Public Supports Aim of Making It ‘Easy’ for All Citizens to Vote

Public Supports Aim of Making It ‘Easy’ for All Citizens to Vote. Pew Research Center. June 28, 2017

Only one-in-five back mandatory voting

As states around the country debate laws regarding access to the ballot – ranging from automatic voter registration to voter ID requirements – most Americans back making it easy for all citizens to vote. But they overwhelmingly reject the idea of requiring people to vote. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 10 pages, 301.52 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].

21st Century U.S. Energy Sources: A Primer

21st Century U.S. Energy Sources: A Primer. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Michael Ratner. May 19, 2017

Since the start of the 21st century, the U.S. energy system has seen tremendous changes. Technological advances in energy production have driven changes in energy consumption, and the United States has moved from being a growing net importer of most forms of energy to a declining importer—and possibly a net exporter in the near future. The United States remains the second largest consumer of energy in the world, behind China.

[PDF format, 40 pages, 1.17 MB].

The Financial Stability Oversight Council: An Essential Role for the Evolving US Financial System

The Financial Stability Oversight Council: An Essential Role for the Evolving US Financial System. Peterson Institute for International Economics. Policy Brief, 17-20. Simon Johnson and Antonio Weiss. May 2017

Among the most significant creations of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was a Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), aimed at improving coordination among US regulators to ensure a more holistic view of dangers to the financial system. Seven years later and especially since the 2016 US election, FSOC faces political pressure from elements of the private sector and their advocates in Washington. One legislative proposal would retroactively repeal virtually all of FSOC’s substantive authorities. The authors warn that abandoning, undermining, or curtailing the powers of FSOC would increase the risks of another major financial crisis—on the scale of what happened in 2008 or worse. No one can predict the precise nature or timing of the next crisis, but FSOC is the United States’ best and likely only guardian against systemic collapse. It must be preserved, protected, and even strengthened. FSOC leadership must carry out with vigor the core mandate of identifying risks to the financial stability of the United States. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 13 pages, 160.20 KB].

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].

The Value of Energy Tax Incentives for Different Types of Energy Resources: In Brief

The Value of Energy Tax Incentives for Different Types of Energy Resources: In Brief. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Molly F. Sherlock. May 18, 2017

The U.S. tax code supports the energy sector by providing a number of targeted tax incentives, or tax incentives only available for the energy industry. As Congress evaluates the tax code and contemplates tax reform, there has been interest in understanding how energy tax benefits are distributed across different domestic energy resources. For example, what percentage of energyrelated tax benefits support fossil fuels (or support renewables)? How much domestic energy is produced using fossil fuels (or produced using renewables)? And how do these figures compare?

In 2016, the value of federal tax-related support for the energy sector was estimated to be $18.2 billion. Of this, $5.2 billion (28.6%) can be attributed to tax incentives supporting fossil fuels. Tax-related support for renewables was an estimated $11.4 billion in 2016 (or 62.6% of total tax-related support for energy). The remaining tax-related support went toward nuclear energy, efficiency measures, and alternative technology vehicles.

[PDF format, 15 pages, 811.42 KB].

Meeting Security Challenges in a Disordered World

Meeting Security Challenges in a Disordered World. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Rebecca Hersman et al. June 6, 2017

Today the world faces a volatile convergence of instability, state weakness, and conflict. Lethal civil conflicts rage in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, and South Sudan, stoking regional rivalries, offering safe havens to violent extremist groups, and triggering immense and unprecedented humanitarian crises. Even in regions and states where overt conflict is absent, such as West Africa or Central America, institutional and economic weakness creates unstable conditions that may enflame low level shocks or simmering criminal activity. At times resolution of these conditions may prove elusive and intervention fruitless; however, sometimes security challenges emerging in these environments require immediate and direct response.

The United States must be prepared to operate in a range of complex environments to meet a range of security challenges and threats, such as humanitarian emergencies, terrorism and violent extremism, great power aggression, health security crises, and international criminal violence. This study focuses on these five functional security imperatives and illustrates each imperative through regionally or subnationally defined operating environments. In each case, the selected security imperative must be addressed in the near term to help meet other U.S. objectives. The goal of the case studies is to characterize the operating environment, identify key tasks and responsibilities to address the security imperative, and develop a set of tools and policy recommendations for operating in those specific environments. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 130 pages, 18.74 MB].