OMBlog

  • Senate Republican Bill Would Undermine Critical Financial Reforms and Consumer Protections

    Wall Street Reform built a stronger and more stable foundation for economic growth and made our financial system safer and more resilient by curbing excessive risk-taking, closing regulatory gaps, and putting in place the strongest consumer financial protections in history. However, its full benefit to our Nation's citizens and the economy cannot be realized unless the entities charged with establishing and enforcing the rules of the road have the resources and independence to do so.  That’s why the President has been clear that we have to fund Wall Street’s regulators at levels that allow them to do their important work, and he’s repeatedly proposed funding levels in each year’s Budget that would be sufficient to implement Wall Street Reform.  And that is also why he has repeatedly fought to keep our regulators free from the political whims of Congress.

    This week marked the fifth anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and we saw Democrats united in their commitment to defend it. As Democrats in Congress expressed in a report, “Republican appropriators in the House undercut the SEC and CFTC by refusing to adequately increase their funding, despite the fact that they are given significant new responsibilities under Dodd-Frank.”  We agree. 

    Just days after marking this milestone, Republicans are making another attempt to gut these important reforms. Senate Republicans have introduced a bill that proposes almost the same unacceptable overall funding level as proposed by the House earlier this year and includes more objectionable attempts to undermine critical financial reforms and consumer protections.  The bill would impede regulators’ ability to better oversee the financial system and would erode safeguards in mortgage markets by leaving large financial institutions unaccountable.

    Republicans have put forward bills that would undermine Wall Street’s watchdogs by funding them at levels well below what is needed to implement reform.

    • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): Compared to the President's Budget, the Republicans would cut funding for the SEC by $222 million, or 13 percent, hindering its enforcement, examination, and market oversight functions and thereby reducing investor protections.
       
    • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB):  Republicans would subject the CFPB to annual appropriations, which would weaken its independence and undermine its ability to serve the most vulnerable consumer populations. Politicizing the funding of bank supervision would be a step in the wrong direction.
       
    • Commodity Futures Trade Commission (CFTC): Compared to the President’s Budget, Republicans would cut funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission by at least $72 million, or 22 percent, which would hamstring the CFTC’s ability to protect our economy from the kinds of recklessness and excessive risk-taking that caused so much harm during the financial crisis.

    In addition to underfunding the regulators, Republicans have included a large package of unrelated, partisan, special interest riders that would undercut Wall Street reform by impeding regulators’ ability to better oversee the financial system; eroding safeguards in mortgage markets; and letting large financial institutions off the hook, under the guise of regulatory relief for community banks. This tactic of using riders on budget legislation to chip away at crucial financial reforms is unacceptable, and the Administration has made clear we will strongly oppose these efforts. 

    These are just examples of the broader Republican strategy to fund the government at the lowest level in a decade and undermine an orderly appropriations process by including highly problematic ideological provisions.  The only path forward in the appropriations process is for Congressional Republicans to join Congressional Democrats at the negotiating table and reach a commonsense bipartisan deal that lifts sequestration.  With strong job growth since the last bipartisan budget agreement and so much progress made reforming Wall Street since the crisis, there is no reason to go backwards by undoing critical protections that build a safer and stronger financial system.

     

    Shaun Donovan is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance: A Lifeline for Millions of American Workers and Their Families

    The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is a vital lifeline for millions of American workers and their families. It is a critical component of our nation's Social Security system, which provides insurance to workers and their families in retirement and in the event of a serious, long-term disability. Millions of workers have benefited and from SSDI since it was established nearly 60 years ago. And the 11 million Americans who currently benefit from SSDI could face a deep and abrupt 19 percent reduction in benefits if lawmakers fail to act to address a long-projected shortfall in the program’s finances.

    Today, the White House is releasing a report that explains how this critical program works, who it helps, and its importance for working families.

  • Bringing Our Immigration System into the Digital Age

    In November, President Obama announced a series of Executive Actions to fix the broken immigration system. As a part of these efforts, he charged the key federal agencies responsible for administering our legal immigration system to explore ways to modernize and streamline the system. The goal was to develop recommendations to bring the system into the 21st century to grow our economy, help businesses and workers, and protect families.

    Today, we are taking the next step in this effort, releasing a report on Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century. This report includes a wide range of new actions that federal agencies will undertake to improve the visa experience for families, workers, employers, and people in need of humanitarian relief.

  • Mid-Session Review 2016

    Today, the Office of Management and Budget released the 2016 Mid-Session Review (MSR), which updates the Administration’s estimates for outlays, receipts, and the deficit in light of economic, legislative, and other developments that occurred since the release of the President’s 2016 Budget in February. 

    Under the President’s leadership, the deficit has been cut by more than two-thirds as a share of the economy, representing the most rapid sustained deficit reduction since World War II, and it continues to fall.  The MSR projects a $455 billion deficit in 2015, which is 2.6 percent of GDP, nearly $30 billion less than last year’s deficit and $128 billion lower than the projection of the 2015 deficit back in February.  To further strengthen the long-term fiscal outlook and put the Nation on a sustainable fiscal path, the President’s Budget proposes $1.75 trillion of deficit reduction over 10 years, primarily from health, tax, and immigration reform.  The MSR confirms that the President’s policies will keep deficits low and stabilize debt as a share of the economy.  Deficits under the President’s proposed policies will continue to fall to between 2.2 and 2.4 percent of GDP over the next three years and stabilize at 2.7 percent of GDP in the second half of the 10-year budget window, avoiding the increases that would occur without these policies.

    At the same time, the American people’s determination and resilience, coupled with the Administration’s efforts, are driving the economy full steam ahead.  Businesses have added 12.8 million jobs over 64 straight months of private-sector job growth.  Since the beginning of 2014, job growth has accelerated and the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.3 percent.  The United States is producing more oil than it imports, and domestic natural gas and wind production has been setting record highs.  After five years of implementation of the Affordable Care Act, more than 16 million people have gained health insurance coverage, bringing the uninsured rate to the lowest level on record.  Meanwhile, during the period since the Affordable Care Act became law, health care prices have grown at the slowest rate in nearly 50 years.

    But the President believes more can be done, and our top priority must remain accelerating growth while expanding opportunity for all Americans.  The President's 2016 Budget is designed to bring middle class economics into the 21st Century.  The Budget reverses sequestration and shows what we can do if we invest in America's future and commit to an economy that rewards hard work, generates rising incomes, and allows everyone to share in the prosperity of a growing America.  It lays out a strategy to strengthen our middle class and help America's hard-working families get ahead in a time of economic and technological change.  And it makes the critical investments needed to accelerate and sustain economic growth in the long run, including in research, education, training, and infrastructure.

    America’s promise has always been that if we work hard, we can change our circumstances for the better.  The Budget lays out a strategy to reach that promise by investing in the drivers of growth and opportunity for all Americans.  The numbers show we have a plan that works and we do not have to choose between making those critical investments and putting the Nation’s finances on a strong and sustainable path.  What we cannot afford is a return to the short-sighted austerity in the Congressional Republicans’ 2016 budget.  The President has been clear that he will not accept a budget that locks in sequestration going forward, nor one that reverses sequestration for defense without also reversing sequestration for education, research, and other non-defense priorities because he recognizes that our economic prosperity and our national security are linked.  The only path forward on the budget is a bipartisan, commonsense solution that recognizes that principle and reverses sequestration for both defense and non-defense.  That is the approach that the President’s 2016 Budget embodies; that the Congress was able to come together to support on a bipartisan basis two years ago; and that Members from both parties have urged.

