Law and Legal
Diversity in the Technology Sector: Federal Agencies Could Improve Oversight of Equal Employment Opportunity Requirements
Diversity in the Technology Sector: Federal Agencies Could Improve Oversight of Equal Employment Opportunity Requirements, GAO-18-69: Published: Nov 16, 2017. Publicly Released: Nov 30, 2017.
“The estimated percentage of minority technology workers increased from 2005 to 2015, but GAO found that no growth occurred for female and Black workers, whereas Asian and Hispanic workers made statistically significant increases (see figure). Further, female, Black, and Hispanic workers remain a smaller proportion of the technology workforce—mathematics, computing, and engineering occupations—compared to their representation in the general workforce. These groups have also been less represented among technology workers inside the technology sector than outside it. In contrast, Asian workers were more represented in these occupations than in the general workforce. Stakeholders and researchers GAO interviewed identified several factors that may have contributed to the lower representation of certain groups, such as fewer women and minorities graduating with technical degrees and company hiring and retention practices. Both the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) have taken steps to enforce equal employment and affirmative action requirements in the technology sector, but face limitations. While EEOC has identified barriers to recruitment and hiring in the technology sector as a strategic priority, when EEOC conducts investigations, it does not systematically record the type of industry, therefore limiting sector-related analyses to help focus its efforts. EEOC has plans to determine how to add missing industry codes but has not set a timeframe to do this. In addition, OFCCP’s regulations may hinder its ability to enforce contractors’ compliance because OFCCP directs contractors to set placement goals for all minorities as a group rather than for specific racial/ethnic groups. OFCCP also has not made changes to its establishment-based approach to selecting entities for review in decades, even though changes have occurred in how workplaces are structured. Without taking steps to address these issues, OFCCP may miss opportunities to hold contractors responsible for complying with affirmative action and nondiscrimination requirements.”
Wired: “…But most science is still paywalled. More than three quarters of published journal articles—114 million on the World Wide Web alone, by one (lowball) estimate—are only available if you are affiliated with an institution that can afford pricey subscriptions or you can swing $40-per-article fees. In the last several years, though, scientists have made strides to loosen the grip of giant science publishers. They skip over the lengthy peer review process mediated by the big journals and just … post. Review comes after. The paywall isn’t crumbling, but it might be eroding. The open science movement, with its free distribution of articles before their official publication, is a big reason. Another reason, though, is stealthy improvement in scientific search engines like Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic, and Semantic Scholar—web tools increasingly able to see around paywalls or find articles that have jumped over. Scientific publishing ain’t like book publishing or journalism. In fact, it’s a little more like music, pre-iTunes, pre-Spotify. You know, right about when everyone started using Napster…”
CBO estimates that inflation-adjusted costs for the Department of Defense would climb from the $575 billion requested in 2018 to $688 billion in 2027 if DoD pursued goals that Administration officials have articulated for the military.
“This report describes CBO’s analysis of the costs and budgetary consequences through 2027 of the current Administration’s goals for increasing the readiness, size, and capabilities of the military. The report draws from the fiscal year 2018 budget request submitted by the Department of Defense (DoD) and from other official documents, including Congressional testimony presented by DoD officials. The 2018 budget request calls for $640 billion in funding for the department. Of that total, $575 billion would fund base-budget activities (such as day-to-day military and civilian operations and developing and procuring weapon systems) and $65 billion would fund overseas contingency operations (OCO, mostly for the conflicts in Afghanistan and in Iraq and Syria). The base-budget funding request is 3 percent more than the amount that would have been requested for 2018 under the Obama Administration’s final Future Years Defense Program, the 2017 FYDP, after adjusting for inflation.”
In Custodia Legis/Library of Congress/Robert Bremmer: “The Law Library and the Library of Congress Web Archiving team launched the Federal Courts Web Archive back in September. We are excited to bring you a new way to browse the archive. If you visit the new browse page, you will find the Federal courts arranged in a list. If you click on a court in the table of contents at the top of the screen, it will take you to the link to the archive for that court. If you are searching for a United States district or bankruptcy court, you can use the clickable map or drop down menu to choose a state or territory to drop down to link to the archive for that court.”
