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Transforming Performance Measurement for the 21st Century

August 11, 2014 Comments off

Transforming Performance Measurement for the 21st Century (PDF)
Source: Urban Institute

During the latter part of the 20th century considerable progress was made in gaining widespread acceptance for performance measurement as an ongoing part of performance management—at all three levels of government and increasingly within private nonprofit organizations. This is a good thing. However, for the most part, the information provided by performance measurement systems has been both shallow and not always as timely as is needed to help managers operate throughout the year.

Major advancements have occurred in the first decade or so of the 21st century that show great potential for enhancing the value of the performance information provided by these management systems. The opportunities for public and private service organizations to provide more timely and substantive information for managers are exploding. Major advances have occurred, and continue to occur, in areas currently being labeled with terms such as “Data Analytics, “Data Visualization,” and “Big Data.” The availability of such tools presents government and private for profit organizations with tremendous opportunities to improve the information provided by their performance measurement systems.

This report provides a number of recommendations for making use of such tools to help speed up the development and use of modern technology. Technology-related problems exist, especially the need to provide user-friendly devices that can enable the manager of the 21st century to download at any time and in any location, from some form of electronic device, information that enables them to drill down into the latest available data. This is data that in the past would have required an excessive amount of time and resources to obtain. And, all of this achieved without requiring more than a basic knowledge of analytical methods.

We hope this report will encourage implementation and use of these great opportunities for performance measurement and performance management in the 21st century.

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Implications for Changing the Child Tax Credit Refundability Threshold

August 11, 2014 Comments off

Implications for Changing the Child Tax Credit Refundability Threshold
Source: Urban Institute

This Tax Fact explores the child tax credit’s refundability thresholds since its inception. Currently, the CTC is a $1,000-per-child credit that is partially refundable for households earning more than $3,000. This Tax Fact explores the distribution of credits when the refundability threshold rises to $15,000 in 2018, and finds that families in the lowest income quintile would be affected the most.

Wealth in America: Policies to Support Mobility

August 7, 2014 Comments off

Wealth in America: Policies to Support Mobility
Source: Urban Institute

What role can policymakers play in helping families rebuild their balance sheets after the Great Recession and in helping young families, families of color, and those with less education who were falling behind even prior to it? This brief, based on a convening of nearly 25 national wealth-building experts, presents the facts and identifies four promising policy reforms: (1) providing universal children’s savings accounts; (2) reforming the mortgage interest deduction to better target incentives; (3) expanding access to retirement accounts and automatic enrollment; and (4) promoting emergency savings while addressing barriers such as asset tests in safety net programs.

Contracts and Grants between Human Service Nonprofits and Government: Comparative Analysis

July 30, 2014 Comments off

Contracts and Grants between Human Service Nonprofits and Government: Comparative Analysis
Source: Urban Institute

Government’s reliance on human service nonprofits to provide services has been increasing, expanding the ability of nonprofits to achieve their missions and the ability of government to serve its constituents. This brief summarizes results from human service nonprofits in the second national study of government contracts and grants. We compare results of human service organizations in the 2013 national survey of nonprofits to the results of the survey conducted in 2010. We examine how human service organizations have managed since the recession ended and how their relationships with governments have changed.

Tackling Persistent Poverty in Distressed Urban Neighborhoods

July 28, 2014 Comments off

Tackling Persistent Poverty in Distressed Urban Neighborhoods
Source: Urban Institute

Despite significant civil rights advancements and enormous improvements in the US standard of living over the past half-century, public policies and private initiatives have largely failed to solve the problem of persistent, intergenerational poverty among families living in distressed communities. Persistent intergenerational poverty is a complex and daunting problem that requires action at multiple levels. No single strategy offers a “silver bullet,” but strategies that focus on the places poor families live have an important role to play. This paper summarizes lessons learned and evolving practice in the field of place-based interventions, and it offers a set of guiding principles for child-focused, place-conscious initiatives focused on persistent, intergenerational poverty.

Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Probation Revocation: Summary Findings and Implications from a Multisite Study

July 15, 2014 Comments off

Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Probation Revocation: Summary Findings and Implications from a Multisite Study
Source: Urban Institute

This brief presents summary findings from an Urban Institute study examining the degree of racial and ethnic disparity in probation revocation outcomes and the drivers of that disparity in four diverse probation jurisdictions. Black probationers were revoked at higher rates than white and Hispanic probationers in all study sites. Differences in risk assessment scores and criminal history were major contributors to the black–white disparity. Results for disparity to the disadvantage of Hispanic probationers were mixed. The brief concludes with a discussion of policy implications for probation and the criminal justice system as a whole.

The ACA and America’s Cities: Fewer Uninsured and More Federal Dollars

July 14, 2014 Comments off

The ACA and America’s Cities: Fewer Uninsured and More Federal Dollars
Source: Urban Institute

This report estimated the effect of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on 14 large and diverse cities: Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Columbus, Charlotte, Detroit, Memphis, Seattle, Denver, Atlanta, and Miami. For each city we estimated changes in health coverage under the ACA, particularly the resulting decline in the uninsured. We also estimated the additional federal spending on health care that would flow into these cities. For cities in states that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility, we provide estimates both with and without expansion.