     

    Shaun Donovan is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

  • State-by-State: Land Acquisition, Construction, and Repair and Rehabilitation Projects That Would be Prevented or Delayed by Congressional Republicans

    This week, the House of Representatives will vote on a bill that fails to provide for the responsible protection and management of our Nation's natural heritage and resources or fully honor our obligations and commitments to tribal nations. Instead, the House Republican bill includes shortsighted funding cuts that would undermine fiscal responsibility, national conservation, environmental priorities, and our economic competitiveness.

    Specifically, the House Republican bill blocks investments that rein in future costs to taxpayers by facilitating increased energy development; maintaining facilities and infrastructure; and bolstering preparedness and resilience against the effects a changing climate.  The bill reduces support for partnerships with States, local governments, and private entities on efforts to restore and conserve natural resources.  And the bill makes it harder for States and businesses to plan and execute changes that will decrease carbon pollution.

    In addition to its unacceptable funding levels, the House Republican bill also includes numerous highly problematic ideologically-motivated provisions that threaten to undermine the ability of States and communities to tackle climate change, as well as ensure the most basic protections for our air, water, and America's special places and the people and wildlife that rely on them. American families are counting on us to take steps to protect the environment and the health of our children and communities.  This bill shirks that responsibility.

    The impacts of that shortsighted approach will be felt across the country.  For example, almost every State would have at least one important conservation or national parks project obstructed or delayed as funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and national parks gets dramatically cut.

    The LWCF has been a crucial tool for 50 years in conserving vital iconic landscapes, from the Great Smoky Mountains to Rocky Mountain National Park. The Fund reinvests revenues from offshore oil and gas development to support LWCF programs that enhance existing parks, conserve treasured landscapes, preserve historic sites like Civil War battlefields, and open land for all sorts of public uses – from hunting, fishing and hiking to establishing parks – while stimulating investment in the protection and maintenance of these resources across the Nation. 

    Federal land acquisition can also reduce land management costs.  In the past five years, over 99 percent of the lands acquired by the Department of the Interior were inholdings within existing conservation units.  The acquisition of inholdings can reduce maintenance and manpower costs by reducing boundary conflicts, simplifying resource management activities, and easing access to and through public lands. This focus maximizes management efficiencies for the agencies and, in many cases, reduces costs.  Furthermore, the LWCF generates economic activity throughout the nation.  In 2012, recreation activities on federally-managed lands and waters contributed an estimated $51 billion and 880,000 jobs to the U.S. economy.

    Instead of supporting these successful conservation efforts, Republicans in the House of Representatives are proposing to cut discretionary funding for the LWCF by $152 million, or 38 percent, below the President’s Budget.  Efforts in the Everglades to protect, restore, and conserve habitat for critical species would be impaired and delayed, and at Acadia National Park – where almost 1,500 species of trees, shrubs, and other plant life exist – the natural and scenic resources of the park would be left unprotected.  In total, the House would fund only 13 of the 86 projects proposed in the President’s Budget.  That’s not just bad news for these projects; it’s bad news for the individuals, communities, and businesses that rely on these recreation areas and ecosystems.   

    The bill also fails to provide adequate funding to prepare for the National Parks Centennial in 2016, which would result in the delay of roughly 70 percent of line-item park construction projects and 36 percent of repair and rehabilitation projects. For example, construction projects at Yosemite National Park, the National Mall and Memorial Parks, and Grand Teton National Park would be delayed.  

    For more information about the specific impacts of the House Republican bill on LWCF acquisition projects and National Park Service construction and repair and rehabilitation projects in your state, click here. For information about the impacts of the very similar Senate Republican bill, click here. These specific examples from the House and Senate Republican bill are archetypical of a Budget approach that fails the basic test: it’s an approach that doesn’t move our economy forward and one that doesn’t live up to our values and responsibility to the next generation.

     

    Shaun Donovan is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Estimating the Benefits from Carbon Dioxide Emissions Reductions

    By now, just about everyone accepts that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are warming our planet and changing our climate in harmful ways.  With growing frequency we see headlines about extreme weather events such as heat waves, polar melting, severe drought, and violent storms—a dangerous mix whose costs for our economy and environment will only grow over time.  Transitioning to a lower carbon economy is an essential step toward reducing these costs. The social cost of carbon (SCC) is a tool that helps Federal agencies decide which carbon-reducing regulatory approaches make the most sense—to know which come at too great a cost and which are a good deal for society. The SCC is a range of estimates, in dollars, of the long-term damage done by one ton of carbon emissions. 

    The effort to incorporate the SCC into regulatory impact analysis started during the Bush Administration.  At that time, each Federal agency developed its own estimate of the SCC using a variety of methodologies. In 2009, the Obama Administration established a working group of technical experts from across the government to develop a single set of estimates, based on the best available science and economics, to be used by all agencies in their emissions reducing regulations. In February 2010, after considering public comments on interim values that agencies had been using, the working group released harmonized and improved SCC estimates, along with a Technical Support Document (TSD) that explained how the SCC estimates were derived. Recognizing that the underlying models would evolve and improve over time as scientific and economic understanding increased, the Administration committed to periodic updates of the 2010 estimates. 

    In November 2013, OMB published a request for comment on a set of updated SCC estimates and the methodology used to develop them, to supplement the comments already routinely received when agencies use the SCC in particular rulemakings.  In response, we received about 150 substantive comments, some quite lengthy and technical, as well as about 39,000 form letters that expressed support for our efforts to establish a harmonized SCC.

    Today, we are following up on that public comment process and announcing next steps for further refining the social cost of carbon:

    • First, we are publishing a detailed summary and formal response to the many thoughtful comments we received.
       
    • Second, we are issuing some minor technical revisions to the SCC, and publishing a revised TSD that explains those changes. The resulting central SCC estimate for a ton of CO2 emitted in 2015 is $36.
       
    • Third, to ensure that the next SCC update keeps up with the latest available science and economics, we will seek independent expert advice on opportunities to improve the estimates, including many of the approaches suggested by commenters and summarized in the Response to Comments document. Specifically, we are asking the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide advice on the pros and cons of potential approaches to future updates. Input from the Academies, informed by on-going public comment and the peer-reviewed literature, will help to ensure that the SCC estimates used by the federal government continue to reflect the best available science and economics. Federal agencies will continue to use the current SCC estimates in regulatory impact analysis until further updates can be made to reflect the forthcoming guidance from the Academies.

    The SCC will become increasingly important if we are to protect our economy, environment, and quality of life for current and future generations from the mounting costs of climate change. The Administration is committed to ensuring consistency across Federal agencies in how they value the carbon emission reductions that will result from their rules.  We will continue to keep these estimates informed by the most up-to-date science and economics so that agencies can appropriately account for the social cost of carbon emissions in evaluating the costs and benefits of their regulations.

     

    Howard Shelanski is the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Maurice Obstfeld is a Member of the Council of Economic Advisers.

  • Making Federal Investments Climate-Smart

    Climate action makes fiscal and economic sense, and that is why we are taking new steps to code it into the DNA of how we do business at OMB.

    Each year, OMB issues a revised Circular A-11.  This is the Federal Government’s budgeting playbook.  For the entire Executive Branch, the Circular provides the latest guidance and technical instruction on how to prepare, submit, and execute the Budget.  Agencies are asked to submit budget requests that reflect the priorities of the Administration, including improving the efficiency and effectiveness of government and returning the highest value to the American taxpayer.

    To that end, for the first time, the Circular includes an explicit requirement for the entire Executive Branch to ensure that funding requests in support of Federal facilities align with the Administration’s climate preparedness and resilience goals. 

