Thursday, September 17, 2009

EPA Improving Transparency

According to a September 15, 2009 article posted on OMB Watch, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken seriously the Obama Administration push for all federal agencies to become more transparent. Examples of the steps that EPA is taking to increase transparency include:

  • Releasing the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data for 2008 early. Rulemaking under the Bush administration restricted the amount of toxic release information made available to communities and the public. This data release restores reporting to the levels that existed before that rulemaking.
  • Releasing two sets of data about the herbicide atrazine which is commonly found in streams and groundwater but is toxic to humans and animals even at low levels. One data set is for drinking water monitoring and the other is for ecological monitoring.
  • Making available online data about the air quality around selected schools.
  • Publishing a list of the highest-risk coal-ash dumpsites in the nation.

On the cautionary side, however, OMB Watch notes that some data releases are the result of FOIA requests and lawsuits. The EPA also still lacks a permanent assistant administrator for the Office of Environmental Information (OEI) which plays a key role in releasing data to the public.

More information about each of these steps is available from the full article on OMB Watch.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

SEC & Madoff's Ponzi Scheme

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has release Investigation of Failure of the SEC to Uncover Bernard Madoff's Ponzi Scheme - Public Version. A 22 page executive summary is also available. The SEC admits:
As the foregoing demonstrates, despite numerous credible and detailed complaints, the SEC never properly examined or investigated Madofi's trading and never took the necessary, but basic, steps to determine if Madoff was operating a Ponzi scheme. Had these efforts been made with appropriate follow-up at any time beginning in June of 1992 until December 2008, the SEC could have uncovered the Ponzi scheme well before Madoff confessed.

President Obama's Speech to School Children

In his speech to school children today President Obama emphasizes student responsibility:
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

He also stresses the importance of students' school success to the well being of our country:
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

President Obama's complete speech is available from the White House.