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Correctional Technologies: A way to raise money?

In cities and counties across the country, correctional departments and correctional facilities have been hit by the economic and budgetary crisis. Agencies have decreasing tax revenue and increasing deficits, while incarceration and inmate population rates continue to rise. Agencies must get creative with technology implementation and find ways to make money.

Most correctional facilities are outfitted with what is referred to as inmate phone systems. Essentially, inmates are given access to phone services and typically pay a high cost per minute to call family, friends or perhaps their lawyer. Inmate phone systems are often built out at little cost to the agency. Correctional facilities can reap the reward of money generated by these telephone calls. While vendors profit from these phones services, so does the agency. The revenue that is generated from the high-cost calls is divided between the operating vendor and the agency. Facilities with larger inmate populations are obviously going to have the most calls made and therefore receive the most money.

When correctional facilities and agencies are able to utilize simple and less expensive technologies, such as these phone systems, they can save money during financial crunches. Another technology often seen as a money-saving tool in correctional agencies is electronic monitoring devices. These devices are typically given to nonviolent offenders who are often incarcerated on drug charges, released from prison, and then monitored 24 hours a day. While there can be a significant cost to purchase a large number of these devices, fitting convicted criminals with a GPS monitoring device can save thousands versus imprisoning them. It normally costs thousands of dollars per month to house an inmate in jail. Between the cost of food, guards, surveillance and other means of protection, buying a single GPS tracking device that ranges from $5 to $15 per day is a much more cost-effective solution. Like inmate phone systems, electronic monitoring devices are based on a split-profit model in which agencies receive revenue from the devices and sometimes from the person wearing the device.

In addition to the two technologies mentioned above, there are other ways to reduce costs in prisons. Additional surveillance systems and other video monitoring devices can reduce the need for personnel in prisons, but there will still be a requirement for personnel to monitor video feeds. While surveillance systems may not act as a deterrent for crime in prisons, it does allow 24-hour monitoring of all inmates and enables guards to detect a fight breaking out or unauthorized cell phone use.

GovWin Take:

California spends the most money annually on its correctional system. For 2011-2012, its estimated budget is $9.3 billion, a slight decrease from the previous year. In February, GovWin reported on California's Department of Correction and Rehabilitation's "Year at a Glance" report. The state recently awarded a contract for GPS tracking systems to cut costs and ease the burden of overcrowded correctional facilities.

Another means of understanding the growing costs and spending needs for correctional facilities is by taking a look at GovWin's State and Local Justice/Public Safety and Homeland Security Market report for 2010-2015. According to the report, spending on corrections will grow at the state level by an estimated 3.3 percent from 2010 to 2011, but the increase will drop to 2.9 percent from 2011 to 2012. The county level will see a similar trend with an increase of 1.1 percent from 2010 to 2011, but only 0.9 percent from 2011 to 2012. What is causing these downward spending trends? You can attribute some of the decline to the increased spending on technologies that keep individuals out of prison, like electronic monitoring devices for nonviolent criminals. While vendors in this market would like to see spending on corrections increase, a slowed growth rate may signal more opportunities for cost-effective solutions like those outlined above.

Vendors who supply inmate phones systems, electronic monitoring devices, and other inmate commissary services must continue to work with agencies struggling to develop plans and means of raising money. Agencies must embrace and work to use more cost-cutting technology in order to prevent overcrowding in prisons. They can develop strategies combining various tools and a variety of options that provide both large and small correctional facilities with means of improving the safety of inmates while savings money.

California releases Public Safety Microwave Network Strategic Plan

Over the past year, the state of California Technology Agency has released more than 200 pages worth of strategic planning documents related to its 9-1-1 and radio emergency communications plans, the most recent being the California Public Safety Microwave Network Strategic Plan. This plan focuses on the agency's Public Safety Communications Office-operated California Public Safety Microwave Network (CAPSNET).

