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F-22A Raptor

Description: This report examines the Air Force's F-22A Raptor program, including costs and schedule; considers several key issues, and concludes with a synopsis of recent legislative activity on the program.
Date: March 5, 2009
Creator: Bolkcom, Christopher

A Parliamentary-Style Question Period: Proposals and Issues for Congress

Description: This report surveys how question periods are conducted in Britain and other parliamentary democracies, examines previous proposals for question periods in the United States, considers potential advantages and disadvantages of a question period, and outlines some legislative considerations for policymakers considering a question period for Congress.
Date: March 5, 2009
Creator: Glassman, Matthew E.

The Size and Role of Government: Economic Issues

Description: This report discusses some of the arguments surrounding the proper size of government that are economic in nature, including the questions of what role the state plays in economic activity and how the economy is affected by government intervention.
Date: March 5, 2008
Creator: Labonte, Marc

Legal Issues Related to Funding for Religious Schools in P.L. 111-5, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Description: This report will provide a brief overview of the prohibition on the use of funds by institutions of higher education, including proposals considered by the House and Senate before the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5) was enacted. It will also analyze the constitutionality of the distribution of federal money to religious schools in the context of common questions raised by these provisions.
Date: March 5, 2009
Creator: Brougher, Cynthia

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC): Summary of Actions in Support of Housing and Financial Markets

Description: This report discusses recent actions taken by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in support of housing and financial markets, including: a temporary increase in deposit insurance as required by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-343), the resolution of bank failures, the development of the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program (TLGP), and efforts to reduce foreclosures.
Date: March 5, 2009
Creator: Gonzales, Oscar R. & Getter, Darryl E.

Oversight of High-Containment Biological Laboratories: Issues for Congress

Description: This report focuses on the federal government's regulation of high containment laboratories. It explains the concepts of biosecurity and biosafety, including the mechanisms by which the federal government oversees their implementation; describes the proliferation of high-containment laboratories; discusses issues facing federal policymakers; and identifies policy options for congressional consideration.
Date: March 5, 2009
Creator: Gottron, Frank & Shea, Dana A.

VH-71 Presidential Helicopter Program

Description: This report discusses VH-71 presidential helicopter, which has experienced noteworthy cost increases and schedule delays, which have generated controversy and scrutiny. The VH-71 is intended to replace the President's current operational fleet of helicopters, consisting of 11 VH-3D Sea Kings and 8 VH-60N Night Hawks.
Date: March 5, 2009
Creator: Bolkcom, Christopher

Tax Reform: An Overview of Proposals in the 111th Congress

Description: This report examines three main categories of tax reform: fundamental tax reform, tax reform based on the elimination of the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT), and proposals for reforming the corporate income tax in the 111th Congress.
Date: March 5, 2009
Creator: Bickley, James M.

Humanitarian Crisis in Haiti: 2004

Description: Since armed rebels seized control of Haiti’s fourth largest city, Gonaives, on February 5, 2004, and protests calling for President Aristide’s resignation culminated in his departure on February 29, there has been increasing concern about a looming humanitarian crisis in Haiti. With events on the ground constantly shifting and an increasing lack of security, assessments of the humanitarian situation remain fluid and subject to change. This report covers recent developments and the humanitarian response to the crisis by the United States and other international actors.
Date: March 5, 2004
Creator: Margesson, Rhoda

Military Base Realignments and Closures: Higher Costs and Lower Savings Projected for Implementing Two Key Supply-Related BRAC Recommendations

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The 2005 Base Closure and Realignment Commission estimated that two supply-related recommendations now being implemented by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) would save the Department of Defense (DOD) about $4.8 billion over 20 years--about 13 percent of the 2005 base realignment and closure (BRAC) round's estimated long-term savings. These recommendations focus on business process reengineering by reconfiguring DLA's wholesale supply, storage, and distribution network and transferring procurement responsibility for depot-level reparables from the military services to DLA. This report is one in a series of reports on BRAC conducted under the Comptroller General's authority. It examines (1) the extent to which DLA's cost and savings estimates to implement these recommendations differ from those of the BRAC Commission and (2) DLA's progress and challenges in implementing the recommendations. GAO analyzed estimated cost and savings data and visited several of the military services' depots in its review."
Date: March 5, 2008
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.

Criminal Debt: Actions Still Needed to Address Deficiencies in Justice's Collection Processes

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In July 2001, GAO reported that outstanding criminal debt, as reported in Department of Justice (Justice) statistical reports, had increased from about $6 billion as of September 30, 1995, to more than $13 billion as of September 30, 1999. Although some of the key factors that contributed to this increase were beyond Justice's control, GAO concluded--after accounting for such factors--that Justice's criminal debt collection processes were inadequate. Accordingly, in the 2001 report, GAO made 14 recommendations to Justice to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its criminal debt collection processes. To follow up on the 2001 report, GAO was asked to (1) provide information on the amount and growth of criminal debt for fiscal years 2000 through 2002, (2) examine the extent to which Justice has acted on GAO's previous recommendations, and (3) review Justice's collection efforts for selected criminal debt cases related to white-collar financial fraud. This report addresses the first two objectives; GAO will report separately on its ongoing work to address the third."
Date: March 5, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Food Stamp Program: Steps Have Been Taken to Increase Participation of Working Families, but Better Tracking of Efforts Is Needed

