Author Archives: Info Center

Survey Finds U.S. Healthcare Facilities Not Doing Enough to Curb MRSA

Source: Association for Professionals in Infection Control (APIC)

From press release (Consumers Union):
U.S. healthcare facilities aren’t doing enough to protect patients from Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, according to a new poll of infection control professionals released today.
The online poll conducted by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control (APIC) found that 59 percent of those responding said their healthcare facility has stepped up efforts to curb MRSA in the past six months. But 50 percent said their healthcare facility is “not doing as much as it could or should to stop the transmission of MRSA.”

Poll results (PDF; 92 KB)

2007-08 Holiday Season Shows Employers Demonstrating Unprecedented Generosity to Workers in the Form of Parties and Paid Leave, While External Charitable Giving Drops

Source: BNA

Employers are expressing gratitude in the form of more holiday parties and paid leave, while participation in charitable activities has dropped substantially from 2006 and 2005. Gift items are becoming rare, as cash and bonuses have replaced the traditional holiday turkey.

For more than two decades, BNA’s Year-End Holiday Practices Survey has offered an annual snapshot of companies’ plans for marking the year’s end and recognizing employees’ contributions with benefits like paid time off, special holiday work schedules, holiday parties and celebrations, employee gifts and bonuses, and holiday charity. This year’s results are based on the responses of human resources executives representing 210 U.S. employers.

Survey highlights include:
* Companywide holiday parties are enjoying unprecedented popularity and employer spending appears to be rising. Two-thirds of employers will sponsor a holiday party, tying the record set last year. Most employers will pay the full cost of these parties without contributions from workers.
* Fewer employers will be participating in charitable activities. Fifty-eight percent of all employers plan to be involved in community activities, such as toy, food or clothing drives. This continues a trend that saw a drop from 72 percent in 2004 and 2005 to 66 percent in 2006.

Preparing for an Influenza Pandemic: Personal Protective Equipment for Healthcare Workers

Source: Institute of Medicine/National Academies Press

From press release:
During an influenza pandemic, healthcare workers will be on the front lines delivering care to patients and preventing further spread of the disease. Protecting the more than 13 million healthcare workers in the United States from illness or from infecting their families or the patients in their care is critical to limiting morbidity and mortality and preventing progression of a pandemic. The National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to conduct a study on the personal protective equipment (PPE) (respirators, gloves, gowns, eye protection, and other equipment) needed by healthcare workers in the event of an influenza pandemic.

The IOM committee determined that there is an urgent need to address the lack of preparedness regarding effective PPE for use in an influenza pandemic. Three critical areas were identified that require expeditious research and policy action: (1) Influenza transmission research should become an immediate and short-term research priority so that effective prevention and control strategies can be developed and refined. The current paucity of knowledge significantly hinders prevention efforts. (2) Employer and employee commitment to worker safety and appropriate use of PPE should be strengthened. Healthcare facilities should establish and promote a culture of safety. (3) An integrated effort is needed to understand the PPE requirements of the worker and to develop and utilize innovative materials and technologies to create the next generation of PPE capable of meeting these needs. Increasing the use of field testing in the pre-market phase and conducting thorough postmarketing evaluations are vital to producing effective equipment, as is the creation of rigorous federal regulatory and testing requirements. The committee believes that improvements can be made so that healthcare workers will have PPE that provides protection against influenza transmission based on a rigorous risk assessment with solid scientific evidence. The recommendations provided in this report are intended to serve as a framework and catalyst for a national PPE action plan that is an integral part of the overall national plan for an influenza pandemic.

Read online.

Probation and Parole in the United States, 2006

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

From press release:
This report presents the number of persons on probation and parole at yearend 2006, by State, and compares the national totals to counts for yearend 1995 and 2000 through 2005. The report provides State-level probation and parole supervision rates at yearend 2006 and the percentage change in each population during the year. It presents probation and parole entries and exits, by State, and it provides national and State-level data on parole revocations. The Bulletin also includes a national description of the race, gender, and offense composition of these populations.
Highlights include the following:
• The number of adult men and women in the United States who were being supervised on probation or parole at the end of 2006 reached 5,035,225. In 2006 the combined probation and parole populations grew by 1.8% or 87,852 persons.
• More than 8 in 10 offenders under community supervision were on probation at yearend 2006. During 2006 the probation population grew by 1.7% which represented an increase of 70,266 probationers.
• At yearend 2006 a total of 798,202 adult men and women were on parole or mandatory conditional release following a prison term. The population grew by 17,586 parolees during the year or 2.3%.

Full report (PDF; 243 KB)

State Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Comparison and Analysis

Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

Three primary variables drive a state’s human-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emission levels: population, per capita income, and the GHG emissions intensity. GHG emissions intensity is a performance measure. In this report, GHG intensity is a measure of GHG emissions from sources within a state compared with a state’s economic output (gross state product, GSP). The GHG emissions intensity driver stands apart as the main target for climate change mitigation policy, because public policy generally considers population and income growth to be socially positive. The intensity of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions largely determines overall GHG intensity, because CO2 emissions account for 85% of the GHG emissions in the United States. As 98% of U.S. CO2 emissions are energy-related, the primary factors that shape CO2 emissions intensity are a state’s energy intensity and the carbon content of its energy use.

