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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Responsibility Determinations Under the Federal Acquisition Regulation: Legal Standards and Procedures
This report discusses the standards and procedures that federal agencies use in making responsibility determinations under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). It discusses (1) how responsibility determinations relate to other mechanisms that the government relies upon to ensure that contractors are responsible and otherwise eligible for federal contracts; (2) the performance-related and collateral standards used in making responsibility determinations; (3) the procedures for making responsibility determinations; and (4) recently enacted or proposed amendments to the standards or procedures for responsibility determinations. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31340/
Managing Electronic Waste: Issues with Exporting E-Waste
Electronic waste (e-waste) is a term that is used loosely to refer to obsolete, broken, or irreparable electronic devices like televisions, computer central processing units (CPUs), and computer monitors. There are various issues of concern with regard to e-waste disposal and recycling. This report looks at issues specifically related to its export for recycling. Particularly, it discusses documented impacts to human health and the environment that have been tied to unsafe recycling practices in developing countries, as well as issues that have motivated certain stakeholders to divert e-waste from landfill disposal and, hence, increase recycling. It also provides an overview of various factors necessary to understand why e-waste disposal has become a concern in the United States, and it also discusses waste management requirements in the United States. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31346/
Long-Term Unemployment and Recessions
This report discusses the recession that began in the United States in December 2007 and officially ended in June 2009 and how this recession affected employment rates. This report analyzes the trend in long-term unemployment over the postwar period and offers explanations for its unusually high incidence during the most recent postwar recession. It compares the individual, job, and household characteristics of the long-term unemployed during the latest recession (2007-2009) with the long-term unemployed at the end of the two previous recessions (1990-1991 and 2001). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31356/
Running Deficits: Positives and Pitfalls
The FY2009 federal deficit swelled to $1.414 trillion, or nearly 10% of gross domestic product (GDP), due to the economic recession. The size of recent deficits has added to longstanding concerns regarding the federal government's long-term fiscal condition. However, deficit finance can serve as an important policy tool. This report discusses how deficit finance can help governments manage their economies and how large and persistent deficits can lead to severe economic problems. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31415/
U.S. International Trade: Trends and Forecasts
This report discusses the U.S. trade deficit in light of the 2008 global financial crisis, with emphasis on international trade and U.S. trade policy, most recent developments in trade of goods and service, trade forecasts for the future, and how issues such as the U.S. trade deficit and international trade, particularly with China, are commonly perceived. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31414/
The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases
This report discusses how the total debt of the federal government can increase, an historical overview of debt limits, and how the current economic slowdown has led to higher deficits and thereby a series of debt limit increases, as well as legislation related to these increases. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31401/
The Mexican Economy After the Global Financial Crisis
This report provides an overview of Mexico's economy post-financial crisis, effects of the global economic downturn, structural and other challenges in the Mexican economy, and implications for the United States. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31368/
China's Steel Industry and Its Impact on the United States: Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of China's steel industry and discusses the issues and implications with regard to the U.S. steel sector. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31374/
Competition in Federal Contracting: An Overview of the Legal Requirements
This report describes the competition requirements currently governing the procurement activities of federal agencies. It addresses several issues, including what contracts are subject to competition requirements, what constitutes full and open competition for government contracts, and the circumstances permitting agencies to award contracts on the basis of other than full and open competition. It also briefly describes the benefits and drawbacks of competition, situates recent reform efforts within their historical context, and discusses how the policy debates surrounding competition in federal contracting can shape legislative responses. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31464/
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA): Congressional Interest and Executive Enforcement
This report briefly discusses the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act of 1977 (FCPA), which was intended to prevent corporate bribery of foreign officials. Criticisms of the act's operation and scope began almost immediately after its passage and have continued. This report discusses these criticisms. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29622/
The TANF Emergency Contingency Fund
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 created an Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF) within the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. The fund expired on September 30, 2010. It helped states, Indian tribes, and territories pay for additional costs of providing economic aid to families during the current economic downturn for FY2009 and FY2010. This report describes the TANF ECF as well as proposals offered in 2010 to extend and modify TANF emergency funding. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29579/
