New GAO Transition App Allows Users to See Changes Needed Across Federal Government

from GAOgao

To help make the upcoming presidential and congressional transitions as informed as possible, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has launched a new mobile app that provides users easy access to the watchdog agency’s priority recommendations for improving government operations.

GAO has organized its work to help President-elect Donald Trump and the next Congress tackle critical challenges facing the nation, fix agency-specific problems, and scrutinize government areas with the potential for large savings,” said Gene Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO. “With our extensive experience analyzing government programs and agencies, GAO is well positioned to help bring policymakers up to speed on a wide range of pressing issues.”

Dodaro also pointed out that GAO realizes both new Presidential and Congressional personnel will have to move quickly from the campaign trail to governing. “Consequently, we’ve tried to make sure the app as directly as possible lays out quick lists of the major changes needed and allows users to navigate right to GAO’s reports for all the details.”

The app is available free of charge in the App Store® or Google Play

New Law Creates Commission on Native Children

native_american_childrenLast week President Obama signed the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act  into law.  The Commission created by this act, is tasked with the important work of undertaking a comprehensive study of Federal, State, local, and tribal programs that serve Native children, and making recommendations on how those programs could be improved.

This Commission will be housed in an office in the Department of Justice and consist of three individuals appointed by the President and eight individuals appointed by congressional leaders.

Over the past 8 years, my Administration has been committed to working closely with tribes to strengthen our nation-to-nation relationships and to forge a brighter future for all our children. During my own visits to Indian Country, I have been inspired by the talent and enthusiasm of young people who want nothing more than to make a positive difference in their communities. From the Indian Child Welfare Act to working to return control of Indian education to tribal nations, I am proud of the progress we have made over the past 8 years. I applaud the Congress, and in particular Senator Heitkamp, for the efforts that made this new law possible.

–  Barack Obama

Justice Department To Phase Out Use of Private Prisons for Federal Inmates

bopIn an effort to manage the rising prison population the Bureau of Prisons  began contracting with privately operated correctional institutions to confine some federal inmates.  By 2013, as both the federal prison population and the proportion of federal prisoners in private facilities reached their peak, the Bureau was housing approximately 15 percent of its population in privately operated prisons.

2013 was also the year that the Department of Justice launched its Smart on Crime Initiative after identifying reforms that would ensure more proportional sentences and effective use of federal resources.  As a result of that initiative, the Bureau of Prisons is now experiencing declining numbers in the prison population and has decided to stop using private prisons, declaring them less safe than government-run prisons and no cheaper to operate.

“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,”  – Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates

Read full memo from Deputy Yates.

 

 

Library of Congress Updates Online Catalog

Realizing that many users are now accessing their online catalog via mobile devices, the Library of Congress has released a new catalog interface.  The new interface incorporates responsive Web design, which enables optimal viewing and interaction across a wide range of devices. Responsive design provides easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling, regardless of the size of the device, from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones, tablets, etc. LC’s and is ADA-compliant, making the LC Online Catalog accessible to all users including those with disabilities.  In addition, the  Catalog now has its own branding and the Library’s Ask a Librarian service is presented prominently on every page.

loc

Library of Congress collections contain over 162 million books, periodicals, manuscripts, maps, music, recordings, images, and electronic resources. The LC Online Catalog contains 17 million records describing these collections. You can search Catalog records by keyword or browse by authors/creators, subjects, names/titles, series/uniform titles, and call numbers.

Check it out!

Stonewall Inn Named National Monument Honoring the LGBT Equality Movement

In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, a riot broke out in response to a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, at the time one of the City’s best known LGBT bars.  Over the course of the next several days, more demonstrations and riots occurred in the surrounding neighborhood including Christopher Park.  During these days, because of its strategic location across from the bar, Christopher Park served as a gathering place, refuge, and platform for the community to voice its demand for LGBT civil rights.  The Stonewall Uprising is considered by many to be the catalyst that launched the modern LGBT civil rights movement.  From this place and time, building on the work of many before, the Nation started the march — not yet finished — toward securing equality and respect for LGBT people.

I’m designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America’s National Park System. Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights. I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country, the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us. That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one.”

– President Obama

Thomas.gov to Retire in July

from the Library of Congress –

THOMAS.gov, the online legislative information system, will officially retire July 5, completing the multi-year transition to Congress.gov.

THOMAS, named for Thomas Jefferson, was a pioneering site when it was launched by the Imacon Color ScannerLibrary of Congress in 1995.  The system has been updated over the years, but its foundation can no longer support the capabilities that today’s Internet users have come to expect.

The Congress.gov system, initially launched in beta form in September, 2012, applies modern design and infrastructure to the robust legislative data sets, with mobile-friendly access, faceted search and other features.

During the transition, the Library has maintained both sites to ensure a seamless transition and uninterrupted service for users; solicited and applied user feedback to further refine Congress.gov’s features and functionality; and added data sets to the new site. A collaborative effort among the Library of Congress, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Government Publishing Office (GPO), Congress.gov now provides searchable access to bill status and summary, bill text, the Congressional Record, Congressional Record Index and committee reports, and executive actions such as nominations, treaties and communications, with historic access reaching back as far as 1973. Additionally, Congress.gov provides contextual information such as member profiles, legislative-process videos, a glossary of terms, committee profile pages, video of committee hearings and direct links from bills to cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. The site includes accessibility tools such as downloadable audio files and tracking tools such as customizable email alerts.

The Library offers free web-based training for new users of Congress.gov. The next session is Thursday, May 19 at 2 p.m. EDT. Training registration, along with frequently asked questions and answers about permalinks and redirects from THOMAS to Congress.gov can be found here: congress.gov/help/faq.

 

USPS Lowers Price of Stamps For the First Time in 100 Years

Yes, you read that correctly. The price of stamps is going down.

Beginning April 10th, the price of a stamp for a 1-ounce letter will cost 47 cents, down from 49 cents. International letters will go down by 5 cents to $1.15, and postcards will be 1 cent cheaper, at 34 cents.

Back in January 2014, regulators of the U.S. Postal Service granted a temporary rate increasestamp to help offset the lingering effects of the 2008 and 2009 recession.  A  4.6 billion dollar cap was placed on the amount the Postal Service could recoup and it is estimated that it will be met by this Sunday.

While normally a price cut in anything is good news, it is not good news for those holders of Forever stamps for these stamps are now worth less than what they were purchased for.

The Postal Service is pleading with Congress and regulators to extend the surcharge claiming that it will result in an annual revenue loss of 2 billion dollars.