    Specifically, OMB is asking all Federal agencies to consider climate preparedness and resiliency objectives as part of their Fiscal Year 2017 budget requests for construction and maintenance of Federal facilities.  We are making it very clear that this is a priority in proposals for capital funding.  Why?  Because making our Federal facility investments climate-smart reduces our fiscal exposure to the impacts of climate change.  It’s the right thing to do to run an efficient and effective government.  And it’s the right thing to do to return the highest value to the American taxpayer.

    Of course, climate-smart will take on different meaning for each agency and asset. Our Federal portfolio of real estate is incredibly diverse, from office buildings to hospitals to laboratories to warehouses and beyond. For example, the Department of Defense alone manages over 560,000 facilities globally. The climate impacts the breadth of our Federal real estate portfolio. Specifically, many of these assets, and the critical domestic and national security missions they support, are vulnerable to climate-related extreme weather events – like hurricanes, wildfire, floods, and drought. For instance, just last week, the National Park Service identified more than $40 billion in national park infrastructure and historic and cultural resources put at risk by sea level rise. 

    So, while the United States leads global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are also taking action to better prepare and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change today. That is why the Administration is working to reduce taxpayers’ exposure to the impacts of climate change through grants, technical assistance, and programs in sectors from transportation and water management to conservation and disaster relief.  The reason is simple: we can reduce future costs by making smarter investments up front.  It’s true for communities across the nation, and it’s true for the Federal Government. 

     

    Ali Zaidi is the Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy and Science at the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Behind the Buy: Leveraging an Agile and Iterative Approach to Help Save American Lives

    Author’s Note: The "Behind the Buy" podcast features audio stories told by members of the Federal acquisition workforce who have successfully executed best practice IT contracting strategies from the TechFAR and Digital Services Playbook to help their agency meet its mission.

    In this Behind the Buy podcast, OFPP Administrator Anne Rung interviews Consumer Financial Protection Bureau contracting officer, Tara Jamison, who has experience in executing agile and iterative strategies supported by the TechFAR Handbook and Digital Services Playbook at the Department of Defense and Department of Justice. Jamison explains how, through the procurement of counter-roadside bomb technology, she used rapid development and deployment to help save American lives during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

    Tara employed an agile and iterative approach (Play #4) to buy jammer platforms that are worn by soldiers and mounted on vehicles for blocking radio signals that remotely detonate roadside bombs. Although this technology already existed at the time - its application required significant customization for combat purposes. Tara and her team addressed this emergency need by engaging contractors to determine technical capabilities and exchange best practices, strategies, and potential solutions. Every morning, Tara’s team discussed priorities for each iteration with all service branches and contractors. She managed their competing priorities by enabling each service branch to regularly test, evaluate, and aid in source selection. This consensus strategy was achieved by establishing the rules of engagement early on in the planning process between the service branches, leadership, and supporting offices. As the program matured, its purchasing strategy evolved and is now completely customized for combat purposes.

    Contracting officers must engage their customers early to facilitate collaboration and strategic planning. As a customer’s needs change, so must the approach. Tara teaches listeners that effective procurement is achieved by gauging and addressing customer concerns while maintaining the integrity of the intended outcome.

  • Protecting Public Health and the Environment

    President Obama is committed to protecting public health and the environment. Just yesterday, the White House hosted a Summit on Climate Change and Public Health. The Summit brought together senior White House and Administration officials, doctors, nurses, students, mothers, public health organizations, and deans from medical, public health and nursing schools around the country to, in the words of President Obama, “address the gathering challenges and costs that the threat of a changing climate poses to our nation’s health.”

    Congress is moving in the other direction. This week, the House will begin debate on H.R. 2822, a bill that would undermine the Administration’s efforts to protect the health of communities around the country, including those that are the most vulnerable like children and the elderly. It would block common-sense carbon pollution standards for power plants, which if finalized as proposed would prevent more than 150,000 asthma attacks in kids and up to 6,660 premature deaths each year.

    The bill would also prevent EPA from updating one of our most important air quality standards – the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone. Updating national standards for ozone pollution, which is particularly harmful for children and adults with asthma, would, if finalized as proposed, prevent thousands of premature deaths and hospital admissions and prevent up to a million lost school days each year. These are just two of many provisions in the bill that would force EPA to ignore science at the expense of public health.

    We have benefited from 40 years of success under the Clean Air Act. In fact, since the Clean Air Act was enacted with bipartisan support in 1970, the economy has more than tripled in size, while harmful air pollution has decreased by nearly 70 percent. The Administration will continue to defend the Clean Air Act and protect public health.

    Ali Zaidi is the Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy and Science at the Office of Management and Budget. Dan Utech is the Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. Christy Goldfuss is the Managing Director of the Council on Environmental Quality.

  • State-By-State: House Republican Budget Bill Would Harm Students, Workers, Health Care, and the Economy

    Congressional Republicans have started to show how they plan to budget at discretionary levels that are the lowest in a decade, adjusted for inflation.  House Republicans are proposing to shortchange students, workers, our nation’s health, and the economy by cutting overall funding for the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services by roughly $15 billion, or 9 percent, compared to the President’s Budget. Through a combination of funding cuts and ideologically-motivated provisions, the Republican bill being marked up in full committee in the House today would, for example, leave millions of Americans without health insurance, reduce access to early education, make college students more vulnerable to poorly performing career colleges, and jeopardize worker rights and safety. 

    The deep cuts in the Republican bill are a direct result of their decision to lock in funding cuts imposed by sequestration.  Sequestration was never intended to take effect: rather, it was supposed to threaten such drastic cuts to both defense and non-defense funding that policymakers would be motivated to come to the table and reduce the deficit through smart, balanced reforms.  The President's Budget would reverse these cuts going forward, replacing the savings with commonsense spending and tax reforms in order to make investments important to families, the economy, and our national security.  Unfortunately, the bills and appropriations targets released to date double-down on a very different approach.

    Click below to read more about how House Republicans’ short-sighted priorities will affect your State:

    Alabama

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    District of Columbia

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    Shaun Donovan is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Priority Goal Update

    Eighteen months ago, the Administration committed to ambitious improvements in Government services and better outcomes for the American public.  We established 15 new Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goals and every Federal Agency published a small number of Agency Priority Goals (APG), totaling 91 goals across the Federal Government aimed at improving government performance.

    As we approach the half-way point in delivery of the CAP Goals, we are seeing real progress and success as agencies work together and break down silos. On Friday we published quarterly progress updates on Performance.gov and I wanted to highlight a few examples of the progress being made:

    • Smarter IT –On March 30, 2015, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Transformation program began using its new Electronic Information System to accept and process one of the agency’s highest-volume applications, the I-90 form, which is an application to renew or replace a Permanent Resident card. A U.S. Digital Service team from OMB worked hand-in-hand with USCIS Transformation program staff to prepare for this release. Digitizing America’s immigration application process will allow the agency to provide a better customer experience, combat fraud, improve accuracy, and reduce the costs associated with paper-based application forms and processes. This is one of many efforts under the CAP Goal to enable the federal government to procure, build, and provide world-class, cost-effective IT delivery for its citizens. Leveraging the U.S. Digital Service team to assist agencies in designing and delivering smarter IT is a key strategy under the goal. In the second quarter of FY15, digital services experts were involved with eleven IT projects across government. 
    • Veterans and Service Members Mental Health – Data newly available shows that, for those Service members completing a Post-Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA) in 2013, who screened positive for PTSD, depression, or alcohol abuse and received a referral to mental health specialty or behavioral health in primary care, 55% received care at the Department of Veterans Affairs or Department of Defense (FY13), up from 46% in 2011 and performing well against our target of 56% by FY16.
    • Open Data – Earlier this year, the US Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior, and the Recreation.gov team hosted the open-to-the-public myAmerica Developer Summit. Eighty outside-of-government developers, entrepreneurs, outdoor enthusiasts, and representatives from other Federal agencies attended, half of whom traveled to DC for the event, with the goal of using publicly available recreation data to develop tools to allow travelers to discover and maximize their experiences on America's public lands. The "unconference" format, which allowed participants to form groups organically, develop and refine ideas, and work towards solutions, resulted in eleven teams working through the weekend to develop prototypes for applications such as in-park informational beacons, platforms for crowd-sourced trail data, and competitive games for kids. Hosting hackathons like this one is part of the CAP goal strategy of fueling the external open data ecosystem and feedback cycle. In the second quarter of FY15, the number of data views from Data.gov, where this recreation data resides, grew 25% to over 400,000 views.
    • Lab to Market – This goal aims to help entrepreneurs take federal innovations into the market place. Successfully facilitating their access to federal labs and innovations requires that federal employees understand entrepreneurship. 534 teams who work on federally funded R&D projects have completed immersion courses providing opportunities for experiential entrepreneurship education. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has successfully completed the I-Corps curriculum geared towards Life Sciences, and the Agriculture Research Service at USDA has begun the I-Corps pilot.  The Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Army Research Office, and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences/NIH are exploring I-Corps partnerships with the National Science Foundation. I-Corps@Ohio, modeled after the NSF I-Corps program, is launching a statewide program to assist faculty and graduate students from Ohio universities and colleges to validate the market potential of their technologies and validate and launch startup companies.

    While results to date have been encouraging, delivery across agency boundaries is not easy. In particular there is no established means of funding these cross-agency efforts, which stymies the Federal Government’s ability to quickly and fully address these challenges and deliver results for the American people. 

    The President’s Budget included a high priority transfer authority proposal, which would provide a total of $15 million in agency-transferred funding to support key implementation activities and accelerate progress on current CAP goals. The House Republican Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill does not include this transfer authority; as such the bill fails to establish a means of funding the execution of cross-agency efforts on areas critical to the Nation's economy and prosperity. Without such authority, CAP Goal leaders are constrained in their ability to implement effective solutions across agencies, leaving various Federal programs and activities to address shared issues in a duplicative, siloed, and ad hoc way.

    The experience of implementing the CAP Goals has reinforced our belief that Government needs to prioritize building the skills and capabilities critical to leading enterprise-wide change. Last week I wrote to my PMC Colleagues and formally launched the pilot year of the new White House Leadership Development (WHLD) Program, which the President announced in an address to SES last December.  This is an innovative rotational developmental experience which will create a cadre of high potential senior-level career employees with the skill-sets and networks needed to achieve results in an increasingly complex and cross-organizational environment.  In a number of cases I expect that participants in the WHLD Program will work closely with CAP Goal leaders in accelerating implementation and achievement of these ambitious outcomes. Agencies have been asked to nominate candidates by August 3 and the first year-long cohort will begin on October 1.  More information on this program is available at PIC.GOV/blog and we encourage individuals to apply. 

     

    Beth Cobert is the U.S. Chief Performance Officer and the Deputy Director for Management at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

     

  • House Republicans Fail to Invest in Students, Workers, Our Nation’s Health, and the Economy

    House Republicans are proposing to shortchange students, workers, our nation’s health, and the economy by cutting overall funding for the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services by roughly $15 billion, or 9 percent, compared to the President’s Budget.

    But the impacts can be measured in more than dollars. Through a combination of funding cuts and ideologically-motivated provisions, the Republican bill will, for example, leave millions of Americans without health insurance, reduce access to early education, make college students more vulnerable to poorly performing career colleges, and jeopardize worker rights and safety, among many other deleterious effects. 

    The deep cuts in the Republican bill are a direct result of locking in sequestration. In contrast, the President put forward a comprehensive budget proposal that reverses sequestration, invests in both our critical domestic and national security priorities, and cuts the deficit.

    Compared to the President’s Budget, under the House Republican Labor- H bill:

    Health Care

    Millions of Americans could lose their health care coverage, and innovations that are helping to slow health care cost growth and improve quality would be blocked.  After five years of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than 16 million people have gained health insurance coverage, bringing the uninsured rate to the lowest level on record.  Through a combination of funding cuts and ideologically-motivated restrictions, the House Republican bill would obstruct the functioning of the Health Insurance Marketplaces, jeopardizing or disrupting coverage for the more than 10 million people currently enrolled in health insurance plans through the Marketplaces.  It would also deny assistance to States expanding their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, jeopardizing coverage for many millions more.

    The bill also seeks to turn back the clock on the progress we’ve made in containing health care costs and improving quality.  Recent years have seen exceptionally slow growth across a wide range of measures of health care costs. The ACA has contributed to these trends by reducing excessive Medicare payments to Medicare providers and private insurers and by supporting innovative new ways of paying for health care in Medicare and throughout our health care system that encourage lower-cost, higher-quality care. These effects will grow in the years ahead as successful delivery system reforms mature and are scaled up and additional innovative reforms are implemented. But the House Republican bill would block most of these innovations:

    • The bill rescinds funding for cost-saving and quality-improving delivery system innovation at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Innovation Center), which is actively testing new payment and service delivery models that will improve health care quality and reduce health care costs. One Innovation Center model, the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization demonstration, generated over $384 million in savings to Medicare over its first two years while delivering high-quality patient care.
    • The bill also eliminates the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which invests in health services research that forms the foundation for delivery system reform efforts aimed at reducing health care costs and improving quality system-wide. For example, AHRQ’s research developed methods for measuring and reducing rates of patient harm in hospitals, which contributed to a 17% decline in hospital-acquired conditions between 2010 and 2013, corresponding to 1.3 million avoided patient harms and an estimated 50,000 avoided deaths since 2010.

    Education

    Young children would lose access to high quality early education. Motivated by evidence that students who spend more time in high quality early learning programs learn more, the President’s Budget provides a $1.5 billion increase for Head Start so that all Head Start children have access to a full school day and year of high-quality instruction and to increase enrollment. By contrast, under the funding provided by the House Republican bill, either more than 570,000 children in Head Start would not receive the full-day, full-year services they need to succeed, the program would serve some 140,000 fewer children as compared to the President’s budget, or some combination of both. 

    The bill also blocks major efforts to expand high-quality public preschool to more four-year-olds by eliminating Preschool Development Grant funding for the eighteen states that are creating or expanding high-quality preschool programs for low- and moderate-income children.   Pulling these funds away from communities jeopardizes their plans to provide high-quality early learning for more than 100,000 children, including nearly 60,000 children who would lose access to public preschool entirely and thousands more who will lose out on key quality improvements to existing preschool programs.  The President’s Budget, by contrast, expands the number of states that could undertake this important work.

    The bill also fails to provide an increase in child care funding to help States implement the quality improvements and reforms called for in the recently-enacted bipartisan child care legislation.

    K-12 students will be shortchanged. The House bill provides $2 billion less than current year funding and $5 billion less than the 2016 President’s Budget for our nation’s schools. It would eliminate 19 programs that serve primarily PreK-12 students and underfund core programs, including Title I, which supports educational improvements for our most vulnerable students.  These eliminations take away critical resources being used to turn around low-performing schools, enhance STEM education,  promote the arts, create safe school environments, and support educators who are doing the important work of preparing America’s students for the future.

    Among the programs slated for elimination is the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3), which is helping to identify what works when it comes to supporting effective teachers and principals, turning around persistently low-performing schools, and leveraging technology to accelerate student learning. Without this unique initiative, there would be no robust mechanism to test innovative ideas and scale proven programs so that our education dollars have the greatest impact on achievement.

