Joint Warfighting and Readiness: Better Oversight and Accountability Needed for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command C-12 Aircraft
Joint Warfighting and Readiness: Better Oversight and Accountability Needed for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command C-12 Aircraft
Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General
USSOCOM officials did not provide adequate oversight and accountability of the USASOC C-12 aircraft in accordance with DoD guidance. USSOCOM officials did not report the aircraft in their Operational Support Airlift inventory for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s FY 2012 review. In addition, USSOCOM officials did not make the aircraft visible for centralized scheduling. This occurred because USSOCOM, Army G-3/5/7, and USASOC officials expressed confusion about who was responsible for providing oversight and accountability of the aircraft. As a result, USASOC may be operating an underused aircraft in excess of the required Operational Support Airlift aircraft inventory. In addition, DoD is at an increased risk that misuse of the aircraft by senior officials may occur and go undetected.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Emergency Alerting: Capabilities Have Improved, but Additional Guidance and Testing Are Needed. GAO-13-375, April 24.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654136.pdf
2. Export-Import Bank: More Detailed Information about Its Jobs Calculation Methodology Could Improve Transparency. GAO-13-446, May 23.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654805.pdf
3. Defense Acquisitions: Continued Management Attention Needed to Enhance Use and Review of DOD’s Inventory of Contracted Services. GAO-13-491, May 23.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654816.pdf
4. Defense Infrastructure: Navy’s Analysis of Costs and Benefits Regarding Naval Station Mayport Demonstrated Some Best Practices and Minimally Addressed Other Requirements. GAO-13-501, May 23.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654821.pdf
NOAA presented to the U.S. Coast Guard today a new report that finds that 36 sunken vessels scattered across the U.S. seafloor could pose an oil pollution threat to the nation’s coastal marine resources. Of those, 17 were recommended for further assessment and potential removal of both fuel oil and oil cargo.
The sunken vessels are a legacy of more than a century of U.S. commerce and warfare. They include a barge lost in rough seas in 1936; two motor-powered ships that sank in separate collisions in 1947 and 1952; and a tanker that exploded and sank in 1984. The remaining sites are 13 merchant marine ships lost during World War II, primarily along the Atlantic Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico. To see a list of the ships and their locations, visit: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/protect/ppw/.
The report, part of NOAA’s Remediation of Underwater Legacy Environmental Threats (RULET) project, identifies the location and nature of potential sources of oil pollution from sunken vessels. Knowing where these vessels are helps oil response planning efforts and may help in the investigation of reported mystery spills–sightings of oil where a source is not immediately known or suspected.
Recent analysis indicates cell phone distracted driving crashes vastly under-reported
Source: National Safety Council
Today, the National Safety Council released findings from a recent analysis of national statistics on fatal motor vehicle crashes, in a report entitled, “Crashes Involving Cell Phones: Challenges of Collecting and Reporting Reliable Crash Data,” funded in part by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. The report reviewed 180 fatal crashes from 2009 to 2011, where evidence indicated driver cell phone use. Of these fatal crashes, in 2011 only 52% were coded in the national data as involving cell phone use.
Even when drivers admitted cell phone use during a fatal crash, the Council’s analysis found that in about one-half of these cases, the crash was not coded in Federal data (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatal Analysis Reporting System). In addition, there are an unknown number of cases in which cell phone use involvement in crashes is impossible to determine. One example would be a driver reading an email or text message on a phone who dies in a crash without any witnesses.
The report also brings up large differences in cell phone distraction fatal crashes reported by states. For instance, in 2011, Tennessee reported 93 fatal crashes that involved cell phone use, but New York, a state with a much larger population, reported only one. Texas reported 40, but its neighboring state Louisiana reported none.
Safety Report on Eliminating Impaired Driving
Source: National Transportation Safety Board
On May 14, 2013, the 25th anniversary of our nation’s deadliest drunk-driving crash, which killed 24 children and three adults in Carrollton, Ky., the NTSB’s five-member board voted unanimously to issue bold recommendations to help the United States reach zero and eliminate alcohol-impaired driving.
Bold steps are needed: On average, every hour, one person dies in a crash involving a drunk driver and 20 more people are injured, including three with debilitating injuries. That adds up quickly to yearly totals of nearly 10,000 deaths, 27,000 lives forever altered and another 146,000 injured.
