Maryland’s Federal Facilities Advisory Board recommended centralizing state government efforts on federal facilities as part of its strategic plan released Thursday.
Other board recommendations included establishing a National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg; devoting resources to better address cyber efforts and education; establishing an expedited permit review process for federal contractor facilities; conducting a comprehensive review of available programs and funding resources involved with federal facilities; and supporting development of a congressionally chartered authority to broker to the private sector more effectively in regard to federal research.
“These [federal] facilities are anchoring clusters of research and discovery in cybersecurity, biotechnology, aerospace, defense and other high-tech, high-growth sectors that will employ Marylanders for generations to come,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) in a statement. He appointed the board’s 19 members in 2010 and joined them for the announcement.
Maryland already has accomplished some of the board’s goals, such as establishing the cybersecurity center and investing in cybersecurity training programs.
The state hosts more than 70 federal agencies and major military installations and is home to more than 300,000 federal employees and service members, who contribute $27.3 billion to the state’s economy, according to the statement.
O’Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) also testified Thursday on the Employment Advancement Right Now initiative and Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013. The first measure involves spending $2.5 million in fiscal 2014 to create a competitive grant process to bridge the gap between employer workforce needs and the skills of workers. The second bill would help veterans transition from military service to the civilian workforce.
Federal officials are trying to shut down three tax preparers in Prince George’s County after their fraudulent tax preparations allegedly cost the federal government about $8 million.
Tonya Hubbard, owner of Universal Tax Service in Lanham, and Marvin Binion Sr. and son Marvin Binion II, owners of Marvin Binion’s Universal Tax & Immigration Service in Hyattsville, were named defendants in two separate lawsuits filed last week in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.
Prosecutors had alleged fraud by Binion Sr. as early as 1993, and convicted him in 2007. Hubbard, who is his ex-wife, and Binion’s son continued the fraud through 2012, according to prosecutors. The group might have earned as much as $30,000 per day preparing fraudulent returns, according to a Justice Department news release. In many instances, their customers ended up owing as much as $20,000 in tax penalties and interest as a result of the preparers’ fabricated deductions. Bogus deductions were claimed for charitable contributions, reimbursed employee business expenses and other expenses.
The group typically prepared customer returns using Turbo Tax software, then placed the returns in postage-paid, pre-addressed envelopes and instructed customers to sign and mail the returns to the Internal Revenue Service on their own, according to prosecutors. They further hid their alleged involvement by not signing the returns, as the law requires, and not providing their IRS preparer tax identification numbers on the returns. Sometimes, the entire process was done in 15 minutes.
Hubbard also allegedly targeted Spanish-speaking residents who relied on her to help them understand the tax process.
Neither of the Binions nor Hubbard returned requests for comment. A person who answered the phone at Binion Sr.’s business said there was no lawsuit and that it is a different business.
The Justice Department is seeking injunctions against both Hubbard’s and the Binions’ businesses.
The Motor Trend International Auto Show-Baltimore, coordinated by the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association, started Thursday and runs through Sunday at the Baltimore Convention Center.
The show features new models, ride and drive opportunities, and appearances by celebrities.
The Washington Auto Show, which features many Maryland dealers and exhibitors and is produced by the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association, started Feb. 1 and also ends Sunday at the Washington Convention Center.