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Making Effective Fixed-Guideway Transit Investments: Indicators of Success

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Making Effective Fixed-Guideway Transit Investments: Indicators of Success
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 167: Making Effective Fixed-Guideway Transit Investments: Indicators of Success provides a data-driven, indicator-based model for predicting the success of a fixed-guideway transit project. The handbook and final research report make up Parts 1 and 2 of TCRP Report 167, and the spreadsheet tool is available separately for download.

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New From the GAO

July 22, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Small Business Administration: Office of Advocacy Needs to Improve Controls over Research, Regulatory, and Workforce Planning Activities. GAO-14-525, July 22.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-525
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664930.pdf

2. Managing for Results: Enhanced Goal Leader Accountability and Collaboration Could Further Improve Agency Performance. GAO-14-639, July 22.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-639
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664922.pdf

3. Telecommunications: FCC Should Improve the Accountability and Transparency of High-Cost Program Funding. GAO-14-587, July 22.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-587
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664940.pdf

Testimony

1. Large Partnerships: Growing Population and Complexity Hinder Effective IRS Audits, by James R. White, director, strategic issues, before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. GAO-14-746T, July 22.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-746T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664918.pdf

USPS OIG — Package Services: Get Ready, Set, Grow!

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Package Services: Get Ready, Set, Grow! (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

The package delivery market has been growing considerably. Between 2008 and 2013, the U.S. Postal Service experienced a more than 20 percent increase in package volume. The main reason is the growing popularity of e-commerce, particularly online shopping. American businesses and consumers spent more than $68 billion to ship packages domestically in 2013. E-commerce sales in the U.S. alone this year will top $430 billion; global e-commerce will exceed $1.5 trillion.

There is no doubt that packages are growing in importance to the Postal Service’s future. To meet emerging customer demands, the Postal Service needs to position itself for long-term success and broaden its role across the package delivery value chain. The Postal Service has already taken some steps towards enhancing its ability to handle an increase in packages. However, it needs a strategy that includes expanding beyond the traditional postal expertise of last-mile delivery to offer one-stop.

Census Bureau Updates Interactive HIV/AIDS Database; New Prevalence Estimates from More Than 100 Countries

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Census Bureau Updates Interactive HIV/AIDS Database; New Prevalence Estimates from More Than 100 Countries
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau today released its annually updated interactive global resource on the prevalence of HIV infection and AIDS cases and deaths. First developed in 1987, the database now holds more than 164,000 statistics, an increase of approximately 5,900 new estimates in the last year, and is the most comprehensive resource of its kind in the world.

The Census Bureau database is maintained with funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The tool consists of a library of statistics from more than 14,900 sources in international scientific and medical journals, individual countries’ annual HIV/AIDS surveillance reports, and papers and posters presented at international conferences. China represents 28 percent of the new records in the database, the largest increase by a single country.

The menu-driven access tool enables users to search for statistical information in countries and territories across the world, as well as by subpopulation, geographic subarea (such as urban and rural), age, sex and year from the 1960s to 2013.

VA OIG — Administrative Investigation, Prohibited Personnel Practice and Preferential Treatment, National Cemetery Administration, VA Central Office

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Administrative Investigation, Prohibited Personnel Practice and Preferential Treatment, National Cemetery Administration, VA Central Office (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General

The former Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs engaged in a prohibited personnel practice when he created a position and preselected an employee for that position. He also engaged in preferential treatment of an NCA contractor when he developed a less-than-arm’s-length relationship with the contractor. Further, NCA improperly gave the contractor sole-source contracts to provide one-to-one services to select NCA employees.

NSCAW Child Well-Being Spotlight: Teenage Girls in the Child Welfare System Report High Rates of Risky Sexual Activity and Pregnancy

July 21, 2014 Comments off

NSCAW Child Well-Being Spotlight: Teenage Girls in the Child Welfare System Report High Rates of Risky Sexual Activity and Pregnancy
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Administration for Children & Families)

This National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) spotlight describes the high rates of risky sexual activity and pregnancy among teenage girls in the second cohort of NSCAW (NSCAW II). According to data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW), 16.8% of girls ages 14-17, and 45.1% of girls ages 18-20, had experienced at least one pregnancy.