See also: Increase in Medicaid under the ACA Reduces Uninsurance, According to Early Estimates

Understanding Social Impact Bonds and Pay for Success

July 11, 2014 Comments off

Understanding Social Impact Bonds and Pay for Success
Source: Urban Institute

Pay for success (PFS) financing and social impact bonds (SIBs) have generated immense enthusiasm in the public and private sectors as a means to shift risk and generate new capital for social programming. In PFS and SIB transactions, private investors provide capital for an evidence-based social program. The investors’ principal is returned with a profit if rigorous evaluation concludes predetermined performance goals are met.

There are more than a dozen operating SIBs in the United Kingdom, and several PFS projects in US cities and states. However, transitioning from an experiment to a stable social funding structure requires a rigorous selection and evaluation process, and an appropriate pricing scheme for governments and investors. Urban Institute researchers have developed roadmaps for the next step for PFS development in the United States by drawing on evaluation research, policy development, and cost-benefit analysis.

In Pursuit of Health Equity: Comparing U.S. and EU Approaches to Eliminating Disparities

July 8, 2014 Comments off

In Pursuit of Health Equity: Comparing U.S. and EU Approaches to Eliminating Disparities
Source: Urban institute

Researchers compare and contrast the U.S. public policy approach to tackling the problem of health disparities with the European approach in this paper. They begin by providing an overview of the ways in which the issue of health disparities has been framed in American and European policy discourse. They next compare how health disparities have been addressed in policy statements produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and by the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union. In so doing, they seek to illuminate implicit choices that stand to have a bearing on the outcomes of these initiatives.

The Impact of the Great Recession on the Number of Charities by Subsector and Revenue Range

June 30, 2014 Comments off

The Impact of the Great Recession on the Number of Charities by Subsector and Revenue Range
Source: Urban Institute

Summary

  • This brief extends the analysis of the first brief in the series, “The Impact of the Great Recession on the Number of Charities,” which compared closures among nonprofit organizations over two periods: the “baseline period” of 2004—08, which includes the years immediately before the recession’s full impact, and the “recession period” of 2008—12, which includes the worst of the recession and its immediate after–math.
  • The brief takes a closer look at nonprofit organizations that ceased operations during the baseline and recession periods by revenue range and subsector (arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, international affairs, public and societal benefit, and other).
  • In both time periods and across all subsectors, smaller organizations with revenues between $50,000 and $99,999 were most vulnerable to closure.
  • In all subsectors, organizational closure was more prevalent during the recession period (2008—12) than during the baseline period (2004—08).
  • However, organizations with revenues of $1 million and above were no more likely to cease operations during the recession period than during the baseline period.
  • The largest increase in closure rates occurred among international organizations, while human services experienced the smallest increase.
  • In addition to higher closure rates, the recession is also associated with loss of revenue among smaller nonprofits. Twenty–two percent of all organizations with $50,000 to $99,999 in revenue in 2004 had revenue fall below $50,000 in 2008. That share jumped to 30.1 percent for the 2008—12 period.

Changes in Tax Revenue Since 1929

June 18, 2014 Comments off

Changes in Tax Revenue Since 1929
Source: Tax Policy Center (Urban Institute and Brookings Institution)

This Tax Fact examines sources of federal and state & local tax revenue, from 1929 to the present. The composition of revenues at all levels of government changed dramatically with World War II, but has remained roughly stable since. At the federal level, payroll taxes have grown dramatically, and individual income taxes remain a major source of revenue. At the state and local level, sales and property taxes account for about one-third of revenues.

Will Premiums Skyrocket in 2015?

May 26, 2014 Comments off

Will Premiums Skyrocket in 2015?
Source: Urban Institute

Concerns have been raised about 2015 premium increases for marketplace insurance plans. Some are predicting sharp increases, arguing that premiums are artificially low in 2014 and that insurers will attempt to recoup any 2014 losses by increasing premiums in 2015. In this brief we argue that marketplace competition has been strong in most state marketplaces and this is likely to continue. While there are maybe some reasons to believe premiums will increase substantially, particularly in less competitive markets, there are even stronger reasons to believe premium increases will be in line with underlying cost growth rather than growing by double digits.

HAMP Modifications: Is Reset Risk an Issue?

May 20, 2014 Comments off

HAMP Modifications: Is Reset Risk an Issue?
Source: Urban Institute

Goodman and Zhu analyze whether HAMP resets are an issue and conclude reset fears are overblown. They find that the first of the resets which will occur in the fourth quarter of 2014 are likely manageable. They expect the first substantial defaults to be in 2016 and likely to accelerate in 2017. This will be short-lived, as the number of resets and hence defaults will shrink considerably in 2018 and plunge in 2019. Goodman and Zhu estimate an increase of 10% increase in the default rate, with 40-50% of affected borrowers receiving an additional modification, suggesting a 5-6% increase in defaults at the resets.