CAPSNET is the primary microwave communications network used to support first responder voice and radio communication in the state (for an overview of microwave radio technology, see pages 7 and 8 of the plan). Maintaining the functionality of CAPSNET is critical to public safety operations in California, particularly in terms of natural disaster response. In a region where earthquakes and large-scale forest fires are a constant threat, maintaining a resilient communications infrastructure is of the utmost importance.

For those who haven't had the opportunity to read the report, below are some examples of possible CAPSNET areas of expansion:

  • High‐speed, highly reliable data (including voice) communications between critical dispatch and emergency command centers
  • Providing primary communications or backhaul services in support of the state's next‐generation 9‐1‐1 infrastructure
  • Providing primary or backup data connectivity between critical public safety organizations
  • Providing a supplement to satellite communications as the state's communication network of last resort
Potential equipment replacement opportunities:

  • Over the course of the next two to five years, nearly all of its 290+ microwave sites will need to be upgraded from current analog or legacy digital technology to the future‐state architecture (Page 16)
  • Rapidly modernize the CAPSNET infrastructure by replacing it with equipment capable of supporting next‐generation broadband public safety voice and data communications requirements (Page 21)
  • Improve the quality and survivability of the CAPSNET, and increase its redundancy and resilience by identifying and fixing potential vulnerabilities within the network (e.g., by building a microwave loop around Sacramento) (Page 21)
  • Implement a next‐generation, broadband‐enabled architecture that utilizes a Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) overlay over Ethernet digital transmission links across all of CAPSNET by the end of 2015 (Page 23)
The vision is in place, but the money is in limbo. The strategic plan lists eight critical success factors for CAPSNET improvement, mostly focusing on coordinating between agencies. The final factor is that the "California Technology Agency is able to identify one or more additional funding sources that can be used to accelerate the modernization of CAPSNET equipment." This really should be first on the list. Without a sustainable source of funding, significant improvements to the CAPSNET system are simply not feasible. Proper planning on the part of the technology agency during its current economic difficulties will play a key role in convincing the legislature and taxpayers that CAPSNET improvements are a worthwhile endeavor, and that any funding provided is properly managed.

As a side note, if you are interested in learning more about the current and future architecture of emergency communications in California, do not be deterred by the length or technical titles of these documents. I have read all of the plans and am impressed at the agency's ability to present complex radio system information in a manner that does not require a degree in electrical engineering to understand.

California Public Safety Network Strategic Plan

California Public Safety Radio Communications Strategic Plan

Proposed California NG9-1-1 Roadmap

California Information Technology Strategic Plan

California 9-1-1 Strategic Plan

NENA's 911 Goes To Washington focuses on Next Generation 911

During yesterday's National Emergency Number Association's (NENA) 911 Goes to Washington conference, it was clear that the FCC's main goal is to promote and move forward with next-generation 911 (NG-911). Representatives from the FCC included David Furth, Patrick Donovan, and Jeff Goldthorp, all of whom took part in panel discussions on NG-911. Their sentiments were all the same: in order to build out a nationwide IP-based 911 system, the federal government needs to provide adequate funding. On top of this, all three parties ensured the group of local public safety answering point (PSAP) representatives (conference attendees) that a nationwide IP-based network is one of FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski's main priorities for his term. While the FCC does not have the power to distribute funds for this effort, it is working diligently with agencies that do, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Transportation. The FCC is also working alongside the Congressional 911 Caucus.

Donovan and Goldthorp also provided the group with an update on the recently closed notice of inquiry (NOI) regarding NG-911. Both could not disclose any future plans or rules that might result from the NOI, but stated that the responses were overwhelming and provide a solid framework for developing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). They stated that given the responses, it is clear that the FCC will need to expand its scope in better understanding the needs of PSAPs and other emergency responder agencies. In turn, this could possibly lead to additional NOIs for other IP-based network aspects, such as resiliency and reliability. The FCC estimated the first NPRM could be developed in a matter of months.