The Inapplicability of Limitations on Subcontracting to "Preference Contracts" for Small Businesses: Washington-Harris Group
This report discusses Washington-Harris Group, a protest filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) alleging, among other things, that an agency improperly awarded a "preference contract" to a service-disabled veteran-owned small business that proposed to subcontract a greater percentage of work on the contract than allowed under the Small Business Administration's limitations on subcontracting. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29578/
DOD Leases of Foreign-Built Ships: Background for Congress
The Department of Defense (DOD) in recent years has leased some foreign-built cargo ships for total periods, including options and renewals, of almost 10 years -- a length of time that some observers argue effectively circumvents a legal requirement that U.S. military ships be built in U.S. shipyards. These observers, particularly the American Shipbuilding Association (ASA), have proposed reducing the current five-year legal limit on ship leases to two years for foreign-built ships. DOD has opposed the idea, arguing that its ship leases are the most cost-effective way to meet its needs for the ships in question. This report briefly discusses this issue, as well as related legislation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29745/
Contract Types: An Overview of the Legal Requirements and Issues
This report provides an overview of the various contract types (e.g., fixed-price, cost-reimbursement) used in federal procurement and the legal requirements and issues pertaining to each. Current congressional and public interest in contract types is, in part, an outgrowth of the reported increase in the use of cost-reimbursement contracts during the George W. Bush Administration1 and the Obama Administration's proposal to reduce by at least 10% the funds obligated in FY2010 by "high risk-contracting authorities," such as cost-reimbursement, time-and-materials, and labor-hour contracts. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29586/
Location-Based Preferences in Federal and Federally Funded Contracting: An Overview of the Law
This report discusses constitutional and other legal issues related to the creation and implementation of location-based preferences in federal contracting, as well as summarizes key authorities requiring or allowing federal agencies to "favor" contractors located in specific places. The report does not address federal preferences for domestic products or provisions of federal law that could, depending upon their implementation, effectively prefer local contractors, such as project labor agreements. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29583/
Tariff Modifications: Miscellaneous Tariff Bills
This report discusses the current process by which duty suspension bills and other provisions are introduced, reviewed by several government agencies and committee staff, made available for public comment, and finally included in omnibus miscellaneous trade and technical corrections bills (MTBs) legislation reported out by the committees of jurisdiction. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29692/
U.S. International Trade: Trends and Forecasts
This report discusses the U.S. trade deficit in light of the 2008 global financial crisis, with emphasis on international trade and U.S. trade policy, most recent developments in trade of goods and service, trade forecasts for the future, and how issues such as the U.S. trade deficit and international trade, particularly with China, are commonly perceived. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29678/
The 2007-2009 Recession: Similarities to and Differences from the Past
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the U.S. economy was in a recession for 18 months from December 2007 to June 2009. It was the longest and deepest recession of the post-World War II era. This report provides information on the patterns found across past recessions since World War II to gauge whether and how this recession might be different. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29560/
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program
This report briefly discusses the Small Business Innovation Development Act (P.L. 97-219), which in 1982 established Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs designed to increase participation of small innovative companies in federally funded research and development (R&D). The report also discusses the program's extensions and reauthorization activity over the years. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29500/
Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program: An Overview
This report provides a brief overview of The Hollings Manufacturing Partnership (MEP), which is a program of regional centers set up to assist small and medium-sized manufacturing companies use knowledge and technologies developed under the auspices of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29502/
Job Growth During the Recovery
Congress in recent years passed a number of bills intended in part to jump-start a recovery in the labor market from the recession that began in December 2007. Policymakers are interested in how employment has responded to stimulus measures to determine how effective the legislation has been and to decide whether additional job creation legislation is warranted. This report discusses this topic in brief. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29610/
The Federal Government's Role in Electric Transmission Facility Siting
This report looks at the history of transmission siting and the reason behind the movement toward an increased federal role in siting decisions, explains the new federal role in transmission siting pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and discusses legal issues related to this and any potential future expansions of the federal role. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29571/
Small Business Administration HUBZone Program
