Nursing Home Compare

Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, December 2008

From the press release:
For the first time in history, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today released quality ratings for each of the nation’s 15,800 nursing homes that participate in Medicare or Medicaid.

Consulting with a panel of experts from academia, patient advocacy and nursing home provider groups, CMS developed the rating system based on each nursing home’s performance in three critical areas:

* Health inspection surveys. Each year state and federal surveyors conduct about 15,800 on-site, comprehensive assessments of each nursing home’s health care services and compliance with federal/state rules. These surveys are designed to help protect the health and safety of residents, including resident’s rights and general quality of life. Surveyors also conduct about 50,000 complaint investigations each year. Information from the most recent three years of survey findings were used to develop the ratings.
* Quality measures. The quality rating system uses 10 key quality measures out of the 19 that can be found on the Nursing Home Compare Web site. Areas examined include the percent of at-risk residents who have pressure ulcers (bed sores) after their first 90 days in the nursing home, the number of residents whose mobility worsened after admission, and whether residents received the proper medical care.
* Staffing information. There is strong evidence that low staffing levels can comprise the level of patient care in a nursing home and is considered an important indicator of quality. This measure reports the number of hours of nursing and other staff care per patient per day. This measure is adjusted to account for the level of illness and services required by each facility’s residents.

Caregiver Training in America and Southern California: Results of a National Review

Source: Caregiving Project for Older Americans, 2008

From the summary:
Who are the professional, in-home caregivers of older Americans and how are they trained? This report presents findings of a national review–or environmental scan–of caregiver training programs and curricula, conducted by the International Longevity Center (ILC) as an initiative of the Caregiving Project for Older Americans, a joint project of the ILC and the Schmieding Center for Senior Health and Education.While the review is national in scope, special emphasis is placed on Los Angeles and Orange Counties in Southern California, two of the most diverse and populous areas in the country.

Searching for Answers: Networks of Practice Among Public Administrators

Source: Maria Binz-Scharf, David Lazer, Ines A. Mergel, HKS Working Paper No. RWP08-046, October 2, 2008

From the abstract:
The obstacles to innovation in government have been the subject of much academic scrutiny. Far less studied, however, has been the sharing of innovation among public administrators. How does a lesson learned, for example, in one agency provide insights that other agencies might borrow? Such sharing of experiences across agency boundaries, while at times potentially offering enormous value to the system as a whole, faces substantial challenges. In the US, one fundamental challenge is the natural dispersion of government across the country, within state and local government. We examine the alternative mechanisms that evolve within the public sector to compensate for this dispersion of expertise. In particular, we argue that the knowledge sharing practices of DNA forensic scientists working in government crime labs constitute such an alternative mechanism. Findings from an in-depth case study of this community suggest that concerns around trust, reliability, and cost, interacting with context specific features, result in the emergence of a network of practice that is fairly parochial, with a few dominant hubs, and a reliance on different channels depending on the needs for security in communication. We conclude by discussing the theoretical and practical implications of our findings.

Estimating State and Local Government Pension and Retiree Health Care Liabilities

Source: Stephen T. McElhaney, Pension Resarch Council, WP2008-22, October 2008
(registration required)

Liabilities for pension and retiree health-care benefits provided by U.S. state and local governments are causing concerns for taxpayers and for those holding government bonds. Many question whether the methodology used to calculate these liabilities is appropriate, since the private sector calculates retirement system liabilities using different methods and assumptions. This chapter reviews and critiques current actuarial and accounting standards under which governmental retiree liabilities are calculated and compares and contrasts these standards to those used by private-sector employers.

Benefit Cost Comparisons Between State and Local Governments and Private Industry Employers

Source: Ken McDonnell, Pension Research Council, WP2008-21, October 2008

It is often argued that compensation patterns for public sector employees are higher than in the private sector. This chapter examines some of the reasons for the observed differences in total compensation costs between US state and local government employers and private industry employers. We examine compensation costs by industry, occupation, union status, and employee benefit participation.

Ready to Assemble: A Model State Higher Education Accountability System

Source: Kevin Carey and Chad Aldeman, Education Sector, December 2008

From the press release:
New report describes the current condition of state higher education accountability and provides a set of guidelines for designing a model system.

Today’s colleges and universities are plagued by a host of problems: low graduation rates, high tuition rates, and poor student performance. But higher education has surprisingly few incentives to address these problems and to provide an affordable, high-quality education to all students. Funding is based on how many students enroll, not how many graduate. Prestige is tied to how smart students are when they begin as freshmen, not how much they learn before they leave. As a result, policymakers who want to fix the problems of American higher education need to create stronger accountability systems.

Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2007, and Salaries of Full-Time Instructional Faculty, 2007-08

Source: Laura G. Knapp, Janice E. Kelly-Reid, Scott A. Ginder, U.S. Department of Education, NCES 2009-154, December 2008

This report presents information from the Winter 2007-08 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) web-based data collection. Tabulations represent data requested from all postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV federal student financial aid programs. The tables in this publication include data on the number of staff employed in Title IV postsecondary institutions in fall 2007 by primary function/occupational activity, length of contract/teaching period, employment status, salary class interval, faculty and tenure status, academic rank, race/ethnicity, and gender. Also included are tables on the number of full-time instructional faculty employed in Title IV postsecondary institutions in 2007-08 by length of contract/teaching period, academic rank, gender, and average salaries.

2009 National Report Card on the State of Emergency Medicine

Source: American College of Emergency Physicians, 2008

The 2009 National Report Card on the State of Emergency Medicine provides a comprehensive look at state support of emergency care systems.

The National Report Card on the State of Emergency Medicine assesses the support that each state and the District of Columbia provides for their emergency care systems. A wake-up call for policymakers, the report underscores the challenges facing patients who need emergency care and recognizes efforts to address these needs. This report should motivate state and national policy support for improving emergency care systems. With a financial crisis and failing health care system, never before has the emergency department been more vital to everyone.

University Tuition, Consumer Choice and College Affordability

Source: NASULGC Discussion Paper, November 2008

This purpose of this paper is to promote a discussion, especially within the public research university community, about tuition, the relationship of tuition to cost and program quality, the nature of university funding, and the prospects for controlling both tuition increases and program quality in the future.
See also:
Presentation slides

APWA Identifies $15B in “Shovel-ready” Projects

Source: American Public Works Association, December 2008

A survey by the American Public Works Association identified more than 3,600 unfunded local public works infrastructure projects totaling more than $15 billion that are ready to go within 90 days to provide a stimulative effect on the economy if funded by a federal economic recovery package under consideration by Congress. Funding these projects, just a sample of the identified local need, would generate approximately 532,794 jobs.