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WASDE / WORLD CENSUS OF AGRICULTURE

“Monthly Calendar of Tasks” c. 1470 / Master of the Geneva Boccaccio

Much like its role as a discoverer of new knowledge and as a large consumer in the energy sector, the education industry has a significant role in food security research and as a consumer in its school lunch programs, dormitory, athletic facility and healthcare enterprises.  Accordingly — in much the same way we follow the US Census Bureau’s monthly construction activity report — we follow a data point provided by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as one of our stars to steer by.

The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) is a monthly report published by the USDA that provides comprehensive forecast of supply and demand for major crops (global and United States) and livestock (U.S. only). The report provides an analysis of the fundamental condition of the agricultural commodity markets for the use of farmers, governments and other market participants.

 

World Agricultural Supply & Demand Estimates / July 2020

 

 

 

We maintain the WASDE report on our periodic Food and Federal Action teleconferences.   See our CALENDAR for the next online meeting; open to everyone


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Readings / Morrill Land-Grant Act

 

Homeland Power Security

“Electric Production and Direction” 1933 / William Karp / Smithsonian American Art Museum

 

We collaborate with the IEEE Education & Healthcare Facilities Committee in assisting the US Army Corps of Engineers in gathering power system data from education communities that will inform statistical solutions for enhancing power system reliability for the Homeland.

United States Army Corps Power Relability Enhancement Program Flyer No. 1

United States Army Corps Power Reliability Enhancement Program Flyer No. 2

We maintain status information about this project — and all projects that enhance the reliability of education community power reliability — on the standing agenda of our monthly Power teleconferences.   See our CALENDAR for the next online meeting; open to everyone

Issue: [19-156]

Category: Power, Data, Security

Colleagues: Mike Anthony, Robert G. Arno, Mark Bunal, Jim Harvey, Jerry Jimenez, Paul Kempf. Richard Robben

Canadian Parliament Debate on Incorporation by Reference

“The Jack Pine” | Tom Thomson (1916) | National Gallery of Canada

Originally posted January 2014

 

In these clips — selected from Canadian Parliamentary debate in 2013 — we observe three points of view about Incorporation by reference (IBR); a legislative drafting technique that is the act of including a second document within a main document by referencing the second document.

This technique makes an entire second (or referenced) document a part of the main document.  The consensus documents in which we advocate #TotalCostofOwnership concepts are incorporated by reference into legislation dealing with safety and sustainability at all levels of government.  This practice — which many consider a public-private partnership — is a more effective way of driving best practices for technology, and the management of technology, into regulated industries.

Parent legislation — such as the Higher Education Act of 1965, the Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy Act – almost always require intermediary bureaucracies to administer the specifics required to accomplish the broad goals of the legislation.  With the gathering pace of governments everywhere expanding their influence over larger parts of the technologies at the foundation of national economies; business and technology standards are needed to secure that influence.  These standards require competency in the application of political, technical and financial concepts; competencies that can only be afforded by incumbent interests who build the cost of their advocacy into the price of the product or service they sell to our industry.  Arguably, the expansion of government is a reflection of the success of incumbents in business and technical standards; particularly in the compliance and conformity industries.

About two years ago, the US debate on incorporation by reference has been taken to a new level with the recent statement released by the American Bar Association (ABA):

16-164-Incorporation-by-Reference-ABA-Resolution-and-Report

The American National Standards Institute responded to the ABA with a statement of its own.

16-164-ANSI-Response-to-ABA-IBR-06-16 (1)

The incorporation by reference policy dilemma has profound implications for how we safely and economically design, operate and maintain our “cities-within-cities” in a sustainable manner but, admittedly, the results are only visible in hindsight over a time horizon that often exceed the tenure of a typical college or university president.

A recent development — supporting the claims of ANSI and its accredited standards developers — is noteworthy:

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) manages a website — Standards.GOV — that is a single access point for consensus standards incorporated by reference into the Code of Federal Regulations: Standards Incorporated by Reference Database.   Note that this database does not include specific reference to safety and sustainability codes which are developed by standards setting organizations (such as NFPA, ICC, IEEE, ASHRAE and others) and usually incorporated by reference into individual state public safety and technology legislation.


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5.13.20

6.17

H.R. 3967 / Municipal Bond Market Support

“The Battle about Money” (1570) / Pieter van der Heyden

S. 3589 / Use Your Endowment Act

115th Congress. Photo Credit: Pew Research Center

The Use Your Endowment Act would ban colleges or universities with endowments above $10 billion from receiving CARES Act funds.

Federal Action

“Washington Crossing the Delaware” 1851 / Emanuel Leutze

 

“The supply of government exceeds the demand”

— Lewis Lapham

 

Once per month we walk through the legislative and executive action that affect the cost of education communities; with special attention to the way money flows into physical infrastructure — our cities-within-cities.

