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Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding

Description: This report discusses the firefighting activities that are traditionally the responsibility of states and local communities. The report also talks about the funding for firefighters, which is provided mostly by state and local governments. However, during the 106th Congress, many in the fire community asserted that local fire departments require and deserve greater support from the federal government.
Date: January 10, 2013
Creator: Kruger, Lennard G.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Venezuela: Issues for Congress

Description: This report discusses the current Congressional issues in relation to Venezuela. For more than a decade, Venezuela has experienced significant political changes under the rule of populist President Hugo Chávez, and for a number of years there has been concern about the deterioration of democratic institutions and threats to freedom of expression in the country.
Date: January 10, 2013
Creator: Sullivan, Mark P.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Selective Filtration of Gadolinium Trichloride for Use in Neutron Detection in Large Water Cherenkov Detectors

Description: Water Cherenkov detectors have been used for many years as inexpensive, effective detectors for neutrino interactions and nucleon decay searches. While many important measurements have been made with these detectors a major drawback has been their inability to detect the absorption of thermal neutrons. We believe an inexpensive, effective technique could be developed to overcome this situation via the addition to water of a solute with a large neutron cross section and energetic gamma daughters which would make neutrons detectable. Gadolinium seems an excellent candidate especially since in recent years it has become very inexpensive, now less than $8 per kilogram in the form of commercially-available gadolinium trichloride, GdCl{sub 3}. This non-toxic, non-reactive substance is highly soluble in water. Neutron capture on gadolinium yields a gamma cascade which would be easily seen in detectors like Super-Kamiokande. We have been investigating the use of GdCl{sub 3} as a possible upgrade for the Super-Kamiokande detector with a view toward improving its performance as a detector for atmospheric neutrinos, supernova neutrinos, wrong-sign solar neutrinos, reactor neutrinos, proton decay, and also as a target for the coming T2K long-baseline neutrino experiment. This focused study of selective water filtration and GdCl{sub 3} extraction techniques, conducted at UC Irvine, followed up on highly promising benchtop-scale and kiloton-scale work previously carried out with the assistance of 2003 and 2005 Advanced Detector Research Program grants.
Date: April 10, 2013
Creator: Vagins, Mark R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Animal Waste and Hazardous Substances: Current Laws and Legislative Issues

Description: This report describes the provisions of the Superfund law and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), and enforcement actions under these laws that have increasingly been receiving attention. Congressional scrutiny in the form of legislative proposals and a House hearing in the 109th Congress are discussed.
Date: September 10, 2013
Creator: Copeland, Claudia
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Medicaid: Alternative Measures Could Be Used to Allocate Funding More Equitably

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "GAO identified multiple data sources that could be used to develop measures to allocate Medicaid funding to states more equitably than the current funding formula--known as the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP)--which is based solely on per capita income (PCI). To be equitable from the perspective of beneficiaries and allow states to provide a comparable level of services to each person in need, a funding allocation mechanism should take into account the demand for services in each state and geographic cost differences among states. To be equitable from the perspective of taxpayers, an allocation mechanism should ensure that taxpayers in poorer states are not more heavily burdened than those in wealthier ones, by taking into account state resources. To illustrate, GAO identified at least one federal data source that could be used to develop measures of each of these aspects, in order to allocate Medicaid funding more equitably."
Date: May 10, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Security Clearances: Additional Mechanisms May Aid Federal Tax-Debt Detection

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "About 8,400 individuals adjudicated as eligible for a security clearance from April 2006 to December 2011 owed approximately $85 million in unpaid federal taxes, as of June 2012. This represents about 3.4 percent of the civilian executive-branch employees and contractors who were favorably adjudicated during that period. GAO found that about 4,700 of the approximately 8,400 individuals were federal employees while the remainder was largely federal contractors. Additionally, about 4,200 of these individuals had a repayment plan with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to pay back their debt. For this review, GAO used clearance data from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Central Verification System (CVS) database. The CVS database does not maintain information on the denial of security clearances on the basis of an individual's nonpayment of federal taxes. Thus, GAO was not able to determine the number of individuals who were denied security clearances for this reason."
Date: September 10, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Community Colleges: New Federal Research Center May Enhance Current Understanding of Developmental Education

