One of our favorite rss feeds, docuticker, identifies an interesting gov doc in a recent update - Budget of the United States Government — Fiscal Year 2010: The Budget Documents, A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America's Promise (OMB).
A New Era of Responsibility "... [p]rovides a description of the Obama Administration’s fiscal policies and major budgetary initiatives. This document is an overview of the full Fiscal Year 2010 Budget expected to be released this spring."
It is comprehensible in the way a well written commercial outline can distill an impenetrable appellate decision. In it, the President's Message begins:
"Throughout America’s history, there have been some years that appeared to roll into the next without much notice or fanfare. Budgets are proposed that offer some new programs or eliminate an initiative, but by and large continuity reigns. Then there are the years that come along once in a generation, when we look at where the country has been and recognize that we need a break from a troubled past, that the problems we face demand that we begin charting a new path. This is one of those years..."
For fascinating, provocative reading about where the Census Bureau will reside in the federal government organization, read the Feb 10, 2009 Wall Street Journal: "Why Obama Wants Control of the Census: Counting Citizens is a Powerful Political Tool" (author: John Fund). http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123423384887066377.html.
Serious changes may be happening, and more quickly than imagined. Even the seven former Census directors who support turning the Census into an independent agency recommended doing so after the 2010 Census.
To quote the article, "[S]tatisticians at the Commerce Department didn't think [Obama's changes] would mean having the director of next year's Census report directly to the White House rather than to the Commerce secretary."
Lots of food for thought.
President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 yesterday to ensure equal pay for all, which guarantees that there will be discrimination on the basis on gender, age or race. The remarks of the President are available on the White House website. There is also a short video clip on the site. The full text of the law is available for public review. Ideas, thoughts, and comments from the public are invited.
President Obama has launched a new website, Recovery.Gov that people can use to see how their tax money is being spent. He stated that it is “an unprecedented effort to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government.” As of now, there is not much on the website but be sure to check it out after the passing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. To learn more about it, read his weekly address that he delivered on January 24.
The Obama administration is hosting an Open House Reception at the White House today. Those who would like to be there on the President’s first day can sign up for the reception using this form. The website states that this is an initiative to inform the public that the new administration “will be one of the most open and accessible administrations in our nation's history.”
As I was compiling a list of reports from the Pew Research Center for an undergraduate class, I came across two that I would like to share with you. The first one, America's Pre-Inauguration Mood: Strong Confidence in Obama, shows that Americans have great confidence in Obama’s capacity to deal with the economy, Iraq, and terrorism issues. They also believe that Democrats and Republicans will work together to resolve the country’s problems. According to the Pew Survey Report, 70% of those who were surveyed think that Obama has clearly explained his policies and plans for the future, and 66% endorse his choices for his cabinet.
While Obama’s ratings have gone up, Bush’s have gone down. The Pew Research Center article reveals that 24% of Americans approve his performance as he exits the national stage. Only 11% think that history will look at Bush positively. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index sunk to 38% in 2008 from 128.6% in 2000. The article claimed that it is the “lowest level since the index was first tabulated in 1967.”
For detailed information on the 2009 Presidential Inauguration, take a look at this website. An Inaugural Events Calendar is also available. You can track the inauguration ceremony using Twitter and Facebook or watch the Inauguration's Channel on YouTube. The Presidential Inaugural Committee even has photostream for the event on Flickr.
Both Democratic and Republican Senate leaders have indicated that they will approve the release of the remaining $350 million of the Treasury’s bailout fund. As there are concerns that banks were hoarding the aid money instead of giving it to consumers and businesses, regulators have requested that banks give information on the amount that has been loaned earlier. Yesterday, President Bush asked Congress to release the remaining money as Obama has been pushing for it. On Thursday, the Senate will vote on it. More details about this matter are available in the New York Times article.
A special report from CNN.com states that Obama plans to digitize health records within the next five years. This is one of the endeavors to restore the economy as government estimates that this program will create around 212,000 jobs. However, there are some concerns about it because:
1) Commonwealth Fund, RAND, and Harvard have conducted independent studies which reveal that this program would cost between $75-100 billion dollars over the implementation period. The major cost will be incurred in traning the work force.
2) At present, only "about 8% of the nation's 5,000 hospitals and 17% of its 800,000 physicians currently use the kind of common computerized record-keeping systems that Obama envisions for the whole nation."
3) The privacy of patients must be protected as the nationalized system may be affected by system failures and hackers.
Obama asserts that this program will create new jobs, cut medical costs, and save $200-300 billion per year for the health industry.
Vivek Kundra, the Chief Technology Officer of Washington, D.C., has adopted an uncommon approach for conducting the daily operations of the District's 86 agencies. YouTube is used to post information regarding the bidding process for city contracts. He and other DC government employees use Google Apps as a collaboration tool and for sharing information. Kundra believes that it encourages government transparency and improves government services. The Washington Post article mentioned that he may be a potential candidate for the new position of Federal Chief Technology Officer, which Obama intends to establish.