New Urban Institute Report Looks at Who Pays for Rape Exams, Finds Some Victims Face Barriers to Getting Help

May 20, 2014 Comments off

New Urban Institute Report Looks at Who Pays for Rape Exams, Finds Some Victims Face Barriers to Getting Help
Source: Urban Institute

The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 requires that sexual assault victims must not be required to file law enforcement reports in order to receive free exams. This study aimed to examine how states are meeting these goals. We found victim compensation funds are by far the largest funder of exams across the country. In the 19 jurisdictions included in case studies, victims generally received free exams without having to report if they did not want to. However, barriers to even accessing the exam prevent some victims from seeking help.

National Study of Nonprofit-Government Contracts and Grants 2013: State Profiles

May 19, 2014 Comments off

National Study of Nonprofit-Government Contracts and Grants 2013: State Profiles
Source: Urban Insitute

This compilation of state profiles from the 2013 National Survey of Nonprofit-Government Contracting and Grants, provides national and state-by-state snapshots of most types of nonprofit organizations that have contracts and grants with local, state, and federal governments. The individual state profiles are designed to document the extent of nonprofit-government contracting, processes and problems. States are also ranked according to number of grants, types of issues, and actions taken by nonprofits to address the challenges they face.

Why Not Just Eliminate the Employer Mandate?

May 14, 2014 Comments off

Why Not Just Eliminate the Employer Mandate?
Source: Urban Institute

Employers of 50 or more workers are required to provide health insurance or pay a penalty. This requirement has been delayed until 2015 for employers with 100 and more workers and until 2016 for those with 50-99 workers. But there are reports of changes in employer labor practices, such as reducing the hours of part-time workers and concerns about increasing workforce above 50 workers. In this brief we argue that the employer mandate should simply be eliminated. We show that it would not reduce insurance coverage significantly, but it would eliminate the labor market distortions that have troubled employer groups and that could have negative effects on some workers. The penalties on employers do bring in some new revenues that would have to be replaced.

When Do State and Local Pension Plans Encourage Workers to Retire?

May 9, 2014 Comments off

When Do State and Local Pension Plans Encourage Workers to Retire?
Source: Urban Institute

Traditional defined benefit pension plans that cover nearly all state and local government employees generally penalize work at older ages. In more than three-fifths of state-administered plans, employees hired at age 25 will receive lower lifetime pension benefits if they continue working after age 57 because retirement-eligible workers cannot receive benefit checks while they remain on the job. This reduction in benefits can create strong retirement incentives, which are hard to justify as the population ages and health gains and declines in physical work enable more older people to work. Well-designed public pension reforms could eliminate these work disincentives.

For Many State and Local Workers Public Pensions Offer Little Retirement Security, Urban Institute Study Shows

May 6, 2014 Comments off

For Many State and Local Workers Public Pensions Offer Little Retirement Security, Urban Institute Study Shows
Source: Urban Institute

That shiny retirement nest egg may not be so golden for the nation’s 19 million state and local government workers, an exhaustive Urban Institute analysis of 660 state-administered pension plans shows.

The plans, detailed in a unique database, are graded on how well they place short- and long-term employees on a path to retirement security; how well employee incentives help government attract and retain a productive workforce; and whether the plans set aside enough funds to finance promised benefits.

By these measures, only 1 percent of the 660 plans earned an A grade, while 11 percent had an F grade.

Fewer Marriages, More Divergence: Marriage Projections for Millennials to Age 40

May 5, 2014 Comments off

Fewer Marriages, More Divergence: Marriage Projections for Millennials to Age 40
Source: Urban Institute

Declining marriage rates suggest a growing fraction of millennials will remain unmarried through age 40. In this brief, we use data from the American Community Survey to estimate age-specific marriage rates and project the percentage of millennials who will marry by age 40 in different scenarios. We find that the percentage of millennials marrying by age 40 will fall lower thDeclining marriage rates suggest a growing fraction of millennials will remain unmarried through age 40. In this brief, we use data from the American Community Survey to estimate age-specific marriage rates and project the percentage of millennials who will marry by age 40 in different scenarios. We find that the percentage of millennials marrying by age 40 will fall lower than for any previous generation of Americans, even in a scenario where marriage rates recover considerably. Moreover, marriage patterns will continue to diverge by education and race, increasing the divides between mostly married “haves” and increasingly single “have-nots”.an for any previous generation of Americans, even in a scenario where marriage rates recover considerably. Moreover, marriage patterns will continue to diverge by education and race, increasing the divides between mostly married “haves” and increasingly single “have-nots”.

Major Surgery Needed: A Call for Structural Reform of the US Corporate Income Tax

April 21, 2014 Comments off

Major Surgery Needed: A Call for Structural Reform of the US Corporate Income Tax
Source: Urban Institute

A corporate income tax can play a useful role by preventing shareholders from deferring tax on retained corporate profits. The current U.S. corporate income tax is deeply flawed, however, because it relies on definitions of corporate residence and income sourcing that corporations can easily manipulate, causing economic distortions and erosion of the corporate tax base. Two structural reform options to address these problems are securing international agreement on better ways to allocate the corporate tax base among countries and replacing the corporate income tax with full taxation of American shareholders’ dividends and accrued capital gains on stock in publicly traded companies.

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