The Federal Cybersecurity Workforce, and More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has withheld from online public distribution include the following.

The Federal Cybersecurity Workforce: Background and Congressional Oversight Issues for the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, January 8, 2016

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): In Brief, updated January 8, 2016

American Agriculture and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, January 8, 2016

Cuba: Issues for the 114th Congress, updated January 11, 2016

Guatemala: One President Resigns; Another Elected, to Be Inaugurated January 14, CRS Insight, updated January 11, 2016

China’s Recent Stock Market Volatility: What Are the Implications?, CRS Insight, updated January 9, 2016

Navy John Lewis (TAO-205) Class Oiler Shipbuilding Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated January 8, 2016

Navy Ship Names: Background for Congress, updated January 8, 2016 (This report explains that “John Lewis (TAO-205) class oilers, previously known as TAO(X)s, are being named for people who fought for civil rights and human rights.” An oiler is a fuel resupply vessel that is used to transfer fuel to surface ships at sea.)

Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, updated January 8, 2016

Free Riders or Compelled Riders? Key Takeaways as Court Considers Major Union Dues Case, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 12, 2016

Unauthorized Aliens, Higher Education, In-State Tuition, and Financial Aid: Legal Analysis, updated January 11, 2016

The TRIO Programs: A Primer, updated January 11, 2016

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016: Effects on Budgetary Trends, CRS Insight, January 11, 2016

President Obama Announces Executive Actions to “Reduce Gun Violence”, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 8, 2016

Juvenile Justice Funding Trends, updated January 8, 2016

Community Services Block Grants (CSBG): Background and Funding, updated January 8, 2016

Separation of Powers, and More from CRS

The Congressional Research Service departed from its usual focus on current policy and legislative issues to produce a new disquisition on the separation of powers in the U.S. government.

The separation of powers doctrine “is rooted in a political philosophy that aims to keep power from consolidating in any single person or entity, and a key goal of the framers of the Constitution was to establish a governing system that diffused and divided power.”

However, the branches do not always act in their own structural interests (as is often the case in congressional oversight of intelligence, for example). “Although each branch has strong incentives to protect its prerogatives, in many cases individual political actors have incentives that run counter to their institutional affiliation. In particular, political actors will often, quite reasonably, place the short-term achievement of substantive policy goals ahead of the long-term preservation of institutional power for their branch of government.”

CRS concludes that “the contemporary balance of power between the President, Congress, and the courts is not the same as it was in 1789, and is perhaps not the balance intended or expected by the framers of the Constitution.”

In any case, “the relative power of the President, Congress, and the courts is not on any specific trajectory. At various times since the ratification of the Constitution, the power of each institution has been at times ascendant and at other times on the decline.” See Separation of Powers: An Overview, January 8, 2016

Other Congressional Research Service reports that were issued last week include the following.

History and Conflict at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, CRS Insight, January 7, 2016

Big Data in U.S. Agriculture, January 6, 2016

Federal Health Centers: An Overview, January 6, 2015

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Trends and FY2016 Appropriations, January 7, 2016

Escalating Violence in El Salvador, CRS Insight, January 7, 2016

Perspectives on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, January 8, 2016

Electric Grid Physical Security: Recent Legislation, January 6, 2016

Independent Bids for President, and More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that have been withheld from online public distribution include the following.

Independent Bids for President, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 6, 2016

The Presidential Nominating Process and the National Party Conventions, 2016: Frequently Asked Questions, updated December 30, 2015

H.R. 1927: Congress Proposes Additional Prerequisite for Class-Action Certification, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 5, 2016

The Animal Welfare Act: Background and Selected Animal Welfare Legislation, updated January 5, 2016

Water Quality Issues in the 114th Congress: An Overview, updated January 5, 2016

Congress and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2016, CRS Insight, January 5, 2016

Use of the Annual Appropriations Process to Block Implementation of the Affordable Care Act (FY2011-FY2016), January 5, 2016

EPA and the Army Corps’ Proposed Rule to Define “Waters of the United States”, January 4, 2016

Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated January 5, 2016

U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: the Mérida Initiative and Beyond, updated January 5, 2016

Cyprus: Reunification Proving Elusive, updated January 5, 2016

State, Foreign Operations Appropriations: A Guide to Component Accounts, updated January 5, 2016

The Motion to Recommit in the House of Representatives, January 6, 2016

Using Data to Improve Defense Acquisitions: Background, Analysis, and Questions for Congress, January 5, 2016

The Presidential Nominating Process, and More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that have been withheld from online public distribution include the following.

