State-By-State: House Republican Budget Bill Would Harm Students, Workers, Health Care, and the Economy

SHAUN DONOVAN

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Congressional Republicans have started to show how they plan to budget at discretionary levels that are the lowest in a decade, adjusted for inflation. House Republicans are proposing to shortchange students, workers, our nation’s health, and the economy by cutting overall funding for the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services by roughly $15 billion, or 9 percent, compared to the President’s Budget. See how House Republicans’ short-sighted priorities will affect your State.

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Johnson County Iowa

Johnson County, Iowa, government serves the residents of the second-fastest growing county in the State of Iowa. We employ 500+ individuals to help meet the public needs of more than 144,000 County residents.

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The Essential Role of Government During COVID-19

Article | April 13, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic touches every aspect of business, technology, and society. And stable and effective government is at the heart of managing through this crisis. What we do now will have longer-term implications for the health and safety of our families, our citizens, the economy, and even global stability. In the past few weeks, IBM has collaborated with many of our government clients and is driving action across three critical phases of response.

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What Agencies Should Consider Before Deploying AI

Article | June 10, 2020

Artificial intelligence is the major buzzword in federal IT these days, the way that cloud once was. It’s easy to see why. There is booming investment in AI in the private sector, and various agencies across the government are experimenting with AI to achieve their missions. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is working with Microsoft to use AI and cloud technology to more easily and accurately identify animals and population counts of endangered species. NASA is ramping up the use of AI throughout its operations, from conducting basic financial operations to finding extra radio frequencies aboard the International Space Station. And the Defense Health Agency’s dermatologists are even using AI to better monitor patients’ skin.

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GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

