New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Trade Adjustment Assistance: One-Time Grants Awarded to Trade-Impacted Communities; Results Will Not Be Known until after 2013. GAO-12-993, September 26.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648797.pdf
2. Defense Health Care: Additional Analysis of Costs and Benefits of Potential Governance Structures Is Needed. GAO-12-911, September 26.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648808.pdf
3. Information Technology: Department of Labor Could Further Facilitate Modernization of States’ Unemployment Insurance Systems. GAO-12-957, September 26.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648801.pdf
4. Organizational Transformation: Enterprise Architecture Value Needs to be Measured and Reported. GAO-12-791, September 26.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648828.pdf
5. Information Technology: DHS Needs to Enhance Management of Cost and Schedule for Major Investments. GAO-12-904, September 26.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648889.pdf
[Government Accountability Office, trade, military and defense, health and healthcare, technology and internet]
Source: RAND Corporation
Renowned management and organizational scholar Warren Bennis has observed that effective leaders in government and industry exhibit a common trait: They take the long view. Bucking short-term thinking and quick fixes, these leaders generate change that is lasting and productive.
Yet as the U.S. presidential election draws close, there is increasing demand for simple answers to complex questions, immediate solutions to entrenched challenges, and ten-second sound bites to sum it all up.
For nearly 65 years, RAND has focused on big, long-term, core public policy issues and has cultivated the farsighted perspectives required to address those issues. As a nonpartisan organization, our only ideological allegiance is to the value derived from approaching problems objectively and analyzing them with rigor and the best available evidence. The nine essays here on key election issues underscore the opportunity for candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to ground their competing visions for the nation in the kind of long view that Bennis argues is necessary for effective leadership. All of these essays transcend partisan rhetoric; some point to policies that both candidates could well accept.
Charles Wolf, Jr., and John Godges argue that the pervasive debates over U.S. income inequality miss a salient issue: We should be paying attention to the causes of income gaps, not just their size.
Art Kellermann notes that even with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June to uphold the Affordable Care Act, high health care costs will not disappear. If anything, they will continue to climb, despite the cost-saving measures in the Affordable Care Act. He points to electronic medical records, reduced use of unnecessary procedures, reformed payment systems, and responsibly designed consumer-directed health plans as good foundations to start building a high-value health care system.
Regarding immigration, James Smith advises that the debate should account for the differential effects that legal and illegal immigration have on the U.S. economy and on U.S. taxpayers. After assessing the costs and benefits of immigration in dollar terms, Smith offers a way out of the current “muddle” of U.S. immigration policy.
On energy policy, Keith Crane identifies some promising options for renewable fuels. In parallel, he suggests that a “port authority” be established to manage and regulate the country’s oil shale industry and that a tax on crude oil could replace the existing federal gas tax used to pay for highways.
Given that both Obama and Romney favor more student testing and outcomes-based teacher evaluations to improve education, Darleen Opfer calls for reforms whereby state and local education authorities would adopt common standards for students, test students for higher-thinking skills, and incorporate observations of classroom practices into teacher evaluations.
Regarding al Qaeda, Seth Jones recommends that both candidates widen their focus beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan to other areas where al Qaeda is resurgent — and that U.S. leaders remember the painful lessons learned over the past two decades of fighting al Qaeda.
On Iraq, Larry Hanauer reminds us that Kirkuk could be a flashpoint for years to come, warranting the designation of a special envoy for the territory and continued funds to promote local civil society and municipal governance.
Democratic movements in the Arab world could also take years to succeed, Laurel Miller cautions. The United States should tailor policies to each democratization push, rather than devise one generic approach. Taking the long view would mean fostering “government accountability mechanisms” in the emerging democracies and encouraging civilian control of security institutions.
With respect to China, James Dobbins and Roger Cliff note that both the Obama and Romney campaigns call for a larger U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. While the United States should be concerned with China’s growing military capabilities, U.S. leaders should also draw China into cooperative security endeavors and cement a solid, stable, and strong economic relationship with that country.
The ideas presented here do not favor one candidate over another. Rather, they favor the recognition and exploration of the full complexity of today’s most pressing policy challenges. They ask leaders to take the long view.
[RAND Corporation, government and politics, political process, elections, international relations, national security, health and health care, energy, infrastructure, social and cultural issues, business and economics, education, health care reform, immigration]
Enduring Assets: Findings from a Study on the Financial Lives of Young People Transitioning from Foster Care
Source: Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative
This report, published in September 2012, examines the impact of the Opportunity PassportTM’s asset matching and financial education resources in the lives of young people aging out of foster care. The report found that these supports have a tangible impact on the ability of young people to lead financially stable lives long after they have left the foster care system.
Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, business and economics, adoption and foster care]
Source: RAND Corporation
Discussions about reducing the harms associated with drug use and antidrug policies are often politicized, infused with questionable data, and unproductive. This paper provides a nonpartisan primer that should be of interest to those who are new to the field of drug policy, as well as those who have been working in the trenches. It begins with an overview of problems and policies related to illegal drugs in the United States, including the nonmedical use of prescription drugs. It then discusses the efficacy of U.S. drug policies and programs, including long-standing issues that deserve additional attention. Next, the paper lists the major funders of research and analysis in the area and describes their priorities. By highlighting the issues that receive most of the funding, this discussion identifies where gaps remain. Comparing these needs, old and new, to the current funding patterns suggests eight opportunities to improve understanding of drug problems and drug policies in the United States: (1) sponsor young scholars and strengthen the infrastructure of the field, (2) accelerate the diffusion of good ideas and reliable information to decisionmakers, (3) replicate and evaluate cutting-edge programs in an expedited fashion, (4) support nonpartisan research on marijuana policy, (5) investigate ways to reduce drug-related violence in Mexico and Central America, (6) improve understanding of the markets for diverted pharmaceuticals, (7) help build and sustain comprehensive community prevention efforts, and (8) develop more sensible sentencing policies that reduce the excessive levels of incarceration for drug offenses and address the extreme racial disparities. The document offers some specific suggestions for researchers and potential research funders in each of the eight areas.
[RAND Corporation, drug abuse, drugs, crime, legal and law enforcement, government and politics]
Source: U.S Small Business Administration
Small businesses continue to show signs of growth. Business births, self-employment, and proprietor’s income are rising, while business deaths and bankruptcies are declining. Commercial and industrial loans outstanding are also rising, but it is not clear whether the increase is in loans to small or to large firms.
Employment from business births which has been on a decline for the last decade has been rising in the most recent quarters (Chart 3). But there are concerns over the slowdown in net job increases from small businesses with fewer than 20 employees and those with 20-499 employees (Chart 4).
See the table on the other side for the most recent quarterly small business data.
[Source: U.S. Small Business Administration, small business and entrepreneurship]
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Wind turbines convert kinetic to electrical energy, which returns to the atmosphere as heat to regenerate some potential and kinetic energy. As the number of wind turbines increases over large geographic regions, power extraction first increases linearly, but then converges to a saturation potential not identified previously from physical principles or turbine properties. These saturation potentials are >250 terawatts (TW) at 100 m globally, approximately 80 TW at 100 m over land plus coastal ocean outside Antarctica, and approximately 380 TW at 10 km in the jet streams. Thus, there is no fundamental barrier to obtaining half (approximately 5.75 TW) or several times the world’s all-purpose power from wind in a 2030 clean-energy economy.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, energy, environment]
Source: World Economic Forum
The Global Competitiveness Report 2012–2013 is being released amid a long period of economic uncertainty. The tentative recovery that seemed to be gaining ground during 2010 and the first half of 2011 has given way to renewed concerns. The global economy faces a number of significant and interrelated challenges that could hamper a genuine upturn after an economic crisis half a decade long in much of the world, especially in the most advanced economies. The persisting financial difficulties in the periphery of the euro zone have led to a long-lasting and unresolved sovereign debt crisis that has now reached the boiling point. The possibility of Greece and perhaps other countries leaving the euro is now a distinct prospect, with potentially devastating consequences for the region and beyond. This development is coupled with the risk of a weak recovery in several other advanced economies outside of Europe—notably in the United States, where political gridlock on fiscal tightening could dampen the growth outlook. Furthermore, given the expected slowdown in economic growth in China, India, and other emerging markets, reinforced by a potential decline in global trade and volatile capital flows, it is not clear which regions can drive growth and employment creation in the short to medium term.
[World Economic Forum, lists and rankings, business and economics, international]
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
The Purple Heart is one of the oldest and most recognized American military medals, awarded to service members who were killed or wounded by enemy action. The conflicts of the last decade have greatly increased the number of Purple Hearts awarded to service members.
Current events have spurred new debate on current eligibility criteria for the Purple Heart. Medical conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and shootings on US soil have prompted some to consider changing the eligibility requirements for the Purple Heart, while others believe those changes may cheapen the value of the medal and the sacrifices current recipients have made. In the past, efforts to modify the Purple Heart’s eligibility requirements have been contentious, and veterans groups can be very vocal concerning eligibility changes.
While medal requirements are often left to the military and Executive branch to decide, Congress is showing increased interest and involvement in Purple Heart eligibility, utilizing its Constitutional power “to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces” (US Constitution, Art. I, sec. 8, clause 14). Three bills are under consideration in Congress that address eligibility for the Purple Heart: the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4310), companion bills to expand Purple Heart eligibility (H.R. 5114, S. 2885), and the 2011 Stolen Valor Act (H.R. 1775 and S. 1728).
