities to protect against international terrorism, and to implement counter-money laundering programs and compliance procedures. This authority is delegated to FinCEN. The information collected under these regulations assist federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as regulatory authorities, in the identification, investigation and prosecution of money laundering and other matters.

FinCEN plans to renew the existing regulations without change. However, organizations and individuals have the opportunity to comment on this plan by April 10, 2018. Instructions for submitting comments can be found at www.regulations.gov. For the SARS notice, refer to Docket Number FINCEN-2017-0011 and OMB Control Numbers 1506-0001 and 1506-0029. For the CTR notice, refer to Docket Number FINCEN-2017-0012 and OMB Control Number 1506-0004. 

New "No Assistance for Assad Act" Has Protections for Humanitarian Assistance

Date: 
February 7, 2018

On Dec. 19, 2017 leadership in the House Foreign Affairs Committee proposed HR 4681, the “No Assistance for Assad Act,” that would bar U.S. government funded reconstruction assistance to Assad-controlled areas of Syria unless the President certifies that specific conditions are met. The bill exempts humanitarian assistance (with some conditions) and projects sponsored by local communities. It would apply from fiscal years 2018-2022.

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