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Archive for March, 2012

The Long-Term Effect of Premier Pay for Performance on Patient Outcomes

March 31, 2012 Comments off
Source:  New England Journal of Medicine
Pay for performance has become a central strategy in the drive to improve health care. We assessed the long-term effect of the Medicare Premier Hospital Quality Incentive Demonstration (HQID) on patient outcomes.
We found no evidence that the largest hospital-based pay-for-performance program led to a decrease in 30-day mortality. Expectations of improved outcomes for programs modeled after Premier HQID should therefore remain modest.
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The mystery of Japan’s missing centenarians explained

March 31, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Demographic Research
This report elucidates the issue of Japan’s missing centenarians, which was uncovered in 2010. We provide the latest figures from verification efforts, discuss sources of centenarian information in Japan, examine possible causes, and evaluate the effect of the missing centenarians on official statistics. In Japan 234,354 people registered before 1910 remained on the family registers in 2010, without being crossed out. They would have been 100 years old at least and represent 0.5% of the births recorded between 1872 and 1910. The impact of this group on life expectancy statistics, however, is effectively nil.

Full Report (PDF)

Veteran-owned Businesses and their Owners—Data from the Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners

March 31, 2012 Comments off
Source:  U.S. Small Business Administration
Veteran-owned businesses in general. Census estimated that in 2007:
• There were 2.45 million businesses with majority ownership by veterans.
• 491,000 of these firms were employers, and 1.956 million were non-employers.
• These veteran-owned firms had sales/receipts of $1.220 trillion, 5.793 million employees, and an annual payroll of $210 billion.
• Veteran-owned firms represented 9.0 percent of all U.S. firms.
• 12.2 percent of all owners of SBO-respondent firms were veterans.
• 8.3 percent of all respondent veteran owners had service-connected disabilities.

FBI Releases Bank Crime Statistics for Third Quarter of 2011

March 31, 2012 Comments off

FBI Releases Bank Crime Statistics for Third Quarter of 2011
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

During the third quarter of 2011, there were 1,094 reported violations of the Federal Bank Robbery and Incidental Crimes Statue, a decrease from the 1,325 reported violations in the same quarter of 2010.1 According to statistics released today by the FBI, there were 1,081 robberies, 11 burglaries, two larcenies, and one extortion of a financial institution2 reported between July 1, 2011 and September 30, 2011.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Loot was taken in 89 percent of the incidents, totaling more than $9.3 million.
  • Of the loot taken, 25 percent of it, or more than $1.9 million, was recovered and returned to financial institutions.
  • Bank crimes most frequently occurred on Friday. Regardless of the day, the time frame when bank crimes occurred most frequently was between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
  • Acts of violence were committed in 5 percent of the incidents, resulting in 18 injuries, three deaths, and four persons taken hostage.3
  • Demand notes4 were the most common modus operandi used.
  • Most violations occurred in the Western region of the U.S., with 375 reported incidents.

+ Full Report

Money Across Generations II study

March 31, 2012 Comments off

Money Across Generations II study
Source: Ameriprise

Our new study reveals that families today are as uncomfortable talking about finances, healthcare and retirement as they are talking about family issues, religion and politics.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Some related “Conversation Guides” are also available for download here (PDFs).

IPCC releases full report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX)

March 30, 2012 Comments off

IPCC releases full report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) (PDF)
Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Evidence suggests that climate change has led to changes in climate extremes such as heat waves, record high temperatures and, in many regions, heavy precipitation in the past half century, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said today. Climate extremes, or even a series of non-extreme events, in combination with social vulnerabilities and exposure to risks can produce climate-related disasters, the IPCC said in its Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX).

While some extreme weather and climate events lead to disasters, others do not. Policies to avoid, prepare for, respond to and recover from the risks of disaster can reduce the impact of these events and increase the resilience of people exposed to extreme events, the IPCC shows in the report, published on Wednesday.

At the same time, as the IPCC notes in the report, limits to resilience are faced when thresholds or tipping points associated with social and/or natural systems are exceeded, posing severe challenges for adaptation.

“The main message from the report is that we know enough to make good decisions about managing the risks of climate-related disasters. Sometimes we take advantage of this knowledge, but many times we do not,” said Chris Field, Co-Chair of IPCC’s Working Group II, which together with Working Group I produced the report. “The challenge for the future has one dimension focused on improving the knowledge base and one on empowering good decisions, even for those situations where there is lots of uncertainty,” he said.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Risks and Rewards of Public-Private Partnerships for Highways

March 30, 2012 Comments off

Risks and Rewards of Public-Private Partnerships for Highways
Source: Reason Foundation

Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) for infrastructure are contracts between public and private entities for the provision of facilities in areas such as power, water, transportation, education and health. Well-written PPP agreements specify the allocation of risk, which should create incentives for the private provider to deliver more efficiently and in a timelier manner than would be the case if the project were undertaken by a state-controlled entity. States are increasingly using PPPs to deliver new transportation capacity, thereby improving road access without unduly increasing the burden on taxpayers. PPPs come in many forms, including both development of new infrastructure (“greenfield” projects) and maintenance and improvement of existing infrastructure.