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "States and community colleges GAO visited have implemented several strategies to improve developmental education--which is remedial coursework in math, reading, or writing for students who are assessed not to be ready for college-level classes. Many initiatives involved shortening the amount of time for developmental education and better targeting material to an individual student's needs. For example, two community colleges have implemented fast track classes that enable students to take two classes in one semester instead of in two semesters. One developmental education program in Washington places students directly into college level classes that also teach developmental education as part of the class. Community colleges are also using tools such as test preparatory classes to help students prepare for placement tests that determine if they will need to take developmental education courses. According to community college officials GAO spoke with, these classes help familiarize students with prior coursework and, in some cases, help them place directly into college level courses. Additionally, most community colleges GAO visited have worked to align their curriculum with local high schools so that graduating seniors are ready for college. Little research has been published on these developmental education initiatives and whether they are leading to successful outcomes."
Date: September 10, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education: Governmentwide Strategy Needed to Better Manage Overlapping Programs

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In fiscal year 2010, 13 federal agencies invested over $3 billion in 209 programs designed to increase knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and attainment of STEM degrees. The number of programs within agencies ranged from 3 to 46, with the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation administering more than half of the 209 programs. Almost a third of all programs had obligations of $1 million or less, while some had obligations of over $100 million. Beyond programs specifically focused on STEM education, agencies funded other broad efforts that contributed to enhancing STEM education."
Date: April 10, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Small Business Administration: Review of 7(a) Guaranteed Loans to Select Franchisees

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Analysis of guaranteed loans to franchisees of a select franchise organization reviewed by GAO, approved from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2011, showed the Small Business Administration (SBA) approved a total of about $38.4 million for 170 loans made by 54 lenders. SBA's guaranteed portion on these loans was approximately $28.8 million. Of the total population of 170 loans, 74 loans defaulted, 55 of which (74 percent) originated from four lenders that had the highest loan volume and default rates on loans to the franchisees. SBA made guarantee payments of around $11 million on the defaulted loans to franchisees, including about $8.5 million in guarantee payments on the 55 defaulted loans from these four lenders. Of the 88 loans reviewed from the four lenders, 55 (63 percent) defaulted. In comparison, 19 of the 82 loans (23 percent) that originated at the other 50 lenders to the franchisees defaulted. As part of GAO's investigative work, GAO interviewed the owners of 22 franchisees of the franchise organization in GAO's review, of which 16 defaulted on their loans and 10 filed for bankruptcy protection. Interviewed franchisees noted difficulties meeting anticipated revenue estimates and limited access to information that would aid in business planning."
Date: September 10, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Medicare Outpatient Therapy: Implementation of the 2012 Manual Medical Review Process

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented two types of manual medical reviews (MMR)--reviews of preapproval requests and reviews of claims submitted without preapproval--for all outpatient therapy services that were above a $3,700 per-beneficiary threshold provided during the last 3 months of 2012. However, CMS did not issue complete guidance on how to process preapproval requests before the implementation of the MMR process in October 2012, and the Medicare Administrative Contractors (MAC) that conducted the MMRs were unable to fully automate systems for tracking preapproval requests in the time allotted. CMS required the MACs to manually review preapproval requests within 10 business days of receipt of all supporting documentation to determine whether the services were medically necessary, and to automatically approve any requests they were unable to review within that time frame. CMS officials told GAO that the purpose of the preapproval process was to protect beneficiaries from being liable for payment for nonaffirmed services by giving the provider and beneficiary guidance as to whether Medicare would pay for the requested services. If a provider delivered services without submitting a preapproval request, the MACs were required to manually review submitted claims above the $3,700 threshold prior to payment within 60 days of receiving the needed documentation. The MACs faced particular challenges with implementing reviews of preapproval requests because CMS continued to issue new guidance on how to manage preapproval requests after the MMR process started. For example, CMS did not inform the MACs how to process incomplete requests or count the 10-day preapproval request review time frame until November 7, 2012, and the MACs initially handled requests differently. In addition, all three MACs GAO interviewed told GAO that MMRs of preapproval requests were especially ...
Date: July 10, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Freedom of Information Act: Office of Government Information Services Has Begun Implementing Its Responsibilities, but Further Actions Are Needed