State Government Indigent Defense Expenditures, FY 2008–2012

July 21, 2014 Comments off

State Government Indigent Defense Expenditures, FY 2008–2012
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Provides data on state government indigent defense expenditures for fiscal years 2008 through 2012. Trends in spending and comparisons with total state government judicial-legal expenditures are also included. The report uses administrative data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Government Finance Survey. This is a companion report to the Census Bureau’s report, Indigent Defense Services in the United States, FY 2008-2012.

Highlights:

  • In 2012, state governments spent $2.2 billion nationally on indigent defense, the lowest amount spent during the 5-year period from 2008 to 2012.
  • State government indigent defense expenditures showed an average annual decrease of 1.1% from 2008 to 2012.
  • From 2011 to 2012, state government indigent defense expenditures decreased by $45 million nationally (down 2.0%).
  • As a share of total judicial-legal expenditures by state governments, spending on indigent defense held steady between 9.5% and 10.0% from 2008 to 2012.

Impact of Fed Tapering Announcements on Emerging Markets

July 21, 2014 Comments off

Impact of Fed Tapering Announcements on Emerging Markets
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper analyzes market reactions to the 2013–14 Fed announcements relating to tapering of asset purchases and their relationship to macroeconomic fundamentals and country economic and financial structures. The study uses daily data on exchange rates, government bond yields, and stock prices for 21 emerging markets. It finds evidence of markets differentiating across countries around volatile episodes. Countries with stronger macroeconomic fundamentals, deeper financial markets, and a tighter macroprudential policy stance in the run-up to the tapering announcements experienced smaller currency depreciations and smaller increases in government bond yields. At the same time, there was less differentiation in the behavior of stock prices based on fundamentals.

New From the GAO

July 21, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Consumer Finance: Credit Cards Designed for Medical Services Not Covered by Insurance. GAO-14-570, June 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-570
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664256.pdf
Podcast - http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/664738

2. State Department: Implementation of Grants Policies Needs Better Oversight. GAO-14-635, July 21.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-635
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664905.pdf

3. African Growth and Opportunity Act: Observations on Competitiveness and Diversification of U.S. Imports from Beneficiary Countries. GAO-14-722R, July 21.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-722R

Facts for Features — National Grandparents Day 2014: Sept. 7

July 21, 2014 Comments off

Facts for Features — National Grandparents Day 2014: Sept. 7
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

In 1970, Marian McQuade initiated a campaign to establish a day to honor grandparents. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a federal proclamation, declaring the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. This day has been celebrated every year since in honor of our nation’s grandparents.

The Effects of Premium Subsidies on Demand for Crop Insurance

July 21, 2014 Comments off

The Effects of Premium Subsidies on Demand for Crop Insurance
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

Premium subsidies are a major factor in the current success of the Federal crop insurance program. This study measures the change in crop insurance demand across multiple crops and regions following a legislated increase in subsidies. Findings reveal the influence of premium subsidies on participation in the program.

Evaluating the Effect of Smart Growth Policies on Travel Demand

July 21, 2014 Comments off

Evaluating the Effect of Smart Growth Policies on Travel Demand
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) has released a project brief that provides transportation planning agencies with improved tools and methods to accurately and comprehensively integrate transportation investment decision making with land development and growth management.

CRS — Unaccompanied Alien Children: Potential Factors Contributing to Recent Immigration

July 21, 2014 Comments off

Unaccompanied Alien Children: Potential Factors Contributing to Recent Immigration (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Since FY2008, the growth in the number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras seeking to enter the United States has increased substantially. Total unaccompanied child apprehensions increased from about 8,000 in FY2008 to 52,000 in the first 8 ½ months of FY2014. Since 2012, children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (Central America’s “northern triangle”) account for almost all of this increase. Apprehension trends for these three countries are similar and diverge sharply from those for Mexican children. Unaccompanied child migrants’ motives for migrating to the United States are often multifaceted and difficult to measure analytically.

Four recent out-migration-related factors distinguishing northern triangle Central American countries are high violent crime rates, poor economic conditions fueled by relatively low economic growth rates, high rates of poverty, and the presence of transnational gangs.