    Colleges would become less accountable for providing a quality and affordable education.  Even as students across the country are reeling from the actions of failed and fraudulent career colleges, the bill includes a series of ideologically-motivated provisions that roll back important efforts to hold schools accountable to both students and taxpayers.  Recent school closures and evidence of fraud at certain for-profit institutions make it clearer than ever that we need more – not less – oversight, transparency, and accountability in higher education. Yet the House Republican bill would roll back a set of important accountability initiatives, including the “Gainful Employment” regulation, rules that are designed to bar poor performing career college programs from accessing student aid. The bill also would halt the Administration’s efforts to provide students and families with clear information about how students who attend different colleges fare.

    Workers and the Economy

    Enforcement of workers’ rights, benefits, and safety protections would be weakened.  The bill includes deep cuts and ideological riders that would hamstring the agencies charged with protecting the safety, health, wages, benefits, retirement security, and collective bargaining rights of the nation’s workers. 

    • The bill underfunds the enforcement of minimum wage, child labor, family leave, and other wage and hour laws, providing 22 percent, or $61 million, less than the President’s Budget.  This would result in weaker protections for low-wage workers who are deprived of fair pay, parents who seek to take legally-protected leave after their children are born, and underage workers who are put in harm’s way. Under the Republican bill, an estimated $70 million less in back wages would be recovered—money that would make a real difference for workers and their families.
    • Agencies that keep workers in mines and other hazardous workplaces safe from harm would see their funding cut 8 percent, or $81 million, below the President’s Budget.  This would mean fewer inspections of dangerous workplaces, a slower response to fatalities and serious injuries, and diminished protections for workers who report unsafe and unscrupulous behavior.
    • The bill cuts funding for the National Labor Relations Board to below its 2000 level, almost 30 percent below the President’s Budget, crippling its ability to protect workers from unlawful treatment on the job for taking action to improve their working conditions.

    Ideologically-motivated policy provisions would do further damage, such as:

    • Blocking the issuance of a regulation to protect retirement savers by ensuring that investment advisors are acting in the best interests of their clients.  This is a common sense rule that protects those saving for retirement from being steered into investments that are in their advisors’ financial interest but not theirs.
    • Impeding the Department of Labor’s implementation of the initiative to ensure that Federal contractors maintain safe workplaces and pay fair wages to their employees.  The federal government buys goods and services from a large group of contractors around the country and should not use taxpayer dollars to support companies that put their workers’ safety in jeopardy or fail to pay their workers what they are owed under the law.
    • Blocking the National Labor Relations Board’s common-sense rules to level the playing field for workers who want to vote on whether to have a voice in the workplace.

    Fewer workers would get job training or help finding a job. Under the Republican bill, two million fewer Americans would have access to services to help them find jobs and gain skills.  At a time when workers need new skills to succeed in today’s economy and businesses are struggling to find skilled workers, the bill provides almost $500 million less for employment and training programs than the President’s Budget.  The bill also slashes funding for grants to areas facing mass layoffs or natural disasters, denies needed support for implementation of the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and provides none of the requested funds to expand apprenticeships so more workers and employers can benefit from this proven learn-and-earn model.

    Social Security beneficiaries and applicants would see poorer service from the Social Security Administration.  The House Republican bill provides $652 million less for the operation of the Social Security Administration, the agency charged with making sure retirees, people with disabilities, survivors and dependents of workers get the Social Security benefits their families have earned.  This cut in funding compared to the President’s Budget could lead to reduced field office hours of service, longer in-office wait times, and longer phone service delays and more busy signals for those who call SSA for help.  The bill also limits the resources SSA can use to conduct periodic eligibility reviews in its programs, making it harder for the agency to ensure that benefits are going to those who continue to meet the disability and income eligibility requirements.

    National Service

    The number of national service members working in communities across the country would be sharply reduced.  The House bill includes almost $500 million, or 42 percent, less than the President’s Budget for national service programs.  The Republican bill would mean that tens of thousands fewer AmeriCorps members would be able to serve their communities while earning money to cover college costs or repay student loans.  AmeriCorps members serve in more than 25,000 locations across the country--including thousands of public schools, communities hit by disaster, organizations helping veterans, tribal nations, and faith-based groups. Under this bill, AmeriCorps would have to drop many of these service areas and projects. 

    Public Health and Safety

    Our Nation would have fewer resources to effectively respond to and recover from public health emergencies and catastrophes, such as hurricanes, an anthrax outbreak, or a disease pandemic. The bill underfunds our ability to ensure safe and effective medical countermeasures are available through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to protect Americans and does not support increased funding to procure new medical countermeasures through Project BioShield that are needed to protect against potential chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks. Further, the bill fails to provide the $110 million requested in the President’s Budget to more effectively respond to urgent public health crises, like an infectious disease outbreak, that require immediate or sustained responses.

    Millions of low-income women would not receive needed preventative and reproductive health services.  The House Bill would eliminate funding for Title X Family Planning, which serves five million low-income women each year.  These services, which do not include abortion, help avert approximately one million unintended pregnancies annually.  Additionally, the bill appears to dramatically decrease funding for the evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program that has made strides in teenage pregnancy prevention across the Nation. U.S. teen birthrates have fallen to record lows, and the reduction of TPP funding could hamper significant progress made in this healthcare area.        

     

    Shaun Donovan is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Prepared Remarks of OMB Director Shaun Donovan, Williams Institute Spring Reception

    Editor’s Note – The following prepared remarks were originally delivered by OMB Director Shaun Donovan at the Williams Institute’s annual Spring Reception on May 20, 2015. Director Donovan spoke about driving the President’s vision and budget for a whole range of issues confronting the LGBT community, including homelessness, poverty, HIV/AIDS and expanding and improving LGBT data collection.

    May 20, 2015

    Prepared Remarks of OMB Director Shaun Donovan, Williams Institute Spring Reception

    I want to thank Brad Sears, Chuck Williams, and the remarkable team at the Williams Institute for inviting me to speak.

    For 14 years, the Williams Institute has served as one of our Nation’s leading think tanks on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy.  Your rigorous, independent research has influenced legislation codified in the halls of Congress, made its way into numerous Supreme Court briefs, and has helped make extraordinary progress in improving the day-to-day lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people across the nation.

    To put it into context, in 2001, when Chuck Williams founded the Institute:

    • a majority of Americans didn’t believe in equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples;
    • no state in the union recognized marriage equality;
    • the U.S. government banned people from entering this country because of their HIV status; and
    • gays and lesbians had to lie to fight on the battlefield for the country they loved;

    Today, a majority of States recognize the right to marry the person you love.  Today, you cannot be fired from federal service because of your sexual orientation or gender identity.  Today, you don’t have to worry about a spouse in the hospital with the added fear of producing a legal document just to comfort the person you love. Today, because of the Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, perpetrators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for crimes based on one’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.  And today, if you are applying for federal housing assistance, you cannot be denied that assistance or shelter you need because of who you are, who you love, or what you look like – as former HUD Secretary, this is something I take a small measure of personal pride for.

    At the Office of Management and Budget, we have a unique position in advancing and ingraining this progress into the fabric of how government serves the American people.  As the nucleus of the Federal Government, OMB’s core mission is to implement and enforce the President’s vision government-wide.  

    We carry out that mission through all three of our functions: budget, management, and regulation.

    Through the President’s budget, we have sought to support and expand opportunity for LBGT Americans.  In dozens of programs across the federal landscape – like healthcare, criminal justice, housing, and education – we have proposed expansion of the rights and benefits available to LGBT people. 

