Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Incentives: A Summary of Federal Programs

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Incentives: A Summary of Federal Programs.  Congressional Research Service. Lynn J. Cunningham. Updated November 15, 2019

Energy is crucial to operating a modern industrial and services economy. Concerns about the availability and cost of energy and about environmental impacts of fossil energy use have led to a wide variety of federal incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency. These incentives aim to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency measures and to develop and commercialize renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Many of the existing energy efficiency and renewable energy programs have authorizations tracing back to the 1970s. Many programs have been reauthorized and redesigned repeatedly to meet changing economic factors. The programs apply broadly to sectors ranging from industry to academia and from state and local governments to rural communities.

[PDF format, 66 pages].

Towards Real-Time Governance: Using Digital Feedback to Improve Service, Voice, and Accountability

Towards Real-Time Governance: Using Digital Feedback to Improve Service, Voice, and Accountability. Center for Global Development. lan Gelb , Neeraj Mittal and Anit Mukherjee. November 14, 2019

Improving the quality, impact, and efficiency of public services is one of the most critical challenges of public policy. There are multiple ways of addressing these challenges, but a common theme is the need to put citizens at the center of governance and service delivery, through (i) empowerment—putting citizens at center of service provision and incentivizing delivery; (ii) transparency—openness and sharing of information; (iii) accountability—enabling citizens to monitor service levels and quality; and (iv) participation—including citizens in policy design and implementation. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 8 pages].

The Democracy Playbook: Preventing and Reversing Democratic Backsliding

The Democracy Playbook: Preventing and Reversing Democratic Backsliding. Brookings Institution. Norman Eisen et al. November 2019

The Democracy Playbook sets forth strategies and actions that supporters of liberal democracy can implement to halt and reverse democratic backsliding and make democratic institutions work more effectively for citizens. The strategies are deeply rooted in the evidence: what the scholarship and practice of democracy teach us about what does and does not work. We hope that diverse groups and individuals will find the syntheses herein useful as they design catered, context-specific strategies for contesting and resisting the illiberal toolkit. This playbook is organized into two principal sections: one dealing with actions that domestic actors can take within democracies, including retrenching ones, and the second section addressing the role of international actors in supporting and empowering pro-democracy actors on the ground. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 100 pages].

The Outdoor Recreation Economy

The Outdoor Recreation Economy. Congressional Research Service. Anne A. Riddle. October 22, 2019

Congress plays an overarching role in shaping outdoor recreation throughout the nation through legislation and oversight. As Congress continues to debate outdoor recreation issues—including provision of federal resources, planning efforts, and funding—data on the size, distribution, and relative importance of the outdoor recreation economy may inform these debates. Both historical and recent legislative and executive efforts centered on outdoor recreation have identified the economic importance of outdoor recreation. In 2016, Congress passed the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act (P.L. 114-249), which directed the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) in the Department of Commerce to create an account that would measure the outdoor recreation economy. BEA released the first official Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) statistics in September 2018 and updated them in September 2019. 

[PDF format, 20 pages].

A New Vision for Health Reform

A New Vision for Health Reform. Brookings Institution. Joseph Antos and Alice M. Rivlin.  September 24, 2019

Health spending is the largest component of the federal budget.  Left unchecked, federal health spending is expected to double over the next decade.  A similar sharp increase in health spending is projected for consumers, employers, and state governments. A viable agenda for growing the economy must include policies to control the growth of health care spending while promoting access to affordable, quality health care and better health outcomes. Otherwise, there is a big risk that much of the federal budget and the economy’s future growth will be absorbed by an excessively costly health system without appreciable gains in health.  Controlling costs will require a comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes of high spending. It must increase competitive pressures on health care prices, both from the demand- and supply-sides, allowing pressure from patients to help control costs. This paper details how to arm purchasers – consumers, physicians, insurers, employers, and the government – to make cost-effective decisions in a competitive market environment. Key elements include: promoting competition among health care providers and insurers to lower health care prices; improving information on prices and outcomes to help patients and their physicians make more cost-effective decisions; shifting to new ways of paying for health care that promote efficiency, innovation, and better outcomes; and recognizing the appropriate and necessary role of regulation where markets are not workable.  [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 26 pages].

Registered Apprenticeship: Federal Role and Recent Federal Efforts

Registered Apprenticeship: Federal Role and Recent Federal Efforts. Congressional Research Service. Benjamin Collins. Updated September 25, 2019

Apprenticeship is a workforce development strategy that trains a worker for a specific occupation using a structured combination of paid on-the-job training and related instruction. Increased costs for higher education and possible mismatches between worker skills and employer needs have led to interest in alternative workforce development strategies such as apprenticeship. The primary federal role in supporting apprenticeships is the administration of the registered apprenticeship system. In this system, the federal Department of Labor (DOL) or a DOLrecognized state apprenticeship agency (SAA) is responsible for evaluating apprenticeship programs to determine if they are in compliance with federal regulations related to program design, worker protections, and other criteria. Programs that are in compliance are “registered.” While registration does not trigger any specific federal financial incentives, registered programs may receive preferential consideration in various federal systems and apprentices who complete a registered program receive a nationally-recognized credential.

[PDF format, 18 pages].

Improving the Social Security Disability Determination Process

Improving the Social Security Disability Determination Process. Urban Institute. Jack Smalligan, Chantel Boyens. July 26, 2019

The Social Security Administration each year processes millions of applications for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income disability benefits. Currently, 10 states lack a second level review process, known as reconsideration, for disability claims that are initially denied and appealed. SSA has begun to reestablish the reconsideration stage in these states. This move has raised concerns and broader questions about SSA’s overall disability determination process.

In this paper the authors examine SSA’s disability determination process and past efforts to improve SSA’s process, and challenges and lessons for future reform. They identify a path forward that could improve the quality and timeliness of decisions by enhancing the reconsideration process to make it more robust, allowing better decisions to be made earlier, while keeping long-term program costs neutral. To support this approach, they put forward three options Congress could consider to provide sustained funding and commitment to the agreed-upon vision for reform. These options would allow SSA to test strategies and gather evidence to support decision making. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 38 pages].