Michigan Combines Offices of Critical Infrastructure and Cyber Security
The Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) is merging the DTMB’s emergency management, physical security and cyber security offices into a single Cyber Security and Infrastructure Protection (CIP) organization. As cyber and critical infrastructure systems become more interconnected, the reorganization will help the state respond to evolving security requirements. The CIP is charged with:
- Providing state agencies with a single entity charged with the oversight of risk management and security issues associated with state assets, property, systems and networks;
- Aiding in the development and implementation of a security strategy for all state resources and infrastructure;
- Establishing Michigan as a leader in cyber-awareness, training and citizen safety; and
- Improving the efficiency and focus of emergency management efforts.
(Contact: Alisha Powell)
New York Establishes Loan Program for Post-Hurricane Water Treatment
A new loan program, the Hurricane Emergency Loan Program (HELP) will provide up to $1 million in no-interest loans for assessment and repair to damaged drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities in New York as a result of damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The emergency loans will provide funds to repair pump stations, electrical equipment, and treatment facilities. Funds may also be made available for temporary emergency services such as vacuum truck hauling, bypass pumping and disinfection, and related engineering and other professional services.
To create the $25 million emergency fund, the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) is using funds from the state Drinking Water and Clean Water Revolving Fundswhich traditionally provide short and long term financing of major improvements to water and sewer systems in New York. EFC created the HELP loans in cooperation with the State Department of Health, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the State Emergency Management Office, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
(Contact: Carmen Ferro)
Rhode Island Advances Small Scale Renewable Energy
Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee has signed a package of four bills to facilitate the installation of small-scale distributed renewable generators of electricity. The first bill changes the state's rules around net metering, the mechanism by which owners of distributed generation systems can sell excess power back into the electric grid. The bill increases the total amount of net metering that can occur in the state from 2 percent of peak load to 3 percent, eliminates a tiered system of caps on project sizes, caps the size of individual systems at 5 megawatts, and aligns Rhode Island's eligibility requirements around the location of net metered systems with federal standards. The second bill allows small-scale systems that are not eligible for net metering to enter into 15 year power purchase contracts with the state's electric utility under a standard contract with a set price. The third bill seeks to reduce the delays in installing small-scale renewable energy projects by setting timelines for the utility to complete interconnection studies. A fourth bill signed by Governor Chafee creates a Renewable Energy Coordinating Board that is tasked with developing a unified policy on renewable energy and bringing together multiple state agencies to coordinate state policy actions. The Board will develop a renewable energy plan and submit recommendations on its implementation.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
California to Mandate Recycling Access for Renters
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill intended to increase recycling in multi-unit apartment buildings. The law—known as the Renters' Right to Recycle Act—mandates that all residential buildings with five or more units offer adequate recycling service to tenants. The bill requires that building owners arrange for recycling services consistent with state and local laws or ordinances and that are appropriate and available to all tenants. Building owners can receive exemptions from the requirements if there is inadequate space for recycling containers on the premises, the building is not currently served by a solid waste collection company or the addition of recycling services would result in a 30 percent or more increase in the cost of solid waste services. Currently, only 39 percent of multi-unit apartment buildings in the state offer recycling, causing a wide gap in the recycling rates between homeowners and renters: 50 percent of single-family homeowners in California recycle, compared with only 15 percent of renters.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
North Carolina Streamlines Procurement
North Carolina will streamline purchasing of goods and services to capture efficiencies and reduce wasteful spending. The Procurement Transformation Project will create greater collaboration between state agencies, vendors, and partners; reduce overlap of procurement functions across agencies; and leverage the state's buying power through strategic sourcing. The project will centralize existing procurement functions into one organization called State Procurement within the Department of Administration, and will establish organizational structures and procedures to guide the work of the new State Procurement organization. Multiple agencies and organizations will work together to purchase supplies and equipment, creating larger contracts that leverage the state's buying power and reduce costs. The Department of Administration will conduct workshops with state agencies, vendors and other partners to continue the collaborative process and share information about expected cost savings flowing from improvements in the state's procurement process.
(Contact: Erin Sparks)
Wisconsin Bolsters Access to Employment Services for Veterans
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker launched an initiative to improve veterans’ access to employment services in the state.Veterans looking for employment can connect directly with specialized services at the Department of Workforce Development's Job Center using a toll free number. The call center is staffed by employment service specialists including the Veterans Services staff, which provided employment and training services to approximately 8,800 veterans over the past year. Employers interested in hiring veterans can also call the Job Center to receive assistance with veteran recruitment. Additional state support included 14 job fairs that were targeted specifically for veterans, and a preference setting for employers on the state's online employment site, JobCenterofWisconsin.com, to indicate their preference to hire veterans.
