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CRS — Federal Inspectors General: History, Characteristics, and Recent Congressional Actions (December 8, 2014)

December 17, 2014 Comments off

Federal Inspectors General: History, Characteristics, and Recent Congressional Actions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Federal inspectors general (IGs) are authorized to combat waste, fraud, and abuse within their affiliated federal entities. To execute their missions, offices of inspector general (OIGs) conduct and publish audits and investigations—among other duties. Two major enactments—the Inspector General Act of 1978 and its amendments of 1988 (codified at 5 U.S.C. Appendix)—established federal IGs as permanent, nonpartisan, and independent offices in more than 70 federal agencies.

OIGs serve to assist Congress in overseeing executive branch—and a few legislative branch— agencies. They provide recommendations and findings to their affiliated agency head and to Congress that may save the government millions of dollars per year. As a result, Congress may have an interest in ensuring that federal OIGs have the appropriate authorities and access to information they need to perform their investigations, audits, and evaluations. Concurrently, Congress has a responsibility to protect some records and information, such as national security information or information about an ongoing criminal investigation, from improper release. This report provides background on the statutory creation of federal OIGs and provides historical context for contemporary debates about the strengths and limitations of the offices.

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Global Risk 2014-2015: Building the Transparent Bank

December 16, 2014 Comments off

Global Risk 2014-2015: Building the Transparent Bank
Source: Boston Consulting Group

  • The new era of bank transparency will require competitive, structural, and operational adjustments in order to succeed.
  • For the first time since 2007, global banking has regained overall profitability on a global scale, with sharp divergence among regions.
  • Increases in global profit were driven by the positive performance of banks in North America as well as the Middle East and Africa.
  • Banks must establish a comprehensive control framework, based on the three-lines-of-defense model, to reduce nonfinancial risks such as fraud, misconduct, and reputational damage.

Report: FDIC Senior Officials Acted on Personal Animus against Legal Businesses (Payday Lenders)

December 12, 2014 Comments off

Report: FDIC Senior Officials Acted on Personal Animus against Legal Businesses
Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today released a new report, “Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) Involvement in ‘Operation Choke Point’,” detailing the agency’s close relationship with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to effectively target legal businesses the administration deemed morally objectionable. Documents produced to the Committee reveal that the DOJ actively partnered with the FDIC in the prosecution of Operation Choke Point. FDIC’s participation in Operation Choke Point included requests for information about the investigation, discussions of legal theories and the application of banking laws, and the review of documents involving FDIC-supervised institutions obtained by DOJ in the course of its investigation. FDIC also originated the list of “high risk” industries included in the DOJ subpoenas. Documents provided to the Committee also show that senior leadership at the FDIC opposed certain industries on purely moral grounds.

Documents produced to the Committee reveal that senior FDIC policymakers oppose payday lending on personal grounds, and attempted to use FDIC’s supervisory authority to prohibit the practice. Personal animus towards payday lending is apparent throughout the documents produced to the Committee. Emails reveal that FDIC’s senior-most bank examiners “literally cannot stand payday,” and effectively ordered banks to terminate all relationships with the industry.

It Pays to Set the Menu: Mutual Fund Investment Options in 401(k) plans

December 11, 2014 Comments off

It Pays to Set the Menu: Mutual Fund Investment Options in 401(k) plans (PDF)
Source: Federal Reserve Board

This paper investigates whether mutual fund families acting as service providers in 401(k) plans display favoritism toward their own funds. Using a hand-collected dataset on retirement investment options, we show that poorly-performing funds are less likely to be removed from and more likely to be added to a 401(k) menu if they are affiliated with the plan trustee. We find no evidence that plan participants undo this affiliation bias through their investment choices. Finally, the subsequent performance of poorly-performing affiliated funds indicates that these trustee decisions are not information driven.

AHRQ Quality Indicators™ Toolkit for Hospitals

December 10, 2014 Comments off

AHRQ Quality Indicators™ Toolkit for Hospitals
Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

The QI Toolkit is designed to help your hospital understand the Quality Indicators (QIs) from AHRQ and use them to successfully improve quality and patient safety in your hospital. The AHRQ QIs use hospital administrative data to assess the quality of care provided, identify areas of concern in need of further investigation, and monitor progress over time. This toolkit focuses on the 18 Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs) and the 28 Inpatient Quality Indicators (IQIs). More information on the QIs is available in the Fact Sheets on the IQIs.

The QI Toolkit supports hospitals that want to improve performance on the IQIs and PSIs by guiding them through the process, from the first stage of self-assessment to the final stage of ongoing monitoring. The tools are practical, easy to use, and designed to meet a variety of needs, including those of senior leaders, quality staff, and multistakeholder improvement teams. Created by the RAND Corporation and the University HealthSystem Consortium with funding from AHRQ, it is available for all hospitals to use free of charge.

What Do We Know About Inter-Organizational Networks?

December 10, 2014 Comments off

What Do We Know About Inter-Organizational Networks?
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

As Millennials join the workforce, they are bringing their propensity for social networking into the workplace. As a result, network-centered approaches to doing work will likely become more prevalent.

Government and non-profits have already been pioneering the use of collaborative networks over the past two decades to solve complex societal challenges such as clean waterways, reducing child abuse, serving the mentally ill in the community, and reducing smoking. Much of this pioneering work has been done without a roadmap of what works and when using networks is more effective than relying on traditional hierarchies or the marketplace to achieve public goals. The descriptive and theoretical literature to guide practitioners is growing rapidly, but without guideposts as to what to read and what to pay attention to.

But now there is someplace for both experienced network leaders and neophytes to go to learn more.

A special report by the IBM Center for The Business of Government digests the key academic literature written over the past decade: Interorganizational Networks: A Review of the Literature to Inform Practice, by Janice Popp, Brinton Milward, Gail MacKean, Ann Casebeer, and Ronald Lindstrom. According to the authors, this report has been under development for several years, largely as a labor of love to synthesize literature from various professional disciplines into a “one stop” resource guide.

Checks and Balances, Stars and Stripes: Banking practices at financial institutions serving the military

December 9, 2014 Comments off

Checks and Balances, Stars and Stripes: Banking practices at financial institutions serving the military
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

Service members, like all consumers, need access to concise, easy-to-understand documents that lay out the key terms, conditions, and fees associated with their checking accounts. Clarity and transparency are especially important for Americans and their families serving in the military, who face unique challenges associated with repeated deployments and frequent relocations.

This report highlights the account practices that Pew has identified as having a significant impact on account holders and documents their prevalence among banks and credit unions located on military installations. Institutions were evaluated on how well their disclosure, overdraft, and dispute resolution practices align with Pew’s policy recommendations.

The report found some areas in which banks and credit unions with an on-installation presence were excelling, but many areas that require improvement, demonstrating the need for new rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to make checking accounts safe and transparent for all consumers.

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