“This OCLC Research Report challenges the digital natives vs. digital immigrants paradigm; that is, the common assumption that younger people prefer to conduct research in a digital space while older people rely on physical sources for information. The report continues the work of the Digital Visitors and Residents project, which included the development of a mapping tool to help participants identify which technology they use as visitors (i.e., access to complete a certain task and then leave without a digital trace) or as residents (i.e., express themselves, interact with others, and establish personas that persist beyond active engagement). Using these maps, semi-structured individual interviews, diaries, and online surveys, the researchers analyzed the technology engagement of undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy at a range of educational institutions.
- Humans are a valued source of information.
- Convenience is a priority when making decisions about what tools and sources to use.
- Context and situation influence behavior and decision making.
- Participants report extensive use of search engines, especially Google, and take them for granted.
- Wikipedia is used by individuals in all educational stages to familiarize themselves with a subject or topic but often not cited or mentioned in references.
- Library sources are used but not recognized or attributed to the library.”
Additional Observations on Foundational Cybersecurity Research: Improving Science, Engineering, and Institutions: An Annex: Unclassified Abbreviated Version of a Classified Report: “At the request of the Special Cyber Operations Research and Engineering (SCORE) Interagency Working Group and sponsored with assistance from the National Science Foundation and from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine appointed an expert committee to explore future research goals and directions for cybersecurity. The committee for this multi-phased sequential study considered future research goals and directions for foundational science in cybersecurity, and included relevant efforts in economics and behavioral science as well as more “traditional” cybersecurity topics. It considered major challenge problems, explored proposed new directions, identified gaps in the current portfolio, considered the complementary roles of research in unclassified and classified settings, and considered how foundational work in an unclassified setting can be translated to meet national security objectives. This abbreviated annex provides background information on the full classified annex resulting from the study.”
Mozilla Common Voice: “We are building an open and publicly available dataset of voices that everyone can use to train speech-enabled applications. We believe that large and publicly available voice datasets foster innovation and healthy commercial competition in machine-learning based speech technology. This is a global effort and we invite everyone to participate. Our aim is to help speech technology be more inclusive, reflecting the diversity of voices from around the world.”
statescoop – “A partnership between two civic data groups has led to the launch of a free directory of open data standards with the goal of making it easier for governments to find specifications that suit their open data needs. The Open Data Standards Directory has about 60 entries of open data standards governments could use to publish data on transit, infrastructure, crime, elections and other information that might interest the public. The directory, launched earlier this month, is a partnership between Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Government Excellence (GovEX) and Geothink, a Canadian open data research group…”
Stewardship in the “Age of Algorithms [via First Monday] – This paper explores pragmatic approaches that might be employed to document the behavior of large, complex socio-technical systems (“algorithms”) that involve some mixture of personalization, opaque rules, and machine learning components. Thinking rooted in traditional archival methodology — focusing on the preservation of physical and digital objects, and perhaps the accompanying preservation of their environments to permit subsequent interpretation or performance — has been a total failure for many reasons. If we are to successfully cope with the new “Age of Algorithms,” there must be shift from artifacts requiring mediation and curation, to experiences. Specifically, it must focus on making pragmatic sense of an incredibly vast number of unique, personalized performances that can potentially be recorded.”