What the US-Iran war might look like

Article | December 3, 2020

With Iran in escalation mood to get n to "Holy War" or "War For Survival of Islam" with Air Striking US and Allied Bases in Iraq which though has hardly given any blow to US Confidence and its Marines deployed there,Iran is going to architect a full blown war which as we know it would feature a series of moves and countermoves, we know it’d be very messy and confusing, and we know it’d be extremely deadly. But unlike with the path to war, it’s less useful to offer a play-by-play of what could happen. So with that in mind, it’s better to look at what the US and Iranian war plans would likely be — to better understand the devastation each could exact. How the US might try to win the war The US strategy would almost certainly involve using overwhelming air and naval power to beat Iran into submission early on. “You don’t poke the beehive, you take the whole thing down,” Goldenberg said. The US military would bomb Iranian ships, parked warplanes, missile sites, nuclear facilities, and training grounds, as well as launch cyberattacks on much of the country’s military infrastructure. The goal would be to degrade Iran’s conventional forces within the first few days and weeks, making it even harder for Tehran to resist American strength. That plan definitely makes sense as an opening salvo, experts say, but it will come nowhere close to winning the war. “It’s very unlikely that the Iranians would capitulate,” Michael Hanna, a Middle East expert at the Century Foundation in New York, told me. “It’s almost impossible to imagine that a massive air campaign will produce the desired result. It’s only going to produce escalation, not surrender.” It won’t help that a sustained barrage of airstrikes will likely lead to thousands of Iranians dead, among them innocent civilians. That, among other things, could galvanize Iranian society against the US and put it firmly behind the regime, even though it has in many ways treated the population horribly over decades in power. There’s another risk: A 2002 war game showed that Iran could sink an American ship and kill US sailors, even though the US Navy is far more powerful. If the Islamic Republic’s forces succeeded in doing that, it could provide a searing image that could serve as a propaganda coup for the Iranians. Washington won’t garner the same amount of enthusiasm for destroying Iranian warships — that’s what’s supposed to happen. An Iranian Army soldier stands guard on a military speedboat, passing by a submarine during the “Velayat-90” navy exercises in the Strait of Hormuz on December 28, 2011. Ali Mohammadi/AFP/Getty Images Trump has already signaled he doesn’t want to send ground troops into Iran or even spend a long time fighting the country. That tracks with his own inclinations to keep the US out of foreign wars, particularly in the Middle East. But with hawkish aides at his side, like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, there’s a chance they could convince him not to look weak and to go all-in and grasp victory. But the options facing the president at that point will be extremely problematic, experts say. The riskiest one — by far — would be to invade Iran. The logistics alone boggle the mind, and any attempt to try it would be seen from miles away. “There’s no surprise invasion of Iran,” Brewer, who is now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington, told me. Iran has nearly three times the amount of people Iraq did in 2003, when the war began, and is about three and a half times as big. In fact, it’s the world’s 17th-largest country, with territory greater than France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and Portugal combined. The geography is also treacherous. It has small mountain ranges along some of its borders. Entering from the Afghanistan side in the east would mean traversing two deserts. Trying to get in from the west could also prove difficult even with Turkey — a NATO ally — as a bordering nation. After all, Ankara wouldn’t let the US use Turkey to invade Iraq, and its relations with Washington have only soured since. “IT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO IMAGINE THAT A MASSIVE AIR CAMPAIGN WILL PRODUCE THE DESIRED RESULT. IT’S ONLY GOING TO PRODUCE ESCALATION, NOT SURRENDER.” —MICHAEL HANNA, A MIDDLE EAST EXPERT AT THE CENTURY FOUNDATION The US could try to enter Iran the way Saddam Hussein did during the Iran-Iraq war, near a water pass bordering Iran’s southwest. But it’s swampy — the Tigris and Euphrates rivers meet there — and relatively easy to protect. Plus, an invading force would run up against the Zagros Mountains after passing through, just like Saddam’s forces did. It’s for these reasons that the private intelligence firm Stratfor called Iran a “fortress” back in 2011. If Trump chose to launch an incursion, he’d likely need around 1.6 million troops to take control of the capital and country, a force so big it would overwhelm America’s ability to host them in regional bases. By contrast, America never had more than 180,000 service members in Iraq. And there’s the human cost. A US-Iran war would likely lead to thousands or hundreds of thousands of dead. Trying to forcibly remove the country’s leadership, experts say, might drive that total into the millions. That helps explain why nations in the region hope they won’t see a fight. Goldenberg, who traveled recently to meet with officials in the Gulf, said that none of them wanted a US-Iran war. European nations will also worry greatly about millions of refugees