Recent debates have raised several questions about the Purple Heart. In some respects, how an event is defined can determine eligibility: is a service member the victim of a crime or a terrorist attack? Conversely, arguing that killed or wounded service members “should” be eligible for the Purple Heart can redefine an event: Is the service member an advisor to a foreign military or a combatant? Are PTSD and other mental health conditions adequate injuries to warrant the Purple Heart? These are questions that Congress might consider if it chooses to act on this issue.
[Congressional Research Service, military and defense, government and politics]
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Below is a compilation of the CBPP analyses and blog posts on the budget that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan proposed, and the House of Representatives passed, in March. At the bottom of the compilation, we also list the Center’s analysis of the Ryan “Roadmap” budget plan.
[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, government and politics, business and economics, political process, elections]
Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology
Mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets, typically need to support multiple security objectives: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. To achieve these objectives, mobile devices should be secured against a variety of threats. The purpose of this publication is to help organizations centrally manage and secure mobile devices. Laptops are out of the scope of this publication, as are mobile devices with minimal computing capability, such as basic cell phones. This publication provides recommendations for selecting, implementing, and using centralized management technologies, and it explains the security concerns inherent in mobile device use and provides recommendations for securing mobile devices throughout their life cycles. The scope of this publication includes securing both organization-provided and personally-owned (bring your own device) mobile devices.
National Institute of Standards and Technology, privacy and security, technology and internet, telecommunications]
Source: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Important Points for Covering Suicide
+ More than 50 research studies worldwide have found that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals. The magnitude of the increase is related to the amount, duration and prominence of coverage
+ Risk of additional suicides increases when the story explicitly describes the suicide method, uses dramatic/ graphic headlines or images, and repeated/extensive coverage sensationalizes or glamorizes a death.
+ Covering suicide carefully, even brieﬂy, can change public misperceptions and correct myths, which can encourage those who are vulnerable or at risk to seek help.
Category: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, mental health, media and entertainment, ethics]
Source: National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (University of Maryland)
In light of the resources and attention devoted to the possibility of a terrorist attack at the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in London, England, START has compiled a background report on the history of terrorism and the Olympics since 1970. We review terrorist attacks that have taken place during the Olympic Games in the host country, as well as those indirectly related to the Olympic Games and similar major sporting events. Bearing in mind that the heightened profile of these events might increase the likelihood of a terrorist attack while the heightened security and surveillance might decrease the likelihood of an attack, we discuss general patterns of terrorism in Olympic host countries at the time of the Games, compared to the same time period the previous year.
The analysis indicates that there is no consistent increase or decrease in the frequency of terrorist attacks during the Olympics, suggesting that considerable efforts to reinforce security are generally effective at mitigating any potential threats.
See: Terrorism and the Olympics by-the-numbers: Analysis from UMD-based START (EurekAlert!)
National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland, sports, terrorism]
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during June was 71.2°F, which is 2.0°F above the 20th century average. Scorching temperatures during the second half of the month led to at least 170 all-time high temperature records broken or tied. The June temperatures contributed to a record-warm first half of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895.
Precipitation totals across the country were mixed during June. The Lower 48, as a whole, experienced its tenth driest June on record, with a nationally-averaged precipitation total of 2.27 inches, 0.62 inch below average. Record and near-record dry conditions were present across the Intermountain West, while Tropical Storm Debby dropped record precipitation across Florida.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, weather and climate, natural disasters]
Top 300 Organizations Granted U.S. Patents in 2011 (PDF)
Source: Intellectual Property Owners Association
This list of organizations that received the most U.S. utility patents is being published by IPO for the 29th consecutive year. It is based on data obtained from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
Patents granted to parent and subsidiary companies are combined in some instances.
Intellectual Property Owners Association, intellectual property, lists and rankings]
Welcome to…Science Wednesday
Annual Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. FisheriesSource: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
From press release:
A record six fish populations were declared rebuilt to healthy levels in 2011, bringing the number of rebuilt U.S. marine fish populations in the last 11 years to 27, according to a report to Congress out today from NOAA’s Fisheries Service. This report documents historic progress toward ending overfishing and rebuilding our nation’s fisheries, due to the commitment of fishermen, fishing communities, non-governmental organizations, scientists, and managers.
NOAA’s Status of U.S. Fisheries report declares Bering Sea snow crab, Atlantic coast summer flounder, Gulf of Maine haddock, northern California coast Chinook salmon, Washington coast coho salmon, and Pacific coast widow rockfish fully rebuilt to healthy levels.
Two indicators of stock health increased slightly over 2010:
- 86 percent of the populations examined for fishing activity (222 of 258) were not subject to overfishing, or not fished at too high a level, compared to 84 percent in 2010
- 79 percent of assessed populations (174 of 219) are not overfished, or were above levels that require a rebuilding plan, compared to 77 percent in 2010.
These data continue a long-term trend in rebuilding U.S. fisheries to sustainable and more productive levels that NOAA began tracking in 2000.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, sustainability, food and agriculture]