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Eligible working families are believed to participate in the Food Stamp Program at a lower rate than the eligible population as a whole. As a result, many federal, state, and local officials believe the program is not living up to its potential as a component of the nation's work support system. This report examines: (1) what proportion of eligible working families participate in the program and what family characteristics are associated with a family's participation; (2) what factors may be acting as impediments to a working family's decision to participate in the program; and (3) what steps are being taken, or have been suggested, to help eligible low-income working families participate in the program while ensuring program integrity."
Date: March 5, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

World Trade Organization: Congress Faces Key Decisions as Efforts to Reach Doha Agreement Intensify

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "President Bush has identified the success of global trade talks launched in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001 as one of the United States' top trade policy priorities. Known as the Doha Development Agenda, the talks are an important means of spurring global growth and development. Completing the talks in 2006 was considered essential for an agreement to qualify for streamlined congressional consideration under the U.S. Trade Promotion Authority. However, the talks collapsed in late July 2006 in the face of wide differences over the extent of agricultural reform and how best to promote economic development in poor countries. Efforts to break the deadlock continue. Given the tenuous state of this central plank of U.S. trade policy, GAO updated its series of prior reports. In this report, we assess (1) the overall status of the Doha Round negotiations now and the progress that had been made prior to and since the breakdown of the talks, (2) the substantive divisions among key World Trade Organization (WTO) members that led to an environment of deadlock and the eventual suspension of the negotiations, and (3) the possible economic and other ramifications if the round is not concluded satisfactorily."
Date: March 5, 2007
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.

Community Development: Federal Revitalization Programs Are Being Implemented, but Data on the Use of Tax Benefits Are Limited

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Congress established the Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Community (EZ/EC) program in 1993 and the Renewal Community (RC) program in 2000 to provide assistance to the nation's distressed communities. To date, Congress has authorized three rounds of EZs, two rounds of ECs, and one round of RCs. The Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2000 mandated that GAO audit and report in 2004, 2007, and 2010 on the EZ/EC and RC programs and their effect on poverty, unemployment, and economic growth. This report describes (1) the features of the EZ/EC and RC programs, (2) the extent to which the programs have been implemented, and (3) the methods used and results found in evaluations of their effectiveness."
Date: March 5, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Information Technology: Census Bureau Testing of 2010 Decennial Systems Can Be Strengthened

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Decennial Census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution and provides vital data that are used, among other things, to reapportion and redistrict congressional seats. In March 2008, GAO designated the 2010 Decennial Census a high-risk area, citing a number of long-standing and emerging challenges, including weaknesses in the Census Bureau's (Bureau) management of its information technology (IT) systems and operations. In conducting the 2010 census, the Bureau is relying on both the acquisition of new IT systems and the enhancement of existing systems. Thoroughly testing these systems before their actual use is critical to the success of the census. GAO was asked to determine the status of and plans for testing key decennial systems. To do this, GAO analyzed testing documentation, interviewed Bureau officials and contractors, and compared the Bureau's efforts with recognized best practices."
Date: March 5, 2009
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.

Nuclear Nonproliferation: Strengthened Oversight Needed to Address Proliferation and Management Challenges in IAEA's Technical Cooperation Program

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "A key mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy through its Technical Cooperation (TC) program, which provides equipment, training, fellowships, and other services to its member states. The United States provides approximately 25 percent of the TC program's annual budget. This report addresses the (1) extent to which the United States and IAEA have policies limiting member states' participation in the TC program on the basis of nuclear proliferation and related concerns; (2) extent to which the United States and IAEA evaluate and monitor TC projects for proliferation concerns; and (3) any limitations and challenges in IAEA's management of the TC program. To address these issues, GAO interviewed relevant officials at the Departments of State (State) and Energy (DOE) and IAEA; analyzed IAEA, DOE, and national laboratory data; and assessed State and IAEA policies toward the TC program."
Date: March 5, 2009
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.

Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

Description: This report offers background information on Ukraine's current political and economic situation. The report covers the country's "intensified dialogue" with NATO regarding membership and also discusses U.S. policy, U.S. aid to Ukraine, the congressional response, and related legislation.
Date: March 5, 2009
Creator: Woehrel, Steven

Consumer Protection: Federal Actions Are Needed to Improve Oversight of the Household Goods Moving Industry