The education industry builds about $80 billion of new or renovated square footage it every year — and takes another $240 billion to manage it — making it the largest non-residential building construction market in the United States (CLICK HERE for our coverage of the monthly US Commerce Department report on construction activity).

Three-hundred billion running through any industry sets the foundation for market-making by incumbent stakeholders (“niche verticals“) using legislative processes.   Incumbents work the market on 2-3 fronts:

  • Direct legislative influence — i.e. crafting new legislation, or revising legacy legislation
  • Writing passages in codes and standards that are incorporated by reference into new or legacy legislation
  • Executive action

Some administrative information is available at the link below:

Congressional Budget Office: Education

In the process of scanning through technical details in best practice literature that frighten ordinary mortals, many federal proposals get “caught in the net” of our tracking algorithm.   (We usually throw them back)

We do not advocate in legislative action at any level — we are not lobbyists or communication consultants — but it is wise to follow because, when commenting opportunities present themselves, some knowledge of action elsewhere informs our response to the development of the consensus  products that do affect the cost of education in the United States.   For example, from time to time we find adjustments to the “boilerplate” legislation referenced in construction project bidding documents (Davis-Bacon Act, OSHA Rules of Construction, etc.)   These “adjustments” are supposed to be made public but unless you are one of the Washington insiders, you may miss them.

The ferocity of federal-level action may surprise you; with food, technology and energy-related proposals the most fierce; soon to be replaced in ferocity by legislative solutions responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.  We list a few proposals from the present (116th Congress) below:

H.R. 5148 / HIGHER EDUCATION STANDARDS IMPROVEMENT ACT

H.R. 5243 / CLOSING THE HOMEWORK GAP THROUGH MOBILE HOTSPOTS

S. 3397 / INSPIRES Act

S. 1611 / DIGIT ACT

H.R. 3128 / COLLEGIATE FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION ACT

S. 1890 / RENEWABLE ENERGY IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

H.R. 6809 / NURSE WORKFORCE PROTECTION ACT OF 2020

S. 3512 / AUTHORITY FOR REGULATING LABORATORY-DEVELOPED TESTING PROCEDURES

S. 735 / SUNLIGHT FOR UNACCOUNTABLE NON-PROFITS ACT

S. 3144 / YOUTH WORKFORCE READINESS ACT OF 2019

S. 2515 / TELECOMMUNICATIONS SAFETY ACT OF 2019

H.R. 3949 / SAFE DRINKING WATER IN PLAYGROUNDS

S. 1949 / SCHOOL FOOD MODERNIZATION ACT OF 2019

S. 2530 / SCHOOL SAFETY CLEARINGHOUSE ACT

S. 976 / CAMPUS ACCOUNTABILITY AND SAFETY ACT

H.R. 3967 / MUNICIPAL BOND MARKET SUPPORT

H.R. 865 / REBUILD AMERICA’S SCHOOLS ACT OF 2019

S. 1750 / CLEAN SCHOOL BUS GRANT PROGRAM

H.R. 2672 / NCAA ACT

…And so on.

To understand the underpinning of how codes and standards are developed, adopted and enforced, education facility managers should keep in mind that equipment and systems do not vote.  The people who invent, build, install and maintain them do vote.   We find that state agencies that administer the building codes for schools, colleges and universities are heavily influenced by labor interests.   As one of the largest construction markets in the United States, labor and financial market incumbents are involved.  For example, some labor unions devote resources to getting out the vote for school bond referendums in order to make work for their members.   Usually this outsized influence is for the better; but not always.  We devote an hour every month to State Action.   See our CALENDAR.

We are happy to walk you through all, or all of the most relevant, legislative proposals as of this posting.   Our algorithm picks up public commenting opportunities that federal agencies post on changes to existing legislation on a near-hourly basis.  We curate and list them a few in the link below:

Standing Agenda / US Federal Regulations

Energy-related proposals that affect the education industry energy agenda has also been omitted from this list and referred to our monthly Electrical, Mechanical and Energy standards teleconferences (See our CALENDAR).    Energy legislation and regulations are a crazy space and needs a separate meeting.  We host a monthly Energy Standards and  Management & Finance teleconference that cover public commenting opportunities in those spaces.

 

115th Congress. Photo Credit: Pew Research Center

 


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PBS-P100 Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service General Services Administration

Extension of the Section 179D deduction for energy efficient commercial buildings in H.R. 1865

ANSI CEO Joe Bhatia explains the US Technology Transfer & Advancement Act at the University of Michigan.

*(CLICK HERE for our post on how the Canadian Parliament reckons with the strengths and weaknesses of this law-making technique)

**As of this post, there is no publicly available group photo of the 116th Congress

Workspace: Federal Action

Federal Participation in Consensus Standards

“City of Washington from Beyond the Navy Yard” | George Cooke (1833)

 

The White House Office of Management and Budget released a revision of OMB Circular No. A-119, Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities.  According to the announcement:

OMB has issued a revision of Circular A-119 in light of changes that have taken place in the world of regulation, standards, and conformity assessment since the Circular was last revised in 1998.  OMB’s revisions are meant to provide more detailed guidance to agencies to take into account several issues, including the Administration’s current work in Open Government, developments in regulatory policy and international trade, and changes in technology.

