Measuring the Health of the Liberal International Order

Measuring the Health of the Liberal International Order. RAND Corporation. Michael J. Mazarr et al. September 5, 2017.

As part of a larger study on the future of the post-World War II liberal international order, RAND researchers analyze the health of the existing order and offer implications for future U.S. policy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 229 pages, 1.41 MB].

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The Budget Control Act: Frequently Asked Questions

The Budget Control Act: Frequently Asked Questions. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Grant A. Driessen, Megan S. Lynch. September 1, 2017

When there is concern with deficit or debt levels, Congress will sometimes implement budget enforcement mechanisms to mandate specific budgetary policies or fiscal outcomes. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA; P.L. 112-25), which was signed into law on August 2, 2011, includes several such mechanisms.
The BCA as amended has three main components that currently affect the annual budget. One component imposes annual statutory discretionary spending limits for defense and nondefense spending. A second component requires annual reductions to the initial discretionary spending limits triggered by the absence of a deficit reduction agreement from a committee formed by the BCA. Third are annual automatic mandatory spending reductions triggered by the same absence of a deficit reduction agreement. Each of those components is described in further detail in this report. The discretionary spending limits (and annual reductions) are currently scheduled to remain in effect through FY2021, while the mandatory spending reductions are scheduled to remain in effect through FY2025.

[PDF format, 18 pages, 800.16 KB].

The Romanian Anti-Corruption Process: Successes and Excesses

The Romanian Anti-Corruption Process: Successes and Excesses. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Heather A. Conley. June 14, 2017

Heather A. Conley, Senior Vice President for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic; and Director, Europe Program, testified before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) on, “The Romanian Anti-Corruption Process: Successes and Excesses.” [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 5 pages, 428.1 KB].

The Federal Minimum Wage: In Brief

The Federal Minimum Wage: In Brief. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. David H. Bradley. June 2, 2017

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), enacted in 1938, is the federal legislation that establishes the minimum hourly wage that must be paid to all covered workers. The minimum wage provisions of the FLSA have been amended numerous times since 1938, typically for the purpose of expanding coverage or raising the wage rate. Since its establishment, the minimum wage rate has been raised 22 separate times. The most recent change was enacted in 2007 (P.L. 110-28), which increased the minimum wage to its current level of $7.25 per hour.

In addition to setting the federal minimum wage rate, the FLSA provides for several exemptions and subminimum wage categories for certain classes of workers and types of work. Even with these exemptions, the FLSA minimum wage provisions still cover the vast majority of the workforce. Despite this broad coverage, however, the minimum wage directly affects a relatively small portion of the workforce. Currently, there are approximately 2.2 million workers, or 2.7% of all hourly paid workers, whose wages are at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Most minimum wage workers are female, are age 20 or older, work part time, and are in food service occupations.

Proponents of increasing the federal minimum wage argue that it may increase earnings for lower income workers, lead to reduced turnover, and increase aggregate demand by providing greater purchasing power for workers receiving a pay increase. Opponents of increasing the federal minimum wage argue that it may result in reduced employment or reduced hours, lead to a general price increase, and reduce profits of firms paying a higher minimum wage.

[PDF format, 11 pages, 590.45 KB].

From Compliance to Learning: Helping Community Development Financial Institutions Better Determine and Demonstrate Their Results

From Compliance to Learning: Helping Community Development Financial Institutions Better Determine and Demonstrate Their Results. Urban Institute. Brett Theodos, Ellen Seidman. May 11, 2017

Long used to tracking outputs (e.g., charter school seats financed, small businesses capitalized, affordable housing units funded) community development financial institutions (CDFIs) face increasing demands to document the outcomes, or results, of their investments. CDFIs, a mix of nondepository and depository financial institutions, are embracing measurement for more than compliance and funder reporting and are using measurement as part of a learning agenda. But this work is challenging, requiring new investments, partnerships, and measurement strategies. This brief outlines recommendations to CDFIs to best measure their activities’ effectiveness and build a more robust internal measurement and learning function. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 13 pages, 202.32 KB].

Staying Power: Considering the U.S. Government’s Global Nutrition Coordination Plan

Staying Power: Considering the U.S. Government’s Global Nutrition Coordination Plan. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Kimberly Flowers, Carol Conragan. May 17, 2017

This report explores the implications of the U.S. Global Nutrition Coordination Plan (GNCP) for the technical leadership, focus, resource stewardship, partnership strategy, and data/funding transparency of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). How can USAID contribute to the stated goal of developing “a process to gather and report interagency information on annual U.S. government nutrition resource expenditures”? And who is ultimately accountable for the actions dictated by the GNCP?

The GNCP is an impressive volunteer effort, but it is too soon to tell whether it will become a worthwhile, whole-of-government practice. Positive aspects of the plan include good timing with growing U.S. government backing for global nutrition programs and bipartisan support on Capitol Hill; a lauded, whole-of-government approach; a seat at the nutrition table for smaller agencies; a strong community of practice through complementarity of expertise and jointly shared administrative actions; increased global nutrition program support through designated points of contact at U.S. posts abroad; and built-in flexibility to expand (or contract) the plan’s mandate as global priorities evolve. This report makes recommendations in both technical and management domains to buttress GNCP’s ultimate success, which has become increasingly critical in the context of dwindling resources for development assistance. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 44 pages, 1.86 MB].

The Federal-State Higher Education Partnership: Lessons from Other Federal-State Partnerships

The Federal-State Higher Education Partnership: Lessons from Other Federal-State Partnerships. Urban Institute. Kristin D. Conklin, Sandy Baum. May 16, 2017

Lessons from federal-state partnerships in other public policy areas might inform efforts to strengthen the partnership in higher education. This paper looks to the forms of cooperation between these levels of government in transportation, housing, and elementary through secondary education as examples. The federal role should have clearly defined goals, including strengthening the social norm of equitable access to high quality postsecondary education. Preserving flexibility for the states is a critical component of effective federal policy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 25 pages, 292.37 KB].