WWC Review of the Report “The Effects of Student Coaching in College: An Evaluation of a Randomized Experiment in Student Mentoring”
Source: U.S. Department of Education
What is this study about?
The study examined whether InsideTrack, a personalized student coaching service for college students, increased rates of staying in and graduating from college. It determined InsideTrack’s effectiveness by comparing the outcomes of students who were randomly selected through one of 17 lotteries to receive InsideTrack with the outcomes of students who were not selected.
What did the study find?
For students in the seven lotteries that were well-executed, the study found that students assigned to receive InsideTrack were significantly more likely than students in the comparison group to remain enrolled at their institutions six, 12, and 18 months after random assignment. For three lotteries with longer-term follow-up data, there was no significant difference between the groups in enrollment 24 months after random assignment or college completion within four years.
For the full set of 17 lotteries, which includes both those that were well-executed and those in which random assignment was compromised, the results were similar six, 12, and 18 months after random assignment. For the 12 lotteries with longer-term follow-up data, the difference in enrollment between the groups 24 months after random assignment was significantly different.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Warfighter Support: DOD Should Improve Development of Camouflage Uniforms and Enhance Collaboration Among the Services. GAO-12-707, September 28.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648950.pdf
2. VA and DOD Health Care: Department-Level Actions Needed to Assess Collaboration Performance, Address Barriers, and Identify Opportunities. GAO-12-992, September 28.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648960.pdf
3. Government Contracting: Federal Efforts to Assist Small Minority Owned Businesses. GAO-12-873. September 28.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648986.pdf
4. Trade Adjustment Assistance: Changes to the Workers Program Benefited Participants, but Little Is Known about Outcomes. GAO-12-953, September 28
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648979.pdf
5. Trade Adjustment Assistance: Labor Awarded Community College Grants in Accordance with Requirements, but Needs to Improve Its Process. GAO-12-954, September 28.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/649003.pdf
6. Department of Homeland Security: Efforts to Assess Realignment of Its Field Office Structure. GAO-12-185R, September 28.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General
WHY WE DID THIS STUDY
OIG is authorized to exclude certain individuals and entities (providers) from participating in federally funded health care programs, such as Medicaid managed care. These programs are generally prohibited from paying for any items or services furnished, ordered, or prescribed by an excluded provider or paying anyone who contracts with an excluded provider. In Medicaid managed care, States contract with managed care entities (MCE) to provide healthcare services to enrolled beneficiaries. The managed care entities create and manage networks of providers who deliver healthcare services to the enrolled beneficiaries. Since the providers in the Medicaid managed care networks are not under direct oversight by the States, we wanted to determine if the provider networks are vulnerable to excluded providers.
HOW WE DID THIS STUDY
This is the second of two evaluations related to excluded providers in Medicaid managed care. In the prior study, entitled Excluded Providers in Medicaid Managed Care Entities (OEI‑07‑09‑00630), we compared the provider networks of 12 selected MCEs to the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE) to identify excluded providers. In the current study, we selected a stratified random sample of 500 hospitals, nursing facilities, home health agencies, and pharmacies from the population of providers enrolled in the 12 MCEs. From each of the 500 sampled providers, we collected rosters of employees in 2011, and responses to a survey on the safeguards they used to ensure that excluded individuals are not employed. We compared the employee rosters to the LEIE to identify excluded individuals.
WHAT WE FOUND
Of the 248,869 individuals listed on the employee rosters requested from sampled providers, we identified 16 individuals who were excluded among the employees of 14 sampled providers. Incorrect names and failure of contractors to follow procedures contributed to the employment of the excluded individuals. Most providers reported using a variety of safeguards to ensure they do not employ excluded individuals, but identified costs and resource burdens as challenges in executing those safeguards. Seven percent of providers in the 12 selected MCEs do not check the exclusions status of their employees; most of these providers lacked knowledge regarding exclusions.
This report does not contain recommendations.