The Presidential Nominating Process and the National Party Conventions, 2016: Frequently Asked Questions, updated December 30, 2015

Need-Tested Benefits: Estimated Eligibility and Benefit Receipt by Families and Individuals, December 30, 2015

Federal Reserve: Oversight and Disclosure Issues, updated January 4, 2016

Analysis of the Tax Exclusion for Canceled Mortgage Debt Income, updated December 30, 2015

Iraq: Politics and Governance, updated December 31, 2015

Israel: Background and U.S. Relations In Brief, updated December 30, 2015

Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy, updated December 30, 2015

The WTO Nairobi Ministerial, CRS Insight, January 4, 2016

Data Breach Notification Laws, and More from CRS

New and updated reports that were issued by the Congressional Research Service last week include the following.

Data Security and Breach Notification Legislation: Selected Legal Issues, December 28, 2015

Sex Discrimination and the United States Supreme Court: Developments in the Law, December 30, 2015

The Budget Control Act of 2011 as Amended: Budgetary Effects, December 29, 2015

Former U.S. Hostages of Iran to be Eligible for Compensation, CRS Legal Sidebar, December 29, 2015

Federal Public Transportation Program: In Brief, December 28, 2015

NASA Appropriations and Authorizations: A Fact Sheet, December 29, 2015

Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy, December 29, 2015

US Dominates Global Arms Sales: CRS

Last year, the United States led the world in arms sales, tallying up $36.2 billion in worldwide arms transfer agreements. Russia took second place with $10.2 billion in arms transfer agreements, out of a global total of $71.8 billion in 2014.

This information, and much more on the subject, was presented in a new report from the Congressional Research Service on Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2007-2014, dated December 21, 2015.

The contents of the 70-page report were first described in the New York Times on December 25. The day before, relatedly, the Department of State published its own statutorily-required report on World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, covering the period 2002-2012.

Annual CRS reports on arms transfers had been the province of CRS specialist Richard F. Grimmett for three decades from the first such report in 1982 until his retirement in 2012. The CRS arms transfer reports are still known informally in some graying circles as “the Grimmett reports.” Besides his own considerable subject matter expertise, Grimmett seemed to have “sources” in the executive branch, making his work difficult to replicate or extend by others, no matter how diligent they might be. And for the past three years, no one at CRS has produced a follow-on report in the series until last week’s new report, authored by specialist Catherine A. Theohary.

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The role of diversity (e.g. of race, sex, or sexual preference) in the U.S. military is examined in another new report from the Congressional Research Service.

Do measures to enhance diversity in the armed services conflict with the military’s meritocratic culture? Does enforced diversity weaken readiness or strengthen it? Or perhaps weaken it in the short term and strengthen it in the long term?

Admitting no policy preference of its own, the CRS report (authored by analyst Kristy N. Kamarck) does a thorough job of representing the various competing and contrasting views on the subject.  See Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the Armed Services: Background and Issues for Congress, December 23, 2015.

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Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that were issued last week include the following.

