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The Federal Civil Service Workforce: Assessing the Effects on Retention of Pay Freezes, Unpaid Furloughs, and Other Federal-Employee Compensation Changes in the Department of Defense

October 31, 2014 Comments off

The Federal Civil Service Workforce: Assessing the Effects on Retention of Pay Freezes, Unpaid Furloughs, and Other Federal-Employee Compensation Changes in the Department of Defense
Source: RAND Corporation

Planners and policymakers must be able to assess how compensation policy, including pay freezes and unpaid furloughs, affects retention. This study begins to extend the dynamic retention model (DRM) — a structural, stochastic, dynamic, discrete-choice model of individual behavior — to federal civil service employment. Models are developed and estimated,using 24 years of data, and then used to simulate the effects of pay freezes and unpaid furloughs. A permanent three-year pay freeze decreases the size of the retained General Service (GS) workforce with at least a baccalaureate degree by 7.3 percent in the steady state. A temporary pay freeze with pay immediately restored has virtually no impact on retention. When pay is restored after ten years, the retained GS workforce falls by 2.8 percent five years after the pay freeze and 3.5 percent ten years after it. An unpaid furlough, similar to the six-day federal furlough in 2013, has no discernible effect on retention. For all subgroups of GS employees for which the model is estimated, the model fit to the actual data is excellent, and all of the model parameter estimates are statistically significant. In future work, the DRM could be extended to provide empirically based simulations of the impact of other policies on retention; to estimate effects on other occupational areas, other pay systems, or specific demographic groups; or to create a “total force” model (military and civilian) of DoD retention dynamics and the effects of compensation on those dynamics.

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Mental Health Stigma in the Military

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Mental Health Stigma in the Military
Source: RAND Corporation

Despite the efforts of both the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Veterans Health Administration to enhance mental health services, many service members are not regularly seeking needed care when they have mental health problems. Without appropriate treatment, these mental health problems can have wide-ranging and negative impacts on the quality of life and the social, emotional, and cognitive functioning of affected service members. The services have been actively engaged in developing policies, programs, and campaigns designed to reduce stigma and increase service members’ help-seeking behavior. However, there has been no comprehensive assessment of these efforts’ effectiveness and the extent to which they align with service members’ needs or evidence-based practices. The goal of this research was to assess DoD’s approach to stigma reduction — how well it is working and how it might be improved. To address these questions, RAND researchers used five complementary methods: (1) literature review, (2) a microsimulation modeling of costs, (3) interviews with program staff, (4) prospective policy analysis, and (5) an expert panel. The priorities outlined in this report represent a first step for where additional program and policy development and research and evaluation are needed to improve understanding of how best to get service members with mental health disorders the needed treatment as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Alternative Futures for Syria: Regional Implications and Challenges for the United States

October 29, 2014 Comments off

Alternative Futures for Syria: Regional Implications and Challenges for the United States
Source: RAND Corporation

The civil war in Syria poses a thorny problem for U.S. policymakers. The conflict has morphed from a popular uprising against an autocratic regime into a multi-sided battle involving government forces, pro-government militias, Hezbollah, Iraqi Shi’ite militias, secular/moderate rebels, Kurdish separatists, traditional Islamist rebels, nationalist Salafi-jihadist rebels, and the transnational Salafi-jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) movement. Most neighboring states and several Persian Gulf states have sent arms and money to one or more of the factions in this war. Iran and Russia have consistently supported the Assad regime, including providing advanced weaponry, since the onset of the conflict. The outcome of the conflict will affect Middle East stability and regional political dynamics for years — perhaps decades — and could exacerbate a wider Shi’a-versus-Sunni sectarian conflict in the region.

Momentum has shifted several times during the course of the conflict. Defections from the Syrian army, rapidly growing rebel ranks, and the regime’s loss of key ground convinced many observers early on that the Assad’s demise was only a matter of time. The Assad regime has exploited rebel weaknesses and its own superior weaponry and external support to shift the momentum once again in its favor. The lineup of antagonists is complex and confused. While still seeing the Assad regime as an adversary based on its patron-client relationship with Iran and its implacable hostility toward Israel, U.S. decisionmakers are also dealing with the threats caused by the dramatic recent gains made in Iraq by ISIS and the influence it wields within the Syrian rebel movement. To examine these challenges, this perspective draws on a December 2013 RAND workshop to assess four possible future scenarios for the conflict in Syria: prolonged conflict, regime victory, regime collapse, and negotiated settlement. The authors update and reassess these scenarios based on developments in Syria and Iraq through August 2014 and explore the implications that each has for Syria, the region, and the United States.

