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Facial Recognition: U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration are Taking Steps to Implement Programs, but U.S. Customs and Border Protection Should Address Privacy and System Performance Issues

The Law Enforcement Response to Homelessness: Identifying High-Priority Needs to Improve Law Enforcement Strategies for Addressing Homelessness

Sheriffs' Offices: Policies and Procedures, 2016


Adult Numeracy in the United States

As COVID-19 Spreads, Most States Have Laws that Address How Schools Should Respond to Pandemics

Improving Low-Performing Schools: A Meta-Analysis of Impact Evaluation Studies


2020 Census: Recent Decision to Compress Census Timeframes Poses Additional Risks to an Accurate Count

Attitudes on Voting in 2020: Preparing for Elections During a Pandemic

What Do the Data Reveal About (the Absence of Black) Financial Regulators?


Airport Workforce Programs Supporting Employee Well-Being

Assessing Health and Human Services Needs to Support an Integrated Health in All Policies Plan for Prince George's County, Maryland

Prevalence of Depression Symptoms in U.S. Adults Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic

September 11, 2020


Within the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is charged with the dual mission of facilitating legitimate travel and securing U.S. borders, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for protecting the nation’s transportation system. For both CBP and TSA, part of their inspection and screening responsibilities includes reviewing travel identification documents and verifying traveler identities. Beginning in 1996, a series of federal laws were enacted to develop and implement an entry-exit data system, which is to integrate biographic and, since 2004, biometric records for foreign nationals. This report addresses (1) the status of CBP’s deployment of Facial Recognition Technology, (2) the extent to which CBP has incorporated privacy protection principles, (3) the extent to which CBP has assessed the accuracy and performance of its Facial Recognition Technology, and (4) the status of TSA’s testing and deployment of Facial Recognition Technology and how TSA has incorporated privacy protection principles. The authors conducted site visits to observe CBP’s and TSA’s use of Facial Recognition Technology, which were selected to include all three travel environments—air, land, and sea; reviewed program documents; and interviewed Department of Homeland Security officials. The authors found that CBP's privacy notices—which inform the public about its use of this technology—were not always current or available where this technology is being used or on CBP's website. Also, CBP has only audited one of its 27 airline partners to ensure compliance with its facial recognition privacy policies. CBP has assessed the accuracy and performance of air exit Facial Recognition Technology capabilities through operational testing. Testing found that air exit exceeded its accuracy goals—for example, identifying over 90% of travelers correctly—but did not meet a performance goal to capture 97% of traveler photos because airlines did not consistently photograph all travelers. TSA has conducted pilot tests to assess the feasibility of using Facial Recognition Technology but, given the limited nature of these tests, it is too early to fully assess TSA's compliance with privacy protection principles. The authors recommend that CBP ensure its privacy notices are complete and available at locations using this technology, and that CBP develop a plan to audit its partners.

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office

Police often are the first (and sometimes the only) point of government contact for persons experiencing homelessness (PEH). Although it has been common for police to rely on traditional law enforcement powers in dealing with homelessness, many agencies have moved away from arrest-focused methods in favor of approaches that are designed to foster positive relationships with persons experiencing homelessness, assess individual needs of each person or area, and guide homeless or unsheltered individuals to the services they require. To better understand the potential challenges of the law enforcement response to homelessness, the RAND Corporation and the Police Executive Research Forum, on behalf of the National Institute of Justice, convened a workshop of practitioners and researchers to discuss current law enforcement responses to homelessness and identify the highest-priority needs to support and improve existing efforts. Key findings include that there are few-if any-universally applicable solutions to the issue of homelessness, homelessness is intertwined with other challenges, such as mental illness and substance use, and that law enforcement is not equipped to address the underlying causes of homelessness. The authors expand on the aforementioned key findings and provide recommendations. Recommendations include that there should be evaluations of efforts to address the underlying causes of homelessness and identify the most promising practices and benefits and that and that best practices, protocols, and training for agencies and employees who remove homeless encampments should be identified.