+ Full Document (PDF)

New From the GAO

March 30, 2012 Comments off

New GAO ReportsSource: Government Accountability Office

1. Airborne Electronic Attack: Achieving Mission Objectives Depends on Overcoming Acquisition Challenges. GAO-12-175, March 29.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-175
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/589766.pdf

2. Community Development: Limited Information on the Use and Effectiveness of Tax Expenditures Could Be Mitigated through Congressional Attention. GAO-12-262, February 29.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-262
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/588979.pdf

3. Comparative Effectiveness: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Process for Awarding Recovery Act Funds and Disseminating Results. GAO-12-332, February 29.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-332
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/588938.pdf

4. Oil And Gas: Interior Has Strengthened Its Oversight of Subsea Well Containment, but Should Improve Its Documentation. GAO-12-244, February 29.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-244
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/588962.pdf

5. VA Health Care: Estimates of Available Budget Resources Compared with Actual Amounts. GAO-12-383R, March 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-383R

6. 2011 Lobbying Disclosure: Observations on Lobbyists’ Compliance with Disclosure Requirements. GAO-12-492, March 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-492
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/589805.pdf

7. DOD Financial Management: Reported Status of Department of Defense’s Enterprise Resource Planning Systems. GAO-12-565R, March 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-565R

Model Energy Codes Could Add Thousands To The Cost Of New Apartment Construction, Seriously Exacerbating Nation’s Affordable Housing Shortage

March 30, 2012 Comments off

Model Energy Codes Could Add Thousands To The Cost Of New Apartment Construction, Seriously Exacerbating Nation’s Affordable Housing Shortage
Source: National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) and the National Apartment Association (NAA)

New energy codes could add thousands of dollars to the construction costs of each individual apartment residence in a multifamily building, according to new research commissioned by the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) and the National Apartment Association (NAA). The research examines the costs of adopting the 2009 and just released 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). View the full report online at www.nmhc.org/goto/IECC-Study.

The latest IECC versions represent a significant departure from the 2006 IECC code, adding upwards of hundreds of thousands in additional costs to new construction. These new burdens come at a time when the U.S. is already suffering from a shortage of affordable housing.

FOIA Documents Show FBI Using “Mosque Outreach” for Intelligence Gathering

March 30, 2012 Comments off

FOIA Documents Show FBI Using “Mosque Outreach” for Intelligence Gathering
Source: American Civil Liberties Union

For several years, the FBI’s San Francisco office conducted a “Mosque Outreach” program through which it collected and illegally stored intelligence about American Muslims’ First Amendment-protected beliefs and religious practices, according to government documents released today by the American Civil Liberties Union from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Northern California, Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

The San Francisco FBI’s own documents show that it recorded Muslim religious leaders’ and congregants’ identities, personal information and religious views and practices. The documents also show that the FBI labeled this information as “positive intelligence” and disseminated it to other government agencies, placing the people and organizations involved at risk of greater law enforcement scrutiny as potential national security threats. None of the documents indicate that the FBI told individuals interviewed that their information and views were being collected as intelligence and would be recorded and disseminated.

+ Full Document (PDF)

API, Joint Industry Task Forces release final reports on offshore safety

March 30, 2012 Comments off

API, Joint Industry Task Forces release final reports on offshore safety
Source: American Petroleum Institute

API and the Joint Industry Task Forces released the final of three reports and a progress report of the fourth. Collectively, these documents provide positive recommendations to the government on how to improve offshore safety.

“These four Joint Industry Task Forces brought together the world’s best experts and these recommendations are part of a comprehensive effort by the industry to strengthen all aspects of offshore safety, while continuing to produce energy and create jobs for Americans,” said Upstream Senior Policy Advisor Holly Hopkins.

The task forces were assembled to focus on critical areas of Gulf of Mexico offshore activity following the Gulf spill: the Joint Industry Offshore Operating Procedures Task Force, the Joint Industry Offshore Equipment Task Force, the Joint Industry Subsea Well Control and Containment Task Force, and the Joint Industry Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Task Force.

“The task force recommendations added to industry programs that lead the way in implementing the strongest safety standards for offshore operations,” said Hopkins. “This process draws on the collective knowledge and experience of the industry and we will continue to promote the use of the best safety practices.”