The Small Business Administration (SBA) administers several programs to support small businesses, including the Historically Underutilized Business Zone Empowerment Contracting (HUBZone) program. The HUBZone program is a small business federal contracting assistance program "whose primary objective is job creation and increasing capital investment in distressed communities." This report examines the arguments presented both for and against targeting assistance to geographic areas with specified characteristics, such as low income, high poverty, or high unemployment, as opposed to providing assistance to people or businesses with specified characteristics. It then assesses the arguments presented both for and against the creation and continuation of the HUBZone program. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29592/
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: Executive Compensation
This report discusses the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 4173), which was implemented as part of financial regulatory reform initiatives undertaken by Congress in light of the recent global economic crisis. The legislation focuses on executive compensation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29597/
Legal Protections for Subcontractors on Federal Prime Contracts
This report provides an overview of the payment and other protections for subcontractors on certain federal prime contracts under the Miller Act, the 1988 amendments to the Prompt Payment Act, and the Small Business Act. Congress enacted these statutes to give subcontractors rights and remedies they would not otherwise have because of legal doctrines relating to sovereign immunity, privity of contract, and freedom to contract. The report also discusses legislation introduced in the 111th Congress that would provide additional protections for subcontractors. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29591/
General Motors' Initial Public Offering: Review of Issues and Implications for TARP
This report analyzes the progress General Motors Company has made since it was created from the sale of the bankrupt Old GM in July 2009 and the major issues related to its anticipated 2010 initial public offering (IPO). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29605/
The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases
This report discusses how the total debt of the federal government can increase, an historical overview of debt limits, and how the current economic slowdown has led to higher deficits and thereby a series of debt limit increases, as well as legislation related to these increases. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29646/
U.S. Government Agencies Involved in Export Promotion: Overview and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of the federal agencies that participate in U.S. export promotion efforts and the issues that they raise for Congress. It proceeds first by discussing the coordination, budgets, and functions of federal government agencies involved in promoting exports. Next, the report provides an overview of the missions and activities of key federal government agencies that support exports. The last section of the report discusses agency-related issues for Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29636/
Financial Regulatory Reform: Analysis of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) as Proposed by the Obama Administration and H.R. 3126
This report provides a brief summary of the President's Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act of 2009 (the CPFA Act or the Act) and delineates some of the substantive differences between it and H.R. 3126, as introduced. It then analyzes some of the policy implications of the proposal, focusing on the separation of safety and soundness regulation from consumer protection, financial innovation, and the scope of regulation. The report then raises some questions regarding state law preemption, sources of funding, and rule-making procedures that the Act does not fully answer. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26183/
Countercyclical Job Creation Programs
To counter the effect of recessions on workers, Congress has passed legislation to spur job creation through increased spending on public works (infrastructure) and public service programs, revenue sharing with state governments, and employment tax credits. Although the economic stimulus measure enacted during the 110th Congress did not include these direct job creation approaches, additional spending on infrastructure in particular was considered before Congress recessed. (See CRS Report RL34349, Economic Slowdown: Issues and Policies, coordinated by Jane G. Gravelle et al.) Infrastructure spending continues to be mentioned in the context of a second stimulus package, as do state and local government revenue sharing and a jobs tax credit. The focus of this report is on the four countercyclical job creation approaches and related legislation enacted since the Great Depression's end. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26027/
Plant Closings, Mass Layoffs, and Worker Dislocations: Data Issues
For at least 15 years Members of Congress have continued to ask: How many U.S. manufacturing plants have closed? For at least 15 years they have continued to ask: How many U.S. manufacturing plants have relocated abroad, and where have they gone? For at least 15 years the answer has been: For the most part, those questions can't be answered, based on Government data. How many plants are moving to Mexico? What industries and what States are the plants from? How many U.S. workers are losing their jobs as a result? It appears that still, after two legislative attempts to mandate collection of these data, the Government publishes no counts of U.S. plant closings, and almost no information on plant relocations. Options for strengthening the data systems include addressing three main weaknesses: inadequate data program design, a plant closing definition that misses its mark, and publication of partial instead of complete survey results. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26029/
The Advanced Technology Program