    This year’s budget, for example, proposes to amend the Social Security Act to ensure all legally married same-sex couples be eligible to receive Social Security spousal benefits, regardless of where they live.  

    This would mean that, for the first time, a couple that marries in a state that recognizes the dignity of their union, and then moves to another state that does not, is still afforded the protection that Social Security spousal benefits provides to families. During the debate on the Senate budget resolution, a bipartisan majority of Senators endorsed this proposal.

    We’ve also leveraged the budget to make more strategic investments in health-related priorities. As part of the President’s HIV Care Continuum Initiative to further the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and galvanize the national response to HIV, Federal agencies were directed to step up their related data collection efforts, including strengthening data collection to improve outcomes.  As a result, the 2016 Budget makes smarter investments by prioritizing HIV/AIDS resources within high-burden communities and among high-risk groups, including gay and bisexual men, African Americans and Latino Americans.

    Now as OMB Director I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we’re currently engaged in a major debate about the budget – whether we’re going to take the President’s approach and fund needed investments, or follow the Republican budget framework that would lock in the harmful spending cuts known as sequestration and bring base discretionary funding for both non-defense and defense to the lowest levels in a decade, adjusted for inflation.  That choice has major implications for programs that are critical to the LGBT community.  For example, House appropriations bills considered so far would impose:

    • deep cuts on the Justice Department Civil Rights Division, which plays a critical role in protecting the civil rights of all Americans;
    • they would also cut Homeless Assistance Grants by about 12 percent relative to the President’s Budget, setting back efforts to combat homelessness, including among LGBT youth, who are particularly at risk of homelessness.  The President set ambitious goals to end homelessness, and while we’ve made progress, limited resources and the 2013 sequestration have kept us from making ever greater progress;
    • sequestration would result in 15,000 fewer at-risk individuals being provided with rapid rehousing relative to the President’s Budget, once again undermining our efforts to protect our Nation’s most vulnerable;
    • and although we have not yet seen their Labor-H bill, we know that based on the Republican sequestration budget framework and subcommittee allocations, that support for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program would be cut, leading to 5,000 fewer patients receiving critical anti-retroviral treatments and 125,000 fewer medical visits at Ryan White clinics; and
    • finally, under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are no longer able to offer plans that discriminate against consumers due to pre-existing conditions, and because of the law, insurers can no longer offer plans that turn someone away just because he or she is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.  But Republicans would repeal the ACA, taking away health insurance from more than 16 million people who have gained coverage after five years.

    Outside of the budgetary process, OMB has also worked with agencies to act without Congress to help combat discrimination, support equality, and make other important changes.  OMB’s Management arm oversees agency management of programs and resources to achieve legislative goals and Administration priorities.  

    Through this team’s work coordinating implementation of Federal procurement policy, for example, OMB helped push forward the President’s recent Executive Order prohibiting Federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees and prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in federal employment.  

    And our Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) worked with agencies across the Federal government to review and update policies to reflect the Supreme Court’s historic Windsor decision and confer benefits to same-sex married couples.

    Another role of OIRA is promoting the quality and integrity of Federal government statistics and scientific information on which public policy is based by providing leadership, coordination, and standards for the decentralized Federal statistical system.  

    OIRA’s Statistical and Science Policy (SSP) Branch promotes the quality and integrity of Federal government statistics and scientific information on which public policy is based by providing leadership, coordination, and standards for the decentralized Federal statistical system.

    Good data is often the first step toward good policy.  For example, in 2012 at HUD, I announced the Equal Access to Housing Rule which laid out clearly and unequivocally that LGBT individuals and couples have the right to live where they choose.

    As part of that announcement, I told the story of Mitch and Michelle DeShane. Michelle wanted to add her partner Mitch, a transgender man, to the housing voucher she received to find affordable housing.  The local housing authority denied her request.  They told her that the couple did not meet its definition of “family.”  Then, the DeShanes were referred to a neighboring housing authority -- because, as they were apparently told, and I quote, that housing authority, “accepts everyone -- even Martians.”

    Stories like the DeShanes’ were all too common.  So when we were looking at how to build a robust policy to combat these forms of discrimination, we knew we had to start collecting the data.  The results of that effort led to the nation’s first-ever national study examining housing discrimination against same-sex couples in the private rental market.  

    While many in this room could share countless stories describing experiences of discrimination, until this study there was no measurable government data to quantify those experiences.  The data helped us better understand how we administered HUD programs and also how we enforced our nation’s fair housing laws more broadly to see to it that future couples don’t ever have to endure the experiences of the DeShane family.

    What was clear in that process, as you know, is that there is no one “best and only” way to measure the LGBT population.  In some cases, such as measuring access to or discrimination from services, we want to know about sexual orientation or gender identity.  In other cases, such as in health research, we may want to know about sexual behavior.  

    When collecting information from young adults, we may want to ask questions about sexual attraction, rather than behavior. And we want to collect that information using language that is meaningful to the LGBT community and yet precise enough for policy needs—such as collecting information about transgender Americans.  There are harder measurement problems that need solving, too.  Differences in language and cultural understanding can mean that our measurement misses components of the LGBT population that may be most vulnerable. 

    And the way that many household studies are conducted (where one person responds to a question on behalf of another) may be a concern for accurate measurement.

    But it is important to get it right.  To help us do so, OIRA is leading on an inter-agency process to explore LGBT measurement issues, with enthusiasm across agencies.  The office is leveraging the same successful model used for the Interagency Working Group on Measuring Relationships in Federal Household Surveys that brought statistical experts across agencies together to improve measurement of same-sex couples in Federal household surveys.  

    This relies on a long-established process guided by the core responsibilities of official Federal statistics: relevance, accuracy, objectivity, and protecting the trust of data providers.

    On April 9th, OIRA held its first interagency meeting to explore LGBT Federal data collection issues.  The meeting was well-attended by statistical experts from across the government who are eager to discuss best practices around LGBT measurement, data collection and analysis, as well as research needs to inform improved measurement. 

    Attendees expressed interest in pursuing ongoing conversations to address measurement challenges in this area, and OIRA will convene future interagency meetings with the goal of eventually developing recommendations for best practices that would inform Federal statistics in the future.

    Before I wrap up, I want to acknowledge that over the last six years we have indeed made tremendous progress as a nation, but as the President often says, “we are in the 4th quarter of the Administration, and there is still work to be done.” 

    This past Sunday, we commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.  We took the opportunity to reaffirm as a country that LGBT rights are human rights, celebrate the dignity of every person, and underscore that all people deserve to live free from fear, violence, and discrimination, regardless of who they are or whom they love. 

    As the President stated, “We work toward this goal every day.  There is much more to do, and this fight for equality will not be won in a day.  But we will keep working, at home and abroad, and we will keep fighting, for however long it takes until we are all able to live free and equal in dignity and rights.”

    We have made progress and we will make more.  I thank the Williams Institute, and everyone here tonight, for the remarkable work you do every day to ensure that LGBT rights are, indeed, human rights.  

    Thank you for having me here today.  Thank you for the privilege of serving with each and every one of you.  As you work to ensure our country is a more perfect union, President Obama and I will be standing by your side each and every step of the way.  Thank you.                                                                        

    ###

  • FACT SHEET: Enhancing and Strengthening the Federal Government’s Cybersecurity

    Editor's Note: The "Fact Sheet: Enhancing and Strengthening the Federal Government's Cybersecurity" was released on Friday, June 12.

    Cyberspace touches almost every facet of society and connects people in ways never imagined.  Rapidly emerging technologies have transformed economies and enhanced the ability of governments around the world to drive innovation and provide services and benefits to citizens.  Yet, cybersecurity risks pose some of the most serious economic and national security challenges of the 21st Century.  Technologies and systems of the past cannot keep pace with rapidly evolving and persistent cyber threats.  That is why the Administration has led a broad strategy to combat cyber threats and strengthen the Federal Government’s overall cybersecurity infrastructure.

