New Posts

Feb 8, 2016

Top 400 Taxpayers See Tax Rates Rise, But There’s More to the Story

As Americans were gathering party supplies to greet the New Year, the Internal Revenue Service released their annual report of cumulative tax data reported on the 400 tax r...

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Feb 4, 2016

Chlorine Bleach Plants Needlessly Endanger 63 Million Americans

Chlorine bleach plants across the U.S. put millions of Americans in danger of a chlorine gas release, a substance so toxic it has been used as a chemical weapon. Greenpeace’s new repo...

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Jan 25, 2016

U.S. Industrial Facilities Reported Fewer Toxic Releases in 2014

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data for 2014 is now available. The good news: total toxic releases by reporting facilities decreased by nearly six percent from 2013 levels. Howe...

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Jan 22, 2016

Methane Causes Climate Change. Here's How the President Plans to Cut Emissions by 40-45 Percent.

  UPDATE (Jan. 22, 2016): Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its proposed rule to reduce methane emissions...

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Election Transparency Threatened by Lack of Resources for Key Agency

Impeded by a lack of resources, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has been slow to publicly release recent campaign finance disclosures. The FEC is the independent agency charged with enforcing federal election laws and making campaign finance information available to the American people. This information is vital, particularly in the wake of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that gutted our campaign finance laws, and significant delays in releasing such data are of serious concern to the health of our democracy.

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Report Finds Flaws in Small Business Advocacy Office

According to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy has failed to develop and implement procedures necessary to ensure the office is effectively carrying out its mission of representing small businesses before federal agencies.  

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Q & A With Daphne Greenwood: How Outsourcing Can Harm Communities

Egregious examples of government contractors fleecing the public abound. But how does the outsourcing of government functions to contractors and the erosion of the public sector affect society?

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Q & A With Philip Mattera: Tens of Billions in State and Local Subsidies Annually Go to Big Business

States and local governments strike deals with corporations all the time – deals that normal people like you and I would have a hard time getting and deals that often deprive our governments of revenue even as promises of job creation often disappoint. These tax breaks, publicly funded cash incentives, free buildings, and worker training are done in the name of keeping or wooing businesses. Until relatively recently, the public mostly knew about these subsidies on an anecdotal basis.

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Privatized Government Services Lead to Millions for Corporate CEOs

State and local governments around the country have sold off functions that once were provided largely, if not entirely, by government workers. But it is becoming increasingly clear that that these privatization deals not only reduce democratic control over services the public pays for, but, despite attacks on the public sector, outsourcing is often more expensive to boot.

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Public Accountability in Public-Private Partnerships

The nonprofit group In The Public Interest (ITPI) released a white paper last week outlining what state and local governments should do when considering using public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects like roads. For anyone interested in maintaining democratic control of public structures as well as getting a good deal for the public, ITPI’s paper is a great starting point for designing and modifying laws and policies to achieve those goals.

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Long Overdue: Obama to Raise Minimum Wage for Federal Contractor Employees

In advance of his State of the Union speech tonight, the White House announced President Barack Obama will sign an executive order – which does not require congressional approval – to raise the wage floor to $10.10 for the lowest paid workers at companies that work on new federal government contracts.

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Corners Cut in Outsourced Background Checks: A Case for the Public Sector

Yesterday, the Justice Department alleged in a court document that a government contractor that conducts background security investigations for the U.S. government committed fraud for more than four years on more than 650,000 investigations for personnel seeking clearance to access secret classified government information. The company, U.S. Investigations Services (USIS), has been accused of knowingly billing the government for about 40 percent of investigations it conducted during that period despite cutting corners, called “dumping” by the company.

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Lead IT Contractor Gets the Boot: Why Contractor Oversight and Proper Planning Are Key to Effective Government

Late last week, The Washington Post broke the news that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was kicking CGI Federal off of its contract to develop and operate the complex website, which was wracked wit

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Why Targeting Defense Department Civilians Is a Problem

Many activists and analysts searching for reduced spending at the Pentagon commonly point to the post-9/11 growth of the department’s federal civilian workforce as a place to find significant savings. No doubt some savings could be found here, especially now that the war in Iraq is over and the one in Afghanistan draws to a close. But on closer examination, the savings from slashing the civilian workforce may not be as high as one might think. In some places, the department may want to further expand the ranks of its civilians to actually save more money.

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Resources & Research

Living in the Shadow of Danger: Poverty, Race, and Unequal Chemical Facility Hazards

People of color and people living in poverty, especially poor children of color, are significantly more likely...

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A Tale of Two Retirements: One for CEOs and One for the Rest of Us

The 100 largest CEO retirement funds are worth a combined $4.9 billion, equal to the entire retirement account savings of 41 percent of American fam...

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