Shrinking budgets are driving fundamental changes to the size and shape of governments around the world. Leaders are exploring a more compact, dynamic government workforce, and in turn, their underlying asset needs are changing. Simply put, a reduced workforce translates to reduced property needs. But tackling the effective management of one of government’s largest spending areas is easier said than done.
While each government faces its own unique set of barriers to improving property management, there are a number of critical success factors to creating and employing smart property strategies. This report examines five areas that would enable more streamlined and efficient handling of government property through best practices and examples from across the globe.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) currently under negotiation between Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. The negotiating partners have expressed an interest in allowing this proposed “living agreement” to cover new trade topics and to include new members that are willing to adopt the proposed agreement’s high standards. To that end, Canada, Japan, and Mexico recently stated that they would seek consultations with the partner countries about the possibility of joining the negotiations.The TPP negotiations are of significant interest to Congress. Congressional involvement includes consultations with U.S. negotiators on and oversight of the details of the negotiations, and eventual consideration of legislation to implement the final trade agreement. In assessing the TPP negotiations, Members may be interested in understanding the potential economic impact and significance of TPP and the economic characteristics of the other TPP countries as they evaluate the potential impact of the proposed TPP on the U.S. economy and the commercial opportunities for expansion into TPP markets.This report provides a comparative economic analysis of the TPP countries and their economic relations with the United States. It suggests that the TPP negotiating partners encompass great diversity in population, economic development, and trade and investment patterns with the United States. This economic diversity and inclusion of fast-growing emerging markets presents both opportunities and challenges for the United States in achieving a comprehensive and high standard regional FTA among TPP countries.The proposed TPP and its potential expansion are important due to the economic significance of the Asia-Pacific region for both the United States and the world. The region is home to 40% of the world’s population, produces over 50% of global GDP, and includes some of the fastest growing economies in the world. While current TPP negotiating partners made up about 5% of U.S. trade in 2010, Asia-Pacific economies as a whole, made up over 60%.The United States is the largest TPP market in terms of both GDP and population. In 2010, nonU.S. TPP partners collectively had a GDP of $2.3 trillion, 16% of the U.S. level, and a population of 195 million, 63% of the U.S. level. Entry of Canada, Japan, and/or Mexico would increase the economic significance of the agreement on both these metrics. Among the TPP partners, the majority of overall U.S. trade and investment flows are with Australia and Singapore. In merchandise trade, however, the United States imports more from Malaysia than any other TPP country. Considering the TPP region collectively, over 25% of all U.S.-TPP imports and exports are in computers/electronic components. At the bilateral level, top U.S. exports are largely in the same major product categories, but top U.S. imports vary considerably by country.There are four U.S. bilateral FTAs in place with current TPP partners: Australia, Chile, Peru, and Singapore. All other TPP partners except Peru, have agreements in place with five or more of the other TPP partners. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam are members, accounts for much of this existing interconnectedness. Moreover, ASEAN agreements with larger regional economies (e.g., China, Japan, and Korea), present a second possible avenue for Asia-Pacific economic integration, albeit one that currently excludes the United States.
New 2011 Survey of Patients with Complex Care Needs in Eleven Countries Finds That Care Is Often Poorly Coordinated
An international survey of adults living with health problems and complex care needs found that patients in the United States are much more likely than those in 10 other high-income countries to forgo needed care because of costs and to struggle with medical debt. In all the countries surveyed, patients who have a medical home reported better coordination of care, fewer medical errors, and greater satisfaction with care than those without one.
- Sicker adults in the U.S. stood out for having cost and access problems. More than one of four (27%) were unable to pay or encountered serious problems paying medical bills in the past year, compared with between 1 percent and 14 percent of adults in the other countries. In the U.S., 42 percent reported not visiting a doctor, not filling a prescription, or not getting recommended care. This is twice the rate for every other country but Australia, New Zealand, and Germany.
- In the U.S., cost-related access problems and medical bill burdens were concentrated among adults under age 65. Compared with Medicare-aged adults 65 or older, adults under 65 were far more likely to go without care because of the cost or to have problems paying bills.
- Adults with complex care needs who received care from a medical home—an accessible primary care practice that knows their medical history and helps coordinate care—were less likely to report experiencing medical errors, test duplication, and other care coordination failures. They were also more likely to report having arrangements for follow-up care after a hospitalization and more likely to rate their care highly.
- Sicker adults in the U.K. and Switzerland were the most likely to have a medical home: nearly three-quarters were connected to practices that have medical home characteristics, compared with around half in most of the other countries.
Green Growth and Climate Change Policies in New Zealand
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
New Zealand, as a resource-based economy anxious to protect and promote its clean-and-green image, appropriately sees green growth as a natural direction for future development. The country’s environment is of high quality, and depletion of its abundant natural resources is for the most part not a problem. Nevertheless, there are challenges. With little pricing of water resources, water scarcity is being felt increasingly acutely in some dairy-intensive regions prone to drought. Water-quality degradation is linked to leakage from farming by-products. Agricultural activity also gives rise to nearly half the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, though electricity consumption and private transport are growing sources of pressure. New Zealand’s GHG intensity of output is the second highest in the OECD (after Australia’s), not surprising for a resource-rich country. Its unique emissions profile, however, makes for costly mitigation: an exceptionally high proportion of electricity generation is already renewable-based (mainly hydro), and no technology to significantly reduce methane from ruminant animals yet exists. New Zealand is a pioneer in implementing an emissions trading scheme (NZ ETS) covering all sectors and gases. Green growth could best be supported by the greater use of market mechanisms among a range of instruments in natural resource management and by strengthening price signals in the NZ ETS.
