US Government Report Card
- Citizen Engagement
- Communicating in Plain Language
- Expanding and Maintaining Our Public Infrastructure
- Government Aid - Disasters, Foreign Aid, Grants and Welfare
- Insuring a Fair and Open Election Process
- Insuring Consumer Protection
- Insuring Government Officials Are Free of Conflicts of Interest
- Managing Fisheries
- Managing the Protection of Our Environment
- Open Government Data
- Police and Public Security
- Preserving and Protecting Natural Resources
- Preserving and Protecting Your Rights
- Privacy and Data Protection
- Promoting the Creation and Free Flow of New Legislation
- Public Contracting
- Public Services
- Records Management
- Right to Information
- Whistleblower Protection
A government budget is an annual financial statement presenting the government's proposed revenues and spending for a financial year that is often passed by the legislature, approved by the chief executive or president and presented by the Finance Minister to the nation. The budget is also known as the Annual Financial Statement of the country. This document estimates the anticipated government revenues and government expenditures for the ensuing (current) financial year.
In an increasingly complex world, citizens’ input is a critical resource for policy-making. Good decision-making requires the knowledge, experiences, views and values of the public. Implementing difficult decisions depends on citizens’ consent and support.
The Plain Writing Act of 2010 was signed on October 13, 2010. The law requires that federal agencies use clear government communication that the public can understand and use.
United States Foreign Aid
United States foreign aid is aid given by the United States government to other governments. It does not include money from private charitable organizations based in the United States, or remittances sent between family members. There are two broad categories: military aid and economic assistance. The Congressional Research Service divides it into five categories: bilateral development aid, economic assistance, humanitarian aid, multilateral economic contributions, and military aid.
Foreign aid recipients include developing countries, countries of strategic importance to the United States, and countries recovering from war. The government channels about half of its economic assistance through a specialized agency, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Government-sponsored foreign aid began a systematic fashion after World War II; there were numerous programs of which the largest were the Marshall Plan of 1948 and the Mutual Security Act of 1951-61.
Military aid provided to foreign countries varies mostly on what natural resources the foreign country has to offer.
Social Programs in the United States
Social programs in the United States are welfare subsidies designed to meet needs of the American population. Federal and state welfare programs include cash assistance, healthcare and medical provisions, food assistance, housing subsidies, energy and utilities subsidies, education and childcare assistance, and subsidies and assistance for other basic services. Private provisions from employers, either mandated by policy or voluntary, also provide similar social welfare benefits.
Welfare is a government support for the citizens and residents of society. Welfare may be provided to people of any income level, as with social security, but usually it is intended to ensure that the poor can meet their basic human needs such as food and shelter. Welfare attempts to provide poor people with a minimal level of well-being, usually either a free- or a subsidized-supply of certain goods and social services, such as healthcare, education, and vocational training.
The construction sector is responsible for building crucial infrastructure which contributes to positive economic and social outcomes including poverty reduction. Up to 30 percent of public budgets is spent on construction, across sectors such as transport, energy, water, health, education, and housing.The sector also receives high levels of foreign direct investment and of international and regional development aid. This means that the concerns about mismanagement and corruption in the sector have both local and international significance.
It is estimated that upwards of $4 trillion annually is lost through mismanagement, inefficiency, and corruption in public construction - on average 10 to 30 percent of a project’s value. These losses have a negative effect on the quality, safety, and value of the built environment. Specific investigations have found much larger losses in some cases, including projects that were paid for but never built and structures that collapsed with injury and loss of life.
Us Infrastructure Grades
Democratic elections serve two essential functions in any country: to provide the vehicle through which the people express their will as to who shall have the authority to govern; and to resolve peacefully the competition for governmental power. Through democratic elections citizens hold incumbents to account for their performance and promise to hold to account those who seek to be elected.
The obligation of governments to organise genuine elections, based on universal and equal suffrage, is interwoven with the right of citizens to participate in government and public affairs.
A consumer can be defined broadly as a person who needs, uses or has used a particular service or product. In this sense, we are all consumers. Consumers make up the largest economic group, affecting and effected by almost every public and private economic decision. Yet often their views are not heard.
When officials use their public office for private gain, it undermines institutions, deprives citizens of essential services and derails economic development. A conflict of interest arises when a public official is in a position to use public office for personal private gain or for the gain of other private parties.
Assets disclosure and conflicts of interest.
Data collated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that since the early 1980s total landings of fish from the sea have decreased steadily and the majority of commercially targeted fish stocks are fully exploited or overexploited. The global commercial fishing fleet is now estimated to be at least twice the size needed to catch marine fish sustainably, and many forms of industrial fishing cause high levels of by-catch and discards.
People depend on a healthy environment for life and livelihoods. However decisions that have significant environmental and social consequences are often made without the involvement of those whose interests are directly at stake. In order to safeguard the quality of the environment, it is essential to empower communities, individuals and civil society organisations (CSOs) to take part in decision-making.
Open Data is the idea that data should be freely available for everyone to access, use and republish as they wish, published without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. Public sector information made available to the public as open data is termed ‘Open Government Data’.
Across the globe, the primary point of contact many citizens have with their government is a police officer. Competent, honest and effective law enforcement is a mainstay of the rule of law. Insufficient or ineffective investment in the public security sector can result in weak or non-functioning security institutions, unable to respond to or deter crime and violence.Given the extraordinary power and authority vested in the police, accountability is particularly important in addressing problems of corruption, discrimination, abuse of power and anti-democratic use of police. For these to be exposed and addressed requires sound governance and accountability of the police, supported by transparency
Extractive industries extract natural resources from a country.