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "For moving services, the primary responsibility for consumer protection lies with consumers to select a reputable household goods carrier, ensure that they understand the terms and conditions of the contracts, and understand and pursue the remedies that are available to them when problems arise. Available information indicates that consumer complaints in the household goods industry are increasing. In addition, there was widespread agreement among the government, industry, and consumer organizations GAO contacted that the Department of Transportation's lack of action has contributed to the growth of problems. The Department contends that safety activities are the primary focus of its motor carrier efforts. However, the Department has not taken steps to understand the nature and extent of problems in the industry--and therefore to determine whether its limited approach to oversight and enforcement is appropriate. Nor has it made more than minimal efforts to provide information to consumers that would assist them in making more informed choices. Consumer education as a preventive tool takes on increased importance if the motor carrier administration is to pursue its course of limited oversight and enforcement. The motor carrier administration has recently recognized the need to be more active in this area and has outlined plans to increase its involvement."
Date: March 5, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Tactical Aircraft: F-22 Delays Indicate Initial Production Rates Should Be Lower to Reduce Risks

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The F-22 aircraft is designed to be less detectable, capable of flying at higher speeds for longer distances, and able to provide the pilot with substantially improved awareness of the surrounding situation than the F-15 it will replace. The Air Force began the F-22 development program in 1991 and plans to complete it by March 2004. In 1998, following repeated increases in the program's estimated development cost, Congress capped developmental costs at $20.443 billion. The F-22 program did not meet key schedule goals for 2001, the cost to complete planned development is likely to exceed the $21 billion reported to Congress, and the program is not far enough along in flight-testing to confirm Air Force estimates of the aircraft's performance. Despite progress in testing the aircraft's capabilities, problems and delays continue to plague the assembly and delivery of development test aircraft, and the flight-test program is less efficient than planned. Furthermore, flight-test delays make it unlikely that the planned development program can be completed within the current cost goal. On the basis of initial testing, the Air Force projects that the F-22 will meet or exceed its performance goals by the end of development. However, testing to demonstrate performance is not far enough along to allow the Air Force to confirm its projections. The Air Force has implemented process and manufacturing changes to the horizontal tail section and for cracking in the cockpit canopy that GAO reported on last year. Although the results to date appear adequate, the Air Force continues to monitor the results to ensure the corrective actions will be sufficient. In September 2001, the Air Force submitted to Congress a revised acquisition plan to increase the number of aircraft committed to low-rate production ...
Date: March 5, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Justice Impact Evaluations: One Byrne Evaluation Was Rigorous; All Reviewed Violence Against Women Office Evaluations Were Problematic

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Discretionary grants awarded under the Bureau of Justice Assistance's (BJA) Byrne Program help state and local governments make communities safe and improve criminal justice. Discretionary grants awarded under BJA's Violence Against Women Office (VAWO) programs are aimed at improving criminal justice system responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) awarded $6 million for five Byrne Program and five VAWO discretionary grant program evaluations between 1995 and 2001. Of the 10 programs evaluated, all five VAWO evaluations were designed to be both process and impact evaluations of the VAWO programs. Only one of the five Byrne evaluations was designed as an impact evaluation and the other four evaluations were process evaluations. GAO's in-depth review of the four impact evaluations since fiscal year 1995 showed that only one of these--the evaluation of the Byrne Children at Risk Program--was methodologically sound. The other three evaluations, all of which examined VAWO programs, had methodological problems."
Date: March 5, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

SEC Operations: Increased Workload Creates Challenges

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) faces growing regulatory and oversight challenges. Technological advances have increased the complexity of securities markets and the range of products offered to the public. More people than ever are invested in securities, either directly or through mutual funds. Technology has also fundamentally changed the way these markets operate and how investors interact with them. SEC routinely prioritizes and allocates resources, but the agency is under increasing pressure because of the staffing imbalances caused by its growing workload. Staffing shortages have delayed critical regulatory activities, such as reviewing rule findings and issuing guidance. Oversight and supervisory functions have also been affected. SEC has tried to address its high turnover by offering special pay rates and retention bonuses, but the lack of funding for pay parity means little relief in the short-term. SEC has generally managed the gap between staff and workload by determining which basic duties mandated by statute could be accomplished with existing resources. This approach has forced SEC to be largely reactive rather than proactive."
Date: March 5, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Dairy Products: Imports, Domestic Production, and Regulation of Ultra-filtered Milk

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The ultra-filtration process for milk, developed in the 1970s, removes most of the fluid components, leaving a high concentration of milk protein that allows cheese and other manufacturers to produce their products more efficiently. No specific data on amount of ultra-filtered milk imports exists because these imports fall under the broader U.S. Customs Service classification of milk protein concentrate. Exporters of milk protein concentrates face minimal U.S. import restrictions, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes the milk protein concentrates pose minimal safety risks. Similarly, there is little data on the amount and use of domestically produced ultra-filtered milk in U.S. cheese making plants. According to the Department of Agriculture and state sources, a total of 22 dairy plants nationwide and five large dairy farms in New Mexico and Texas produce ultra-filtered milk. The plants primarily produce and use ultra-filtered milk in the process of making cheese. The five farms transport their product primarily to cheese-making plants in the Midwest, where most is used to make standardized cheeses. FDA relies on its own inspections, and those it contracts with 37 states, to enforce its standards of identity regulations. In addition to these federally funded inspections, some states conduct their own inspections of cheese plants for compliance with standards of identity requirements under state law."
Date: March 5, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.