Influenza Vaccination Coverage Among Health-Care Personnel — 2011–12 Influenza Season, United States
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)
Influenza vaccination of health-care personnel (HCP) is recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) (1). Vaccination of HCP can reduce morbidity and mortality from influenza and its potentially serious consequences among HCP, their family members, and their patients (1–3). To provide timely estimates of influenza vaccination coverage and related data among HCP for the 2011–12 influenza season, CDC conducted an Internet panel survey with 2,348 HCP during April 2–20, 2012. This report summarizes the results of that survey, which found that, overall, 66.9% of HCP reported having had an influenza vaccination for the 2011–12 season. By occupation, vaccination coverage was 85.6% among physicians, 77.9% among nurses, and 62.8% among all other HCP participating in the survey. Vaccination coverage was 76.9% among HCP working in hospitals, 67.7% among those in physician offices, and 52.4% among those in long-term care facilities (LTCFs). Among HCP working in hospitals that required influenza vaccination, coverage was 95.2%; among HCP in hospitals not requiring vaccination, coverage was 68.2%. Widespread implementation of comprehensive HCP influenza vaccination strategies is needed, particularly among those who are not physicians or nurses and who work in LTCFs, to increase HCP vaccination coverage and minimize the risk for medical-care–acquired influenza illnesses.
Making Value: Integrating Manufacturing, Design, and Innovation to Thrive in the Changing Global Economy
Source: National Academy of Engineering
Manufacturing is in a period of dramatic transformation. But in the United States, public and political dialogue is simplistically focused almost entirely on the movement of certain manufacturing jobs overseas to low-wage countries. The true picture is much more complicated, and also more positive, than this dialogue implies.
After years of despair, many observers of US manufacturing are now more optimistic. A recent uptick in manufacturing employment and output in the United States is one factor they cite, but the main reasons for optimism are much more fundamental. Manufacturing is changing in ways that may favor American ingenuity. Rapidly advancing technologies in areas such as biomanufacturing, robotics, smart sensors, cloud-based computing, and nanotechnology have transformed not only the factory floor but also the way products are invented and designed, putting a premium on continual innovation and highly skilled workers. A shift in manufacturing toward smaller runs and custom-designed products is favoring agile and adaptable workplaces, business models, and employees, all of which have become a specialty in the United States. Future manufacturing will involve a global supply web, but the United States has a potentially great advantage because of our tight connections among innovations, design, and manufacturing and also our ability to integrate products and services.
The National Academy of Engineering has been concerned about the issues surrounding manufacturing and is excited by the prospect of dramatic change. On June 11-12, 2012, it hosted a workshop in Washington, DC, to discuss the new world of manufacturing and how to position the United States to thrive in this world. The workshop steering committee focused on two particular goals. First, presenters and participants were to examine not just manufacturing but the broad array of activities that are inherently associated with manufacturing, including innovation and design. Second, the committee wanted to focus not just on making things but on making value, since value is the quality that will underlie high-paying jobs in America’s future. Making Value: Integrating Manufacturing, Design, and Innovation to Thrive in the Changing Global Economy summarizes the workshop and the topics discussed by participants.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Human Capital: DOD Needs Complete Assessments to Improve Future Civilian Strategic Workforce Plans. GAO-12-1014, September 27.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648918.pdf
2. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Additional DHS Actions Needed on Foreign Worker Permit Program. GAO-12-975, September 27.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648908.pdf
3. Civilian Service Contract Inventories: Opportunities Exist to Improve Agency Reporting and Review Efforts. GAO-12-1007, September 27.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648940.pdf
4. Community Reinvestment Act: Challenges in Quantifying Its Effect on Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Investment. GAO-12-869R, August 28.
5. Managing for Results: Key Considerations for Implementing Interagency Collaborative Mechanisms. GAO-12-1022, September 27.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648935.pdf
6. Medical Devices: FDA Should Expand Its Consideration of Information Security for Certain Types of Devices. GAO-12-816, August 31.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/647766.pdf
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
The U.S. Census Bureau today released a 2010 Census special report, The Emergency and Transitional Shelter Population: 2010, providing information on people counted at emergency and transitional shelters (with sleeping facilities) for people experiencing homelessness.