2010 National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) Annual Report Released
Source: Biosecurity New Zealand (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry)
Notification of the numbers of animals used in research, testing and teaching were released today in the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) Annual Report.
A total of 242 149 animals were reported in 2010, a decrease of 18.5% compared to the previous year and the lowest number reported since the introduction of the Animal Welfare Act 1999. However, NAEAC Chairperson Dr Virginia Williams says that the rolling three year average is a truer reflection of animal use because of the way animal statistics are reported. This average is down 0.5% from 2009 and 2.9% from 2008.
The principal purposes of use were for husbandry and veterinary research; basic biological research; and testing the safety and efficiency of animal health products. The animals most commonly used were rodents, farm animals, and fish.
“A drop in the number of animals experiencing high or very high impact manipulations – down just over 19% – is always gratifying” says Dr Williams. “As a Committee, we are committed to the Three Rs – the reduction, refinement and replacement of the use of animals in life sciences. A significant aspect of our activity throughout the year involved supporting efforts to have the Three Rs embodied into practices that use animals.”
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New Study: U.S. Ranks Last Among High-Income Nations on Preventable Deaths, Lagging Behind as Others Improve More Rapidly
New Study: U.S. Ranks Last Among High-Income Nations on Preventable Deaths, Lagging Behind as Others Improve More Rapidly
Source: Commonwealth Fund (Health Policy)
The United States placed last among 16 high-income, industrialized nations when it comes to deaths that could potentially have been prevented by timely access to effective health care, according to a Commonwealth Fund–supported study that appeared online in the journal Health Policy this week and will be available in print on October 25th as part of the November issue. According to the study, other nations lowered their preventable death rates an average of 31 percent between 1997–98 and 2006–07, while the U.S. rate declined by only 20 percent, from 120 to 96 per 100,000. At the end of the decade, the preventable mortality rate in the U.S. was almost twice that in France, which had the lowest rate—55 per 100,000.
In “Variations in Amenable Mortality—Trends in 16 High Income Nations,” Ellen Nolte of RAND Europe and Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine analyzed deaths that occurred before age 75 from causes like treatable cancer, diabetes, childhood infections/respiratory diseases, and complications from surgeries. They found that an average 41 percent drop in death rates from ischemic heart disease was the primary driver of declining preventable deaths, and they estimate that if the U.S. could improve its preventable death rate to match that of the three best-performing countries—France, Australia, and Italy—84,000 fewer people would have died each year by the end of the period studied.
“This study points to substantial opportunity to prevent premature death in the United States. We spend far more than any of the comparison countries—up to twice as much—yet are improving less rapidly,” said Commonwealth Fund Senior Vice President Cathy Schoen. “The good news is we know lower death rates are achievable if we enhance access and ensure high-quality care regardless of where you live. Looking forward, reforms under the Affordable Care Act have the potential to reduce the number of preventable deaths in the U.S. We have the potential to join the leaders among high-income countries.”
New Zealand: Background and Bilateral Relations with the United States (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
New Zealand is increasingly viewed as a stalwart partner of the United States that welcomes U.S. presence in its region. New Zealand and the United States enjoy very close bilateral ties across the spectrum of relations between the two countries. These ties are based on shared cultural traditions and values as well as on common interests. New Zealand is a stable and active democracy with a focus on liberalizing trade in the Asia-Pacific region. New Zealand also has a history of fighting alongside the United States in most of its major conflicts including World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. New Zealand is a regular contributor to international peace and stability operations and has contributed troops to the struggle against militant Islamists in Afghanistan, where it has a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Bamiyan Province.
The bilateral relationship between the United States and New Zealand was strengthened significantly through the signing of the Wellington Declaration in November 2010. At that time, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key signaled that past differences over nuclear policy have been set aside as the two described the relationship as the strongest and most productive it has been in 25 years. In the mid-1980s New Zealand adopted a still-in-effect policy of not allowing nuclear armed or nuclear powered ships to visit New Zealand ports. In a mark of how the relationship has been changing in recent years, New Zealand’s nuclear stance earned Prime Minister John Key an invitation to President Obama’s nuclear summit in April 2010. The Congressional Friends of New Zealand Caucus and the ongoing Partnership Forum between the two countries, which includes Congressional participation, have played a key role in deepening relations between the two nations.
New Zealand favors an open and inclusive strategic and economic architecture in the Asia-Pacific region. New Zealand also continues to seek closer strategic and economic relations and continued U.S. engagement in the Asia Pacific through U.S. participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a Asia-Pacific regional free trade initiative, as well as through U.S. membership in the East Asia Summit (EAS). New Zealand is a member of both the TPP group and the EAS. New Zealand’s main export products include dairy products, meat, and wood products.
