Russian Political, Economic, and Security Issues and U.S. Interests (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
Russia made uneven progress in democratization during the 1990s, but this limited progress was reversed after Vladimir Putin rose to power in 1999-2000, according to many observers. During this period, the State Duma (lower legislative chamber) became dominated by governmentapproved parties, gubernatorial elections were abolished, and the government consolidated ownership or control over major media and industries, including the energy sector. The Putin government showed low regard for the rule of law and human rights in suppressing insurgency in the North Caucasus, according to critics. Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s longtime protégé, was elected president in 2008; President Medvedev immediately designated Putin as prime minister and continued Putin’s policies. In August 2008, the Medvedev-Putin “tandem” directed military operations against Georgia and recognized the independence of Georgia’s separatist South Ossetia and Abkhazia, actions condemned by most of the international community. In late 2011, Putin announced that he would return to the presidency and Medvedev would become prime minister. This announcement, and flawed Duma elections at the end of the year, spurred popular protests, which the government addressed by launching a few reforms and holding pro-Putin rallies. In March 2012, Putin was (re)elected president by a wide margin. The day after Putin’s inauguration in May 2012, the legislature confirmed Medvedev as prime minister. Since then, Putin has tightened restrictions on freedom of assembly and other human rights.\
Framing Surface Transportation Research for the Nation’s Future
Source: Transportation Research Board
TRB has released the final version of Special Report 313: Framing Surface Transportation Research for the Nation’s Future explores opportunities for improving the productivity of U.S. expenditures on surface transportation research by building on lessons learned from the strategic approach to developing priorities and investing in transportation research in other countries and nontransportation sectors in the United States.
Despite major progress in U.S. transportation systems and services, particularly since the 1950s and 1960s, further improvements are needed if the nation is to continue competing effectively in the global marketplace and enhancing its inhabitants’ quality of life. Research is expected to play a major role in addressing the challenges facing U.S. surface transportation.
According to the committee that produced the report, the timely development of a new national research framework that engages the public, private, academic, and nonprofit sectors and draws on the nation’s research capacity in academia, industry, and elsewhere is needed.
Who Are the Customers for Intelligence?
Source: Association of Former Intelligence Officers
Who uses intelligence and why? The short answer is almost everyone and to gain an advantage. While nation-states are most closely identified with intelligence, private corporations and criminal entities also invest in gathering and analyzing information to advance their goals.
There are four communities that use intelligence: the national security community, the homeland security community, the law enforcement community, and the private sector.
2013 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions & Performance
Source: Federal Highway Administration
From Executive Summary:
This edition of the C&P report is based primarily on data through the year 2010; consequently, the system conditions and performance measures presented should reflect effects of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), which authorized Federal highway and transit funding for Federal fiscal years 2005 through 2009 (and extended through fiscal year 2012), as well as some of the impact of the funding authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). None of the impact of funding authorized under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) is reflected. In assessing recent trends, this report generally focuses on the 10-year period from 2000 to 2010. The prospective analyses generally cover the 20-year period ending in 2030; the investment levels associated with these scenarios are stated in constant 2010 dollars.
In 2010, all levels of government spent a combined $205.3 billion for highway-related purposes, of which $11.9 billion was a direct impact of the Recovery Act. All levels of government spent a combined $54.3 billion for transit-related purposes, including $2.4 billion of expenditures supported by one-time funding under the Recovery Act.
The average annual capital investment level needed to maintain the conditions and performance of highways and bridges at 2010 levels through the year 2030 is projected to range from $65.3 billion to $86.3 billion per year, depending on the future rate of growth in vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Improving the conditions and performance of highways and bridges by implementing all cost-beneficial investments would cost an estimated $123.7 billion to $145.9 billion per year. (Note that these projections are much lower than those presented in the 2010 C&P report, driven in part by an 18 percent reduction in highway construction prices between 2008 and 2010). In 2010, all levels of government spent a combined $100.2 billion for capital improvements to highways and bridges.
Small Business Management and Technical Assistance Training Programs (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Women Impacting Public Policy)
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has provided technical and managerial assistance “to small-business concerns, by advising and counseling on matters in connection with government procurement and on policies, principles and practices of good management” since it began operations in 1953. Initially, the SBA provided its own small business management and technical assistance training programs. Over time, the SBA has relied increasingly on third parties to provide that training.
Congressional interest in the SBA’s management and technical assistance training programs has increased in recent years, primarily because these programs are viewed as a means to assist small businesses in creating and retaining jobs. The SBA will spend $185.915 million on these programs in FY2014.
These programs fund about “14,000 resource partners,” including 63 lead small business development centers (SBDCs) and more than 900 SBDC local outreach locations, 108 women’s business centers (WBCs), and 354 chapters of the mentoring program, SCORE. The SBA reports that more than 1 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners receive training from an SBA-supported resource partner each year. The SBA argues that these programs contribute “to the long-term success of these businesses and their ability to grow and create jobs.”
Global Undiscovered Copper Resources Estimated at 3.5 Billion Metric Tons
Source: U.S. Geological Survey
The first-ever, geologically-based global assessment of undiscovered copper resources estimates that 3.5 billion metric tons of copper may exist worldwide. The U.S. Geological Survey outlined 225 areas for undiscovered copper in 11 regions of the world. The amount of undiscovered global copper estimated by the USGS would be enough to satisfy current world demand for more than 150 years.
According to the assessment, South America is the dominant source for both identified and undiscovered copper resources. Particularly important, several regions of Asia including China have a large potential for undiscovered copper resources.
Federal, State and Local Government Employment Down from Previous Year to 22 Million Jobs in 2012
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
There were 22.0 million total federal, state and local government employees in the U.S. in March 2012 (including part-time employees), down 115,733 or 0.5 percent from March 2011, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The number of federal government employees declined 2.2 percent from 2011 to 2.8 million in 2012, and the number of state government employees declined 0.5 percent from 2011 to 5.3 million in 2012. There were 14.0 million local government employees in 2012, which is not a statistically significant change from 2011.
These numbers come from the 2012 Census of Governments: Employment data, which provides a comprehensive look at the employment of the nation’s more than 90,000 state and local governments, as well as the federal government. The Census of Governments: Employment and its counterpart (the Annual Survey of Public Employment & Payroll) are the only data sources that specify employment by government function for state and local governments; some of these functions include transit, solid waste management and parks and recreation. It shows the number of government civilian employees and their gross payrolls by government function for the month of March.