24/7 Wall St: “The United States is not known for its bike-friendly infrastructure. Next to cities like Copenhagen, Denmark and Amsterdam, Netherlands, where bikes often outnumber cars and where biking is common across all demographics, U.S. cities appear car-obsessed places, where biking is reserved for athletes and young adults. Despite the nation’s relatively poor bike system, the number of Americans riding bikes is on the rise, and the vast majority of large cities are remarkably safe for cyclists. Over the decade after 2000, the number of people commuting by bike increased by 60%, from approximately 488,000 to 786,000. Bike infrastructure has expanded over that time and roads have generally become safer for cyclists. In 2015, there were 818 biking deaths, comprising 2.3% of the total traffic deaths that year of 35,092. About 70% of fatal cyclist crashes occurred in urban areas. Because riding a bike is relatively more dangerous — and common — in large cities in particular, we limited our comparison to the 32 U.S. cities with populations of 500,000 or greater. Zero cyclists were killed in traffic accidents in three of the cities on this list. While injury statistics are not available at the city level, 35,000 cyclists were injured in traffic accidents nationwide. Injuries are likely more common in cities where fatalities are more common. The popularity of commuting to work by bike does not appear to be associated with the likelihood of a fatal accident. For instance, approximately 2.5% of working-age residents commute by bike in Boston, where no biking fatalities occurred in 2015. The same percentage of workers commute by bike in Tucson, which had the second most biking fatalities of U.S. cities. The vast majority of bicyclists killed in traffic accidents are men, especially male cyclists 55 to 59 years old, according to the Department of Transportation.”
Moody’s: Climate change is forecast to heighten US exposure to economic loss placing short-and long-term credit pressure on US states and local governments
News release: New York, November 28, 2017 – “The growing effects of climate change, including climbing global temperatures, and rising sea levels, are forecast to have an increasing economic impact on US state and local issuers. This will be a growing negative credit factor for issuers without sufficient adaptation and mitigation strategies, Moody’s Investors Service says in a new report. The report differentiates between climate trends, which are a longer-term shift in the climate over several decades, versus climate shock, defined as extreme weather events like natural disasters, floods, and droughts which are exacerbated by climate trends. Our credit analysis considers the effects of climate change when we believe a meaningful credit impact is highly likely to occur and not be mitigated by issuer actions, even if this is a number of years in the future. Climate shocks or extreme weather events have sharp, immediate and observable impacts on an issuer’s infrastructure, economy and revenue base, and environment. As such, we factor these impacts into our analysis of an issuer’s economy, fiscal position and capital infrastructure, as well as management’s ability to marshal resources and implement strategies to drive recovery. Extreme weather patterns exacerbated by changing climate trends include higher rates of coastal storm damage, more frequent droughts, and severe heat waves. These events can also cause economic challenges like smaller crop yields, infrastructure damage, higher energy demands, and escalated recovery costs. “While we anticipate states and municipalities will adopt mitigation strategies for these events, costs to employ them could also become an ongoing credit challenge,” Michael Wertz, a Moody’s Vice President says. “Our analysis of economic strength and diversity, access to liquidity and levers to raise additional revenue are also key to our assessment of climate risks as is evaluating asset management and governance.” One example of climate shock driving rating change was when Hurricane Katrina struck the City of New Orleans (A3 stable). In addition to widespread infrastructure damage, the city’s revenue declined significantly and a large percentage of its population permanently left New Orleans. “US issuer resilience to extreme climate events is enhanced by a variety of local, state and federal tools to improve immediate response and long-term recovery from climate shocks,” Wertz says. For issuers, the availability of state and federal resources is an important element that broadens the response capabilities of local governments and their ability to mitigate credit impacts. As well, all municipalities can benefit from the deployment of broader state and federal aid, particularly disaster aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help with economic recovery. Moody’s analysts weigh the impact of climate risks with states and municipalities’ preparedness and planning for these changes when we are analyzing credit ratings. Analysts for municipal issuers with higher exposure to climate risks will also focus on current and future mitigation steps and how these steps will impact the issuer’s overall profile when assigning ratings. The report “Environmental Risks — Evaluating the impact of climate change on US state and local issuers,” is available to Moody’s subscribers at http://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBM_1071949.”
“These findings should be a wake up call for journalists, platforms and regulators. Rebuilding trust will require all interested parties to work together. We need better incentives to create and showcase more accurate and more trusted content.” – Report Co-author Nic Newman.
