Feds' role in education

The Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program issued a report on addressing the challenges in American education of providing equal opportunity and producing globally competitive workers. The paper's key proposal: "The federal government should catalyze a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in public education through a new Office of Educational Entrepreneurship and Innovation (OEEI) within the U.S. Department of Education." OEEI would collaborate with entrepreneurs and state and local governments to:
  • Scale up successful educational entrepreneurs
  • Foster transformational educational innovations
  • Build a stronger culture of entrepreneurship and innovation
The report notes such innovative organizations and individuals as Teach for America, the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), and District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. The paper was authored by Sara Mead of The New America Foundation and Andrew J. Rotherham of Education Sector.

Changing the Game: The Federal Role in Supporting 21st Century Educational Innovation, Oct. 16, 2008
      Report (pdf, 173pp/1.76MB)
      Policy brief (pdf, 12pp/796kB)
      Executive summary (html)

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Just in...

The Dream Begins:How Hawaii Shaped Barack Obama, by Hawaii journalists Stu Glauberman and Jerry Burris, relates Obama's youth in Hawaii from 1971 as a ten-year-old through his graduation from Punahou in 1979. The authors also cover his birth and early childhood in Hawaii and four years in Indonesia. Against the background of '70s Hawaii, the book describes the Obama's navigation through issues of race and adolescence. 152 pp.
E901.1 O23 G55 2008 (ISBN 9780981508689)

See Star Bulletin review, Aug. 10, 2008

In Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics, Joe Biden chronicles his life from his childhood in Scranton, PA, and Wilmington, DE; his personal challenges; his long tenure in the U.S. Senate since his election in 1972 at age 29; and his roles in and reflections on national events and politics. 400 pp.
E840.8 B54 A3 2007 (ISBN 9781400065363)

See Christian Science Monitor review, Aug. 28, 2007

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Patient ID

This week RAND Health published two papers on adopting a unique patient identifier (UPI) as a key element in a national health information network. A UPI was in fact mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, but "privacy and security concerns have completely sidetracked" its development. In both its monograph and research brief, RAND compares a UPI with the currently prevalent statistical matching approach (name, address, SSN) to identifying patients, and presents strong arguments for the UPI.

Identity Crisis: An Examination of the Costs and Benefits of a Unique Patient Identifier for the U.S. Health Care System, Oct. 14, 2008
      Monograph (pdf, 97pp/604kB)
      Summary (pdf, 13pp/160kB)

Identity Crisis?: Approaches to Patient Identification in a National Health Information Network, Oct. 14, 2008
      Research Brief (pdf, 5pp/120kB)



Recent CRS reports

Recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports from Open CRS:

Tsunami Detection and Warnings for the United States, RL34506 (pdf, 18pp/436kB), Sept. 25, 2008

This report discusses several components of tsunami warning in the U.S., among them:
  • National Tsunami Warning Program (NTWP) consists of two tsunami warning centers located in Palmer, AK, and Ewa Beach, HI
  • National Tsunami Hazards Mitigation Program (NTHMP) provides education and outreach through the TsunamiReady program
  • Deep Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) buoys; 39 DART buoys form the U.S. tsunami early warning network
  • Global Seismographic Network (GSN) and Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) identify earthquakes for possible onset of tsunamis

Do Not Mail Initiatives and Their Potential Effects: Possible Issues for Congress, RL34643 (pdf, 29pp/176kB), Sept. 24, 2008

Since 2007, according to CRS, 19 states have introduced legislation to create Do Not Mail registries to curb the delivery of junk mail. Here CRS examines possible effects of state registries on the environment, the economy, constitutional issues.

The report includes a table of 12 states that had DNM legislation pending in 2008, Hawaii being one of them. Hawaii's SB908 and HB2592, were introduced in 2007 and 2008, respectively, "to establish a state 'Do-not-mail' registry permitting residential residents--but not commercial entities--to opt-out of receiving certain unsolicited mail." Both bills died.

Food and Agricultural Imports from China, RL34080 (pdf, 24pp/152kB), Sept. 26, 2008

Health and Safety Concerns Over U.S. Imports of Chinese Products: An Overview, RS22713 (pdf, 6pp/76kB), Sept. 22, 2008

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Dept. of Agriculture (USDA's) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) have primary responsibility for the nation's food regulatory system. The first report discusses last month's melamine-contaminated milk crisis in China and its implications for exports, bilateral efforts to address Chinese food safety in U.S. imports, and Congressional bills related to food import safety.

The second report is an overview of consumer (toys, tires) and food products that have caused U.S. concerns, Chinese initiatives to improve product safety, bilateral agreements to address health and safety issues, and economic implications such as protectionism and foreign investment in China.

Net Neutrality: Background and Issues
, RS22444 (pdf, 6pp/76kB), Sept. 16, 2008

Network neutrality is generally the concept of ensuring "unfettered access to the Internet" by regulating owners of Internet networks. CRS notes that the two most common discriminatory actions against net neutrality are "the network providers’ ability to control access to and the pricing of broadband facilities, and the incentive to favor network-owned content, thereby placing unaffiliated content providers at a competitive disadvantage." The report covers actions by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in regulating broadband and Congressional debate and legislation.