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Since its establishment in 2009, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) has provided comments on proposed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regulations for 18 of 99 federal agencies that administer FOIA, as well as a number of Privacy Act system of records notices. While OGIS has suggested improvements to a number of those regulations and notices, it has not performed the reviews of regulations and notices in a proactive, comprehensive manner, and has not conducted any reviews of agencies' compliance with the law. In addition, since it was established 4 years ago, the office has not developed a methodology for conducting reviews of agencies' FOIA policies and procedures, or for compliance with FOIA requirements. OGIS is in the early stages of developing a methodology for conducting such reviews, but has not established a time frame for completion. Until OGIS establishes a methodology and time frame for proactively reviewing agencies' FOIA policies, procedures, and compliance, the office will not be positioned to effectively execute its responsibilities as required by the act."
Date: September 10, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Education Research: Preliminary Observations on the Institute of Education Sciences' Research and Evaluation Efforts

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) supports high-quality research, according to stakeholders, but lacks certain key procedures needed to fulfill other aspects of its mission. Since its inception, IES has substantially improved the quality of education research. However, stakeholders expressed some concerns about IES's ability to produce timely and relevant research that meets their various needs. For example, IES's efforts to respond quickly to its stakeholders are slowed, in part, because the time IES's products have spent in peer review substantially increased this past year, and IES does not monitor some aspects of these timeframes. In addition, IES does not have a structured process for incorporating stakeholder input into its research agenda, which previous GAO work has shown to be key to sound federal research programs. Lastly, IES's performance measures do not fully reflect its current programs, which is not consistent with GAO's leading practices for performance management. IES officials said, however, that they have begun to develop new performance measures for all of their programs."
Date: September 10, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Federal Employees' Compensation Act: Analysis of Benefits Under Proposed Program Changes

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "GAO's simulation found that under the current Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) program, the median wage replacement rate--the percentage of take-home pay replaced by FECA--for total-disability beneficiaries was 88 percent for U.S. Postal Service (USPS) beneficiaries and 80 percent for non-USPS beneficiaries in 2010. GAO also found that proposals to set initial FECA benefits at a single compensation rate would reduce these replacement rates by 3 to 4 percentage points under the 70-percent option and 7 to 8 percentage points under the 66-2/3 percent option. Beneficiaries with dependents would receive reduced FECA benefits under both options. The decreases in wage replacement rates were due to the greater proportion of beneficiaries who had a dependent--over 70 percent of both USPS and non-USPS beneficiaries."
Date: July 10, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

FAA Facilities: Improved Condition Assessment Methods Could Better Inform Maintenance Decisions and Capital- Planning Efforts

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "According to data provided by FAA and the General Services Administration (GSA), federally maintained facilities FAA occupies are generally in fair to good condition. FAA assesses the condition of staffed facilities in several ways, including direct inspections. However, the condition of approximately 75 percent of Air Traffic Organization's (ATO) terminal facilities is based on estimates derived from the approximately 25 percent of facilities that have been inspected over the last 6 years. Our analysis of FAA's statistical model for estimating the condition of uninspected terminal facilities found it to be imprecise; it uses one variable--age of the facility--to estimate the facility's condition. Adding other variables that are correlated with condition, such as facility replacement value and use, could potentially improve the estimate's accuracy. In addition, facility condition data in FAA's Real Estate Management System (REMS)--FAA's database for tracking its inventory of real property assets, including the size, replacement value, and condition of each asset--are not derived from sound data collection practices and did not match facility condition data from ATO or other FAA organizational components responsible for maintaining these facilities. Inaccuracies in REMS data undermine its usefulness as a management tool."
Date: September 10, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Financial and Performance Management: More Reliable and Complete Information Needed to Address Federal Management and Fiscal Challenges

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Three long-standing major impediments prevented GAO from expressing an opinion on the U.S. government's 2012 accrual-based consolidated financial statements: (1) serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense (DOD), (2) the federal government's inability to adequately account for and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal entities, and (3) the federal government's ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements. Also, GAO was prevented from expressing opinions on the 2012 social insurance-related statements because of significant uncertainties primarily related to the achievement of projected reductions in Medicare cost growth reflected in the statements."
Date: July 10, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Federal Judgeships: The General Accuracy of District and Appellate Judgeship Case-Related Workload Measures

Description: A statement of record issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Based on GAO's 2003 report, it was found that the district court case weights approved in 1993 to be a reasonably accurate measure of the average time demands a specific number and mix of cases filed in a district court could be expected to place on the district judges in that court. The methodology used to develop the weights used a valid sampling procedure, developed weights based on actual case-related time recorded by judges from case filings to disposition, and included a measure (standard errors) of the statistical confidence in the final weight for each weighted case type. Without such a measure, it is not possible to objectively assess the accuracy of the final case weights."
Date: September 10, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department