streaming into the continent, which would put immense pressure on governments already dealing with the fallout of the Syrian refugee crisis. Israel also would worry about Iranian proxies targeting it (more on that below). Meanwhile, countries like Russia and China — both friendly to Iran — would try to curtail the fighting and exploit it at the same time, the Century Foundation’s Hanna told me. China depends heavily on its goods traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, so it would probably call for calm and for Tehran not to close down the waterway. Russia would likely demand restraint as well, but use the opportunity to solidify its ties with the Islamic Republic. President Donald Trump and Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, stand side by side in the group picture at the G20 summit on June 28, 2019. Bernd von Jutrczenka/picture alliance via Getty Images And since both countries have veto power on the UN Security Council, they could ruin any political legitimacy for the war that the US may aim to gain through that body. The hope for the Trump administration would therefore be that the conflict ends soon after the opening salvos begin. If it doesn’t, and Iran resists, all that’d really be left are a slew of bad options to make a horrid situation much, much worse. How Iran might try to win the war Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart left his post as the No. 2 at US Cyber Command in 2019, ending a decorated four-decade career. Toward the end of it, he spent his time at the forefront of the military intelligence and cybersecurity communities. If anyone has the most up-to-date information on how Iran may fight the US, then, it’s Stewart. “The Iranian strategy would be to avoid, where possible, direct conventional force-on-force operations,” he wrote for the Cipher Brief on July 2, 2019. “They would attempt to impose cost on a global scale, striking at US interests through cyber operations and targeted terrorism with the intent of expanding the conflict, while encouraging the international community to restrain America’s actions.” In other words, Tehran can’t match Washington’s firepower. But it can spread chaos in the Middle East and around the world, hoping that a war-weary US public, an intervention-skeptical president, and an angered international community cause America to stand down. That may seem like a huge task — and it is — but experts believe the Islamic Republic has the capability, knowhow, and will to pull off such an ambitious campaign. “The Iranians can escalate the situation in a lot of different ways and in a lot of different places,” Hanna told me. “They have the capacity to do a lot of damage.” Take what it could do in the Middle East. Iran’s vast network of proxies and elite units — like Soleimani’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — could be activated to kill American troops, diplomats, and citizens throughout the region. US troops in Syria are poorly defended and have little support, making them easy targets, experts say. America also has thousands of civilians, troops, and contractors in Iraq, many of whom work in areas near where Iranian militias operate within the country. US allies would also be prime targets. Hezbollah, an Iran-backed terrorist group in Lebanon, might attack Israel with rockets and start its own brutal fight. We’ve heard this story before: In 2006, they battled in a month-long war where the militant group fired more than 4,000 rockets into Israel, and Israeli forces fired around 7,000 bombs and missiles into Lebanon. About 160 Israelis troops and civilians died, according to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and about 1,100 Lebanese — most of them civilians — perished, per Human Rights Watch, a US-headquartered advocacy organization. It also reports about 4,400 Lebanese were injured, and around 1 million people were displaced. But that’s not all. Iran could encourage terrorist organizations or other proxies to strike inside Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Gulf nations. Last year, it planned and executed drone strikes on two major Saudi oil facilities deep inside the kingdom, convulsing world markets. Its support for Houthis rebels in Yemen would mostly certainly increase, offering them more weapons and funds to attack Saudi Arabia’s airports, military bases, and energy plants. The US government on April 8, 2019, said it had designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization, marking the first time a US government has made such a designation on a foreign government’s organization. Rouzbeh Fouladi/NurPhoto via Getty Images Experts note that the Islamic Republic likely has sleeper cells in Europe and Latin America, and they could resurface in dramatic and violent ways. In 1994, for example, Iranian-linked terrorists bombed the hub of the Jewish community in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, killing 85 people and injuring roughly 300 more. That remains the largest terrorist attack in Latin America’s history, and the possibility for an even bigger one exists. In 2018, Argentina arrested two men suspected of having ties with Hezbollah. But Chris Musselman, formerly the National Security Council’s counterterrorism director under Trump, told me the US and its allies may have the most trouble containing the proxy swarm in Western Africa. “We could see a conflict that spread quickly to places the US may not be able to protect people, and it’s a fight that we are grossly unprepared for,” he said, adding that there’s a strong Hezbollah presence