    In 2009, President Obama named the first Cybersecurity Coordinator and directed a comprehensive Cyberspace Policy Review to assess U.S. policies and structures for cybersecurity. Since then, the Administration has taken a number of aggressive actions to upgrade the Federal Government’s technology infrastructure and protect government networks and information, implementing tools and policies in order to detect and mitigate evolving threats. And we have seen significant progress. Federal departments and agencies have implemented capabilities to better manage cyber vulnerabilities when they arise, and agencies instituting new methods of conducting business like requiring employees to log-on to networks using privileged credentials, instead of other less secure means of identification and authentication. Still, recent events underscore the need to accelerate the Administration’s cyber strategy and confront aggressive, persistent malicious actors that continue to target our nation’s cyber infrastructure.

    To further improve Federal cybersecurity and protect systems against these evolving threats, United States Chief Information Officer (CIO) Tony Scott recently launched a 30-day Cybersecurity Sprint.  As part of the effort, the Federal CIO has instructed Federal agencies to immediately take a number of steps to further protect Federal information and assets and improve the resilience of Federal networks.

    Specifically, Federal agencies must:

    • Immediately deploy indicators provided by DHS regarding priority threat-actor Techniques, Tactics, and Procedures to scan systems and check logs.  Agencies shall inform DHS immediately if indicators return evidence of malicious cyber activity.
    • Patch critical vulnerabilities without delay.  The vast majority of cyber intrusions exploit well known vulnerabilities that are easy to identify and correct.  Agencies must take immediate action on the DHS Vulnerability Scan Reports they receive each week and report to OMB and DHS on progress and challenges within 30 days.
    • Tighten policies and practices for privileged users.  To the greatest extent possible, agencies should: minimize the number of privileged users; limit functions that can be performed when using privileged accounts; limit the duration that privileged users can be logged in; limit the privileged functions that can be performed using remote access; and ensure that privileged user activities are logged and that such logs are reviewed regularly.  Agencies must report to OMB and DHS on progress and challenges within 30 days.
    • Dramatically accelerate implementation of multi-factor authentication, especially for privileged users.  Intruders can easily steal or guess usernames/passwords and use them to gain access to Federal networks, systems, and data.  Requiring the utilization of a Personal Identity Verification (PIV) card or alternative form of multi-factor authentication can significantly reduce the risk of adversaries penetrating Federal networks and systems.  Agencies must report to OMB and DHS on progress and challenges within 30 days.

    In addition to providing guidance to agencies, Federal CIO Scott also established a Cybersecurity Sprint Team, to lead a 30-day review of the Federal Government’s cybersecurity policies, procedures, and practices.  The team is comprised of the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) E-Gov Cyber and National Security Unit (E-Gov Cyber), the National Security Council Cybersecurity Directorate (NSC Cyber), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of Defense (DOD).  At the end of the review, the Federal CIO will create and operationalize a set of action plans and strategies to further address critical cybersecurity priorities and recommend a Federal Civilian Cybersecurity Strategy.

    Key principles of the Strategy will include:

    • Protecting Data: Better protect data at rest and in transit.
    • Improving Situational Awareness: Improve indication and warning.
    • Increasing Cybersecurity Proficiency: Ensure a robust capacity to recruit and retain cybersecurity personnel.
    • Increase Awareness: improve overall risk awareness by all users.
    • Standardizing and Automating Processes: Decrease time needed to manage configurations and patch vulnerabilities.
    • Controlling, Containing, and Recovering from Incidents: Contain malware proliferation, privilege escalation, and lateral movement. Quickly identify and resolve events and incidents.
    • Strengthening Systems Lifecycle Security: Increase inherent security of platforms by buying more secure systems and retiring legacy systems in a timely manner.
    • Reducing Attack Surfaces: Decrease complexity and number of things defenders need to protect.

     

    Tony Scott is the United States Chief Information Officer.

     

  • A New Foundation for Technology Management

    It has been over four months since I was appointed the U.S. Chief Information Officer (CIO). In that time, I have come to appreciate both the complexity of Federal information technology (IT) as well as the unprecedented opportunity of technology to accelerate the quality and timeliness of services delivered to the American people.

    I am excited to help drive the Administration’s Smarter IT Delivery Agenda and the four core objectives across the Federal IT portfolio – (1) driving value in Federal IT investments, (2) delivering world-class digital services, (3) protecting Federal IT assets and information, and (4) developing the next generation IT workforce. The Administration launched the Smarter IT Delivery Agenda last spring in order to dramatically improve customer satisfaction with federal technology services. Smarter IT Delivery is focused on bringing the best IT professionals into government, establishing effective processes to drive outcomes and accountability, and partnering with the most innovative companies. Under this agenda, we have made great progress in delivering world-class digital services by setting up the United States Digital Service, publishing the TechFAR Handbook and Digital Services Playbook, establishing a central Cyber unit within my office, and releasing government data to inform better government service. 

    However, my past experience has taught me that without a strong foundation, it is difficult for new initiatives to fully take root. My previous work as a CIO taught me the importance of having foresight into IT spending, forging strong partnerships with program leaders, and having a solid understanding of the critical role that IT plays in serving the organization’s mission. This critical foundation does not exist consistently throughout the Federal Government. One of my top priorities going forward will be to build this new foundation for effective management of technology through full implementation of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) in a way that is workable, collaborative, effective, and consistent.

    To aid in that implementation, today OMB is releasing the guidance to agencies on FITARA implementation—Management and Oversight of Information Technology Resources. This guidance is a result of extensive outreach and collaboration conducted over the past four months, including a month-long public comment period. The guidance takes major steps toward ensuring agency CIOs have significant involvement in procurement, workforce, and technology-related budget matters while continuing a partnership with other senior leaders. It also takes major steps toward positioning CIOs so that they can reasonably be held accountable for how effectively their agencies use modern digital approaches to achieve the objectives of effective and efficient programs and operations. Over the next year, you can expect to see a major push from OMB to leverage the implementation of FITARA, implementation of Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014, and stronger approaches to the acquisition and management of commodity IT and data infrastructure to achieve our objectives.

    Our guidance not only fulfills the new law’s requirements but also empowers Federal executives with the means and information necessary to help Federal IT become an effective strategic partner to mission programs. As drafted, this guidance aims to establish government-wide IT management controls that will meet FITARA requirements while also providing agencies with the flexibility to adapt to agency processes and unique mission requirements. This, in turn, will ensure that IT investments align with agency mission, goals, and programmatic priorities.

    My intent is that this approach will allow FITARA to have its envisioned impact and further the Administration’s ongoing work under Smarter IT Delivery. This will ultimately result in a more efficient, effective, and secure government that better meets the needs of the American people.

     

    Tony Scott is the United States Chief Information Officer.

  • HTTPS-Everywhere for Government

    Today, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued the HTTPS-Only Standard directive, requiring that all publicly accessible Federal websites and web services only provide service through a secure HTTPS connection.

    Unencrypted HTTP connections create a vulnerability and expose potentially sensitive information about users of unencrypted Federal websites and services. This data can include browser identity, website content, search terms, and other user-submitted information.  To address these concerns, many commercial organizations have already adopted HTTPS-only policies to protect visitors to their websites and services. Today’s action will deliver that same protection to users of Federal websites and services.

    Per the issuance of this Memorandum, all publicly accessible Federal websites must meet the HTTPS-Only Standard by December 31st of 2016.