President Bush's FY2008 budget request did not include financing for ATP. The FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, P.L. 110-161, replaces ATP with the Technology Innovation Program (TIP) and provides $65.2 million (with an additional $5 million in ATP FY2007 unobligated balances), 17.6% less than the previous fiscal year. P.L. 110- 69, the America COMPETES Act, authorized the creation of TIP. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26083/
DOD's Dual-Use Strategy
In an effort to reduce the costs of its military systems and gain greater access to state-of-the-art technologies, the Department of Defense is pursuing what is being called a "dual-use" strategy. This strategy seeks to make greater use of the commercial sector in developing and manufacturing military goods. This report discusses issues raised over the implementation of this strategy. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26081/
The Labor Market during the Great Depression and the Current Recession
This report analyzes the labor market experiences of workers during the 1930s, which encompassed the almost five years of the Great Depression. Because it was a period very distant and different from today, considerable time is devoted to examining the employment and unemployment measures available at that time. The report ends by comparing the labor market conditions of the 1930s with those encountered by workers thus far during the recession that began in December 2007. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26169/
The Financial Crisis: Impact on and Response by the European Union
According to the most recent National Threat Assessment, the global financial crisis and its geopolitical implications pose the primary near-term security concern of the United States. Over the short run, both the EU and the United States are attempting to resolve the financial crisis while stimulating domestic demand to stem the economic downturn. These efforts have born little progress so far as the economic recession and the financial crisis have become reinforcing events, causing EU governments to forge policy responses to both crises. This report discusses this situation in detail and also discusses individual efforts by both the U.S. and EU to combat the effects of the crisis. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26139/
The Federal Role in Technology Development
The federal government has traditionally played a role in fostering technological progress. This has involved both direct federal research and development (R&D) funding and indirect measures that create incentives for increased private sector investments in innovation. However, this mix of initiatives was challenged since the 104th Congress. While support for all on-going efforts continues, some programs have been funded at reduced levels. However, since FY2001, appropriations appear to have reversed this trend. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26095/
The Davis-Bacon Act: Institutional Evolution and Public Policy
This report examines policy issues the Davis-Bacon Act has sparked through the years and which remain a part of the Davis-Bacon debate of the 1990s. These include such questions as: wage rate determination procedures, reporting requirements under the Copeland Act, an appropriate threshold for activation of the statute, interagency relationships with respect to Davis-Bacon enforcement and compliance activity, administrative or judicial appeals procedures, the use of "helpers" and other low-skilled workers on covered projects, and the right of a President to suspend the statute as well as the conditions under which such a suspension may occur. That the fundamental premise of the Act remains in contention after 60 years may be, itself, part of the public policy debate. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26044/
Cigarette Taxes to Fund Health Care Reform: An Economic Analysis
A cigarette excise tax increase of 75 cents per pack has been proposed to finance part of the President's universal health care program. The tax enjoys considerable public support, would raise about $11 billion per year, and would be relatively simple to administer because it would increase an existing manufacturer's excise tax. This report discusses these rationales, as well as other effects of and concerns about the tax, organized into topics of market failure as a justification for the tax (i.e., economic efficiency); potential for revenue; equity; and the job loss the tax might cause in tobacco growing regions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26039/
Cooperative Research and Development Agreements
A Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) is a mechanism established by P.L. 99-602, the Federal Technology Transfer Act, to allow the transfer of technology, knowledge, and expertise from government laboratories to the private sector for further development and commercialization. The government provides support in the way of overhead for research and development performed in the federal laboratory and is prohibited from providing funding directly to the partner in the collaborative effort. Currently, more than 5,000 CRADAs have been signed. As the 105th Congress determines its approach to science and technology policies, the role of CRADAs continues to be debated within the context of federal support for R&D digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26071/
The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy
This report describes the open economy and society of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as U.S. concern over proliferation of advanced technology due to said open economy and the UAE's lax export controls. This report describes these issues in relation to a recently-signed U.S.-UAE civilian nuclear agreement. It also provides a general description of the UAE's government and political structure, as well as the effects of the recent global economic downturn on the UAE in general and on the city of Dubai in particular. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26321/
Debarment and Suspension of Government Contractors: An Overview of the Law Including Recently Enacted and Proposed Amendments
