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Good to Know…Week of December 12, 2011

Feds Link Water Contamination to Fracking for the First Time
In a first, federal environment officials today scientifically linked underground water pollution with hydraulic fracturing, concluding that contaminants found in central Wyoming were likely caused by the gas drilling process.

To read this article, go to: Propublica.org

States Back Montana in River Rights Case Before Supreme Court
The outcome of a land rights dispute between the State of Montana and an electric utility company argued Wednesday (December 7) in the U.S. Supreme Court could change the way states manage their rivers, state attorneys say.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

U.N. Chief: Major Climate Deal Unlikely
An all-encompassing climate deal “may be beyond our reach for now,” the U.N. chief said Tuesday as China and India delivered a setback to European plans to negotiate a new treaty that would bind all parties to their pledges on greenhouse gas emissions.

To read this article, go to: USAToday.com

As Affordable Housing Lags, Cities Try to Set Right Troubled Construction Deals
Charlotte is a case study of a city facing the fallout of delayed affordable-housing projects promised to neighborhoods badly in need of new homes. Dozens of cities are in similar straits, trying to right troubled construction deals that failed to produce housing despite millions in HUD funding.

To read this article, go to: WashingtonPost.com

HHS’ CHIP Program Launches Medicaid.gov
The website features guidance on federal policies, statistical breakdowns of Medicaid and CHIP programs, a State Resource Center and information about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

To read this article, go to: Governing.com

Costly Healthcare Data Breaches Jump 32%
The frequency of data breaches in healthcare have increased 32 percent in the past year and cost an estimated $6.5 billion annually according to a new study by the Ponemon Institute. Among the chief culprits: sloppy employee handling of data and the ever-increasing use of mobile devices.

To read this article, go to: HealthcareITNews.com

Virginia Tech Alert System Helps Lock Down Campus After Shootings
Shortly after two fatal shootings Dec. 8 on the Virginia Tech campus, the university’s alerts system began updating students, faculty and staff members of the emergency, warning them to stay inside.

To read this article, go to: GCN.com

If You Think You’ll Save Money with Cloud Computing, Think Again
More than half of organizational users saved little or no money after transitioning to cloud computing, according to a new study, and only 14 percent actually downsized their information technology departments after moving to the cloud.

To read this article, go to: NextGov.com

Why We’re Unfit to Wage Cyber War
At the risk of pointing out the obvious, there are lessons to be learned from the false alarm raised over a pump that burned out in an Illinois municipal water plant in November. Analysts in the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center jumped to the conclusion that it was the work of foreign hackers and journalists reported it as the first cyber-kinetic attack launched against U.S. assets.

To read this article, go to: GCN.com

U.S., India Take Step Toward Launching Data.gov in a Box
The White House has published the first smatterings of computer code for a project that will grow into a ready-made open government data platform for other nations, White House technology leaders said Monday.

To read this article, go to: NextGov.com

App Helps Emergency Crews ID Toxic Chemicals
Medical personnel dealing with cases of possible exposure to hazardous chemicals could have an easier time deciding on a course of treatment thanks to a new online tool from the National Library of Medicine, News Medical reports.

To read this article, go to: GCN.com

Banning E-mail in the Office: Is This a Good Idea?
Thierry Breton, a former French finance minister and CEO of the France-based Atos, says that only 10 percent of the e-mail his employees get is worthwhile, and he wants them to stop using it within 18 months, according to the Telegraph.

To read this article, go to: GCN.com


Some Popular Agencies Have Poor Social Media Skills
A new dashboard created by the nonprofit group Expert Labs ranks 125 federal agencies each week based on their public engagement on Twitter.

To read this article, go to: NextGov.com

Twitter Launches @Gov Account for Tracking Civic Engagement
Twitter unveiled its own @gov account on Thursday, an account that will track “creative and effective uses of Twitter for civic engagement.”