The Cost of Non-Europe in the Single Market: Free Movement of Goods

October 24, 2014 Comments off

The Cost of Non-Europe in the Single Market: Free Movement of Goods
Source: RAND Corporation

Cost of Non-Europe Reports identify the possibilities for economic or other gains and/or the realisation of a ‘public good’ through common action at EU level in specific policy areas and sectors. This Cost of Non-Europe Report seeks to analyse the costs for citizens, businesses and relevant stake-holders of remaining gaps and barriers in the European Single Market, building on and updating the 1988 Cecchini Report, which quantified its potential benefits. This particular study uses an econometric model to estimate the potential benefits of removing existing barriers to foreign direct investment and non-tariff trade barriers within the European Union. The removal of existing trade barriers could boost total intra-EU merchandise exports up to 7 per cent in the long-term. These effects will vary by Member State, and by sector of the internal market.

Moving Beyond Screen Time: Redefining Developmentally Appropriate Technology Use in Early Childhood Education

October 16, 2014 Comments off

Moving Beyond Screen Time: Redefining Developmentally Appropriate Technology Use in Early Childhood Education (PDF)
Source: RAND Corporation

Conversations about what constitutes “developmentally appropriate” use of technology in early childhood education (ECE) have, to date, focused largely on a single, blunt measure—screen time—that fails to capture important nuances, such as what type of media a child is accessing and whether technology use is taking place solo or with peers. Using screen time as the primary measure of developmentally appropriate use has become increasingly inappropriate, as new technologies are ever more rapidly introduced and integrated into all aspects of life. In this policy brief, we challenge the traditional emphasis on screen time and discuss how to move toward a more comprehensive definition of developmentally appropriate technology use for young children.

Police Department Investments in Information Technology Systems

October 6, 2014 Comments off

Police Department Investments in Information Technology Systems
Source: RAND Corporation

In the wake of the economic downturn that began in 2007 and 2008, public service providers, including police departments, have been asked to tighten their financial belts and, in some instances, do more with less. Whereas some departments have cut their information technology (IT) investments and staffing as a way to avoid cutting sworn officers, others have increased their investments in IT, believing it can serve as a force multiplier, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the department. IT has become increasingly integrated into modern police organizations, particularly for systems related to records management, dispatch, crime investigation, personnel records, information sharing, fleet management, automated booking, and resource allocation. But the trade-offs among personnel, technology, and costs are not straightforward. With this report, the authors explored the rationale and evidence supporting the idea that IT investments can increase efficiency in policing, and do so cost-effectively. The correlation modeling suggested both expected and unexpected relationships between IT and efficiency. For various reasons, the efforts to carry out a full statistical analysis of police IT use matched with activity types using existing survey data did not succeed. However, they did yield insights that are relevant to the design of future efforts to assess the effects of IT systems on law enforcement performance.

Developing a Research Strategy for Suicide Prevention in the Department of Defense; Status of Current Research, Prioritizing Areas of Need, and Recommendations for Moving Forward

October 2, 2014 Comments off

Developing a Research Strategy for Suicide Prevention in the Department of Defense; Status of Current Research, Prioritizing Areas of Need, and Recommendations for Moving Forward
Source: RAND Corporation

In response to the elevated rate of suicide among U.S. service members, a congressionally mandated task force recommended that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) create a unified, comprehensive strategic plan for suicide prevention research to ensure that DoD-funded studies align with DoD’s goals. To help meet this objective, a RAND study cataloged the research funded by DoD and other entities that is directly relevant to military personnel, examined the extent to which current research maps to DoD’s strategic research needs, and provided recommendations to ensure that proposed research strategies align with the national research strategy and integrate with DoD’s data collection and program evaluation strategies. The study found that although DoD is one of the largest U.S. funders of research related to suicide prevention, its current funding priorities do not consistently reflect its research needs. The study indexed each of 12 research goals according to rankings of importance, effectiveness, cultural acceptability, cost, and learning potential provided by experts who participated in a multistep elicitation exercise. The results revealed that research funding is overwhelmingly allocated to prevention goals already considered by experts to be effective. Other goals considered by experts to be important and appropriate for the military context receive relatively little funding and have been the subject of relatively few studies, meaning that there is still much to learn about these strategies. Furthermore, DoD, like other organizations, suffers from a research-to-practice gap. The most promising results from studies funded by DoD and other entities do not always find their way to those responsible for implementing suicide prevention programs that serve military personnel. The RAND study recommended approaches to thoughtfully integrate the latest research findings into DoD’s operating procedures to ensure that evidence-based approaches can benefit suicide prevention programs and prevent the further loss of lives to suicide.

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