Steven Aftergood: New from CRS

Congressional Research Service
Steven Aftergood
Steven Aftergood

China's Currency Policy: An Analysis of the Economic Issues, July 22, 2013

International Illegal Trade in Wildlife: Threats and U.S. Policy, July 23, 2013

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Natural Resource Damage Assessment Under the Oil Pollution Act, July 24, 2013

Analysis of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), July 22, 2013

Proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP): In Brief, July 23, 2013

Hague Convention Treaty on Recovery of International Child Support and H.R. 1896, July 15, 2013

Kazakhstan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests, July 22, 2013

CRS Reports (Index)

Steven Aftergood: CRS on Transparency

Congressional Research Service, Transparency
Steven Aftergood


President Obama's declared goal of making his “the most transparent Administration in history” generated successive waves of enthusiasm, perplexity, frustration, and mockery as public expectations of increased openness and accountability were lifted sky high and then — often, not always — thwarted.

Every Administration including this one presides over the release of more government information than did its predecessors, if only because more information is created with the passage of time and there is more that can be released.  But President Obama seemed to promise more than this.  What was it?

Part of the problem is definitional.

“Although there are laws that affect access to government information, there is no single definition for what constitutes transparency– nor is there an agreed upon way to measure it,” observes a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

Continue reading “Steven Aftergood: CRS on Transparency”

Steven Aftergood: CRS on Poverty and on Intelligence

01 Poverty, 03 Economy, 06 Family, 11 Society, Congressional Research Service, IO Impotency
Steven Aftergood


“In 2011, 46.2 million people were counted as poor in the United States, the same number as in 2010 and the largest number of persons counted as poor in the measure's 53-year recorded history,” according to a timely new report from the Congressional Research Service.  See Poverty in the United States: 2011, September 13, 2012.

Other new and newly updated CRS reports that have not been made publicly available include the following.

Intelligence Authorization Legislation: Status and Challenges, updated September 18, 2012

Latin America and the Caribbean: Fact Sheet on Leaders and Elections, updated September 17, 2012

Phi Beta Iota:  The juxtaposition of a report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on poverty in America – a hot issue being kept under wraps at this time – with a report on the intelligence authorization bill by two experienced analysts new to the account (Richard Best finally retired and Al Cumin is on assigment elsewhere), is encouraging.  In the latter instance, Richard F. Grimmett (CRS International Security analyst) and Rebecca S. Lange (an Air Force Fellow) demonstrate intelligence with integrity in tackling the militarization of intelligence and the excessive focus of intelligence on defense targets to the exclusion of all others (Whole of Government).

See Also:

Graphic: Intelligence Requirements Definition for the 21st Century

2008 Rebalancing the Instruments of National Power–Army Strategy Conference of 2008 Notes, Summary, & Article

Reference: CRS on Reducing the Budget Deficit

Congressional Research Service
April 22, 2011 – R41778

The budget deficit (the difference between outlays and revenues) each year from 2009 to 2011 has been the highest ever in dollar terms and significantly higher as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) than in any other year since World War II. The budget is not projected to be on a sustainable path under current policy, in the sense that it would cause the federal debt to continuously grow more quickly than GDP. While there has been no difficulty financing the deficit to date, at some point, investors could refuse to continue to finance deficits that they believed were unsustainable. As one example of the policy changes that would return the budget to a sustainable path, CRS estimates that to stabilize debt as a share of GDP at its 2011 level would require budget deficits averaging no more than 2.5% to 3% of GDP over the next 10 years. In dollar terms, this would amount to a deficit of about $400 billion in 2012, rising to about $550 billion in 2015. Under a current policy baseline, the deficit would decline from more than 9% of GDP in 2011 to 5% of GDP in 2014, and rise to 6% of …

Phi Beta Iota:  What many do not know is that CRS — as good as its people are — is constrained by corrupt Congressional mandates on what its operating assumptions will be.  The sucking chest wound in this report is the assumption that US GDP will continue to grow.  Our crude lay estimate is that it will collapse in 2013-2014 and there will be a decade-long slump during which localized resilience endeavors and alternative forms of monetary exchange will go completely off the financial charts.

Reference: Smart Nation Act (Simplified) 2011

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Reference: American War and Military Casualty Lists & Statistics

Congressional Research Service
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Phi Beta Iota: The below reference is of human interest, but lacks context.  Three major follow-on studies are needed, if someone can find a Member of Congress willing to ask for them:

1.  Actual number of amputations including number of limbs per person amputated.

2.  Suicides both while in service and post separation or retirement.

3.  Follow-On Gulf War Syndrome and other self-inflicted bio-chemical-radiological wounds and conditions sustained in relation to depleted uranium and other toxic by-products associated with conventional munitions.

There is another point that CRS needs to look into, this one most ably emphasized by MG Robert Scales, as documented the Notes of his 27 September 2010 presentation at the Brookings Institute:

His focus is on the reality that 4% of the “total force,” the engaged infantry, bear 80-81% of the total casualties, but receive less than 1% of the over-all acquisitions and training budget.  He calls this, rather memorably, a “cosmic incongruity.”

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