New Zealand also plays an important role in promoting regional stability in the Southwest Pacific and in archipelagic Southeast Asia. New Zealand’s commitment to such operations is demonstrated by its leading role in helping to resolve conflict on Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, and its participation in peace operations in East Timor, and through its contribution of troops to security operations related to the Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands (RAMSI). New Zealand has also contributed to peace operations in places such as Bosnia, Sierra Leone, and Kosovo outside its region.
The National and Labour Parties have traditionally been the leading political parties in New Zealand. Prime Minister John Key of the National Party has faced a daunting challenge of dealing with the aftermath of a February 22, 2011 earthquake that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand’s second largest city. Elections in New Zealand are to be held in November 2011. At that time, New Zealand voters will also be asked to vote on their preference for retaining the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system.
Final Words: Death and Cremation certification in New Zealand (PDF)
Source: Law Commission of New Zealand
Death and cremation certification is a notoriously difficult area in which to reach consensus, in part because the system serves a number of sometimes conflicting policy objectives. Those dealing with death as investigators, pathologists, coroners, doctors, health workers, care-givers or funeral directors are often working in highly charged situations. The knock-on effects of even quite minor changes within the systems and processes regulating death have the potential to cause major disruptions.
As a law reform body the Commission is charged with reviewing laws with a view to ensuring they are fit for purpose in the context of contemporary New Zealand.
This discussion paper is intended to provide a preliminary assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the current death and cremation certification systems. ultimately, however, the details of any changes to certificates and the certification processes will need the expert input of doctors, coroners and health epidemiologists.
Chapter 4 of this report contains questions relating to some preliminary options for reform. We welcome submissions on these options and would also be happy to meet to discuss these issues with stakeholder groups.
Hat tip: Library Boy
Poverty in households with children is rising in nearly all OECD countries. Governments should ensure that family support policies protect the most vulnerable, according to the OECD’s first-ever report on family well-being.
Doing Better for Families says that families with children are more likely to be poor today than in previous decades, when the poorest in society were more likely to be pensioners.
The share of children living in poor households has risen in many countries over the past decade, to reach 12.7% across the OECD. One in five children in Israel, Mexico, Turkey, the United States and Poland live in poverty. (The OECD defines poor as someone living in a household with less than half the median income, adjusted for family size).
+ Chapter 1. Families are changing (PDF)
Individual country reports also freely available. Full report available for purchase.
Economic Survey of New Zealand 2011
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
The recovery stalled in 2010, despite record terms of trade and support from policy stimulus. Households, businesses and farmers are attempting to repair over extended balance sheets in the aftermath of a property boom. The effects of two damaging earthquakes will further retard the recovery and make the outlook highly uncertain.
The recession has highlighted the need for structural reforms. With the property boom of the past decade financed by private sector borrowing from abroad through the banking system, net foreign liabilities have accumulated to levels that make the economy vulnerable to sharp changes in investor sentiment. The economy now faces the challenge of a combination of high external deficits and international debt, an overvalued exchange rate, a heavy cost of capital and unbalanced growth.
+ Overview (PDF)
Full report available for purchase.
Crime Victimisation Patterns in New Zealand: New Zealand General Social Survey 2008 and New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey 2006 Compared
Crime Victimisation Patterns in New Zealand: New Zealand General Social Survey 2008 and New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey 2006 Compared (PDF)
Source: Statistics New Zealand
Crime Victimisation Patterns in New Zealand compares victimisation statistics produced from the New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey 2006 (NZCASS) and the New Zealand General Social Survey 2008 (GSS) to see if the socio-demographic characteristics of victims in the surveys are similar. The report looks at victimisation prevalence and repeat victimisation in relation to the total population, and to certain population groups, such as age, sex, ethnicity, household tenure, and the New Zealand index of deprivation 2001 groups.
The comparison this research report provides is very topical, given the GSS is a new survey that was released by Statistics New Zealand for the first time in October 2009. Users of crime victimisation data will see how the GSS module on safety and security compares with New Zealand’s primary victimisation survey, the NZCASS.
The GSS is a multi-topic survey of individual well-being, and provides data on important social and economic outcomes. It is a two-yearly gauge for how well society is doing. The GSS allows the interrelationships between crime victimisation and other areas of society (such as knowledge and skills, paid work, economic standard of living, physical environment, and social connectedness) to be looked at.
The NZCASS is designed to collect crime and safety information from individuals in selected households. This enables investigation across crime topics, populations, and time.
State Department Background Notes — New Zealand
Source: U.S. Department of State
Bilateral relations are the best they have been in decades. The United States and New Zealand share common elements of history and culture and a commitment to democratic principles. Senior-level officials regularly consult with each other on issues of mutual importance. One of the landmarks in the improving relationship was Secretary Hillary Clinton’s November 2010 visit to New Zealand when she signed the “Wellington Declaration” with New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully. The Declaration is a bold statement reaffirming close ties between the two countries and outlining future practical cooperation in a number of specific areas.