More than 50 countries depend on oil, gas and minerals as their most important sources of government and export revenues. Large-scale fisheries, forestry and leasing of agricultural lands are also becoming important sources of revenue.
As the government is managing such resources in trust for the people, the people have a right to know what is being done with their natural wealth.
Mismanagement and corruption have many manifestations and can have dire consequences. Some countries
negotiate poor terms with extractive companies, forsaking potential long-term benefits. Many countries do not collect resource revenues effectively. And even when resource revenues do end up in government coffers, they aren’t always spent in ways that benefit the public. (Revenue Watch, 2013).
Human Rights - Protecting and Insuring the Rights of Every Person
Human rights are moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behaviour and are regularly protected as natural and legal rights in municipal and international law. They are commonly understood as inalienable, fundamental rights "to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being" and which are "inherent in all human beings".
Civil Rights - Protecting and Insuring the Rights of Every Citizen
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. They ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the society and state without discrimination or repression.
Civil rights include the ensuring of peoples' physical and mental integrity, life, and safety; protection from discrimination on grounds such as race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, color, age, political affiliation, ethnicity, religion, and disability; and individual rights such as privacy and the freedoms of thought, speech, religion, press, assembly, and movement.
Political rights include natural justice (procedural fairness) in law, such as the rights of the accused, including the right to a fair trial; due process; the right to seek redress or a legal remedy; and rights of participation in civil society and politics such as freedom of association, the right to assemble, the right to petition, the right of self-defense, and the right to vote.
Civil and political rights form the original and main part of international human rights.They comprise the first portion of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (with economic, social, and cultural rights comprising the second portion). The theory of three generations of human rights considers this group of rights to be "first-generation rights", and the theory of negative and positive rights considers them to be generally negative rights.
US Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. Proposed following the often bitter 1787–88 battle over ratification of the U.S. Constitution, and crafted to address the objections raised by Anti-Federalists, the Bill of Rights amendments add to the Constitution specific guarantees of personal freedoms and rights, clear limitations on the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and explicit declarations that all powers not specifically delegated to Congress by the Constitution are reserved for the states or the people. The concepts codified in these amendments are built upon those found in several earlier documents, including the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the English Bill of Rights, along with earlier documents such as Magna Carta (1215). In practice, the amendments had little impact on judgments by the courts for the first 150 years after ratification.
Privacy is an internationally recognised human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the constitutions of more than 100 countries across the globe. Privacy is not only an important right in itself, but it is a key element of individual autonomy and dignity, and a strong enabler of political, spiritual, religious and even sexual freedoms. It is central to defining the relationship between a citizen and their government. Concrete expressions of the right to privacy are context specific, and may reflect cultural and societal differences.
The right to privacy encapsulates a right to protection of personal data: individuals have the right to decide whether to share or exchange their personal information and on what terms. Technologies are rapidly changing the nature and value of information, with huge volumes of personal data rapidly generated, transmitted, shared and collated. It is essential that governments are transparent and accountable in their handling of citizens’ personal information.
Promoting the creation and free flow of new legislation through the voting and implementation of the law.
Obstructionism or policy of obstruction denotes the deliberate interference with the progress of a legislation by various means such as filibustering or slow walking which may depend on the respective parliamentary procedures.
Public contracts play a vital role in the financial health of a country and the lives of its citizens by generating revenues and providing essential goods, works, and services. Public contracts cover all economic sectors and types of agreements, including procurement, licenses and concessions and the sale of public property. It has been estimated that public contracts procuring goods, works, and services alone are worth approximately USD 9.5 trillion per year.(Kenny, 2012). Therefore, it is critical that public contracts should be fairly awarded and offer good value-for-money. However, in many countries around the world, public contracting has been identified as the government activity most vulnerable to wastefulness, mismanagement, inefficiency, and corruption.
The provision of public services—such as health care, education, sanitation and criminal justice—is a key task for government. People care about public services and depend on them being delivered well. Public services provide the most common interface between people and the state, and their functioning shapes people’s sense of trust in and expectations of government. At a national level, public services underpin human welfare and economic growth.
Records management is the systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including the processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about things like Drivers Licenses, ID Cards, Taxpayer information etc.
Record-keeping has traditionally been regarded as a routine clerical function. However, efficient records management is crucial for effective decision-making and for transparency and accountability.
Right to information also referred to as freedom of information or access to information laws, establishes a general presumption that all information held by government should be accessible and set out the mechanisms by which is can be accessed.
Taxation provides funds to invest in development, relieve poverty, deliver public services and build the physical and social infrastructure for long-term growth. Taxation is also a crucial part of the social contract that binds citizens and states, ensuring government is accountable. Fair and efficient tax systems can contribute to good governance by establishing a bargaining process between states and citizens. States that rely on their citizens for income also have to take their demands into account .
Those working in or with an organisation are often the first to see misconduct, dishonest or illegal activity or a serious risk to the public interest in areas ranging from consumer safety and environmental damage, professional misconduct and child abuse, to financial embezzlement and corruption. However they can be discouraged from reporting their concerns by fear of reprisals and by the perceived lack of follow-up to address such warnings.