The safety report and recommendations culminate a year-long effort by the NTSB to thoroughly examine this problem and develop a set of targeted interventions. The recommendations include:
- Reduce state BAC limits from 0.08 to 0.05 or lower
- Increase use of high-visibility enforcement
- Develop and deploy in-vehicle detection technology
- Require ignition interlocks for all offenders
- Improve use of administrative license actions
- Target and address repeat offenders
- Reinforce use and effectiveness of DWI courts
Helmet legislation and admissions to hospital for cycling related head injuries in Canadian provinces and territories: interrupted time series analysis
Source: British Medical Journal
To investigate the association between helmet legislation and admissions to hospital for cycling related head injuries among young people and adults in Canada.
Interrupted time series analysis using data from the National Trauma Registry Minimum Data Set.
Canadian provinces and territories; between 1994 and 2003, six of 10 provinces implemented helmet legislation.
All admissions (n=66 716) to acute care hospitals in Canada owing to cycling related injury between 1994 and 2008.
Main outcome measure
Rate of admissions to hospital for cycling related head injuries before and after the implementation of provincial helmet legislation.
Between 1994 and 2008, 66 716 hospital admissions were for cycling related injuries in Canada. Between 1994 and 2003, the rate of head injuries among young people decreased by 54.0% (95% confidence interval 48.2% to 59.8%) in provinces with helmet legislation compared with 33.1% (23.3% to 42.9%) in provinces and territories without legislation. Among adults, the rate of head injuries decreased by 26.0% (16.0% to 36.3%) in provinces with legislation but remained constant in provinces and territories without legislation. After taking baseline trends into consideration, however, we were unable to detect an independent effect of legislation on the rate of hospital admissions for cycling related head injuries.
Reductions in the rates of admissions to hospital for cycling related head injuries were greater in provinces with helmet legislation, but injury rates were already decreasing before the implementation of legislation and the rate of decline was not appreciably altered on introduction of legislation. While helmets reduce the risk of head injuries and we encourage their use, in the Canadian context of existing safety campaigns, improvements to the cycling infrastructure, and the passive uptake of helmets, the incremental contribution of provincial helmet legislation to reduce hospital admissions for head injuries seems to have been minimal.
See: Benefit of Cycle Helmet Laws to Reduce Head Injuries Still Uncertain (Science Daily)
New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Climate Change: Future Federal Adaptation Efforts Could Better Support Local Infrastructure Decision Makers. GAO-13-242, April 12.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653740.pdf
2. Data Center Consolidation: Strengthened Oversight Needed to Achieve Cost Savings Goal. GAO-13-378, April 23.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654091.pdf
3. Defense Infrastructure: Communities Need Additional Guidance and Information to Improve Their Ability to Adjust to DOD Installation Closure or Growth. GAO-13-436, May 14.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654598.pdf
1. Data Center Consolidation: Strengthened Oversight Needed to Achieve Billions of Dollars in Savings, by David A. Powner, director, information technology management issues, before the Subcommittee on Government Operations, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-13-627T, May 14.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654606.pdf
Source: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College
Increased reliance on the Internet and other networked systems raise the risks of cyber attacks that could harm our nation’s cyber infrastructure. The cyber infrastructure encompasses a number of sectors including: the nation’s mass transit and other transportation systems; banking and financial systems; factories; energy systems and the electric power grid; and telecommunications, which increasingly rely on a complex array of computer networks, including the public Internet. However, many of these systems and networks were not built and designed with security in mind. Therefore, our cyber infrastructure contains many holes, risks, and vulnerabilities that may enable an attacker to cause damage or disrupt cyber infrastructure operations. Threats to cyber infrastructure safety and security come from hackers, terrorists, criminal groups, and sophisticated organized crime groups; even nation-states and foreign intelligence services conduct cyber warfare. Cyber attackers can introduce new viruses, worms, and bots capable of defeating many of our efforts. Costs to the economy from these threats are huge and increasing. Government, business, and academia must therefore work together to understand the threat and develop various modes of fighting cyber attacks, and to establish and enhance a framework to assess the vulnerability of our cyber infrastructure and provide strategic policy directions for the protection of such an infrastructure. This book addresses such questions as: How serious is the cyber threat? What technical and policy-based approaches are best suited to securing telecommunications networks and information systems infrastructure security? What role will government and the private sector play in homeland defense against cyber attacks on critical civilian infrastructure, financial, and logistical systems? What legal impediments exist concerning efforts to defend the nation against cyber attacks, especially in preventive, preemptive, and retaliatory actions?
