Info and communications tech (ICT)

On Jan. 14 the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program released a report on the Aspen Plan for information and communications technologies (ICT). Last August the Institute gathered 29 leaders in communications policy to formulate recommendations to the next administration on leveraging ICT "to help stimulate the economy and establish long-term economic growth." The Aspen Plan presents 3 initiatives:
  • Establish presidential leadership on ICT
  • Economic stimulus and ICT infrastructure (telecom plan)
  • ICT, energy and the environment
The report concludes:
The technologies necessary for (a) ubiquitous, national broadband network are available, and the time has come to finish building the network’s infrastructure and encourage 100% popular adoption. It is time to prepare ourselves, so that every American will be able to enjoy the benefits when the economy and government inevitably migrate to primarily electronic platforms.

ICT: The 21st Century Transitional Initiative (pdf, 58pp/960kB)
Initiative Recommendations (pdf, 7pp/160kB)
Press release, Jan. 14, 2009

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Recent CRS reports

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

Economic Stimulus: Issues and Policies, R40104 (pdf, 23pp/327kB), Jan. 23, 2009

This report discusses the current state of the economy, including measures already been taken by monetary authorities; reviews proposed economic stimulus package; assesses need for, magnitude of, design of and potential consequences of fiscal stimulus; and discusses recent and proposed financial interventions.

Proposed Funding for Education in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, R40151 (pdf, 34pp/1.2MB), Jan. 22, 2009

H.R.1 (pdf, 647pp), the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" was introduced in the House on Jan. 26 to promote economic recovery. This report gives an overview of programs that are or would be administered by the U.S. Dept. of Education (ED) in the act under Titles IX and XII. It discusses elementary and secondary education, higher education, the Institute for Education Sciences (IES), and the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.

Health Insurance Continuation Coverage Under COBRA, R40142 (pdf, 13pp/164kB), Jan. 16, 2009

COBRA requires employers to offer continued health insurance, generally for 18 months, to employees who lose coverage under certain circumstances. CRS reports on COBRA coverage and discusses issues of employer size and retirees and costs for both employees and employers.

States and Proposed Economic Recovery Plans, R40112 (pdf, 16pp/177kB), Jan. 5, 2009
This report examines the arguments presented by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the National Governors Association (NGA) to include state fiscal assistance in an economic recovery plan, several arguments to exclude state assistance from such a plan, and the implications the proposals presented by NCSL and NGA might have for the economy. It also examines issues related to the targeting of state fiscal assistance and arguments for and against including infrastructure construction projects in an economic recovery plan.

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Modernizing financial regulation

Earlier this month the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on modernizing the U.S. financial regulatory system. GAO also presented testimony on its report.

GAO found that the current regulatory system "has not kept pace with major developments in financial markets and products," such as:
  • Systemic risks posed by large and interconnected financial conglomerates that cross financial sectors of banking, securities, and insurance
  • Activities of large and less-regulated market participants, such as nonbank mortgage lenders, hedge funds, and credit rating agencies
  • New and more complex investment products
  • Ensuring that accounting and audit standards appropriately respond to financial market developments
  • Coordinating internationally with other regulators in the increasingly global aspects of financial markets
GAO offers a framework for a more effective regulatory system:
  1. Clearly defined regulatory goals
  2. Appropriately comprehensive
  3. Systemwide focus
  4. Flexible and adaptable
  5. Efficient and effective
  6. Consistent consumer and investor protection
  7. Regulators provided with independence, prominence, authority, and accountability
  8. Consistent financial oversight
  9. Minimal taxpayer exposure

FINANCIAL REGULATION: A Framework for Crafting and Assessing Proposals to Modernize the Outdated U.S. Financial Regulatory System, GAO-09-216 (pdf, 107pp/2.1MB), Jan. 8, 2009

FINANCIAL REGULATION: A Framework for Crafting and Assessing Proposals to Modernize the Outdated U.S. Financial Regulatory System, GAO-09-310T (pdf, 30pp/416kB), Jan. 14, 2009. Testimony before the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP).

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Broadband for Hawaii

The Hawaii Broadband Task Force (HBTF), established by the Legislature through Act 2, First Special Session of 2007, issued its final report last month. The Task Force's recommendations:
  1. Establish a forward-looking vision to make Hawaii globally competitive.

    Enact legislation that enshrines in statute a forward-looking vision to guide policy and action: Hawaii recognizes broadband as critical infrastructure for the 21st century.

  2. Create a one-stop broadband advancement authority.

    Enact legislation that consolidates any and all state and county wired and wireless, voice, data and video regulation, franchising and permitting functions into a one-stop self-funded expert broadband advancement authority in the State Dept. of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA).

  3. Welcome trans-Pacific submarine fiber to Hawaii.

    Reduce the barriers to landing new fiber in Hawaii through a shared-use, open-access, fiber-ready, international submarine cable landing station on Oahu that is made available to all projects on a fair and equitable basis.

  4. Stimulate demand for broadband.

    All government agencies should actively develop and deploy public services that apply broadband capabilities in their areas of responsibility.

Hawaii Broadband Task Force Final Report (pdf, 74pp/2MB)

Available in the Library: TK5103.4 H36 2008

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Tube session

YouTube BlogYouTube's blog, Broadcasting Ourselves;), posts today of their new portal into the channels of U.S. Congress, one for the House and one for the Senate. According to YouTube:
As the 111th Congress kicks into gear, many of your elected leaders are starting their own YouTube channels. They're posting videos direct from their Washington offices, as well as clips of floor speeches and committee hearings alongside additional behind-the-scenes footage from Capitol Hill.
The New York Times (NYT) reports "several members of Congress have channels on YouTube." Congressional members from New York, Minnesota, Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Missouri, Montana, California are a few already with channels. Hawaii members do not currently post.

YouTube's glossary states that "A channel is a user's page. It contains a user's profile information, videos, favorites, etc."

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Just in ...

Engines of Democracy: Politics and Policymaking in State Legislatures, by Alan Rosenthal of the Eagleton Institute of Politics, likens the state legislature to the Little Engine That Could. "The legislature (and not the executive or the judiciary) is truly the engine of democracy." Acknowledging that state constitutions also provide for executive and judicial branches of government, "Yet in the order in which provisions are specified in constitutions, the legislative branch comes first, ahead of the executive and judiciary. The legislature is not only the first branch of government, it is the branch closest to the people." 466 pp.
JK2488 R68 2009 (ISBN 978-0-87289-459-4)

State & Local Government Procurement: A Practical Guide. Considered the flagship publication of the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO), this updated guide covers, among other subjects, emerging issues such as:
  • Pervasiveness of information technology and its implications
  • Streamlined procurement processes and emphasis on performance-based contracting
  • Convergence of federal and international policies and practices
  • Vendor opposition to terms and conditions
  • Growth of green purchasing, immigration enforcement and other social policies
422 pp.
JF1525 P85 N37 2008

Encouraging Bicycling and Walking: the State Legislative Role from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports on recent trends in bicycling and walking and examines state legislative activity in funding, planning, and safety.
  • Funding - Reviews efforts to finance biking and walking infrastructure and programs, including funding stream mechanisms
  • Planning - Examines how states have integrated biking and walking into transportation plans and projects
  • Safety - Discusses increasing safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, including creating new laws; increasing penalties; targeting enforcement; and increasing responsibility for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists
76 pp.
HN85 N37 (08-4)

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