“Even in a world where people increasingly get news from social media, the professional news media is still seen as largely to blame for low trust according to a new report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, which examines the underlying reasons for trust and distrust in the news media (and in social media) across nine countries. Bias, spin and hidden agendas come across as the main reasons for lack of trust in the news media along with a perceived decline in journalistic standards driven by greater competition and some online business models. These concerns are strongest with the young and with those on low incomes. Trust in the news that people find in social media is lower still, but similar trends are at play – bias, agendas and low quality information. The report argues that this is largely a function of a model that allows anybody to publish without checks, and algorithms that sometimes favour extreme or contentious content. The study is based on analysing thousands of open-ended responses from the 2017 Reuters Institute Digital News Report, where respondents were asked to give their reasons for low trust in their own words, using open-ended text fields. By coding and analysing responses, the report categorises the specific issues that are driving public concern across countries as well as those that build trust such as journalistic processes, strong brands and quality journalism delivered over time.”
“Facebook said it would temporarily stop advertisers from being able to exclude viewers by race while it studies the use of its ad targeting system. “Until we can better ensure that our tools will not be used inappropriately, we are disabling the option that permits advertisers to exclude multicultural affinity segments from the audience for their ads,” Facebook Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus. ProPublica disclosed last week that Facebook was still allowing advertisers to buy housing ads that excluded audiences by race, despite its promises earlier this year to reject such ads. ProPublica also found that Facebook was not asking housing advertisers that blocked other sensitive audience categories — by religion, gender, or disability — to “self-certify” that their ads were compliant with anti-discrimination laws. Under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, it’s illegal to “to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.” Violators face tens of thousands of dollars in fines…”
[November 30, 2017– DOJ]: “OIP [Office of Information Policy] published updated guidance for agency FOIA websites. This new guidance, Agency FOIA Websites 2.0, encourages agencies to review their FOIA websites to ensure they contain essential resources, and are informative and user-friendly. While the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 required agencies to use electronic information technology to enhance the public availability of their FOIA “reading room” records, agencies now use their websites as a primary way to communicate with the public. Since OIP issued its first guidance for FOIA websites nearly ten years ago, agency websites have evolved as technical capabilities have improved over time, allowing agencies to post more information online. Additionally, diverse website styles have led to differences in how agencies display similar information about their FOIA administration. The FOIA Websites 2.0 guidance establishes standard minimum requirements for FOIA websites, while recognizing that agencies may organize and style their websites in the way that best serves their mission and community of users. The guidance encourages agencies to include a clear link to their FOIA website on the agency’s main homepage and to ensure their FOIA websites contain key information and resources. FOIA website content should cover three primary areas: proactive disclosures, instructions for submitting or inquiring about a request, and information about the agency’s administration of the FOIA. For proactive disclosures, the agency’s FOIA website should contain its FOIA Library and links to any component FOIA Libraries. The page explaining how to make a request or inquire about an existing request should also include or link to the agency’s FOIA Reference Guide, FOIA regulations, and FOIA contact information. Finally, agencies should post information about their administration of the FOIA, specifically including their Annual FOIA Reports and Chief FOIA Officer Reports. The new guidance also encourages agencies to adopt consistent styling, use plain language, regularly review their websites for accuracy, and collaborate with others in the agency to identify areas for improvement. By carefully reviewing their websites in light of this guidance, agencies can help the public locate information with greater ease, better understand the FOIA process, and submit requests to the correct place. The full text of the guidance, along with all other guidance issued by OIP, is available HERE. If you have any questions regarding this new guidance, please contact OIP’s FOIA Counselor Service at (202) 514-FOIA (3642).”