    OMB first proposed the HTTPS-Only Standard in March and requested comment from the public. During the feedback period, OMB's proposal received numerous comments and suggestions from Internet’s standards bodies, popular web browsers, and concerned citizens. To assist with the conversion to HTTPS, technical assistance and best-practices for migration are available at https://https.cio.gov – a site that is open to contribution from technical experts around the world. Finally, a public dashboard has been constructed to monitor progress.

    HTTPS only guarantees the integrity of the connection between two systems, not the systems themselves. It is not designed to protect a web server from being hacked or compromised, or to prevent the web service from exposing user information during its normal operation. 

    An HTTPS-Only standard, however, will eliminate inconsistent, subjective decision-making regarding which content or browsing activity is sensitive in nature, and create a stronger privacy standard government-wide.

    It is critical that federal websites maintain the highest privacy standards for the users of its online services. With this new action, we are driving faster internet-wide adoption of HTTPS and promoting better privacy standards for the entire browsing public.

     

    Tony Scott is the United States Chief Information Officer.

  • Celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month: My Father's Journey to Citizenship

    June marks Immigrant Heritage Month -- and people across the country and across the Obama Administration are sharing their American stories. Whether you've recently embarked on your first day as an American or want to share how your ancestors came to arrive here, we want to hear from you. Add your voice to the conversation today.


    Immigration is sacred to our nation because our country has long been a beacon of hope and opportunity for people from around the world.  Today, 41.3 million foreign-born residents live in the United States.

    Perhaps more profoundly – with the exception of Native Americans – we are all descendants of people who came from someplace else.  Regardless of when we arrived or where we came from, Americans remain bound together by fidelity to a set of ideas that we all are created equal, and that anyone can succeed if they work hard, regardless of the circumstances of their birth. 

    I recently had the special privilege of being the first to congratulate a group of newly minted American citizens at a naturalization ceremony on Ellis Island.  Each new citizen started his or her own journey in eight different countries. But, one of the new citizen’s journey made this particular ceremony fill a special place in my heart: my father.

    Photo credit: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

  • Congressional Republicans Show Their Hand: Committee Spending Levels Shortchange Key Priorities

    House and Senate Republicans have started to show how they plan to budget at discretionary levels that are the lowest in a decade, adjusted for inflation. Compared to the President’s Budget, their budget will force cuts in areas critical to the economy and the middle-class, ranging from research to education to environmental protection, as well as in national security priorities, ranging from homeland security to peacekeeping and foreign assistance to the base defense budget.

    These funding levels are the result of Congressional Republicans’ decision to lock in the funding cuts imposed by sequestration. Sequestration was never intended to take effect: rather, it was supposed to threaten such drastic cuts to both defense and non-defense funding that policymakers would be motivated to come to the table and reduce the deficit through smart, balanced reforms. The President's Budget would reverse these cuts going forward, replacing the savings with commonsense spending and tax reforms in order to make investments important to families, the economy, and our national security. Unfortunately, the bills and appropriations targets released to date double-down on a very different approach.

    Click here to read more about the impact of the House Republican appropriations bills and funding targets on middle-class priorities. Click here to read more about how House Republicans’ short-sighted priorities will affect your State.

    • Read OMB’s letters to Chairman Rogers expressing concern about the House appropriations bills released to date:
    o   Defense
     

    Coming soon: The impact of Senate Republican appropriations bills and funding targets on middle-class priorities.

    • Read OMB’s letters to Chairman Cochran expressing concern about the Senate appropriations bills released to date:
    o   Defense
     

    Note: These fact sheets will be updated to reflect the specific impacts of appropriations bills as they are released. This post was last updated on June 29, 2015.
     

    Shaun Donovan is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Moving Forward our Regulatory Partnerships with Canada

    U.S. Federal Departments and Agencies together with Canadian Ministries have been working to develop new frameworks for cooperation since the release of the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) Joint Forward Plan last August. Collectively, these documents outline major objectives for bilateral cooperation over the next three to five years in specific areas of regulatory activity.

    The Regulatory Partnerships are a significant step toward deepening our cooperation efforts.  The newly developed frameworks outline how U.S. and Canadian agencies will manage cooperative regulatory activities moving forward.  The frameworks address such issues as governance between the agencies, means for obtaining input from stakeholders, and ways to promote more effective and efficient regulatory engagement between the two countries for the ultimate benefit of both countries’ consumers, manufacturers and producers.  As Executive Order 13609 states, in meeting shared challenges involving health, safety, labor, security, environmental, and other issues, international regulatory cooperation can identify approaches that are at least as protective as those that are or would be adopted in the absence of such cooperation while also reducing unnecessary differences in regulatory requirements.

    As I stated in my August blog post, Moving Forward on International Regulatory Cooperation, “Regulatory cooperation has to mean more than just “aligning” specific rules across the border; such a rule-by-rule approach is neither practical nor scalable enough to meet our ever-changing regulatory environments. We need to think more broadly and creatively about how to build cooperative frameworks to achieve our economic and regulatory policy goals in a more dynamic manner.” And as outlined in the Regulatory Partnership Statements and detailed Work Plans released today, the United States and Canada are already demonstrating this broad and creative thinking through cooperation activities, including:

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) and Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) will work to establish a single application for crop protection products, like pesticides, that will be accepted in both countries. In addition, the Agencies will develop information technology to facilitate the joint review and processing of pest control product applications submitted to both countries.

    U.S. Department of Transportation and Transport Canada

    The U.S. Department of Transportation and Transport Canada will coordinate and collaborate on Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) communications technology and applications development and implementation for light- and heavy-duty vehicles to ensure they work seamlessly across the border no matter the supplier. This work will include, where appropriate, joint planning and priority-setting for research supporting potential rulemaking actions, collaborative research projects, as well as information exchanges to support analyses as we develop new V2V and V2I architecture and standards.

    U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Health Canada

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and Health Canada’s Veterinary Drugs Directorate will coordinate their respective submission and review processes for veterinary drug applications. The objective is to enable simultaneous product reviews and move toward simultaneous product availability.  The respective agencies will coordinate standards development and assessment activities pertaining to the pre-market evaluation of veterinary drugs, as appropriate. Further work in this area will also explore the availability of electronic templates for veterinary drug applications.

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - Fisheries and Ocean

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) will undertake greater cooperation in the environmental management of the marine aquaculture sector, including by  comparing regulatory environmental management objectives and outcomes of net pen aquaculture, cooperating on farmed to wild fish interactions, and cooperating on regulatory oversight and management of off-short aquaculture.

    These ambitious plans will take time to institutionalize, but I am confident that together with our Canadian partners we can produce meaningful and lasting results. 

    For RCC updates and information on agency progress, or to view RPS and Work Plan documents, please visit www.trade.gov/rcc

     

    Howard Shelanski is the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

  • Creating Opportunity for All in Rural Communities

    Rural America provides the vast majority of food and energy benefits for the rest of the country, is the source of nearly 90 percent of renewable water resources, and is home to important service sector and manufacturing hubs. Despite this critical role in our nation’s economy, too many Americans in rural areas are not sharing in our nation’s economic growth.

    In 2013, 6.2 million Americans in rural areas lived in poverty, including about 1.5 million children. Moreover, in far too many of these communities, high rates of poverty have persisted for generations: Over 300 rural counties have had poverty rates of over 20 percent in every Census since 1980.

    While the fight to eliminate poverty is far from over, today, as part of the White House Rural Council’s ongoing efforts to address rural child poverty, we released a report that finds that programs like refundable tax credits, Social Security, SNAP, and housing assistance lifted about 9.0 million rural people out of poverty in 2013, including about 1.6 million children.