in the region and American embassy security there isn’t great. Making matters worse, he continued, the US isn’t particularly good at collecting intelligence there, meaning some militants could operate relatively under the radar. “This isn’t really a law enforcement function that US can take on a global scale,” he said. It would require that countries unwittingly hosting proxies to lead on defeating the Iranian-linked fighters, with US support when needed. The chaos would also extend into the cyber realm. Iran is a major threat to the US in cyberspace. Starting in 2011, Iran attacked more than 40 American banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. The attack made it so the banks had trouble serving its customers and customers had trouble using the bank’s services. In 2012, Iran released malware into the networks of Saudi Aramco, a major oil company, which erased documents, emails, and other files on around 75 percent of the company’s computers — replacing them with an image of a burning American flag. In the middle of a war, one could imagine Tehran’s hackers wreaking even more havoc. “WE COULD SEE A CONFLICT THAT SPREAD QUICKLY TO PLACES THE US MAY NOT BE ABLE TO PROTECT PEOPLE, AND IT’S A FIGHT THAT WE ARE GROSSLY UNPREPARED FOR” —CHRIS MUSSELMAN, FORMERLY THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL’S COUNTERTERRORISM DIRECTOR UNDER TRUMP “I would expect them to have begun selected targeting through socially-engineered phishing activities focused on the oil and gas sector, the financial sector and the electric power grid in that order,” Stewart wrote. “There may be instances now where they already have some persistent access. If they do, I expect they would use it, or risk losing the access and employ that capability early in the escalation of the crisis.” Recent reports indicate that Iranian cyberwarriors have stepped up their online operations, with a particular emphasis on preparing to attack US firms. Among other moves, they’re aiming to trick employees at major businesses to hand over passwords and other vital information, giving them greater access to a firm’s networks. “When you combine this increase with past destructive attacks launched by Iranian-linked actors, we’re concerned enough about the potential for new destructive attacks to continue sounding the alarm,” Christopher Krebs, a top cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security, told Foreign Policy last July. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a graduation ceremony of the Iranian Navy cadets in the city of Noshahr on September 30, 2015. Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images All of this — proxies striking around the world, cyberattacks on enterprise — would happen while Iran continued to resist conventional American forces. In the Strait of Hormuz, for instance, Iranian sailors could use speedboats to place bombs on oil tankers or place mines in the water to destroy US warships. The Islamic Republic’s submarines would also play a huge part in trying to sink an American vessel. And the nation’s anti-ship missiles and drones could prove constant and deadly nuisances. Should US troops try to enter Iranian territory on land, Iranian ground forces would also push back on them fiercely using insurgent-like tactics while the US painfully marches toward Tehran. Put together, Brewer notes succinctly, a US-Iran war would be “a nasty, brutal fight.” Aftermath: “The worst-case scenarios here are quite serious” Imagine, as we already have, that the earlier stages of strife escalate to a major war. That’s already bad enough. But assume for a moment not only that the fighting takes place, but that the US does the unlikely and near impossible: It invades and overthrows the Iranian regime (which Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton, at least, has openly called for in the past). If that happens, it’s worth keeping two things in mind. First, experts say upward of a million people — troops from both sides as well as Iranian men, women, and children, and American diplomats and contractors — likely will have died by that point. Cities will burn and smolder. Those who survived the conflict will mainly live in a state of economic devastation for years and some, perhaps, will pick up arms and form insurgent groups to fight the invading US force. Second, power abhors a vacuum. With no entrenched regime in place, multiple authority figures from Iran’s clerical and military circles, among others, will jockey for control. Those sides could split into violent factions, initiating a civil war that would bring more carnage to the country. Millions more refugees might flock out of the country, overwhelming already taxed nations nearby, and ungoverned pockets will give terrorist groups new safe havens from which to operate. Iran would be on the verge of being a failed state, if it wasn’t already by that point, and the US would be the main reason why. To turn the tide, America may feel compelled to help rebuild the country at the cost of billions of dollars, years of effort, and likely more dead. It could also choose to withdraw, leaving behind a gaping wound in the center of the Middle East. In some ways, then, what comes after the war could be worse than the war itself. It should therefore not be lost on anyone: A US-Iran war would be a bloody hell during and after the fighting. It’s a good thing neither Trump nor Iran’s leadership currently wants a conflict. But if they change their minds, only carnage follows. “The worst-case scenarios here are quite serious,” Hanna told me.