The Federal Election Commission: Enforcement Process and Selected Issues for Congress, December 22, 2015

The Federal Election Commission: Overview and Selected Issues for Congress, December 22, 2015

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations in Brief, updated December 23, 2015

Haiti Under President Martelly: Current Conditions and Congressional Concerns, updated December 23, 2015

Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, updated December 22, 2015

Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress, updated December 22, 2015

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress, updated December 21, 2015

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program: Overview and Impact of the Affordable Care Act, December 21, 2015

Small Business Administration (SBA) Funding: Overview and Recent Trends, updated December 24, 2015

Small Business Administration: A Primer on Programs and Funding, updated December 23, 2015

Nuclear Energy: Overview of Congressional Issues, updated December 23, 2015

Salaries of Members of Congress: Recent Actions and Historical Tables, updated December 23, 2015

Salaries of Members of Congress: Congressional Votes, 1990-2015, updated December 23, 2015

Western Water and Drought: Legislative Analysis of H.R. 2898 and S. 1894, December 23, 2015

Air Quality: EPA’s 2013 Changes to the Particulate Matter (PM) Standard, updated December 23, 2015

2013 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5): Designating Nonattainment Areas, updated December 23, 2015

Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated December 22, 2015

Congressional Efforts to Reduce Restrictions on Growing Industrial Hemp, CRS Insight, updated December 23, 2015

Does Building Foreign Military Capacity Help?

The notion that the U.S. should strengthen the military capabilities of foreign partners so that they could assume increased responsibility for regional security is critically examined in a major new report from the Congressional Research Service.

The approach known as Building Partner Capacity (BPC) “has increased in prominence within U.S. strategy, arguably becoming a central pillar of U.S. national security and foreign policy in recent years,” based on the premise that strengthening fragile foreign security institutions abroad will have benefits for U.S. national security.

But despite the growing centrality of BPC, “it remains unclear whether building the capacity of foreign security forces is an effective way to accomplish U.S. strategic objectives,” the CRS report said.

In fact, “Recent events, particularly the battle between the Afghan government and the Taliban over Konduz, as well as the collapse of U.S.-trained and equipped forces in Iraq and Syria in the face of the Islamic State, have called into question whether these BPC programs can achieve their desired effects.”

“Do BPC programs and activities actually advance U.S. national security interests? If so, when? If not, why not?”

One short answer is that “Within the case studies explored, BPC was least effective as a tool for allowing the United States to extract itself from conflict (victory in war/war termination). However, it was most effective as a tool for building interpersonal and institutional linkages, and for alliance building.”

But the purpose of the CRS report was not to simply announce analytic conclusions. Rather, it should “be used as a starting point for further debate and analysis on the subject. There are no clear-cut answers at present. Considerably more intellectual spade work could be undertaken to clarify the conceptual underpinnings of BPC efforts, and whether, and when, BPC is an appropriate tool for advancing U.S. strategic goals.”

Notably, “This report differs from many other CRS products, as it is intended to assist Congress with its oversight responsibilities by helping it think critically about BPC and related programs. Accordingly, it raises more questions than it answers. Among the most important: are BPC shortcomings due to execution issues? Or are they due to BPC being an inappropriate way to accomplish U.S. strategic objectives?”

A copy of the report was obtained by Secrecy News. See What Is “Building Partner Capacity?” Issues for Congress, December 18, 2015.

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that were issued last week include the following.

Arms Sales: Congressional Review Process, updated December 17, 2015

Firearms Eligibility for Foreign Nationals in the United States, CRS Legal Sidebar, December 18, 2015

New Circuit Split: Seventh Circuit Rules that Unlawfully Present Aliens with “Extensive Ties” to the United States Have Second Amendment Rights, CRS Legal Sidebar, December 17, 2015

You Win Some, You Lose Some: the Complicated Legal Status of Daily Fantasy Sports, CRS Legal Sidebar, December 18, 2015

Employer Wellness Programs and Genetic Information: Frequently Asked Questions, December 17, 2015

Nationwide Injunctions: Recent Rulings Raise Questions about Nationwide Reach of a Single Federal Court, CRS Legal Sidebar, December 16, 2015

IRS Proposes Controversial Regulations Regarding Charity Donors’ SSNs, CRS Legal Sidebar, December 16, 2015

First Spoofing Conviction Gives Teeth to Dodd-Frank in Prosecuting Commodities Violations, CRS Legal Sidebar, December 15, 2015