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Scanning public policy history

The Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau is making available online digital versions of their older reports. From the Hawaii territorial days and up through 1995, when the Bureau began directly putting reports online, this project attempts to provide a more complete history of public policy in Hawaii and perhaps offer recommendations of value even today.

The reports will be added as they are digitized and optimized for network access.

Newly Added LRB Studies from the Archives (1950 - 1995)

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Recent GAO reports

From the Government Accountability Office (GAO):

LOBBYING DISCLOSURE: Observations on Lobbyists' Compliance with New Disclosure Requirements, GAO-08-1099 (pdf, 37pp/1.5MB), Sept. 30, 2008

This is GAO's first annual report on the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA) of 2007, P.L. 110-81 (pdf, 42pp.), which requires GAO to report on (1) lobbyists' compliance with the Act with supporting documents, (2) challenges to complying with the Act, and (3) the process for referring cases to the Dept. of Justice and other means to enforce the Act.

ELECTIONS: States, Territories, and the District Are Taking a Range of Important Steps to Manage Their Varied Voting System Environments, GAO-08-874 (pdf, 129pp/1.98MB), Sept. 25, 2008

For this study GAO was asked to answer the following questions: (1) what voting methods and systems are jurisdictions using in federal elections and what changes are underway; (2) how do they certify or otherwise approve voting systems; (3) what other steps do they take to ensure the accuracy, reliability, and security of voting systems; (4) how do they identify, evaluate, and respond to voting system problems; and (5) how do they view federal voting system-related resources and services.

WILDLIFE REFUGES: Changes in Funding, Staffing, and Other Factors Create Concerns about Future Sustainability, GAO-08-797 (pdf, 131pp/3.2MB), Sept. 22, 2008

The National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) comprises 548 wildlife refuges and 37 wetland management districts. (Hawaii has 18 wildlife refuges.) GAO's study covers funding, staffing, policy initiatives, external factors (extreme weather, adjacent development), habitat management, and visitor services in FY 2002-2007.

PENSION BENEFIT GUARANTY CORPORATION: Improvements Needed to Address Financial and Management Challenges, GAO-08-1162T (pdf, 29pp/504kB), Sept. 24, 2008

PENSION BENEFIT GUARANTY CORPORATION: Need for Improved Oversight Persists, GAO-08-1062 (pdf, 34pp/964kB), Sept. 10, 2008

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) insures the pensions of nearly 44 million private-sector workers and retirees. The Sept. 24 testimony covers (1) PBGC's role in protecting pension benefits and how it is funded, (2) the financial challenges facing PBGC, and (3) PBGC's governance, oversight and management challenges. It focuses on the single-employer pension insurance program. The Sept. 10 study covers (1) the steps PBGC has taken to improve policy direction and oversight, and (2) Congressional and other governmental oversight.

COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT: Measuring Program's Effectiveness Continues to Be a Challenge, GAO-08-1045 (pdf, 59pp/1.18MB), Sept. 12, 2008

Coastal zone management is administered by the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM), of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), that provides grants to participating states under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). There are 34 state programs (including territories and commonwealths). GAO reported on (1) NOAA's methodology for awarding CZMA grants, (2) how NOAA ensures that grant activities comply with the CZMA, and (3) how NOAA measures the effectiveness of state programs. There are tables for each of the grant types: coastal zone management, coastal zone enhancement, and coastal nonpoint pollution control. Allocations for the 3 types of grants for Hawaii in FY 2008 were $1.8 million, $174,000, and $42,000, respectively.

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Sorry, your name's not here.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law is a non-partisan public policy and law institute that focuses on fundamental issues of democracy and justice.
from The Brennan Center for Justice mission statement

The Brennan Center for Justice recently released two reports on the "barriers to voting" preventing eligible voters from casting their ballots. The first report deals with the purging of voter registration records.
A citizen typically cannot cast a vote that will count unless her name appears on the voter registration rolls. Yet state and local officials regularly remove-or "purge"-citizens from voter rolls. In fact, thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia reported purging more than 13 million voters from registration rolls between 2004 and 2006...

Officials strike voters from the rolls through a process that is shrouded in secrecy, prone to error, and vulnerable to manipulation.
The report goes on to state that the absence of transparency and consistency in the purging process makes it nearly impossible to determine the number of voters erroneously removed from the rolls.

The Brennan Center's second report addresses the de facto disenfranchisement from a criminal conviction.
State laws vary widely on when voting rights are restored. Maine and Vermont do not deny the franchise based on a criminal conviction; even prisoners may vote there. Kentucky and Virginia are the last two states to continue to permanently disenfranchise all people with felony convictions unless they receive individual, discretionary clemency from the governor. The remaining 46 states fall somewhere in between, with the varied state laws forming a patchwork across the country.
The lack of training for election officials in the local felony disenfranchisement policies, and the little or no communication between the criminal justice system and election offices:
result in the mass dissemination of inaccurate and misleading information, which in turn leads to the de facto disenfranchisement of untold hundreds of thousands of eligible would-be voters throughout the country.

Voter Purges - by Myrna PĂ©rez
(September 2008; pdf, 52pp/644kB)

De Facto Disenfranchisement - by Erika Wood and Rachel Bloom
(October 2008; pdf, 24pp/272kB)

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