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Fiscal year 2021 prime for government contracts of every type

Article | August 26, 2020

In spite of a decline in contracting opportunities in state and local government, public officials are announcing dozens of new, large projects each week. The announcements usually include upcoming solicitations for new construction projects as well as renovation and upgrade projects. Because of population growth, many of the most recent announcements have expansion projects. Educational facilities need more classrooms, cities and counties need more office facilities, and economic development organizations have plans to develop more revenue-generating venues. Overall, it appears that contracting opportunities will not suffer much as a result of fewer solicitation documents that are anticipated over the near term. Here’s a sampling of what to anticipate in 2021. New York Broome County is planning a two-phase $180 million renovation project for the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. The project will be a rather large one, and the first phase work has a projected cost of $58 million. That work will involve improvements and upgrades to the arena's current space. Phase two of the project carries an estimated cost of approximately $125 million. It will include construction of a second ice rink and a convention center, both of which will be linked to the current arena. The objective is to increase the number and type of activities that can be accommodated in this downtown. Accommodations will be made for e-sports, various types of tournaments and space for practice sessions by the American Hockey League Binghampton Devils. Phase two will also include another downtown hotel and a new park alongside the Susquehanna River. Formal solicitations for the project may be delayed until 2022, but interested contractors and/or partners will find no better time than now for positioning and pre-sales activities. Mississippi The Mississippi Legislature ended its yearly session with the approval of a bond bill in the amount of $291 million. This funding will be allocated for various types of projects. The sum of $13.5 million is earmarked for Mississippi Valley State University. The school will expand its student union building and upgrade other facilities. Another $13.5 million has been set aside for repairs to the state capitol building, grounds, and War Memorial building. Funding also will be provided to the city of Tupelo for repair, renovation, and expansion of the BancorpSouth Arena and Conference Center. Greene County will receive funding for the renovation and expansion of the county’s rural events center in Leakesville. Georgia The Georgia General Assembly’s final version of a $25.9 billion fiscal budget was adopted in June and it calls for making $70 million available for an expansion project related to the Savannah Convention Center. Another $10.24 million is allocated for infrastructure improvements to the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta. The budget also will finance universities, colleges, and technical colleges. Specifically, $5 million is designated for renovations at the Driftmier Engineering Center at the University of Georgia’s main campus in Athens, $4.8 million for renovations to the Dublin Center and Library on the Dublin campus of Middle Georgia State University, and $4.5 million for renovations to the Memorial College Center on the Armstrong campus of Georgia Southern University in Savannah. Massachusetts An architecture firm will be selected to conduct a fast-tracked assessment of the Holyoke Soldier’s Home for an upcoming renovation and expansion project. The state of Massachusetts has designated 12 weeks for a firm to complete a needs assessment that will provide three scenarios for improvements that focus on infection control and needs of the residents. Planning for this project which is projected to cost approximately $116 million plan began years ago. The objective is to expand the facility with a five-story addition that provides 120 new private rooms. Oregon The Portland Public School Board plans to move forward with a $1.2 billion November bond election. If voters approve the bond package, there will be funding available for the modernization of Jefferson High School. Planning documents outline plans to fund design work and additional master planning. Initial implementation will include investments in the neighborhood schools surrounding Jefferson High School, pre-construction planning for the modernization of Cleveland and Wilson high schools, and final modernization of Benson Polytechnic High School. Indiana The Seymour ISD has announced plans to convert the Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center into an intermediate school for fifth- and sixth-grade students and also upgrade Seymour High School. Construction should begin in 2022 on this $52.45 million project. Objectives include the provision of additional classroom space, enhanced security, upgraded accessibility, and expansion opportunities for career and athletic programming. Enhancements and upgrades also will be made at the intermediate school. These include the construction of a new kitchen and cafeteria, administrative office, gymnasium, library, and band and choir rooms. The number of classrooms will be increased from 15 to 38. At the high school, a minimum of 25 new classrooms will be added and a corridor will be constructed to relieve congestion and create space for additional lockers. West Virginia The Greenbrier County Courthouse, built in 1837, is slated for an expansion project that will add approximately 22,000 square feet. The new annex, which will have an elevator, will be attached to the northern end of the current courthouse. The solicitation for construction is likely to begin in December. The construction project will include code upgrades and the upgrading of air conditioning equipment, sprinkler systems, and heating units. A secure elevator will be added in the existing courthouse to move prisoners. These projects are indicative of what can be found by researching upcoming contracting opportunities. Each new project also will require additional purchases related to technology, security, upgraded equipment, furniture, office supplies, landscaping, and numerous professional services. The government marketplace is still one of the hottest places to find abundant opportunities for private sector firms. Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.

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Johnson County Iowa

Johnson County, Iowa, government serves the residents of the second-fastest growing county in the State of Iowa. We employ 500+ individuals to help meet the public needs of more than 144,000 County residents.

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