See also: Cyber Infrastructure Protection (2011)
INRIX Traffic Scorecard Reports U.S. Congestion on the Rise in 2013 Following Two Years of Double-Digit Declines
INRIX, a leading international provider of traffic information and driver services, today released its sixth Traffic Scorecard Annual Report, which revealed that traffic congestion is back on the rise in 2013 after two consecutive years of declines. In the first three months of this year, traffic congestion is up 4 percent compared to 2012. This suggests that after a tumultuous economic year in 2012, the economy is back on the mend bringing increased traffic congestion.
The uptick in traffic congestion in 2013 follows a 22 percent decrease in 2012. The “stop n go” nature of the results indicate an overall economic climate that has not yet returned to pre-recession levels in many areas, including total jobs and unemployment rates.
Source: Transportation Research Board
TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis 442: Practices and Performance Measures for Local Public Agency Federally Funded Highway Projects explores what performance measures, delivery practices, strategies, and tools are currently used in relation to federally-funded local public agency (LPA) highway project development and delivery, and how they are used to measure success in project administration.
2012 Border Crossing/Entry Data
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics
The number of commercial truck crossings into the United States from Canada and Mexico was 10.7 million in 2012, 3.6 percent more than in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration. That 2012 increase follows a 1.7 percent rise from 2010 to 2011 after four years of decline from 2005 to 2009, a period that includes the recent recession. The truck-crossing numbers are included in the 2012 border-crossing data posted today on the BTS website. Collection of border-crossing data was begun in response to implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. The data allow tracking of cross-border traffic and are used for transportation planning, port studies, travel analyses, and corridor assessments. The database also includes numbers of incoming trains, buses, containers, personal vehicles, and pedestrians entering the United States through land ports and ferry crossings on the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico border. The database shows that 156 million people crossed into the U.S. from Mexico in personal vehicles or as pedestrians in 2012, a 3.5 percent increase from 2011. Also, 62.4 million people entered the U.S. from Canada in personal vehicles or as pedestrians in 2012, a 4.7 percent increase from 2011. Border crossing/entry data from 1995 to 2012 can be found on the BTS website.
Source: University of Toronto
We investigate the determinants of driving speed in large us cities. We ﬁrst estimate city level supply functions for travel in an econometric framework where both the supply and demand for travel are explicit. These estimations allow us to calculate a city level index of driving speed and to rank cities by driving speed. Our investigation of the determinants of speed provide the foundations for a welfare analysis. This analysis suggests that large gains in speed may be possible if slow cities can emulate fast cities and that the deadweight losses from congestion are sizeable.
See: A Need for Speed: Why Building More Roads Won’t Conquer Gridlock (Knowledge@Wharton)
Voice-To-Text Apps Offer No Driving Safety Benefit; As With Manual Texting, Reaction Times Double
Source: Texas Transportation Institute
Texting drivers may believe they’re being more careful when they use the voice-to-text method, but new research findings suggest that those applications offer no real safety advantage over manual texting.
The study was sponsored by the Southwest Region University Transportation Center and conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). SWUTC is a part of the University Transportation Centers Program, which is a federally-funded program administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration.
The study is the first of its kind, as it is based on the performance of 43 research participants driving an actual vehicle on a closed course. Other research efforts have evaluated manual versus voice-activated tasks using devices installed in a vehicle, but the TTI analysis is the first to compare voice-to-text and manual texting on a handheld device in an actual driving environment.
Drivers first navigated the course without any use of cell phones. Each driver then traveled the course three more times performing a series of texting exercises – once using each of two voice-to-text applications (Siri® for the iPhone and Vlingo® for Android), and once texting manually. Researchers then measured the time it took each driver to complete the tasks, and also noted how long it took for the drivers to respond to a light which came on at random intervals during the exercises.
Major findings from the study included:
- Driver response times were significantly delayed no matter which texting method was used. In each case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren’t texting. With slower reaction times, drivers are less able to take action in response to sudden roadway hazards, such as a swerving vehicle or a pedestrian in the street.
- The amount of time that drivers spent looking at the roadway ahead was significantly less when they were texting, no matter which texting method was used.
- For most tasks, manual texting required slightly less time than the voice-to-text method, but driver performance was roughly the same with both.
- Drivers felt less safe when they were texting, but felt safer when using a voice-to-text application than when texting manually, even though driving performance suffered equally with both methods.
Source: Governors Highway Safety Association
In early 2013, GHSA asked its member state highway safety offices to provide their preliminary motorcyclist fatality counts for 2012, as they had done the prior three years. All 50 states and the District of Columbia supplied data. Some states suggested why their numbers had increased or decreased.