ThinkProgess: “Treasury watchdog to investigate why analysis of GOP tax bill was never made public. Sen. Warren said the department has “grossly misled” the public. The Treasury Department’s inspector general has opened an inquiry into why the department’s analysis of the Republican tax plan hasn’t been released to the public, following a request from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Thursday. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has been a strong advocate for the plan. As Warren notes in her letter, he has made sweeping promises about its effects, including saying that the plan will “pay for itself with growth” and pay down debt. Both claims have been disproven by a number of independent economists. On Thursday [November 3, 2017], the Joint Committee on Taxation (a nonpartisan congressional committee) released its own analysis that estimated that the tax cuts Republicans hope to pass will add $1 trillion to the deficit, and even the most generous analyses assuming strong economic growth do not show that the bill would “pay for itself.” “Despite a lack of evidence to support his assertions, has claimed that ‘100 people are working around the clock on running scenarios for us’ to show that these corporate tax cuts will pay for themselves,” Warren writes in her Thursday letter to Inspector General Eric Thorson that called for an inquiry. Mnuchin, as Warren notes, has promised to release the department’s analysis, but, she writes in her letter, “as Senate Republicans prepare to vote within the next day on the tax plan, the Department of the Treasury has failed to produce any economic analysis” supporting his claims…”
Via Secrecy News/Steven Aftergood – “Short-term funding of the government is currently set to expire on December 8. If funding is not extended by Congress, then most government operations would have to cease. The processes and procedures by which such a shutdown would be executed, as well as its broader implications, were described in a newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service. “Government shutdowns have necessitated furloughs of several hundred thousand federal employees, required cessation or reduction of many government activities, and affected numerous sectors of the economy,” the CRS report said. “The longest such shutdown lasted 21 full days during FY1996, from December 16, 1995, to January 6, 1996. More recently, a funding gap commenced on October 1, 2013, the first day of FY2014, after funding for the previous fiscal year expired.” It lasted 16 days. See Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects, November 30, 2017. See also – Funding Gaps and Government Shutdowns: CRS Experts, November 28, 2017.”
Via FAS – The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks, Angele A. Gilroy, Specialist in Telecommunications Policy. November 22, 2017.
“As congressional policymakers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major discussion point revolves around what approach should be taken to ensure unfettered access to the Internet. The move to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provideaccess to the Internet, to ensure equal access and non discriminatory treatment, is referred to as “net neutrality.” While there is no single accepted definition of “net neutrality,” most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network, and they should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network…”
GPO produces official photographs of President and Vice President to be hung in federal office buildings
“The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) produces the official photographs of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. These photographs will be hung in more than 1,600 Federal buildings managed by the General Services Administration (GSA), military installations, and other Federal facilities. GPO will print more than 65,000 photographs, which include four sizes: 8×10, 11×14, 20×24, and 16×20. As in previous administrations, GPO is also making these official photographs available for sale to the public. Federal agencies can order photos: https://beta.gpo.gov/docs/default-source/notices/gpo-official-portrait-notice.pdf“
NeimanLab, Ricardo Bilton: – The role of gun thefts in crimes in is a big, complex issue in the U.S., and to cover it, single-topic gun issues news site The Trace needed some help. Last week, the site published Missing Pieces, the product of a deep, yearlong investigation into how stolen firearms have been used to commit crimes. The numbers are staggering: After poring through the data, reporters found more than 23,000 stolen firearms recovered by police between 2010 and 2016 — most of which had been used in crimes, including carjackings, kidnappings, and armed robberies. Gun owners had bought guns to fight off crime, but were unwittingly helping people commit it. The Trace didn’t reach these findings alone. To produce the story, the organization teamed up with over a dozen local NBC television stations, which each took the lead in chasing down data in their respective markets. The partners together collected more than 800,000 records from 1,054 law enforcement agencies in 36 states and the District of Columbia. It’s a valuable, if incomplete, set of data that The Trace hopes other reporters and researchers can build on. Along with its reporting, the organization also uploaded the entire dataset to its website for free…”
“The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the authority on boardroom practices representing more than 17,000 board members, today released its 2017–2018 NACD Public Company Governance Survey, an annual survey that looks through a board lens into the chief areas of concern for corporate directors. Industry disruption, business-model disruption, changing global conditions, and cybersecurity threats topped the list of concerns in this survey of 587 corporate directors representing 520 public companies. Asked which five trends they foresee having the greatest effect on their companies in 2018, fully 58 percent of respondents identified significant industry change as one of the trends, pointing to technology disruption, industry consolidation, and shifting regulations as key drivers of this change. The following trends also ranked among the top five:
- Business model disruption – 46 percent
- Changing global economic conditions – 46 percent
- Cybersecurity threats – 38 percent
- Competition for increasingly scarce talent – 36 percent…”