In the 2010 Census, emergency and transitional shelters were defined as places where people experiencing homelessness stay overnight. Examples include missions; hotels and motels used to shelter people experiencing homelessness; shelters for children who are runaways, neglected or experiencing homelessness; and similar places known to shelter people experiencing homelessness.
The emergency and transitional shelter population is one of many types that make up the total group quarters population. People in emergency and transitional shelters were enumerated in the 2010 Census as part of the Service-Based Enumeration Operation, which also included enumeration at soup kitchens, regularly scheduled mobile food vans and targeted nonsheltered outdoor locations.
The Census Bureau stresses that this special report presents statistics for people enumerated at emergency and transitional shelters only, and should not be misconstrued as a count of the entire population experiencing homelessness. The Census Bureau does not produce or publish a total count of the homeless population. Further, it is important to recognize that there is no standard or agreed upon definition of what constitutes homelessness. Also, people experiencing homelessness can be counted and included in the census through various operations, but those operations do not separately identify, or even collect information to separately identify, people who might be experiencing homelessness.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Study Finds Credit Scores Used by Consumers and Lenders Can Differ
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Study Finds Credit Scores Used by Consumers and Lenders Can Differ
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a study comparing credit scores sold to creditors and those sold to consumers. The study found that about one out of five consumers would likely receive a meaningfully different score than would a lender.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act directed the CFPB to compare credit scores sold to creditors and those sold to consumers by nationwide credit bureaus and to determine whether differences between those scores harm consumers. Today’s study analyzes credit scores from 200,000 credit files from each of the following credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. It is a follow up to a study the Bureau released in July 2011 that described the credit scoring industry, the types of credit scores, and the potential problems for consumers that could result from differences between the scores they purchase and the scores creditors use.
The study released today determined:
- One out of five consumers would likely receive a meaningfully different score than would a creditor: When consumers purchase their score from a credit bureau, the score they receive may be meaningfully different from the score that a lender would consult in making a decision. A meaningful difference means that the consumer would be likely to qualify for different credit offers – either better or worse – than they would expect to get based on the score they purchased.
- Score discrepancies may generate consumer harm: When discrepancies exist between the scores consumers purchase and the scores used for decision-making by lenders in the marketplace, consumers may take action that does not benefit them. For example, consumers who have reviewed their own score may expect a certain price from a lender may waste time and effort applying for loans they are not qualified for, or may accept offers that are worse than they could get.
- Consumers unlikely to know about score discrepancies: There is no way for consumers to know how the score they receive will compare to the score a creditor uses in making a lending decision. As such, consumers cannot exclusively rely on the credit score they receive to understand how lenders will view their creditworthiness.
The Bureau recommends that consumers consider the following in evaluating the credit score they receive:
- Shop around for credit. Consumers benefit by shopping for credit. Regardless of the scores different lenders use, they may offer different loan terms because they operate different risk models or face different competitive pressures. Consumers should not rule out of seeking lower priced credit because of assumptions they make about their credit score. While some consumers are reluctant to shop for credit out of fear that they will harm their credit score, that negative impact may be overblown. Inquiries generally do not result in a large reduction in a consumer credit score.
- Check the credit report for accuracy and dispute errors. Credit scores are calculated based on information in a consumer’s credit file. Inaccurate information may be the difference between a consumer being approved or denied a loan. Before shopping for major credit items, the Bureau recommends that consumers review their credit files for inaccuracies. Each of the nationwide credit bureaus is required by law to provide credit reports for free to consumers who request them once every 12 months.
Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a hearing and release a staff report on how online moving companies have successfully taken advantage of many consumers. The hearing will explore complaints that some “moving” companies quote a low dollar rate to move goods but then charge a sharp markup in order to physically deliver and unload the goods.
“Far too many consumers are duped by abusive moving companies in tactics that should be, and in some cases are, against the law,” said Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV. “Companies that take advantage of Americans during moves, whether they are across the country or across town, must be held accountable. That’s the purpose of this hearing.”