To read this article, go to: Governing.com

Big firms Avoid Billions in State Taxes, Study Finds
Even as states cut services because of tight budgets, they are forgoing billions of dollars in revenue that they could be collecting from big, profitable corporations — some of which have paid little or no state corporate income taxes over the past three years, according to a new report.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

Negotiators Close in on Spending Deal
Working through the weekend, House-Senate negotiators substantially narrowed their differences over a $1 trillion-plus year-end spending bill shaped by the August budget accords but also a new brand of Republican earmarks–single-interest policy riders tailored to get conservative votes.

To read this article, go to: Politico.com

States Post Another Strong Quarter in Tax Collections
Preliminary tax collection data for the July-September quarter of 2011 show growth in overall state tax collections, as well as for personal income tax and sales tax revenue, for the seventh consecutive quarter. While still strong, revenue growth was more moderate than in the previous three quarters. We will provide a full report on the July-September period after Census Bureau data for the quarter are available.

To read this article, go to: RockInst.org

22% vs. 11% – The Rising Age Gap in Economic Well-Being
Poverty rates for households headed by adults ages 65 and older dropped dramatically from 1967 to 1980; they have continued to decline, albeit more slowly, to the present day. In 2010, 11% of households headed by adults ages 65 and older were in poverty based on Census Bureau data, compared with 33% in 1967.

To read this article, to to: PewResearch.org

House Bill Would Extend Pay Freeze
House Republicans on Friday unveiled a payroll tax cut extension bill that includes an additional pay freeze for federal employees and lawmakers and increases the amount both groups contribute to their pensions.

To read this article, go to: GovExec.com

Many Workers in Public Sector Retiring Sooner
As states and cities struggle to resolve paralyzing budget shortfalls by sending workers on unpaid furloughs, freezing salaries and extracting larger contributions for health benefits and pensions, a growing number of public-sector workers are finding fewer reasons to stay.

To read this article, go to: NYTimes.com

Army to Slash Thousands of Civilian Jobs in 2012
Army officials said Thursday they will cut 8,700 civilian positions next year at 70 locations across 37 states. The jobs will be eliminated by Sept. 30, 2012, to cope with anticipated budget cuts, according to a Pentagon announcement.

To read this article, go to: GovExec.com

Federal Health Law Offers New Benefits for Children of State Workers
When the national health law was enacted early last year, it contained one seemingly technical provision that few people noticed. It lifted a ban on state employees enrolling their kids in the federally subsidized Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). In fact, that was no small move.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

Denver Court Decision in Education Suit Says Colorado is Underfunding Schools by Billions
In a ruling that could have multi-billion dollar consequences for Colorado’s budget, a Denver judge ruled the state’s school funding system is not “thorough and uniform” as mandated by the state constitution.

To read this article, go to: DenverPost.com

Confidence in Democracy and Capitalism Wanes in Former Soviet Union
Two decades after the Soviet Union’s collapse, Russians, Ukrainians, and Lithuanians are unhappy with the direction of their countries and disillusioned with the state of their politics. Enthusiasm for democracy and capitalism has waned considerably over the past 20 years, and most believe the changes that have taken place since 1991 have had a negative impact on public morality, law and order, and standards of living.

To read this article, go to: PewResearch.org

Innovation’s No-Duh, No-Joke Secret Sauce: Friendship
As a business owner, I’m always looking at how to structure relationships. I’ve joked that a sense of humor is our main concern when evaluating new clients at Karten Design. But when I really think about it, compatibility and the ability to have fun with your clients is a serious matter.

To read this article, go to: FastCompany.com

To Create Something Exceptional, Do Sweat The Small Stuff
Big, sluggish companies–you know the ones, with brands that elicit ambivalence instead of aspiration–are fat, dumb, and uncaring for a reason. Their products, from airline flights to consumer electronics devices, feel like the result of an accident or a hassle rather than the core purpose of their existence. In these instances, system thinking–with the goal of managing and improving processes, logistics, and throughput–reigns supreme in the organization, replacing a maniacal focus on delivering great products or services by attending to every last excruciating detail.

To read this article, go to: FastCompany.com

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