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CBO — Updated Death and Injury Rates of U.S. Military Personnel During the Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan: Working Paper 2014-08

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Updated Death and Injury Rates of U.S. Military Personnel During the Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan: Working Paper 2014-08
Source: Congressional Budget Office

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, which ended on August 31, 2010, some 3,482 hostile deaths occurred among U.S. military personnel and 31,947 people were wounded in action (WIA). More than 1,800 hostile deaths occurred during Operation Enduring Freedom (in Afghanistan and surrounding countries) through November 2014; about 20,000 more people were wounded in action.

In the Iraq conflict, a larger proportion of wounded personnel survived their wounds than was the case during the Vietnam War, but the increased survival rates are not as high as some studies have asserted. Prior to the surge in troop levels that began in early 2007, the survival rate was 90.4 percent in Iraq—compared with 86.5 percent in Vietnam.

Amputation rates are difficult to measure consistently, but I estimate that 2.6 percent of all WIA and 9.0 percent of medically-evacuated WIA from the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters combined resulted in the major loss of a limb.

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Misplaced Priorities: How the Social Security Administration Sacrificed Quality for Quality in the Disability Determination Process

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Misplaced Priorities: How the Social Security Administration Sacrificed Quality for Quality in the Disability Determination Process
Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Key Findings:

  • All of the 48 ALJ focused reviews conducted by SSA and reviewed by Committee staff showed numerous deficiencies in ALJ decision-making and several disturbing patterns. ALJs conducted few or inadequate hearings, misused vocational experts, failed to properly assess work ability and relied too heavily on medical briefs prepared by claimants’ paid representatives. (p. 13)
  • SSA continues to allow ALJs to decide cases even when they demonstrate gross incompetence or negligence in handling their responsibilities. In several cases, SSA did not inform the ALJ about the negative focused review for over eight months after the review was completed. (p. 28)
  • SSA was singularly focused on churning out a large volume of dispositions, which led to inappropriate benefit awards. In 2007, the agency directed ALJs to decide 500 to 700 decisions each year, without conducting any study to determine how long it takes ALJs to evaluate cases and issue informed decisions.
  • SSA encouraged ALJs to take shortcuts in deciding cases to increase the amount of decisions issued each year. The agency promoted on-the-record decisions, which do not require a hearing, and bench decisions, which do not require a written opinion, to increase the number of decisions issued.

New From the GAO

December 11, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Immigration Benefits: Improvements Needed to Fully Implement the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act. GAO-15-3, December 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-3
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667396.pdf

2. SSA Disability Benefits: Enhanced Policies and Management Focus Needed to Address Potential Physician-Assisted Fraud. GAO-15-19, November 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-19
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666831.pdf

3. Information Technology: HUD Can Take Additional Actions to Improve Its Governance. GAO-15-56, December 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-56
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667359.pdf

4. Transportation for Older Adults: Measuring Results Could Help Determine If Coordination Efforts Improve Mobility. GAO-15-158, December 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-158
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667376.pdf

5. Public Transit: Federal and Transit Agencies Taking Steps to Build Transit Systems’ Resilience but Face Challenges. GAO-15-159, December 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-159
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667394.pdf

Testimonies

1. NASA: Human Space Exploration Programs Face Challenges, by Cristina T. Chaplain, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the Subcommittee on Space, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. GAO-15-248T, December 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-248T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667351.pdf

2. Unmanned Aerial Systems: Efforts Made toward Integration into the National Airspace Continue, but Many Actions Still Required, by Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph.D., director, physical infrastructure issues, before the Subcommittee on Aviation, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. GAO-15-254T, December 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-254T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667398.pdf

3. Federal Retirement Processing: Applying Information Technology Acquisition Best Practices Could Help OPM Overcome a Long History of Unsuccessful Modernization Efforts, by Valerie C. Melvin, director, information management and technology resources issues, before the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service, and the Census, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-15-277T, December 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-277T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667372.pdf

PDF Accessibility: Regulations, Risks, Solutions for Compliance

December 9, 2014 Comments off

PDF Accessibility: Regulations, Risks, Solutions for Compliance
Source: American Banker

Financial and other institutions are required to provide customer documents in accessible formats. This white paper, co-authored with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), discusses applicable legislation and recent litigation cases. It also suggests best practices for compliance and for providing accessible account statements and other electronic documents to customers with vision loss. In conclusion, the paper focuses on a solution for overcoming the challenges associated with meeting document accessibility requirements.

Free registration required.

Mobility is Most Common Disability Among Older Americans, Census Bureau Reports

December 2, 2014 Comments off

Mobility is Most Common Disability Among Older Americans, Census Bureau Reports
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Nearly 40 percent of people age 65 and older had at least one disability, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report that covered the period 2008 to 2012. Of those 15.7 million people, two-thirds of them say they had difficulty in walking or climbing.

Difficulty with independent living, such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping, was the second-most cited disability, followed by serious difficulty in hearing, cognitive difficulty, difficulty bathing or dressing, and serious difficulty seeing.

While populous states such as California, Florida, New York and Texas had the largest number of older people with a disability, high disability rates were seen in Southern counties, especially in central Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta.

Older Americans With a Disability: 2008-2012, a report based on data collected during the American Community Survey, examines disability status by age, sex and selected socio-economic characteristics, such as marital status, living arrangement, educational attainment and poverty status.

New From the GAO

November 20, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Individual Retirement Accounts: IRS Could Bolster Enforcement on Multimillion Dollar Accounts, but More Direction from Congress Is Needed. GAO-15-16, October 20.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-16
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666594.pdf

2. Veteran’s Disability Benefits: Improvements Could Further Enhance Quality Assurance Efforts. GAO-15-50, November 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-50
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667026.pdf

3. Consumer Product Safety Oversight: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Coordination and Increase Efficiencies and Effectiveness. GAO-15-52, November 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-52
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667040.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/666875

4. Intellectual Property: U.S. Customs and Border Protection Could Better Manage Its Process to Enforce Exclusion Orders. GAO-15-78, November 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-78
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667073.pdf

5. Freedom of Information Act: DHS Should Take Steps to Improve Cost Reporting and Eliminate Duplicate Processing. GAO-15-82, November 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-82
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667053.pdf

6. Defense Contractors: Additional Actions Needed to Facilitate the Use of DOD’s Inventory of Contracted Services. GAO-15-88, November 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-88
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667060.pdf

UK — Civil Service Statistics, 2014

November 10, 2014 Comments off

Civil Service Statistics, 2014
Source: Office for National Statistics

Key points

  • Civil Service employment on 31 March 2014 was 439,942, down 8,893 (2.0%) on 31 March 2013. On a full-time equivalent basis, Civil Service employment was 405,784, down by 8,139 (2.0%) over the same period.
  • The number of full-time civil servants fell by 7,353 to 332,692 between March 2013 and March 2014. The number of civil servants working part-time fell by 1,540 to 107,250.
  • Of those employees who declared their ethnicity, 10.1% were from an ethnic minority.
  • Of those who declared their disability status, 8.8% were disabled.
  • More than half (54.9%) of all employees leaving the Civil Service were from the Administrative responsibility level.
  • More than 80% of civil servants were aged 30-59. The number of civil servants aged 60 or above was 35,781, an increase of 1,174 from 31 March 2013. The number of civil servants aged 65 and over increased by 682 from 31 March 2013.
  • Median gross annual earnings (excluding overtime or one-off bonuses) for Civil Service employees was £24,730 as of 31 March 2014, an increase of £350 (1.5%) from 31 March 2013.
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