Donovan and Goldthorp also touched on the FCC's Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC), whose mission is to provide recommendations to the FCC to ensure optimal security and reliability of communications systems, including telecommunications, media, and public safety. The council will be releasing its findings on the FCC's website shortly, which will include additional recommendations on NG-911 along with findings related to IP networks. The FCC stated that it would like to work closer with state entities to ensure all stakeholders have a chance to voice their feeling and needs when it comes to IP communications.

GovWin's Take:

Recent evolution in personal communications has forced a subset of public safety services to think critically about how they can best serve citizens. PSAPs across the country are faced with an ever-expanding demand for additional capabilities when it comes to 911. Recognizing this fact, the FCC has made large strides to ensure that PSAPs meet the demands of their citizens. The next step is for vendors to heed the call and begin working with PSAPs and the FCC to help lay the framework for an easy transition to IP-enabled 911 services. It will be important for vendors to discuss with their clients how they can assist city and county PSAPs in preparing for an IP network. This could include hardware and software updates as well as inventorying and system architecture.

As Federal Shutdown Looms, Impact on States Likely Minimal

It looks like we have arrived at the "make-it-or-break-it" round of Congressional negotiations regarding another Continuing Resolution (CR) to provide short-term funding of the federal government. The federal shutdowns on the 1990s had minimal impact on state governments, and current indications are that the pending shutdown would be no worse. Stateline.org recently addressed this topic in an article, "States don't see crisis in federal shutdown -- yet."

From Stateline: "Two of the biggest pots of federal money for state-run health care, for instance, would remain accessible even if a government shutdown happens. Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program -- which together insure nearly 60 million low-income people nationwide -- are considered 'essential' and would not be suspended, according to Mary Kahn of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services."

According to a recent Bloomberg article, "U.S. Governors Say Federal Shutdown, Budget Cuts May Weigh Down States," even the National Governors Association (NGA) was unable to produce any specific fears--only a generalized worry that a shutdown might impact municipal bond markets or the larger economy.

If anything, it's the budget cuts that are being made as part of the CR compromises that are most likely to affect that states, such as the elimination of the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnerships (LEAP), a federal subsidy to states that provide their own student financial aid programs, as part of the current CR. But, it was only a $64 million subsidy--not even a blip on the radar of state financial concerns.

The National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) issued a brief to the governors, which stated: "If such a shutdown is short – a few days or a couple of weeks – it is likely that the impact on states would be minimal. A longer term shutdown could create more significant problems for states."

Over the longer-term, NASBO warns: "Should a federal government shutdown continue for multiple months, it could create significant funding difficulties for those programs that are federally funded but state run as well as for those state employees whose salary is partly paid for with federal funds."

Along these lines, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has issued specific guidance to agencies to identify which federally funded programs would be most at risk for disruption by an extended shutdown. The state's budget director found: "Our examination indicates that...the General Federal Grants Fund, is most at risk of disrupted fiscal operations if the federal government were to shut down." Several steps are recommended for agencies to ascertain likely impact and implement remedies.

GovWin's Take

Vendors relying on state business that, in turn, relies on federal funding participation (FFP) would be well served to carry out investigations with customer agencies similar to that recommended by Massachusetts. Although the overall impact of a shutdown is likely to be limited in terms of state operations, impact could be severe on isolated projects and programs. Downstream impact could be severe for SMBs and certain divisions of larger companies doing business in these cases.

Twitter Usage Continues to Spread in Health Arena

Utilizing social media to make information more transparent and accessible is a rising trend in the health and human services market. With increasing interest and focus on health reform, the need for information to be obtained quickly is highly desired by people in the field. Health and human services groups are also on Twitter, including TechAmerica, which uses the social media tool to advertise upcoming workgroup meetings and industry conferences.

GovWin analysts use Twitter to tweet about conferences and meetings they will attend or have attended as a way to let members know their presence at events. GovWin also uses Twitter to keep people abreast of the latest happenings and showcase analyst blogs and reports. State agencies have created Twitter handles to tweet about community health or risks. For example, the Washington State Department of Health recently tweeted about radiation levels in order to alleviate any fear of exposure in the community. Several other agencies including the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Oregon Health Authority have been tweeting information pertaining to radiation levels brought on by the tragedy in Japan. Tweeting this information allows agencies to reach out to the community and keep them posted on health concerns.

