Why Governments Count People

Why Governments Count People. YaleGlobal. Joseph Chamie. March 19, 2019

Governments have organized censuses since ancient times, and as the world’s population approaches 8 billion, governments have more people to count and analyze than ever before. Censuses help determine efficient allocation of government funds and political representation. A low median age suggests the government should devote more funding to education and an older median age suggests more resources should go toward elder services. Methods and access to the data remain controversial, explains demographer Joseph Chamie. Censuses expose flaws, whether income disparity, gender imbalances or even the influences of climate change and lack of sustainability. Political parties in power can manipulate perceptions and results with insertion or deletion of a single question. “Inaccuracies or outright lies defeat the purpose of the census and disrupt effective governing and meaningful planning,” he writes. “So every question should have a legitimate public purpose to promote well-being and reduce problems.” Chamie outlines how concerns about confidentiality or diversity can erode accuracy even as globalization of communications and travel reinforce citizen demands for smooth government operations and services. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].

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Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC): A Primer

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC): A Primer. Congressional Research Service. John J. Topoleski. March 21, 2019

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is a federal agency established by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA; P.L. 93-406). It was created to protect the pensions of participants and beneficiaries covered by private sector defined benefit (DB) plans. These pension plans provide a specified monthly benefit at retirement, usually either a percentage of salary or a flat dollar amount multiplied by years of service. Defined contribution (DC) plans, such as 401(k) plans, are not insured. PBGC is chaired by the Secretary of Labor, with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Commerce serving as board members.

[PDF format, 25 pages].

The Principles on Commercial Transparency in Public Contracts

The Principles on Commercial Transparency in Public Contracts. Center for Global Development. The Working Group on Commercial Transparency in Public Contracts. March 7, 2019

Every year, governments worldwide sign contracts worth trillions of dollars. They buy textbooks and fighter planes, hire consultants, commission firms to run railways and build bridges, take out loans and give guarantees, grant mining concessions, and issue licenses to use the public airwaves. Each time, legal documents specify who will pay how much to whom for what. These contracts commit taxpayer resources and national wealth, often for many years. They help determine the quality of vital government services as well as the financing that governments will have in the future. Citizens should know what is in those contracts—not least, to be able to hold governments to account. But they can only do so if the contracts are published. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 32 pages].

The Small Business Lending Fund

The Small Business Lending Fund. Congressional Research Service. Robert Jay Dilger. February 7, 2019

Congressional interest in small business access to capital has increased in recent years because of concerns that small businesses might be prevented from accessing sufficient capital to enable them to start, continue, or expand operations and create jobs. Some have argued that the federal government should provide additional resources to assist small businesses. Others worry about the long-term adverse economic effects of spending programs that increase the federal deficit. They advocate business tax reduction, reform of financial credit market regulation, and federal fiscal restraint as the best means to assist small businesses and create jobs.

[PDF format, 38 pages].

Leading by Example: Public Sector Apprenticeships in Kentucky

Leading by Example: Public Sector Apprenticeships in Kentucky. Urban Institute. Robert I. Lerman, John Marotta, Myca San Miguel. March 8, 2019

While the US government sector employs about 15 percent of nonfarm workers, federal, state, and local governments have not made substantial use of apprenticeships to enhance the skills of their workforce, increase productivity, and widen access to government positions. This report examines steps undertaken by Kentucky to build talent for state government through apprenticeship. The early outcomes are promising: departments can adopt and register apprenticeships quickly, employers are pleased with the productive contributions of apprentices, and apprentices recognize they are gaining valuable skills. The success of departments adopting apprenticeships bodes well for the expansion to other areas. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 58 pages].

The State and Local Role in Election Administration: Duties and Structures

The State and Local Role in Election Administration: Duties and Structures. Congressional Research Service. Karen L. Shanton. March 4, 2019

The administration of elections in the United States is highly decentralized. Elections are primarily administered by thousands of state and local systems rather than a single, unified national system.

States and localities share responsibility for most election administration duties. Exactly how responsibilities are assigned at the state and local levels varies both between and within states, but there are some general patterns in the distribution of duties. States typically have primary responsibility for making decisions about the rules of elections (policymaking). Localities typically have primary responsibility for conducting elections in accordance with those rules (implementation). Localities, with varying contributions from states, typically also have primary responsibility for paying for the activities and resources required to conduct elections (funding).

[PDF format, 22 pages].

Federal Lands and Related Resources: Overview and Selected Issues for the 116th Congress

Federal Lands and Related Resources: Overview and Selected Issues for the 116th Congress. Congressional Research Service. Katie Hoover et al. March 18, 2019

The Property Clause in the U.S. Constitution (Article IV, §3, clause 2) grants Congress the authority to acquire, dispose of, and manage federal property. The 116th Congress faces multiple policy issues related to federal lands and natural resources. These issues include how much and which land the government should own and how lands and resources should be used and managed. These issues affect local communities, industries, ecosystems, and the nation.

[PDF format, 34 pages].