(Contact: Garrett Groves)
Michigan Governor Proposes Tracking Children's Obesity Measures
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced plans to improve health care quality in the state and reduce childhood obesity by starting to track children's obesity measures. Under the governor's proposal, the registry would be expanded to include a body mass index for each child in Michigan under the age of 18. Under the plan, providing the information will be voluntary for parents. The new data would be added to the Michigan Care Improvement Registry, a database initially set up to track immunizations.
Governor Snyder has also created a health dashboard to measure statewide progress on reaching state wellness goals, and urged local communities to identify their own local health priorities, find ways to address them and evaluate their success.
(Contact: Kathryn Bailey)
Kentucky Partners with Universities to Train Rural Dentists
Kentucky is launching a new program—the Appalachian Rural Dental Educational Partnership—through which several universities and dental schools will implement a program to increase the number of practicing dentists in rural areas. The program will focus on ways to develop enhanced training, recruitment, and educational assistance with a goal of training more dentists to practice in rural areas and give them the tools necessary to do so.
In addition, the partnership will aim to teach dental students how to operate financially sound rural dental practices. The participating universities will assess national dental education models with similar objectives before designing and developing dental programs and DMD degree options for eastern Kentucky. The partnership is part the governor's Healthy Smiles Kentucky initiative, an effort launched in 2009 aimed at improving the dental health of Kentucky's young people.
(Contact: Brad Finnegan)
Arizona Releases Technology-Driven Education Reform Strategy
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer recently released the Arizona Ready reform plan. The initiative focuses on improving transparency and accountability in the state's education system. Specifically, the plan includes implementing an A-F school grading system, implementing the Common Core State Standards and aligned assessments, using diagnostic assessments for students in grades 3 and 11 to determine reading proficiency, and establishing ambitious student achievement goals.
The Arizona Ready plan also sets goals for the state to reach by 2020 such as:
- Ninety-four percent of third graders meeting state standards for reading (up from the current 69 percent);
- Ninety-three percent high school graduation rate (up from 75 percent); and
- State universities issuing twice as many four-year college degrees.
(Contact: Stephanie Shipton)
Virginia Unveils IT Training in High Schools
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has partnered with the Microsoft Corporation to deploy the Microsoft IT Academy program to all public high schools throughout the state. The Microsoft IT Academy is a program that provides technical education to students, teachers, and other educational professionals in areas such as computer basics, high-level programming, and information and communications technology management. The program features access to online learning content, official Microsoft course materials, instructor resources and support materials, including lesson plans, software licenses, and professional, industry-recognized certifications. Students who complete the Microsoft IT Academy and pass certification exams can earn certifications such as Microsoft Office Specialist, Microsoft Technology Associate, or Microsoft Certified Professional.
The Virginia Department of Education, responsible for the deployment of the program, is recommending that all high schools use the Microsoft IT Academy program in career and technical education courses by spring 2012.
(Contact: Lauren Stewart)
Cost of Solar Energy Systems Continues to Fall
The installed cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States has decreased in 2010 and the first half of 2011, according to an annual report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The cost of both residential and commercial PV systems installed in 2010 fell by 17 percent compared to 2009, and decreased an additional 11 percent in the first six months of this year. Other highlights from the report include:
- The decrease is attributable to both a continued drop in the wholesale costs of the PV modules themselves and falling non-module costs such as labor, inverters and marketing. State and local level incentives and policy have the most impact on short-term non-module costs;
- The cost of PV systems varied between regions, different sizes, and how the system was installed. Ten kilowatt (kW) systems ranged $6.30 per watt to $8.40 per watt depending on the state, while systems smaller than 2 kW averaged $9.80 per watt, compared to $5.20 per watt for systems greater than 1,000 kW. Residential PV systems installed on new construction cost less than systems installed on existing homes; and
- Incentives for PV systems peaked in 2002 and have declined since as the cost of PV systems has declined. The reduced value of these incentives partially offset the reduction in cost, but the net reduction in installed costs was still positive.
Report: Best Practices in Sharing Public Health Services
A report released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation investigates the benefits and challenges of local health agencies collaborating to offer shared public health services to their communities. The report— Regionalization of Government Services: Lessons Learned & Application for Public Health Service Delivery—examines potentially beneficial effects of consolidating public health services by reducing costs and increasing quality.
In an effort to find innovative ways to deliver essential services, many public health officials are working with other health agencies across local, state, or regional lines. Among the findings of the report:
- Programs that are too small fail to achieve economies of scale, or too big thave difficulties sustaining efficiencies and maintaining local control over service decisions;
- Althought accreditation itself was not usually a factor in consolidation, two of the outcomes of accreditation—reducing costs and improving the level and quality of services—were often goals; and
- In some cases, state statutes and public health regulations may need to be revised to encourage additional innovations in sharing services within and among states.