The amount spent on government contracts, coupled with widely reported contractors misconduct, has generated congressional interest in debarment and suspension. The 110th Congress enacted several bills addressing debarment and suspension, including the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act, and several others, all of which are detailed in this report. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26290/
Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program: An Overview
This report provides a brief overview of The Hollings Manufacturing Partnership (MEP), which is a program of regional centers set up to assist small and medium-sized manufacturing companies use knowledge and technologies developed under the auspices of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26113/
The Global Financial Crisis: The Role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
This report discusses two potential roles the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may have in helping to resolve the current global financial crisis: (1) immediate crisis control through balance of payments lending to emerging market and less-developed countries and (2) increased surveillance of the global economy through better coordination with the international financial regulatory agencies. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10812/
The Global Financial Crisis: The Role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
This report discusses two potential roles the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may have in helping to resolve the current global financial crisis: (1) immediate crisis control through balance of payments lending to emerging market and less-developed countries and (2) increased surveillance of the global economy through better coordination with the international financial regulatory agencies. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10813/
Financial Market Intervention
Financial markets continue to experience significant disturbance and the banking sector remains fragile. Efforts to restore confidence have been met with mixed success thus far. After attempting to deal with troubled institutions on a case-by-case basis, Treasury has proposed a plan to purchase mortgage-related assets to alleviate stress in financial markets and in the banking system. This report provides answers to some frequently asked questions concerning the financial disruptions of September 2008 and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in H.R. 3997. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10801/
The Resolution Trust Corporation: Historical Analysis
In a 1989 legislative response to financial troubles in the thrift industry, the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA, P.L. 101-73) was enacted. FIRREA's principal mission was to conduct a partially tax-payer funded program to address the troubles of the nation's many insolvent thrifts. To do so, it established a new entity, the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), whose mission was to address troubled thrifts by arranging their sale to other institutions or shuttering them and disposing of their assets. This report analyzes the creation and functions of the RTC, including criticisms and results of its actions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10797/
Merger Review Authority of the Federal Communications Commission
This report will explain the merger review process at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission). Whenever companies holding licenses issued by the FCC wish to merge, the merging entities must obtain approval from two federal agencies: the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FCC. The Commission and the DOJ do not follow precisely the same process or reasoning when examining the potential effects of proposed mergers. The Act permits the Commission to grant the transfer only if the agency determines that the transaction would be in the public interest. The public interest standard is generally broader than the competition analysis authorized by the antitrust laws and conducted by the DOJ. Therefore, the Commission possesses greater latitude to examine other potential effects of a proposed merger beyond its possible effect on competition in the relevant market. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10784/
Primer on Energy Derivatives and Their Regulation
Prices of oil and other energy commodities are set in futures and derivatives markets, where producers, commercial users, and financial speculators buy and sell contracts whose value is linked to the price of the underlying commodity. Trading occurs on regulated futures exchanges and in a largely unregulated over-the-counter (OTC) market; both forms of trading are global in scope. This report presents basic information about these markets, the instruments traded, the regulatory framework, speculation, and current legislative proposals. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10772/
The Enron Loophole
The Commodity Exchange Act exempts certain energy derivatives contracts from regulation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). These exemptions are popularly known as the "Enron loophole." Soaring energy prices have raised concerns about whether the CFTC has enough information about these unregulated markets to monitor energy trading in a comprehensive manner. A number of other bills in the 110th Congress would impose new reporting or regulatory requirements on the bilateral energy swaps market, which was not addressed by the Farm Bill. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10766/
Livestock Feed Costs: Concerns and Options
Sharply higher feed costs, fueled by competing use demands for corn and soybeans and by rising energy prices, are affecting the beef, pork, dairy, and poultry industries. In contrast, wholesales prices for most animal products have held steady. Some analysts argue that current public policies, including financial incentives that divert corn from feed uses into ethanol production, have exacerbated if not caused these higher costs. Other factors include crop production declines due to weather, and higher global demand for consumption. Proposed options aimed at easing the impacts of higher feed costs include changes in ethanol incentives, use of conservation land for forage use, and direct aid to producers. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10763/