Archived hearing webcast available.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Surgeon General)
From press release:
Today on World Suicide Prevention Day, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance) released an ambitious national strategy to reduce the number of deaths by suicide. The strategy was called for by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and former Department of Defense Secretary Robert Gates when they launched the Action Alliance on Sept. 10, 2010. The 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, a report from the U.S. Surgeon General and the Action Alliance, details 13 goals and 60 objectives for reducing suicides over the next 10 years.
The Action Alliance, co-chaired by Gordon Smith, chief executive of the National Association of Broadcasters, and Army Secretary John McHugh, highlights four immediate priorities to reduce the number of suicides: integrating suicide prevention into health care policies; encouraging the transformation of health care systems to prevent suicide; changing the way the public talks about suicide and suicide prevention; and improving the quality of data on suicidal behaviors to develop increasingly effective prevention efforts.
The Obama Administration also announced a series of activities that will help prevent suicide:
- Secretary Sebelius announced $55.6 million in new grants for national, state, tribal, campus and community suicide prevention programs made possible under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act and partially funded by the Prevention and Public Health Fund under the Affordable Care Act, the health care law enacted in 2010.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched, Stand by Them: Help a Veteran, a joint VA-Department of Defense (DoD) outreach campaign that includes a new public service announcement, Side by Side, designed to help prevent suicide among veterans and servicemembers and focuses on the important role family and community play in supporting Veterans in crisis. Throughout September and beyond, VA and DoD are urging community-based organizations, Veterans Service Organizations, health care providers, private companies and other government agencies to connect Veterans and Service members in need of assistance to the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255, press 1). Additionally, as directed by President Obama’s Mental Health Executive Order issued August 31st, VA is also increasing the workforce of the Crisis Line by 50% and hiring 1,600 new mental health professionals.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
The number of people aged 18 to 25 who used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in the past month declined 14 percent — from 2.0 million in 2010 to 1.7 million in 2011 — the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced today, during the 23rd annual national observance of National Recovery Month. Non-medical use of prescription drugs among children aged 12 to 17 and adults aged 26 or older remained unchanged.
In addition, the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), a survey conducted annually by SAMHSA, showed that the rates of past month drinking, binge drinking and heavy drinking among underage people continued a decline from 2002. Past month alcohol use among 12 to 20 year olds declined from 28.8 percent in 2002 to 25.1 percent in 2011, while binge drinking (consuming 5 or more drinks on a single occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days) declined from 19.3 percent in 2002 to 15.8 percent in 2011, and heavy drinking declined from 6.2 percent in 2002 to 4.4 percent in 2011.
Overall, the use of illicit drugs among Americans aged 12 and older remained stable since the last survey in 2010. The NSDUH shows that 22.5 million Americans aged 12 or older were current (past month) illicit drug users — (8.7 percent of the population 12 and older in 2011 versus 8.9 percent in 2010).
Marijuana continues to be the most commonly used illicit drug. In 2011, 7.0 percent of Americans were current users of marijuana — up from 5.8 percent in 2007. Among youths aged 12 to 17, the rate of current marijuana use remained about the same from 2009 (7.4 percent) to 2011 (7.9 percent). Increases in the rate of current marijuana use occurred from 2007 to 2011 among adolescents (ages 12-17), young adults (ages 18 to 25), and adults (ages 26 or older). Additionally, the number of people aged 12 and older who used heroin in the past year rose from 373,000 in 2007 to 621,000 in 2010 and 620,000 in 2011.
Regional Analysis Brief: South China Sea
Source: Energy Information Administration
The East China Sea is a semi-closed sea bordered by the Yellow Sea to the north, the South China Sea and Taiwan to the South, Japan’s Ryukyu and Kyushu islands to the East and the Chinese mainland to the West. Evidence pointing to potentially abundant oil and natural gas deposits has made the sea a source of contention between Japan and China, the two largest energy consumers in Asia.
