Agency Accountability Report: Fiscal Year 2006-2007

Source: South Carolina Department of Corrections, 2007

Performance of and outcomes associated with the South Carolina Department of Corrections are reported, partially through the use of performance measures. Sections of this document are: executive summary; organizational profile — base budget expenditures and major program areas; elements of the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for agency accountability — leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, measurement, analysis, and knowledge management, workforce resources, process management; and results — customer satisfaction, mission accomplishment, financial performance, human resources results, and regulatory/legal compliance and community support.

Military Personnel: Improvements Needed to Increase Effectiveness of DOD’s Programs to Promote Positive Working Relationships between Reservists and Their Employers

Source: Government Accountability Office, GAO-08-981R, August 15, 2008

Since September 11, 2001, the Department of Defense (DOD) has relied on more than 650,000 members of the National Guard and Reserve to support operations at home and abroad. As demobilized reservists return to civilian life and their civilian employment, the difficulties some face in maintaining positive working relationships with their employers is an area of interest. Maintaining employers’ continued support for their reservist employees will be critical if DOD is to retain experienced reservists in these times of longer and more frequent deployments.

Subject: Superfund: Funding and Reported Costs of Enforcement and Administration

Source: Government Accountability Office, GAO-08-841R, July 18, 2008

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that one in four Americans lives within 3 miles of a hazardous waste site. To clean up these highly contaminated sites, the Congress established the Superfund program under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) in 1980. EPA, the principal agency responsible for administering the Superfund program, has since identified more than 47,000 hazardous waste sites potentially requiring cleanup actions and has placed some of the most seriously contaminated sites on its National Priorities List (NPL). Through the end of fiscal year 2007, EPA had classified 1,569 sites as NPL sites.

A Rocky Transition to a New Transportation Finance Regime

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice, Tax Justice Digest, August 15, 2008

A number of states are considering funding transportation infrastructure with “direct pricing” on the use of roads — e.g. by increasing the prevalence of tolling and instituting taxes on “vehicle miles traveled”. If coupled with relief for low-income drivers, direct pricing has the potential to adequately and fairly fund transportation while at the same time creating incentives to reduce driving and its corresponding ills (e.g. traffic congestion, environmental damage, and excessive wear-and-tear on the roads). But a new development in the already drawn-out debate over Pennsylvania’s plan to institute “direct pricing” (i.e. tolls) on its Interstate 80 highlights some serious equity issues involved in making the transition to this form of transportation finance.

Regulating Unions and Collective Bargaining

Source: Kenneth Glenn Dau-Schmidt, Labor And Employment Law And Economics, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2008

From the abstract:
This article is a chapter for the forthcoming volume edited by Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, Seth D. Harris and Orly Lobel, “Labor and Employment Law and Economics” Edward Elgar Publishing (2008).

In this chapter, we present an outline of the economic analysis of the regulation of unions and collective bargaining. We begin with the simple model of the market for union services and analyze regulations that may increase or decrease either the demand or supply for union representation. In this way we provide an economic basis for evaluating government policies such as a prohibition on yellow dog contracts, a prohibition on discriminatory discharges, right to work laws and card check procedures for selecting a union, which may influence the demand and supply for union services and accordingly union density in the economy. Next we present simple expositions of the primary models of the impact of unions on wages and employment, including the monopoly model, the efficient contract or collective voice model and the median voter model. These models provide the basic framework for analyzing the impact of collective bargaining on equity, efficiency and voice. Finally, we discuss the concept of bargaining power and present two simple models of collective bargaining that depict the problem of strikes alternatively as a function of imperfect information and strategic behavior. These models provide a basis for evaluating government policies that are designed to change the relative bargaining power of labor and management such as allowing permanent replacements, allowing offensive lock-outs and allowing or prohibiting secondary boycotts. These models also allow us to evaluate the potential for government policies to promote cooperative labor relations and industrial peace such as requiring exchanges of information, good faith bargaining and appropriate bargaining units. The ultimate arbiter of the efficacy of various government policies is, of course, empirical work. Where appropriate, we cite the most important empirical work that is available on the examined problems.

The Price Isn’t Right: The Facts on Affordable Health Care

Source: Karen Davenport, Morgan Mulvenon, Garrett Groves, Avinash Kinra, Laurie Seremetis, Center for American Progress, August 19, 2008

There is broad agreement that we need affordable health care, but how to define and achieve affordability are less clear. Any consideration of affordability must include the cost of both premiums and out-of-pocket expenditures. The two aspects go hand in hand, since lower premiums often result in higher out-of-pocket costs.

Policymakers have already agreed that future health care reforms must make health care more affordable. The remaining challenge is to define a truly “level playing field” and make health care affordable for all Americans. Read more here.
See also:
Background Basics on Affordable Health Care
Point-Counterpoint: The Right (and Wrong) Way to Make Health Care Affordable
Senate Testimony: Consumers Suffer as Health Insurers Consolidate

Solvency Recommendations for Ohio

Source: Wayne Vroman, Tax Policy Center, July 28, 2008

From the summary:
This report examines the funding of unemployment insurance (UI) in Ohio. It proposes seven recommendations to improve program solvency, both in the short run and in the long run. The two main recommendations to improve short-run solvency are to: 1) implement a substantial increase in the taxable wage base and 2) institute a temporary freeze in weekly benefits, both recommendations to be effective in 2009. Indexation of the taxable wage base is a principal recommendation to improve solvency in the long-run.

National Emergency Communications Plan

Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, July 2008

From the press release:
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released today the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) to address gaps and determine solutions so that emergency response personnel at all levels of government and across all disciplines can communicate as needed, on demand, and as authorized. The NECP is the nation’s first strategic plan to improve emergency response communications, and complements overarching homeland security and emergency communications legislation, strategies and initiatives.

The NECP defines three goals that establish a minimum level of interoperable communications and a deadline for federal, state, local and tribal authorities:
1. By 2010, 90 percent of all high-risk urban areas designated within the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) can demonstrate response-level emergency communications within one hour for routine events involving multiple jurisdictions and agencies.
2. By 2011, 75 percent of non-UASI jurisdictions can demonstrate response-level emergency communications within one hour for routine events involving multiple jurisdictions and agencies.
3. By 2013, 75 percent of all jurisdictions can demonstrate response-level emergency communications within three hours of a significant event, as outlined in the department’s national planning scenarios.
See also:
Fact sheet

Bad sidewalks, insufficient public transportation keep older Americans in their cars, report says

Source: American City & County, August 15, 2008

Americans over 50 are trying to drive less, but their efforts to go “green” are hindered by poor sidewalks and a lack of sufficient public transportation, according to a poll by the Washington-based AARP. What’s more, nearly half of the survey respondents said they did not feel safe crossing the main roads in their communities.