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CRS — Cost-Benefit and Other Analysis Requirements in the Rulemaking Process (December 9, 2014)

December 22, 2014 Comments off

Cost-Benefit and Other Analysis Requirements in the Rulemaking Process (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Regulatory analytical requirements (e.g., cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis) have been established incrementally during the last 40 to 50 years through a series of presidential and congressional initiatives. The current set of requirements includes Executive Order 12866 and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-4, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), and the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). These requirements vary in terms of the agencies and rules they cover, and the types of analyses that are required. For example, a regulatory analysis under the Regulatory Flexibility Act is not required if the agency head certifies that the rule will not have a “significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.”

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For Public Feedback: A College Ratings Framework

December 22, 2014 Comments off

For Public Feedback: A College Ratings Framework
Source: U.S. Department of Education

Based on extensive consultation with stakeholders and experts, the Department has now released a draft framework for the ratings system for further public comment. We will continue to refine the ratings system over time based on user and institutional experience, input from the field, and the availability of additional data.

The purposes of the ratings system are:

  • To help colleges and universities measure, benchmark, and improve across shared principles of access, affordability, and outcomes.
  • To provide better information about college value to students and families to support them as they search for select a college,
  • To generate reliable, useful data that policymakers and the public can use to hold America’s colleges and universities accountable for key performance measures. In the future this can be used to help align incentives for colleges to serve students from all backgrounds well by focusing on the shared principles of access, affordability, and outcomes; ensuring wise and effective use of $150 billion in financial aid.
  • In additional to federal efforts, and those of individual institutions, we believe the ratings system can help inform policy, accreditation and funding decisions by states education authorities, policies and practices of accreditors and others.

CBO’s 2014 Long-Term Projections for Social Security: Additional Information

December 19, 2014 Comments off

CBO’s 2014 Long-Term Projections for Social Security: Additional Information
Source: Congressional Budget office

Social Security is the federal government’s largest single program. Of the 59 million people who currently receive Social Security benefits, about 71 percent are retired workers or their spouses and children, and another 10 percent are survivors of deceased workers; all of those beneficiaries receive payments through Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI). The other 19 percent of beneficiaries are disabled workers or their spouses and children; they receive Disability Insurance (DI) benefits.

In fiscal year 2014, spending for Social Security benefits totaled $840 billion, or almost one-quarter of federal spending; OASI payments accounted for about 83 percent of those outlays, and DI payments made up about 17 percent. Each year, CBO prepares long-term projections of revenues and outlays for the program. The most recent set of 75-year projections was published in July 2014. Those projections generally reflect current law, following CBO’s 10-year baseline budget projections through 2024 and then extending the baseline concept for the rest of the long-term projection period. This publication presents additional information about those projections.

Fact Sheet: Charting a New Course on Cuba

December 19, 2014 Comments off

Charting a New Course on Cuba
Source: U.S. Department of State

Today, the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people. We are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba.

It is clear that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba. At times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba. Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect – today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the Castros and the Communist party.

We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse. We know from hard-learned experience that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose policies that will render a country a failed state. With our actions today, we are calling on Cuba to unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans by ending unnecessary restrictions on their political, social, and economic activities. In that spirit, we should not allow U.S. sanctions to add to the burden of Cuban citizens we seek to help.

See also: Announcement of Cuba Policy Changes (John Kerry, Secretary of State)
See also: Briefing on Changes in U.S. Policy Toward Cuba (Roberta S. Jacobson, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs)

New From the GAO

December 19, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Fair Labor Standards Act: Extending Protections to Home Care Workers. GAO-15-12, December 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-12
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667603.pdf

2. Federal Emergency Management Agency: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Oversight of Administrative Costs for Major Disasters. GAO-15-65, December 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-65
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667607.pdf

3. Department of Homeland Security: Continued Action Needed to Strengthen Management of Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime. GAO-15-95, December 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-95
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667618.pdf

4. Tax-Exempt Organizations: Better Compliance Indicators and Data, and More Collaboration with State Regulators Would Strengthen Oversight of Charitable Organizations. GAO-15-164, December 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-164
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667596.pdf

5.   State and Local Governments’ Fiscal Outlook: 2014 Update. GAO-15-224SP, December 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-224SP
Podcast: http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/667597

6.   Dodd-Frank Regulations: Regulators’ Analytical and Coordination Efforts. GAO-15-81, December 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-81
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667634.pdf

7.   Electronic Submissions in Federal Procurement: Implementation by the Army Corps of Engineers and Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. GAO-15-253R, December 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-253R

8.   Federal Food Safety Oversight: Additional Actions Needed to Improve Planning and Collaboration. GAO-15-180, December 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-180
Highlights –  http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667657.pdf

NOAA — Arctic Report Card: Update for 2014

December 19, 2014 Comments off

Arctic Report Card: Update for 2014
Source: NOAA

What’s new in 2014?

Rising air and sea temperatures continue to trigger changes in the Arctic. The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of anywhere else on Earth.

However, natural variation remains, such as the slight increase in March 2014 sea ice thickness and only a slight decrease in total mass of the Greenland ice sheet in summer 2014.

In the Shadow of the Great Recession: Experiences and Perspectives of Young Workers

December 19, 2014 Comments off

In the Shadow of the Great Recession: Experiences and Perspectives of Young Workers (PDF)
Source: Federal Reserve Board

Young adults in the United States have experienced higher rates of unemployment and lower rates of labor force participation than the general population for at least two decades. The Great Recession exacerbated this phenomenon. Despite a substantial labor market recovery from 2009 through 2014, vulnerable populations—including the nation’s young adults—continue to experience higher rates of unemployment.

Meanwhile, changes in labor market conditions, including globalization and automation, have reduced the availability of well-paid, secure jobs for less-educated persons, particularly those jobs that provide opportunity for advancement. Furthermore, data suggest that young workers entering the labor market are affected by a long-running increase in the use of “contingent” work arrangements, characterized by contracted, part-time, temporary, and seasonal work.

In light of these trends, in 2013, the Federal Reserve Board’s Division of Consumer and Community Affairs began exploring the experiences and expectations of young Americans entering the labor market. Staff reviewed existing research and engaged external research and policy experts to identify the potential economic implications of these labor market trends on young workers.

This initial exploration raised several questions about the experiences of young workers that were not fully explained by existing data. In response, the Federal Reserve conducted a survey, the Survey of Young Workers, in December 2013 to develop a deeper understanding of the forces at play.

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