Source: RAND Corporation

This report presents statistics on selected policies and procedures of sheriffs' offices, based on data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics' 2016 Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics survey. The tables show national estimates and distributions by size of office on topics such as average hours of officer training by type of training, written community-policing plans, annual operating budgets, written directives for officer conduct, written documentation for officers' display or discharge of firearms, authorized less-lethal techniques and restraints, and requirements for external investigations of deaths or use of force.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice


Using the data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, this report summarizes the number of U.S. adults with low levels of numeracy and describes how they differ by nativity status and race/ethnicity. In this assessment, numeracy is defined as the ability to access, use, interpret, and communicate mathematical information and ideas in order to engage in and manage the mathematical demands of a range of situations in adult life. The assessment groups result in 5 levels of numeracy proficiency, with those at level 1 and below deemed low numeracy skilled. Over two in three (70%) U.S. adults have sufficient numeracy skills to make calculations with whole numbers and percentages, estimate numbers or quantity, and interpret simple statistics in text or tables— numeracy skills at level 2 or above. In contrast, nearly one in three U.S. adults (30%) has difficulty completing such tasks in English. This translates into 62.7 million U.S. adults who possess low numeracy skills in English. U.S.-born adults make up about three-fourths of adults with low levels of numeracy skills in the United States. However, the non U.S.-born are overrepresented among such low-skilled adults. Non U.S.-born adults comprise 24% of the population with low numeracy skills, compared to 15% of the total population. White adults make up the largest percentage of U.S. adults with low levels of numeracy, 39%, followed by that of Hispanic and Black adults, 28% and 26%, respectively.

Source: National Center for Educational Statistics, U.S. Department of Education

The COVID-19 outbreak has led schools across the country to assess their level of preparedness for a pandemic. Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have statutes and/or regulations that govern how schools or school districts should respond to a disease outbreak. This resource from Child Trends and EMT Associates, Inc. provides the text of state statutes and regulations—as well as non-codified guidance from state health and education agencies—that relates to pandemic planning for schools. This tool is designed as a resource for educators, policymakers, and general audiences to learn more about pandemic planning for schools within their states; it is not designed to provide a comprehensive analysis of these policies. There is significant variation in the prescriptiveness and content of state/territorial statutes and regulations. The vast majority of state policies touch on the following areas: Mandatory notification by the school to the health department when a student is suspected of having a contagious disease; Authorizations to exclude students from school and guidelines related to when they can be readmitted; Authorization for school closures; Provisions for teacher paid time off or paid medical leave in the event of school closures; Provisions for how schools can adjust attendance calculations for state and federal accountability purposes and/or adjust school schedules by adding days or hours.

Source: Child Trends

The public narrative surrounding efforts to improve low-performing K-12 schools in the U.S. has been notably gloomy. Observers argue that either nothing works or that we don’t know what works. At the same time, the federal government is asking localities to implement evidence-based interventions. But what is known empirically about whether school improvement works, how long it takes, which policies are most effective, and which contexts respond best to intervention? The authors meta-analyze 141 estimates from 67 studies of turnaround policies implemented post-No Child Left Behind. On average, these policies have had a moderate positive effect on math but no effect on English Language Arts achievement as measured by high-stakes exams. The authors find evidence of positive impacts on low-stakes exams in STEM and humanities subjects and no evidence of harm on non-test outcomes. Some elements of reform, namely extended learning time and teacher replacements, predict greater effects. Contexts serving majority-Latinx populations have seen the largest improvements.

Source: Annenberg Institute at Brown University

Government Operations

The 2020 Decennial Census is underway after pausing operations in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. As of August 10, 2020 the Census Bureau had received responses from 63.4% of households and plans to hire up to approximately 435,000 enumerators to follow-up with the approximately 56.4 million nonresponding households. As the Census Bureau resumes its operations, it faces a new set of operational and public safety challenges as a result of COVID-19. These delays, the resulting compressed timeframes, implementation of untested procedures, and additional challenges such as COVID-19 could adversely impact downstream operations, escalate census costs and undermine the overall quality of the count. To ensure a complete, accurate census, the Census Bureau must focus on (among other things): Hiring and retaining enough staff to follow up with people who don't respond; Ensuring public and staff safety through social distancing and use of personal protective equipment; Monitoring ongoing risks to its information technology (IT) systems and; Evaluating the impact of changes on the quality of the census count.

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has presented a severe threat to state election plans in 2020 for primaries and for the general election. To conduct an election during a potentially continuing threat from COVID-19, states need to consider how to conduct voter registration and provide voting options. How voters perceive and respond to these measures could affect turnout. The authors analyzed responses from 2,389 survey respondents about their expectations for public safety, election integrity, and the preparedness of local officials to manage the November 2020 election in the pandemic context. Responses indicate that both demographic characteristics and political partisanship influence respondent attitudes toward election safety, integrity, and preparedness. Although most voters say they believe that voting will be safe and that their vote will be counted despite the pandemic, those who question election safety and some who question election integrity appear less likely to vote.