The response by ANSI is available at the link below:

ANSI Response OMB A-119 050614

The degree to which leading practice can be discovered and promoted by industries themselves is a policy issue upon which good minds will disagree.   Few nations disagree that innovation is faster and more enduring from the workpoint (or the point of consumption) up, but markets are not perfect instruments for discovering the greater good.  At a speech given at the University of Michigan in 2015 , S. Joe Bhatia, CEO of the American National Standards Institute, expands upon this point in the short videoclip below:

Issue: [16-18]

Contact: Mike Anthony, Christine Fischer, Jack Janveja, Richard Robben

Category: Federal Regulation

 

Qualified Zone Academy Bonds

Image Credit: Envato

From the Wikipedia:

Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs) are a U.S. government debt instrument created by Section 226 of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. It was later revised and regulations may be found in Section 54(E) of the U.S. Code. QZABs allow certain qualified schools to borrow at nominal interest rates (as low as zero percent) for costs incurred in connection with the establishment of special programs in partnership with the private sector…

…Funds can be used for renovation and rehabilitation projects (including energy projects), as well as equipment purchases (including computers). QZABs cannot be used for new building construction. The school district must obtain matching funds from a private-sector/non-profit partner equal to at least 10% of the cost of the proposed project. Information on the two QZAB federal mandates, 10% match and academy, can be obtained by visiting the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) school financing toolkit (see resources below).

…The normal annual allocation each year has been $400,000,000. However, during 2008, 2009, and 2010, the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) increased these amounts to 1.4 billion. The 2011 allocation has returned to the $400,000,000 level. The allocation is divided up by all fifty states and US possessions. QZABs are a temporary program, subject to reauthorization. The last authorization was for the calendar years 2012 and 2013. Authorizations must be used within two years following the year for which they were given, meaning that authorizations given in 2012 must be used by December 31, 2014. As of July 21, 2014, the reauthorization of the QZAB program for years 2014 and 2015 has not been passed by the U.S. Congress.  [Emphasis added*]

From the US Department of Education:

…Schools usually fund large projects, like building renovation or construction, through debt mechanisms such as tax-exempt bonds or loans. School districts must then pay a substantial amount of interest on this debt. For schools serving low income students, QZABs reduce the burden of interest payments by giving financial institutions holding the bonds (or other debt mechanism) a tax credit in lieu of interest. The school district must still pay back the amount of money it initially borrowed, but does not have to pay any interest — typically about half the cost of renovating a school. The credit rate for QZABs sold on a given day is set by the Treasury Department…

With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting education facility construction projects — and the prospect of at least 10 percent of the built environment rendered redundant for all time — it is enlightening to review the several sources of financing for these construction projects.

We review education industry construction project status and financing at least twice a month during our US Census Bureau Monthly Construction and Finance teleconferences.   See our CALENDAR for the next online meeting; open to everyone.  Use the login credential at the upper right of our home page.

 

* The Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2019 (H.R. 865/S. 266)

H.R. 865 / Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2019


LEARN MORE:

National Education Foundation 

5.28.20

State Authorization Processes for Distance Education

“The Tower of Babel” 1563 / Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Evaluation of the State Authorization Processes for Distance Education

Devrim Ozdemir, Ph.D. –  James Goodlett McDaniel

George Mason University

Abstract.  In this article, the process of obtaining state authorizations for distance education at George Mason University is presented.  The purpose of the paper is to provide guidance to those four-year public universities that deliver distance education programs.  In order to attract students from multiple states, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE)’s “program integrity issues” announced in Fall 2010 has created some confusion as to how best to maintain compliance. Although changes in the program integrity processes that were required by the USDOE have been placed on hold, state regulations regarding the operation of higher education institutions are still in place. Therefore, George Mason University continues to seek approval from all states in which we have noted online student enrollment. In this study, we present the process of obtaining state authorizations over the last year, including challenges, variability of state authorizations, a status report on Mason compliance processes, and, future plans regarding the state authorization processes. The article is meant to help guide university leaders who must allocate resources wisely in an arena with multiple fixed constraints.

Source: Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume XV, Number 1, March 2013 | University of West Georgia, Distance Education Center

H.R. 5243 / Closing the Homework Gap Through Mobile Hotspots

Photo by Architect of the Capitol | Left: The teacher and children in a “little red schoolhouse” represent an important part of American education in the 1800s.
Right: Students attend a land grant college, symbolic of the national commitment to higher learning.

A BILL: To amend the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act to establish a mobile hotspot grant program, and for other purposes.


4.29.20

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