The sea has a total area of approximately 482,000 square miles, consisting mostly of the continental shelf and the Xihu/Okinawa (Chinese name/Japanese name) trough, a back-arc basin formed about 300 miles southeast of Shanghai between the two countries. The disputed eight Daioyu/Senkaku (Chinese/Japanese name) islands lie to the northeast of Taiwan, with the largest of them two miles long and less than a mile wide. Though barren, the islands are important for strategic and political reasons, as ownership can be used to bolster claims to the surrounding sea and its resources under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. To date, China and Japan have not resolved their ownership dispute, preventing wide-scale exploration and development of East China Sea hydrocarbons.
Aviation Industry Performance: A Review of the Aviation Industry, 2008 – 2011
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General
On September 24, 2012, we issued the 11th in a series of periodic updates to our Aviation Industry Performance Report. This report provides a comprehensive analysis of aviation industry trends in the 2008 to 2011 period and their impact on aviation system performance, demand, and capacity. The report includes an overview followed by exhibits with more than 40 statistical charts (or metrics) organized in five areas: airline finances, air traffic, flight service, delays and cancellations, and customer service.
The trends presented in the report portray an industry that has been in flux since 2008—one that is transforming to restore profitability and adapting to survive the challenges of a sustained economic downturn, high and volatile fuel prices, and a reduced demand for travel. The industry has responded to these challenges by more aggressively adjusting fares and flight schedules, as well as dramatically consolidating through a series of airline mergers.
New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office
Grants to State and Local Governments: An Overview of Federal Funding Levels and Selected Challenges. GAO-12-1016, September 25.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648793.pdf
Source: United States Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control
U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), co-chairs of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, today released a bipartisan report entitled Preventing a Security Crisis in the Caribbean that provides recommendations for Congress and the Obama Administration to enhance current security efforts in the Caribbean.
The report recommends:
- An assessment by the State Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of where Sensitive Investigative Units are most needed in the Caribbean. Jamaica, with the fourth highest murder rate in the world, should be considered a top candidate for one of these units.
- Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should send a full criminal history of all deportees to authorities in the Caribbean so they are aware of the return of any criminals or drug traffickers. Caribbean countries’ authorities do not currently receive a full criminal rap sheet from ICE on deportees returning home.
- United States technical assistance to the countries of the Caribbean to support the drafting of asset forfeiture laws and laws controlling precursor chemicals used to make illegal drugs.
- The integration of Puerto Rico into working level meetings held between the State Department and countries in the Caribbean on security and narcotics issues.
- Strong support of Haitian counternarcotic efforts.
- Strengthening of U.S. anti-money laundering laws.
- Continued extradition of drug kingpins from the Caribbean to the United States.
- The return of DEA helicopters used in Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos to the Exumas Islands in The Bahamas.
Hidden Dragon, Crouching Lion: How China’s Advance in Africa is Underestimated and Africa’s Potential Underappreciated
Source: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College
The explosive growth of China’s economic interests in Africa—bilateral trade rocketed from $1 billion in 1990 to $150 billion in 2011—may be the most important trend in the continent’s foreign relations since the end of the Cold War. In 2010, China surpassed the United States as Africa’s top trading partner; its quest to build a strategic partnership with Africa on own its terms through tied aid, trade, and development finance is also part of Beijing’s broader aspirations to surpass the United States as the world’s preeminent superpower. Africa and other emerging economies have become attractive partners for China not only for natural resources, but as growing markets. Africa’s rapid growth since 2000 has not just occurred because of higher commodity prices, but more importantly due to other factors including improved governance, economic reforms, and an expanding labor force. China’s rapid and successful expansion in Africa is due to multiple factors, including economic diplomacy that is clearly superior to that of the United States. China’s “no strings attached” approach to development, however, risks undoing decades of Western efforts to promote good governance. Consequently, this monograph examines China’s oil diplomacy, equity investments in strategic minerals, and food policy toward Africa. The official U.S. rhetoric is that China’s rise in Africa should not be seen as a zero-sum game, but areas where real U.S.-China cooperation can help Africa remain elusive, mainly because of Beijing’s hyper-mistrust of Washington. The United States could help itself, and Africa, by improving its own economic diplomacy and adequately funding its own soft-power efforts.