Source: RAND Corporation

This study provides empirical evidence on African Americans in positions of authority at financial regulatory agencies. It shows that African Americans have been largely excluded from senior leadership opportunities since the New Deal. It also shows that this absence is the product of a bipartisan failure to nominate African Americans to positions of authority, and provides evidence indicating that when African Americans accede to regulatory positions it is overwhelmingly the product of sponsorship, or prompting, by the Executive branch, not the Senate. The paper also reveals a near total exclusion of African Americans from roles as senior policy staffers in current financial regulatory agencies, regardless of the political affiliation of the political appointees making hiring and staffing decisions.

Source: Brookings Institute

Health and Human Services

Airport employees face a variety of stressors in their daily work lives. From working in an environment that includes 24/7 operations, a focus on customer service in customer-facing jobs, changing technology, and potential security or personal safely concerns resulting from the location of their work, there are many sources of stress that are inherent for airport employees. The objective of this report is to provide a better understanding of how airports are currently using employee well-being programs to benefit their employees and reduce the stress that employees face. Some key takeaways from findings include that airports are using a variety of employee well-being programs to provide diverse opportunities for employee well-being including employee assistance programs, retirement planning, financial education, fitness programs, nutrition counseling, wellness workshops, cessation programs, and community service or volunteer programs. However, metrics are often not used when evaluating program offerings, and when metrics are used the most commonly used metric is program participation rates. While some of these well-being program offerings may fit the needs of all airport employees, it may be beneficial to have programs tailored to the specific needs or stressors for various groups of employees (e.g., different generations, shifts, or work areas). To increase participation in these program offerings, leadership support and buy-in is essential. With appropriate leadership support, the organization may create a culture that values employee well-being and health, thereby increasing the use of available programs. And creating an organizational culture in which the employees value well-being and safety increases the use of well-being programs, benefiting both the individual employees and the airport as a whole.

Source: The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine

With evolving demographics and a changing health system landscape, the Prince George's County Council in Maryland, acting as the County Board of Health, is considering its future policy approaches and resource allocations related to health and well-being. To inform this path forward, the authors of this report used primary and secondary data to describe both the health needs of county residents and drivers of health within the county, inclusive of the social, economic, built, natural, and health service environments. This report integrates these findings, an analysis of budget documents, and a review of promising practices from other communities to situate recommendations in a Health in All Policies framework to foster aligned and integrated planning and budgeting across the county to promote health and well-being. Findings from the assessment indicate a shared interest among leaders and residents to embrace a holistic strategy for health and well-being in the county. Inefficient uses of the health care system are identified, highlighting a need to rebalance investments in health care use and drivers of health. Additionally, challenges in navigating health and human services and inequities in drivers of health across communities are noted, signaling broader concerns related to residents' access to health and human services that influence health and well-being outcomes. Some key findings from this study include that one in four emergency calls for medical services were for non-urgent needs and emergency services continue to be used for preventable issues, such as asthma and dental care.

Source: RAND Corporation

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the policies to contain it have been a near ubiquitous exposure in the U.S. with unknown effects on depression symptoms. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of and risk factors associated with depression symptoms among U.S. adults during vs before the COVID-19 pandemic. This nationally representative survey study used 2 population-based surveys of U.S. adults aged 18 or older. During COVID-19, estimates were derived from the COVID-19 and Life Stressors Impact on Mental Health and Well-being study, conducted from March 31, 2020, to April 13, 2020. Before COVID-19 estimates were derived from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted from 2017 to 2018. Depression symptom prevalence was higher in every category during COVID-19 compared with before. Higher risk of depression symptoms during COVID-19 was associated with having lower income, having less than $5,000 in savings, and exposure to more stressors. These findings suggest that prevalence of depression symptoms in the U.S. was more than 3-fold higher during COVID-19 compared with before the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals with lower social resources, lower economic resources, and greater exposure to stressors (e.g., job loss) reported a greater burden of depression symptoms. Post–COVID-19 plans should account for the probable increase in mental illness to come, particularly among at-risk populations.

Source: JAMA Network Open

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