Study Examines al-Qaeda's Efforts to Recruit Americans
The Rand Corporation recently released a study examining al-Qaeda's efforts to recruit American citizens. According to the study, al-Qaeda, realizing the difficulty of planning and implementing large-scale attacks, has increasingly used the Internet to radicalize and recruit homegrown terrorists in the United States through a campaign of individual jihad. Despite al-Qaeda's effort, the amount of American recruits has been tiny. Since September 11, 2011, 176 Americans have been indicted, arrested or otherwise identified as jihadist terrorists or supporters in 82 cases, which included 32 terrorist plots. However, few of the plots went further than the discussion stage. The paper examines these cases of homegrown terrorism and highlights lessons learned to suggest actions for the future.
In particular, the study suggests that traditional law enforcement's approach to apprehend a perpetrator after a crime is committed is inadequate to deal with terrorists determined by their cause and therefore requires public safety to adopt a preventive approach—intervention before attack. Prevention includes working closely with communities to earn their trust, elicit cooperation, and prevent discrimination.
(Contact: Alisha Powell)
Report Compares State-Local vs. Private Sector Compensation
The Center for State and Local Government Excellence released a new issue brief, Comparing Compensation: State-Local Versus Private Sector Workers, which examines whether benefits close the wage gap between public and private sector workers. The analysis concludes that pension contributions and retiree health insurance do help close the gap; however, the widespread response to state budget gaps over recent years has been to increase employee contributions, cut benefits for future employ¬ees, and in some cases cut cost-of-living adjustments for current employees and retirees. Additional key findings, include:
- Total compensation for public sector workers is about 4 percent less than that in the private sector; and
- Public sector employment continues to decline while private sector employment appears to have stabilized, indicating that job security in the public sector is not necessarily greater.
(Contact: Lauren Stewart)
Report Examines U.S. Economic Competitiveness
The World Economic Forum released an annual report measuring global economic competitiveness. The analysis found that the U.S. fell in the ranking one more position to fifth place, representing a decline of four places since the 2008-2009 report when the U.S. was ranked first. The authors indicated that there are a number of structural features that continue to encourage economic productivity in the U.S., which include:
The sophistication and innovation of U.S. companies;
- A strong university system that collaborates with the business sector in R&D;
- Flexible labor markets; and
- The scale of opportunities afforded by the world's largest domestic economy.
(Contact: Erin Sparks)
Report Finds Disparities Among STEM Workers
A new report that examines demographic disparities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education indicates that gender and racial disparities are occurring among STEM workers in the United States. The report, released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, uses analysis of labor market outcomes which show that a higher concentration of non-Hispanic whites and Asians are among STEM workers. Importantly, the findings also indicate that STEM workers in all demographic groups, including foreign-born, earn more than their non-STEM counterparts. Furthermore, Hispanics and non-Hispanic Blacks receive a significantly larger STEM premium than do non-Hispanic Whites. Specific findings of the report include:
- Non-Hispanic Whites comprise the largest group of STEM workers, accounting for about seven out of ten STEM workers;
- Non-Hispanic Asians are most likely—42 percent—to graduate college with a STEM degree; and
- One in five STEM workers is foreign-born, of which 63 percent come from Asia.
(Contact: Travis Reindl)
States Invited to Participate in Regional Summits on Growing State Economies
As part of the yearlong NGA Chair's Initiative on Growing State Economies, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices will be hosting four regional summits. These summits will provide states an opportunity to learn from experts and business owners about the best strategies to create an environment focused on the importance of high-growth businesses in all its forms—startup firms, scalable enterprises, and transformational corporations. The summits also will provide time for states to engage in strategic planning and share successful examples.
States in good standing with NGA are invited to send a team of up to seven high-level individuals to one of the four regional summits. Travel and hotel expenses will be covered for three senior advisors (e.g., commerce director and policy advisor) from each state. State teams may include up to five additional individuals, at the state's expense, who play important roles in economic development (e.g., business leaders, industry association leaders, research park directors, or venture fund managers).
The four regional summits will be held in the following locations:
Hartford, Connecticut on October 11–12, 2011;
Nashville, Tennessee on November 14-15, 2011; *Date changed since original annoucement
Seattle, Washington on January 24-25, 2012; and
Omaha, Nebraska on April 24-25, 2012.
Please contact Erin Sparks if you have questions about the summits or application.
(Contact: Erin Sparks)