+ Task Force Reports (PDFs)

Report: Lawmakers Seeking to Weaken Volcker Rule Receive More Than Four Times as Much From Industry as Those Asking for Stronger Measure

March 30, 2012 Comments off

Report: Lawmakers Seeking to Weaken Volcker Rule Receive More Than Four Times as Much From Industry as Those Asking for Stronger Measure
Source: Public Citizen

Members of Congress who submitted comments asking federal agencies to weaken the proposed regulations for the Volcker Rule have on average received more than four times as much in campaign contributions from the financial sector as those who asked agencies to strengthen the rule, a Public Citizen study released today shows.

The study, “Industry’s Messengers,” found that those seeking a weaker rule have received an average of $388,010 from the financial sector since the 2010 election cycle, compared to an average of $96,897 received by those seeking a stronger rule. Cumulatively, members asking for a weaker rule have received more than 35 times as much ($66.7 million) from the sector as those seeking a stronger rule ($1.9 million).

The Volcker Rule was one of the most important reforms of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. It prohibits federally insured banks from engaging in proprietary trading, participating in complex securitizations, owning hedge funds or private equity funds, or engaging in any other high-risk activities. It also prohibits banks from taking actions that conflict with the interests of their customers.

+ Full Report (PDF)

2012 Hunger Report — Rebalancing Act: Updating U.S. Food and Farm Policies

March 30, 2012 Comments off

2012 Hunger Report — Rebalancing Act: Updating U.S. Food and Farm PoliciesSource: Bread for Food Institute
From press release:

A new report released today by Bread for the World Institute calls for more determined thinking about how U.S. food and farm policies can meet the challenges of the 21st century.

The report proposes a rebalancing of farm policies to improve efficiency, encourage production and distribution of healthy foods, support rural development, and help farmers manage risk more efficiently.

“Congress has a great opportunity to trim our federal deficit and fix our broken food system,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World Institute. “Tomorrow the congressional Super Committee will report on how it plans to save taxpayer dollars. Today we are offering a solution that will not only save money but save our country’s small farmers.”

The new report, Hunger Report 2012: Rebalancing Act: Updating U.S. Food and Farm Policies, calls for a shift from the current patchwork of farm subsidies to a comprehensive revenue insurance program. A well-designed plan would better meet the needs of farmers, reach more farmers, provide a healthy food supply for all, be less trade-distorting, help the environment, and save taxpayer dollars.At a time when so many families depend on food assistance, the report calls for protecting SNAP benefits.

Just how big is the too big to fail problem?

March 30, 2012 Comments off

Just how big is the too big to fail problem?
Source: Milken Institute
From press release:

“Just How Big Is the Too Big to Fail Problem?”, a new report from the Milken Institute, examines the impact of changes in banking regulation since the recent financial crisis. The authors — Senior Finance Fellow James Barth, Economist Penny Prabha and Senior Fellow Philip Swagel — suggest that it is uncertain if the changes will truly eliminate TBTF risk.

According to the authors, the new resolution authority designed to allow troubled big banks to fail will, apart from other issues, “be incomplete and perhaps unworkable until there is more progress on the international coordination of bankruptcy regimes.”

Other provisions in Dodd-Frank, such as the Volcker rule, limit firms’ activities and scale. “But it is difficult to evaluate the cost-benefit ratio,” the authors state, “since there is little evidence on either side. In a sense, it is not even easy to pinpoint the problem to which the Volcker Rule is the solution.”

The report also puts the U.S. “too big to fail” institutions into international comparison, pointing out that of the 50 biggest banks in the U.S., only seven are among the 50 biggest banks in the world. According to the report, “To the extent that the U.S. banks are limited in size they may be put at a competitive disadvantage as compared to the biggest banks in other countries.”

Free registration required to download full report.

Occupational Employment and Wages — May 2011

March 30, 2012 Comments off

Occupational Employment and Wages — May 2011
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Retail salespersons and cashiers were the occupations with the highest employment in 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. These two occupations combined made up nearly 6 percent of total U.S. employment, with employment levels of 4.3 and 3.3 million, respectively. National employment and wage information for all occupations is shown in table 1.

These data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, which provides employment and wage estimates by area and by industry for wage and salary workers in 22 major occupational groups and nearly 800 detailed occupations.

Australian Social Trends — March 2012

March 30, 2012 Comments off

Australian Social Trends — March 2012
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
+ Life on ‘Struggle Street’: Australians in low economic resource households
This article looks at the characteristics of people in households with both relatively low income and relatively low wealth.
+ Love Me Do
This article examines the trends in marriage, de facto relationships and divorce over the last twenty years.
+ Life after Homelessness
This article presents a comparison of people who have been homeless in the last 10 years with those who have never been homeless.
+ Disability and Work
This article looks at the characteristics of working-age people with disability and their involvement in the labour force.

Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008

March 30, 2012 Comments off

Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

For 2008, the overall estimated prevalence of ASDs among the 14 ADDM sites was 11.3 per 1,000 (one in 88) children aged 8 years who were living in these communities during 2008. Overall ASD prevalence estimates varied widely across all sites (range: 4.8–21.2 per 1,000 children aged 8 years). ASD prevalence estimates also varied widely by sex and by racial/ethnic group. Approximately one in 54 boys and one in 252 girls living in the ADDM Network communities were identified as having ASDs. Comparison of 2008 findings with those for earlier surveillance years indicated an increase in estimated ASD prevalence of 23% when the 2008 data were compared with the data for 2006 (from 9.0 per 1,000 children aged 8 years in 2006 to 11.0 in 2008 for the 11 sites that provided data for both surveillance years) and an estimated increase of 78% when the 2008 data were compared with the data for 2002 (from 6.4 per 1,000 children aged 8 years in 2002 to 11.4 in 2008 for the 13 sites that provided data for both surveillance years). Because the ADDM Network sites do not make up a nationally representative sample, these combined prevalence estimates should not be generalized to the United States as a whole.

Interrogational Torture : Or How Good Guys Get Bad Information with Ugly Methods

March 30, 2012 Comments off

Interrogational Torture : Or How Good Guys Get Bad Information with Ugly Methods (PDF)
Source: Political Research Quarterly

Debate about the sources of intelligence leading to bin Laden’s location has revived the question as to whether interrogational torture is effective. Answering this question is a necessary—if not sufficient—condition for any justification of interrogational torture. Given the impossibility of approaching the question empirically, I address it theoretically, asking whether the use of torture to extract information satisfies reasonable expectations about reliability of information as well as normative constraints on the frequency and intensity of torture. I find that although information from interrogational torture is unreliable, it is likely to be used frequently and harshly.

Assessing the potential impacts of climate change on food- and waterborne diseases in Europe

March 30, 2012 Comments off

Assessing the potential impacts of climate change on food- and waterborne diseases in Europe
Source: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

After a structured and systematic review of published literature on food- and waterborne pathogens and how they are influenced by meteorological and climate variables, a team of scientists from the University of Bonn developed a computerised interface to access the findings of this literature review. The resulting knowledge base allows users to quickly explore relationships between environmental variables and food- and waterborne pathogens.

+ Full Report (PDF)

New From the GAO

March 29, 2012 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office

+ Reports

1. DOD Financial Management: Implementation Weaknesses in Army and Air Force Business Systems Could Jeopardize DOD’s Auditability Goals.  GAO-12-134, February 28.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-134
Highlights - http://www-dev.gao.gov/assets/590/588903.pdf

2. Reporting Foreign Accounts to IRS: Extent of Duplication Not Currently Known, but Requirements Can Be Clarified.  GAO-12-403, February 28.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-403

3. Medical Devices: FDA Has Met Most Performance Goals but Device Reviews Are Taking Longer.  GAO-12-418, February 29.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-418
Highlights - http://www-dev.gao.gov/assets/590/588970.pdf

4. Federal Advisory Groups: DOT and DOE Can Take Steps to Better Assess Duplication Risk and Enhance Usefulness.  GAO-12-472, March 29.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-472
Highlights - http://www-dev.gao.gov/assets/590/589749.pdf

5. Defense Acquisitions: Assessment of Selected Weapon Programs.  GAO-12-400SP, March 29.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-400SP
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/589696.pdf
Podcast - http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/589328

6. Operational Contract Support: Management and Oversight Improvements Needed in Afghanistan.  GAO-12-290, March 29.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-290
Highlights - http://www-dev.gao.gov/assets/590/589709.pdf

+ Testimonies

1. Transportation: Key Issues and Management Challenges, by Phillip R. Herr, managing director, physical infrastructure issues, before the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, And Related Agencies, House Committee on Appropriations.  GAO-12-581T, March 29.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-581T

2. Mortgage Financing: FHA and Ginnie Mae Face Risk-Management Challenges, by Mathew J. Scirè, director, financial markets and community investment, before the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, House Committee on Appropriations. GAO-12-578T, March 29.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-578T
Highlights - http://www-dev.gao.gov/assets/590/589693.pdf

3. HUD Information Technology: More Work Remains to Implement Necessary Management Controls, by Valerie C. Melvin, director, information management and technology resources issues, before the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, House Committee on Appropriations. GAO-12-580T, March 29.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-580T
Highlights - http://www-dev.gao.gov/assets/590/589712.pdf

4. Entrepreneurial Assistance: Efficiency and Effectiveness of Fragmented Programs Are Unclear, by William B. Shear, director, financial markets and community investment, before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.  GAO-12-601T, March 29.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-601T

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