Other departments utilize Twitter to assist in raising awareness for certain topics, such as Utah's Heart Health campaign. This campaign, spearheaded by Utah's Department of Health, advises citizens on how to stay healthy and has created an array of sub-handles such as "healthfinder," "Fruits_Veggies," and "BiologicalH2O" as a way to provide useful information and guidance. By doing this, states are able to generate themes and offer information to the community in real time. State agencies also use their Twitter accounts to post information about upcoming meetings and provide links to agendas and other materials. Also, with the rise in popularity of smartphones, obtaining this information has become increasingly accessible. Further, Twitter's retweet feature allows information to spread even faster and to a larger audience.

Even localities and hospitals have set up Twitter accounts to share information. For example, the Maricopa County Public Health Department tweets recipes and ways its population can achieve healthier lifestyles.

Furthermore, people are able to utilize Twitter to get a sense of relief by keeping abreast of what is going on and understanding how they are affected. This is a great way for people within the community to get the information and assurance they need in real time without having to contact officials directly. Twitter's 140-character limit forces tweeted information to be concise and quick.

GovWin's Take:

Twitter is a great way for vendors to network with various stakeholders in the health and human service arena. Social media allows information to be easily accessible. For that, as state agencies become more and more fashioned toward tweeting and other forms of social media, vendors should really take advantage of the transparency and establish connections to these sites. Be sure to follow GovWin's health and human services team @GovWin_HHS.

California takes steps to reduce usage of cell phones in prisons

Ever since cell phones evolved from the expensive and bulky Zack Morris (of "Saved by the Bell") phones of the early '90s to the cheap and easily-concealed devices we are accustomed to today, they have, unfortunately, become commonplace in jails and prisons nationwide. It is both fascinating and somewhat depressing to watch this trend progress. As a justice and public safety analyst, it is fascinating to watch the convergence of technology, law, policy, lobbying and criminal justice play out in one issue. On the other hand, it is depressing because, while the issue has gained a tremendous amount of press over the years, corrections officials have been unable to effectively curtail the flow of cell phones into their facilities. However, this trend recently began to show positive signs of change. This month, the state of California began to fight the battle against cell phones on two fronts.

On the legislative front

This past week, California Senate Bill 26 (SB26) gained a significant amount of media attention. This bill introduced by State Senator Alex Padilla (D-San Fernando Valley), if passed, would make smuggling a cell phone a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months jail time and a $5,000 fine. Inmates found possessing a cell phone would be denied or lose good-time credits.

Originally, the bill contained a provision to add serious time, up to five years, for any inmate found to have planned a crime via cell phone. This was dropped amid budget concerns. These concerns are not without merit as the average yearly cost of incarceration in California is "$44,688 per individual as of 2009."

The most obvious flaw of this legislation is that it does little to deter "lifers" from acquiring cell phones in prison. Take the infamous Charles Manson as an example. He created quite a bit of negative press for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) after being caught in possession of a cell phone on two separate occasions. He will never set foot outside of a California penitentiary as a free man, so adding time to his sentence, or that of any other inmate serving life with no parole, is not much of a deterrent.

On the technology front

While the state legislature works to assign criminal penalties to those caught with contraband cell phones, the CDCR has taken some steps toward utilizing technology to render those phones useless. The CDCR has shown a continued interest in deploying a managed access system as the primary tool in its battle against contraband phones. For the unfamiliar, managed access systems detect all active cell phones within a certain area and determine which of those devices are authorized for use; only calls from the authorized devices are transmitted to the commercial carrier network.

The CDCR describes its managed access strategy as follows:

"CDCR has completed preliminary survey work with one of these vendors to pilot this technology at a CDCR prison in early spring 2011. Assuming the technology, which intercepts contraband wireless communication devices, is proven to be a good solution for CDCR in addressing its contraband cell phone problem, CDCR is working on several procurement and funding solutions that can fast-track the installation of this equipment statewide. CDCR hopes to begin installing this equipment in 2011."