CRS — Unaccompanied Alien Children – Legal Issues: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

July 21, 2014 Comments off

Unaccompanied Alien Children – Legal Issues: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Recent reports about the increasing number of alien minors apprehended at the U.S. border without a parent or legal guardian have prompted numerous questions about so-called unaccompanied alien children (UACs). Some of these questions pertain to the numbers of children involved, their reasons for coming to the United States, and current and potential responses of the federal government and other entities to their arrival. Other questions concern the interpretation and interplay of various federal statutes and regulations, administrative and judicial decisions, and settlement agreements pertaining to alien minors. This report addresses the latter questions, providing general and relatively brief answers to 14 frequently asked questions regarding UACs.

U.S. Sentencing Commission Authorizes Delayed Retroactive Sentence Reductions for Drug Offenders

July 19, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Sentencing Commission Authorizes Delayed Retroactive Sentence Reductions for Drug Offenders (PDF)
Source: United States Sentencing Commission

On July 18, 2014, the Commission voted unanimously to apply a reduction in the sentencing guideline levels applicable to most federal drug trafficking offenders retroactively. Unless Congress disapproves the amendment, beginning November 1, 2014, eligible offenders can ask courts to reduce their sentences. Offenders whose requests are granted by the courts can be released no earlier than November 1, 2015.

+ Retroactivity Amendment and Synopsis (PDF)
+ Chair’s Remarks on Retroactivity Vote (PDF)
+ Public Comment on Retroactivity
+ Impact Analysis: Retroactive Application of 2014 Drug Guidelines Amendment (PDF)
+ Recidivism Analysis: Offenders Receiving Retroactive Sentence Reductions (PDF)

Recommended Bicycle Lane Widths for Various Roadway Characteristics

July 19, 2014 Comments off

Recommended Bicycle Lane Widths for Various Roadway Characteristics
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 766: Recommended Bicycle Lane Widths for Various Roadway Characteristics presents an analysis of the research and design guidance for bicycle lane widths on existing travel lane widths and parking lane widths. The conclusions are most applicable to urban and suburban roadways with level grade and a posted speed limit of 30 mph and should be used cautiously for the design of roadways with motor vehicle speeds outside of the range of 25 to 35 mph, and in particular for higher-speed roadways.

CBO — H.R. 4194, Government Reports Elimination Act of 2014

July 18, 2014 Comments off

H.R. 4194, Government Reports Elimination Act of 2014
Source: Congressional Budget Office

H.R. 4194 would eliminate the requirement for 17 federal entities to prepare certain reports for the Congress. Based on information from the Office of Management and Budget and some affected agencies, CBO estimates that implementing this legislation would reduce costs that are subject to appropriation by less than $1 million over the next five years. Enacting H.R. 4194 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.

H.R. 4194 would eliminate the requirement to prepare 66 reports that are produced by numerous federal agencies, including: the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, and the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Executive Office of the President, the Government Accountability Office, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. By reducing the number of reports that must be prepared and printed, implementing H.R. 4194 would reduce the administrative costs of those agencies. However, about 50 of the reports are either duplicative, obsolete, or would remain available online. CBO estimates that eliminating the requirement to produce them would yield a small reduction in administrative costs.

H.R. 4194 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would impose no costs on state, local or tribal governments.

DOD — The Education Directory for Children With Special Needs

July 18, 2014 Comments off

The Education Directory for Children With Special Needs
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

The Education Directory for Children With Special Needs provides military families with children with special needs the information they need to make informed assignment decisions and easier transitions.

The directory consists of two components:

  • The Early Intervention Directory focusing on early intervention services for children birth through 3 years old
  • The School-Age Directory focusing on education services for children with special needs, 3 through 21 years old

Both provide tools and resources to help with the transition to a new location. The Early Intervention Directory summarizes national and state level early intervention trends and includes descriptions of local early intervention service providers. The School-Age Directory summarizes national and state level trends for special education and includes descriptions of individual school districts.

Note: Not just for military families. Lots of good info here.

Understanding the Value of Social Media at Airports for Customer Engagement

July 18, 2014 Comments off

Understanding the Value of Social Media at Airports for Customer Engagement
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Synthesis 56: Understanding the Value of Social Media at Airports for Customer Engagement compiles current literature and practice on how airport operators utilize social media to enhance customer engagement.

New From the GAO

July 18, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Tax Policy: Differences in Definitions and Rules in the Tax Code. GAO-14-652R, July 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-652R

2. Management Report: Improvements Are Needed in the Bureau of the Fiscal Service’s Information Systems Controls. GAO-14-693R, July 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-693R

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