Energy intensity measures the amount of energy a state uses to generate its overall economic output (measured by its GSP). Several underlying factors may impact a state’s energy intensity: a state’s economic structure, personal transportation use in a state (measured in vehicle miles traveled per person), and public policies regarding energy efficiency.

The carbon content of energy use in a state is determined by a state’s portfolio of energy sources. States that utilize a high percentage of coal, for example, will have a relatively high carbon content of energy use, compared to states with a lower dependence on coal. An additional factor is whether a state is a net exporter or importer of electricity, because CO2 emissions are attributed to electricity-producing states, but the electricity is used (and counted) in the consuming state.

Full report (PDF; 197 KB)

Improving Correctional Officer Safety: Reducing Inmate Weapons

Source: U.S. Department of Justice/Office of Justice Programs

Our communications with prison facility personnel had one message in common: they are always on the lookout for homemade weapons and for materials that can be made into weapons. Our results provide guidance for identifying materials and/or objects that should be redesigned so they cannot be modified to inflict injury. In particular, objects such as razors and padlocks that are issued to inmates or purchased from the commissary deserve special attention because prisons have some control over the design and choice of such items. Further research such as that being conducted at the Applied Physics Laboratory should prove useful in eliminating materials that can be modified into weapons.

Full report (PDF; 1.2 MB)

The Impact of Unauthorized Immigrants on the Budgets of State and Local Governments

Source: Congressional Budget Office

In preparing its analysis, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reviewed 29 reports published over the past 15 years that attempted to evaluate the impact of unauthorized immigrants on the budgets of state and local governments. (See the bibliography for a complete list of those reports.) CBO did not assess the data underlying those estimates or the validity of the models used to prepare them. The estimates — whether from formal studies, analyses of data on particular topics, or less-formal inquiry — show considerable consensus regarding the overall impact of unauthorized immigrants on state and local budgets. However, the scope and analytical methods of the studies vary, and the reports do not provide detailed or consistent enough data to allow for a reliable assessment of the aggregate national effect of unauthorized immigrants on state and local budgets…. After reviewing the estimates, CBO drew the following conclusions:
+ State and local governments incur costs for providing services to unauthorized immigrants and have limited options for avoiding or minimizing those costs.
+ The amount that state and local governments spend on services for unauthorized immigrants represents a small percentage of the total amount spent by those governments to provide such services to residents in their jurisdictions.
+ The tax revenues that unauthorized immigrants generate for state and local governments do not offset the total cost of services provided to those immigrants.
+ Federal aid programs offer resources to state and local governments that provide services to unauthorized immigrants, but those funds do not fully cover the costs incurred by those governments.

Full report (PDF; 318 KB)

One in Every 31 U.S. Adults Was in a Prison or Jail or on Probation or Parole at the End of Last Year

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

From press release:
The U.S. adult correctional population — incarcerated or in the community — reached 7.2 million men and women, an increase of 159,500 during the year, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today in a new report. About 3.2 percent of the U.S. adult population, or 1 in every 31 adults, was in the nation’s prisons or jails or on probation or parole at the end of 2006.

The number of men and women who were being supervised on probation or parole in the United States at year-end 2006 reached 5 million for the first time, an increase of 87,852 (or 1.8 percent) during the year. A separate study found that on December 31, 2006, there were 1,570,861 inmates under state and federal jurisdiction, an increase of 42,932 (or 2.8 percent) in 2006.

Prisoners in 2006

Full Report (PDF; 306 KB)

Homeland Security for Sale – DHS: Five Years of Mismanagement

Source: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

From press release:
Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a new report entitled Homeland Security for Sale – DHS: Five Years of Mismanagement (PDF; 6.9 MB), an accompanying website, www.homelandsecurityforsale.org and a video created and produced by Brave New Foundation. The report and video document the past five years of the agency’s most serious problems and troubling practices.

Every day, the American people read new stories about DHS and its gross overruns on projects, the worst employee morale in the federal government, the inoperability of information technology, our exposure to cyber-terrorism or FEMA’s fake press conference. CREW is releasing its report to hold those who run the agency accountable for its massive failures and to spark a public debate about how DHS can and must be improved in the next administration.

In its report, CREW details billions of dollars in waste and mismanagement of taxpayer dollars, for example:
• $24 billion has been spent, and at least $178 million wasted, on the failed Coast Guard Deepwater program;
• over $600 million has been allocated for unworkable radiation border scanners;
• $1.3 billion has been lost on the US-VISIT program, which was never fully implemented and
• projected $2 billion loss on the SBInet “virtual fence” border program.

States Beginning to Experience Tighter Fiscal Conditions According to Latest Report

Source: National Governors Association/National Association of State Budget Officers

From press release:
Although states experienced stable finances in 2007, overall revenue growth has slowed and tighter fiscal conditions are expected in 2008, according to the National Governors Association (NGA) and the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO).

In a report released today, The Fiscal Survey of States (PDF; 649 KB), NGA and NASBO found that while most states experienced healthy revenue growth during fiscal 2007, some states already have seen significant deterioration of their fiscal conditions and expect revenue and expenditure growth to slow significantly in fiscal 2008. States expect continued expenditure pressures from a variety of sources, including increased funding demands related to health care and Medicaid and to long-term challenges such as demographic shifts, employee pensions and infrastructure. In addition, most states will feel the pinch of the nation’s weakening housing market, both directly from lower sales tax revenues and indirectly as local governments struggle with declining property values and decreasing property tax revenues.