It appears this project may kick off in the near future. In the recently released 2011 Statewide Five-Year ITCP Conceptually Approved IT Project Proposals, the CDCR listed "Cellular Telephone and Wireless Device Eradication Strategy" as a project with an estimated start date of June 30, 2011. The state has committed to releasing additional information about all of the projects in this report in April, and GovWin members can track the progress of this project via GovWin Opp ID 57656.

GovWin's Take

Reducing the number of contraband phones in California prisons will by no means be an easy or cheap task. The department employs approximately 30,000 peace officers, incarcerates 100,000+ individuals, and operates 33 adult institutions, 42 conservations camps, and 13 community correctional facilities. It also must balance the needs of law enforcement and the expectations of crime victims to maintain the integrity of the correctional system and the concerns of CDCR employees and their union. The state's strategy of utilizing policy to damper demand, and technology to stifle supply, will no doubt be monitored closely by officials in other states. If the managed access approach is successful in the country's largest state prison system, it will no doubt be replicated. At this point, the biggest X factor in terms of the success of this endeavor will be the cost to cash-strapped California. Some estimates have placed the cost of managed access systems at $1 million per facility. Wide-scale deployment of a managed access system in the correctional environment is uncharted territory. Effective planning and project management will be essential in making this undertaking a success.

Additionally, GovWin has produced a detailed Analyst Perspective report that outlines CDCR budget figures for 2011-2012 and provides action items for vendors.

The San Francisco Bay Area: The future of nationwide interoperable communications?

Harris County, Texas awarded a contract to Motorola Solutions, Inc. (MSI) to build a 700 MHz LTE (long-term evolution) network for public safety personnel. This contract will serve to bring the county in line with Texas' Radio Communications Interoperability Plan, the goal of which is to link first responders' and other public safety workers' radio systems across the state. Achieving this would mean that all fire fighters, police officers, deputy sheriffs, state troopers and emergency medical responders would have instantaneous radio communication with each other without being required to exchange or acquire new equipment.

Currently, if a joint emergency response is required from personnel in different jurisdictions or multiple agencies during a large-scale event like the Olympics, Harris County and many others throughout the country must coordinate beforehand and exchange radios and other equipment since their own may not work in the county holding the event. Oftentimes, emergencies that require responders from multiple towns hinder rescue efforts because the different jurisdictions do not have a shared communication plan. Instead, they must determine a way to communicate on the scene when time and effort could be used to save lives. This project will eliminate the need for such on-the-spot decision-making and allow for flexibility and coordination when responding to emergencies.

In 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began creating a series of rules and orders to establish radio channels specifically designated for public safety officials. The lack of interoperability came into sharp focus following the events of September 11, 2001, where firefighters and police were forced to swap radios in an attempt to coordinate their life-saving efforts. In 2007, the FCC developed a regulatory framework for use of the 700 MHz band, which allowed a certain portion of band to be used for commercial purposes and reserved the remainder for the public safety community. Due to these restrictions, each government entity seeking to develop such a network must request and be granted a waiver to use the 700 MHz band. The Harris County system came under fire by the FCC as MSI failed to ensure specific adherence to the FCC interoperability requirements. Motorola issued a Notice of Ex Parte Presentation to the FCC, which affirms its ability to adhere to the requirements established in PS Docket 06-229 and ensures the portion of the network will be used exclusively for public safety purposes. Motorola also affirmed it has included language to specify this in all of its solicitation responses and will continue to do so in the future. After submission of the notice, Harris County was allowed to proceed with development of the network.

This move toward interoperability exists around the nation, and the FCC hopes all first responders nationwide will eventually be able to communicate and move from one community to the next on the same system. The project in Harris County serves as a microcosm of a similar project currently underway in the San Francisco Bay Area. This project, like the one in Harris County, aims to develop an LTE network that allows all public safety officials in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, including those in Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and the cities of Santa Clara and Sunnyvale, to communicate during emergencies. Upon completion, this project will be the nation's first 700 MHz public safety LTE network and encompass more than 7,000 square miles, 10 counties and 7 million people. It is being built to scale to eventually allow the rest of California to use it as well. Motorola and the Bay Area hope this network will serve as a model for other LTE networks, connecting smaller networks like that in Harris County to a wider nationwide network that will be available for use by all first responders.