Women and the Selective Service, CRS Insight, December 15, 2015

FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues, updated December 17, 2015

Central America Regional Security Initiative: Background and Policy Issues for Congress, updated December 17, 2015

Australia: Background and U.S. Relations, updated December 14, 2015

U.S. Navy Ship and Sub Programs: CRS Updates

The Congressional Research Service has updated several of its reports on Navy ship and submarine programs:

Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress, December 17, 2015

Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress, December 17, 2015

Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress, December 17, 2015

Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress, December 17, 2015

Navy TAO(X) Oiler Shipbuilding Program: Background and Issues for Congress, December 17, 2015

Navy LX(R) Amphibious Ship Program: Background and Issues for Congress, December 17, 2015

Navy Ohio Replacement (SSBN[X]) Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress, December 17, 2015

Air Force Aviation Investment, and More from CRS

The U.S. Air Force is attempting to develop and procure multiple major aircraft systems at the same time, generating programmatic and budgetary uncertainty.

“The United States Air Force is in the midst of an ambitious aviation modernization program, driven primarily by the age of its current aircraft fleets,” a new report from the Congressional Research Service observes. “Four major programs are in procurement, with five more in research and development (R&D).”

“The need to replace several types of aircraft simultaneously poses challenges to future budgets, as the new programs compete with existing program commitments and normal program growth under a restricted service topline.” The CRS report examined the options for addressing these challenges. See The Air Force Aviation Investment Challenge, December 11, 2015.

Other new and updated CRS reports that have been issued in the past few days include these:

Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress, updated December 14, 2015

Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress, updated December 14, 2015

Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated December 11, 2015

Effect of Corinthian Colleges’ Closure on Student Financial Aid: Frequently Asked Questions, updated December 14, 2015

Medicaid Financing and Expenditures, updated December 14, 2015

Is the Penalty for Failing to Report Overseas Accounts (FBAR) Unconstitutional?, CRS Legal Sidebar, December 14, 2015

FDA Naturally Requests Public Comments on the Use of “Natural” on Food Labels, CRS Legal Sidebar, December 11, 2015

Cybersecurity: Legislation, Hearings, and Executive Branch Documents, updated December 10, 2015

Kuwait: Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, updated December 11, 2015

The H-2B Visa and the Statutory Cap: In Brief, December 11, 2015

China-U.S. Trade Issues, updated December 13, 2015

Reducing Chronic Homelessness, and More from CRS

The number of chronically homeless persons in the U.S. dropped from more than 120,000 in 2008 to around 84,000 in 2014, a new report from the Congressional Research Service notes. The federal government has undertaken to end chronic homelessness by 2017.

“One of the reasons that federal programs have devoted resources to ending chronic homelessness is studies finding that individuals who experience it, particularly those with serious mental illness, use many expensive services often paid through public sources, including emergency room visits, inpatient hospitalizations, and law enforcement and jail time,” the CRS report said. “Even emergency shelter resources can be costly. In addition to potential ethical reasons for ending chronic homelessness, doing so could reduce costs in providing assistance to this population.”

See Chronic Homelessness: Background, Research, and Outcomes, December 8, 2015.

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service obtained by Secrecy News include the following.

Genetically Engineered Salmon, updated December 8, 2015

Legislative Actions to Repeal, Defund, or Delay the Affordable Care Act, updated December 9, 2015

Potential Policy Implications of the House Reconciliation Bill (H.R. 3762), December 9, 2015

Provisions of the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3762, December 9, 2015

Unemployment Insurance: Programs and Benefits, updated December 9, 2015

Crime Victims’ Rights Act: A Summary and Legal Analysis of 18 U.S.C. 3771, updated December 9, 2015

Crime Victims’ Rights Act: A Sketch of 18 U.S.C. 3771, December 9, 2015

Military Retirement: Background and Recent Developments, updated December 10, 2015

Immigration: Noncitizen Eligibility for Needs-Based Housing Programs, updated December 8, 2015

The Islamic State and U.S. Policy, updated December 8, 2015