Based upon the preliminary data provided, GHSA projects that the number of motorcyclist traffic fatalities in the United States increased about 9 percent from 2011 to 2012.
The report points out that the economy is expected to contribute to more motorcyclist fatalities. With people having more disposable income, more motorcycles will be purchased. At the same time, with the relative high price of gasoline, more people will choose motorcycles to save fuel costs.
It also recommends several proven countermeasures that can help cut the number of motorcycle fatalities on our nation’s roadways.
Source: United Nations Environmental Programme
Building upon previous work of the International Resource Panel on Decoupling Natural Resource Use and Environmental Impacts from Economic Growth, this report examines the potential for decoupling at the city level. While the majority of the world’s population now live in cities and cities are where most resource consumption takes place, both the pressures and potentials to find ways to reconcile economic growth, wellbeing and the sustainable use of natural resources will therefore be greatest in cities.
Analysing the role of cities as spatial nodes where the major resource flows connect as goods, services and wastes, the report ‘s focus is how infrastructure directs material flows and therefore resource use, productivity and efficiency in an urban context. It makes the case for examining cities from a material flow perspective, while also placing the city within the broader system of flows that make it possible for it to function.
The report also highlights the way that the design, construction and operation of energy, waste, water, sanitation and transport infrastructures create a socio-technical environment that shapes the “way of life” of citizens and how they procure, use and dispose of the resources they require. Its approach is innovative in that it frames infrastructure networks as socio-technical systems, examining pressures for change within cities that go beyond technical considerations. The importance of intermediaries as the dominant agents for change is emphasized, as well as the fact that social processes and dynamics need to be understood and integrated into any assessment of urban infrastructure interventions and the reconfiguration of resource flows.
A set of 30 case studies provide examples of innovative approaches to sustainable infrastructure change across a broad range of urban contexts that could inspire leaders of other cities to embrace similar creative solutions. Of course, innovations in and of themselves do not suffice if they are not integrated into larger strategic visions for the city, and as each city is unique, interventions need to be tailored to the set of challenges and opportunities present in each case.
Observed Customer Seating and Standing Behaviors and 2 Seat Preferences Onboard Subway Cars in New York City
Source: Transportation Research Board
Using an observational sampling methodology, this study explores seat occupancy patterns found in New York City subway cars under non-crowded conditions based on special attributes of otherwise highly homogenous plastic bench seats. Onboard seating patterns, measured as relative seat occupancy probabilities, are explained in terms of interactions between railcar design, layout, customer preferences, and resulting behaviours. Prior research has generally focused on passengers distribution between cars within long trains, or desirability of attributes common to all seats, rather than passengers seating patterns within a single car. Results, based on seating- and standing-room occupancy statistics, show customers have a clear preference for seats adjacent to doors, no real preference for seats adjacent to support stanchions, and disdain for bench spots between two other seats. On cars featuring transverse seating, customers prefer window seats, but have almost equal preference for backward- or forward-facing seats. No gender bias was detected amongst all seated passengers, but as load factor increased, men have higher probabilities of being standees compared to women. 90% seat utilization is only achieved at 120% load factor; furthermore, standing customers strongly prefer to crowd vestibule areas between doors (particularly in cars with symmetric door arrangements), and hold These findings are consistent with published anecdotes. Future cars should be designed with asymmetric doors, 2+2+2 partitioned longitudinal seats, and no stanchions or partitions near doorways. Further research should be conducted in commuter rail vehicles with suburban layouts, booth seating, and also other cities’ subways, to further understand customer seating preferences.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Student loans have soared in popularity over the past decade, with the aggregate student loan balance, as measured in the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel, reaching $966 billion at the end of 2012. Student debt now exceeds aggregate auto loan, credit card, and home-equity debt balances—making student loans the second largest debt of U.S. households, following mortgages. Student loans provide critical access to schooling, given the challenge presented by increasing costs of higher education and rising returns to a degree. Nevertheless, some have questioned how taking on extensive debt early in life has affected young workers’ post-schooling economic activity.
To address this issue, we examine trends in homeownership, auto debt, and total borrowing at standard ages of entry into the housing and vehicle markets for U.S. workers.
As seen in the chart below, the share of twenty-five-year-olds with student debt has increased from just 25 percent in 2003 to 43 percent in 2012. Further, the average student loan balance among those twenty-five-year-olds with student debt grew by 91 percent over the period, from $10,649 in 2003 to $20,326 in 2012. Student loan delinquencies have also been growing…