The first phase of the Bay Area project, known as Project Cornerstone, is being developed with an LTE core with 330 public safety LTE user modems, and will cover 10 sites. Although it recently ran into funding problems, the larger Bay Area network will ultimately include 193 sites and allow more user access. Texas and the Bay Area are not the only communities seeking to develop 700 MHz LTE networks; similar efforts are underway in New Jersey, Mississippi, Illinois, Berks County, Pennsylvania, Camden County, Georgia and other areas throughout the nation.

GovWin's Take: The network in San Francisco is already being used to develop new applications such as biometric applications that allow police officers to take and check fingerprints during routine traffic stops and other daily activities. By developing a network specifically for use by the public safety community, messages will not have to compete with commercial traffic to reach their end destination. It will allow agencies to prioritize certain communications and allow users from different counties onto the network at the agencies' or counties' discretion. This network has the potential to revolutionize the way first responders approach not only an emergency, but their day-to-day activities. It will allow public safety officials to access life-saving information and allow for a more efficient response when literally every second counts. While the potential of this network is practically unlimited, it is still considered an emerging technology; therefore, many organizations are hesitant to move forward. Even the San Francisco network has run into trouble receiving approval from one of the governments that was set to participate. The number of governments and different organizations set to participate in each of these networks means that the approval process is extensive with numerous potential pitfalls. This coupled with the budget constraints many counties and governmental entities are experiencing means that the timeframe for these projects is extensive, and vendors should prepare for a long procurement process.

Medicaid Reform: A Bipartisan Necessity

With the hyper-partisan tone inside the beltway, it is easy to forget that real progress and consensus is often reached in areas of great budgetary importance far from the nation's capital. One need only look to the nearest statehouse to realize Medicaid reform is one such task that political parties agree ensures fiscal viability and efficient services for years to come. Red and blue states alike are increasingly taking the lead on this reform. Not a mandate or an ideological matter, chief executives see Medicaid reform as a simple exercise in accounting.

For example, In New York state, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo established the Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) to recommend reductions in spending to the state-run program, while also improving the quality of care. This politically dangerous and logistically difficult task was outlined in a January 5th Executive Order, just four days after Cuomo took office. The MRT was an innovative, inclusive way to approach a difficult problem. It held several meetings, solicited public comments, and engaged stakeholders to establish the framework of a broad consensus for cutting costs and reforming the New York Medicaid system.

By February 24, 2011, the MRT completed its work and submitted 79 recommendations to the governor, which he included in a budget proposal that is currently before the legislature. The recommendations centered around seven overarching themes:

  • Recalibrating Medicaid benefits and reimbursement rates, ensuring consumer protection and promoting personal responsibility
  • Eliminating fraud and abuse
  • Ensuring that every Medicaid member is enrolled in care management
  • Empowering patients and rebalancing service delivery
  • Eliminating government barriers to quality improvement and cost
  • Better aligning Medicaid with Medicare and the Affordable Care Act

Governor Cuomo's remarks on the establishment of the MRT point to the dismal statistics surrounding New York's health care system as the main impetus for reform. New York doles out more than twice the national average in Medicaid spending per capita, ranks 21st for health system quality, and dead last among states for avoidable hospital use and costs. One factor is the impending expansion of Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act.

Though the New York State Legislature has until April 1, 2011 to pass a budget, it seems likely that most of the governor's ideas will be a part of it.

Like New York's liberal Democratic governor, conservative Republican Susana Martinez of New Mexico has also addressed the issue of Medicaid reform. Her administration released a request for proposals (RFP) for a visionary plan for the redesign of New Mexico's Medicaid program (GovWin opportunity 69005). The RFP, released on March 14, 2011, seeks a firm to help the state redesign Medicaid with the goals of sustained cost efficiencies and long-term sustainability of the program. Much like the goals of New York's Medicaid Redesign Team, New Mexico seeks to reduce costs and increase efficiency without reducing eligibility – a solution barred by federal law.

GovWin's TAKE

As individuals across the country remain divided about federal health care reform, bipartisanship is alive and well in the fight for the fiscal health of the states. States like Ohio, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, and Illinois are currently grappling with Medicaid reform. Republicans and Democrats in these and other states seem to agree that spending is increasing with diminished results that necessitate reform to costly entitlements like Medicaid. It is clear that as time progresses and eligibility requirements increase under the Affordable Care Act, further reforms and cost-containment measures will not only be the trend, but the necessity for many more states across the country. This is most definitely a welcome sign for the future and a benefit to business and consumers alike.

House Passes CR Number Six for FY2011

The U.S. House on Tuesday passed a new Continuing Resolution (CR), House Joint Resolution 48, a three-week extension of stopgap funding to finance the federal government at current (FY2010) rates for three weeks –until April 8. In addition to keeping government operations uninterrupted, this new CR would cut $6 billion in spending from a projected $1.5 trillion budget deficit. The Senate is expected to take up the bill on Thursday. The current CR passed two weeks ago expires Friday night. If it passes the Senate and goes to the President it will mean that half of FY2011 has been covered by temporary funding measures that further push off new budget appropriations.

The Republican majority needed the votes of Democrats to offset GOP defections and get the bill over its first hurdle. This extension passed by a 271-158 vote, with 85 Democrats joining 186 Republicans in support of the measure. A total of 54 Republicans opposed the latest measure as conservatives within the party expressed frustration that a final agreement to significantly cut federal spending had not yet been reached. A look at the vote counts on the CRs that have passed during the 112th Congress suggest the atmosphere continues to be in a state for flux:

  • HJRes48 – passed March 15, funds through 4/8
    • yeas/nays were 271-158
    • Republican 186 to 54; Democrat 85 to 104
  • HJRes44 – passed March 1, funds through 3/18
    • yeas/nays were 335 to 91
    • Republican 231 to 6; Democrat 104 to 85
  • HR1 full-year CR – passed House February 19 but failed in the Senate
    • yeas/nays 235 to 189
    • Republicans 235 to 3; Democrats 0 to 186

The Latest Cuts

This new CR would cut $6 billion in spending on top of the $4 billion in reductions that were enacted under the current CR. But the combined $10 billion falls far below the $60 billion in proposed reductions in HR1.

Program cuts: This CR reduces or terminates 25 programs for a total of $3.5 billion in reductions, almost all of which were cuts included in the President's FY2011 or FY2012 budget requests. A few are rescissions of unused funds from completed projects (e.g. –$1.7 billion leftover from 2010 Census.)

Agency – Program Cut ($Million)

  • Commerce -$1,807
  • HHS -$386
  • Labor -$350
  • USDA -$344
  • SSA -$200
  • DHS -$107
  • Interior -$55
  • CPB -$50
  • Transportation -$50
  • EPA -$25
  • HUD -$18
  • State -$17
  • Congress -$2

Earmark reductions: This CR terminates $2.6 billion in earmarked finances that were automatically renewed in the CR approved by the previous Congress in December, 2010. The earmarks impact the appropriations areas below.

Appropriations Bill – Earmark Reduction ($Million)

  • Financial Services/General Government -$1,106
  • Commerce/Justice/Science -$724
  • Interior -$378
  • Agriculture -$358

For a full list of program and earmark reductions see the U.S. House Appropriations Committee list here.

GovWin's Take

Shut-Downs Averted, but at What Cost? – While it appears that both parties are deathly afraid of looking like they could be the cause of any potential government shutdown the disruptive effect of ongoing uncertainty still has the negative consequence of putting agencies and their private-sector partners is limbo over whether they should be planning for contingencies of a shut-down or possible budget cut, . . . or waiting this out until the next fiscal year begins. In an atmosphere where agencies are already under a microscope for efficiency and effectiveness these mixed signals and delays by Congress will do nothing to help these matters.

CR as a Strategy to Limit Cuts – Assuming this latest CR passes, this would be the 6th stopgap funding measure enacted for fiscal 2010 and the 2nd passed by the new Congress (not counting HR1, the full-year CR the House passed in February but failed to pass the Senate.) And it is unclear whether it will be the last short-term bill to come as bargaining continues to go on between the House and Senate leadership and Congress and the White House. The volatility of the vote mix indicates that we may be farther from consensus than closer. If the goal of some Members is to limit the size and scope of budget cuts then it would seem to be in their interest to keep the stopgap CR train rolling from one to the next for the rest of FY2011. They're already half-way there.

IT Funding May Dodge the Budget-cut Bullet – Most of the latest program and earmark reductions target areas that appear to have little if any IT implications for agencies. And while at $10 billion the combined cuts of HJRes44 and 48 are a far cry from the $100 billion some Republicans are looking to cut going forward it still remains to be seen whether IT will be caught up in the cuts or looked to as a resource to help achieve efficiencies and savings. Historically, the latter has been the case, at least at the macro level. Admittedly, current fiscal challenges may change that. As GovWin continues to watch the current FY2011 budget wrangling as well as what may be in store for FY2012 we are still cautiously optimistic that federal IT budgets may weather the storm better than most.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement releases 5-year Long Range Plan

In September 2010, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) released its Fiscal Year 2011-12 through Fiscal Year 2015-16 Long-Range Program Plan. This document is a goal-based plan that identifies the agency's priorities, goals, and objectives for the next five years. Below, you will find a list of agency goals and objectives as outlined in the long range plan. For a more detailed analysis of the report which includes agency line items and the impact they have on vendors along with a budget analysis of the FDLE's recommended budget, please see GovWin's State and Local Analyst Perspective on this topic.

FDLE goals and associated objectives (FY 2011-12 to FY 2015-16):

Goal 1: Ensure the detection of crime, investigation of criminal activity, and apprehension of suspected criminals

  • Objective I: Conduct effective criminal investigations
  • Objective II: Provide timely and quality forensic and investigative assistance
  • Objective III: Promote availability and effective use of criminal justice information and intelligence

Goal 2: Support the prosecution of criminal cases

  • Objective IV: Ensure the effectiveness and quality of evidence collection, analysis, and processes
  • Objective V: Provide timely and useful criminal justice information in support of criminal prosecutions

Goal 3: Prevent crime and promote public safety

  • Objective VI: Promote professionalism in the criminal justice community and ensure well-trained criminal justice professionals
  • Objective VII: Support local law enforcement and criminal justice agencies through enhanced information sharing
  • Objective VIII: Provide programs and strategies to enhance agency cooperation and coordination
  • Objective IX: Provide improved public access to information about crime and criminals

Goal 4: Prevent and respond to threats against domestic security and other disasters

  • Objective X: Provide intelligence and promote information sharing among local and state domestic security partners to prevent acts of terrorism
  • Objective XI: Protect, police, and secure the Capitol Complex

Given the information above, it is clear that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is eager to streamline communication and data sharing efforts across the state through the development and deployment of mission-critical networks. Tools such as the FCIC, CCH, DNA Database, InSite (Florida Intelligence System), and dFACTS (distributed Factual Analysis Criminal Threat Solution) are properly enhancing the everyday capabilities of state and local law enforcement. Vendors have recognized this and Florida continues to be a hot area for public safety IT business. Over the next five years, vendors will need to be on top of their game as Florida has shown to possess the desire to be on the cutting edge of policing and domestic security. It will be vital for vendors to showcase the newest in policing technology, but also showcase "hard ROIs" that bend the curve in agency expenditures and crime. By providing FDLE with this data upfront, vendors could see themselves lock up long-term contracts that are critical in an agency expecting to see a $14 million budget cut.

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