Who benefits from tax expenditures

Major tax expenditures — such as lower rates on capital gains and dividends, deductions for charitable contributions, deductions for state and local taxes, and the mortgage interest deduction — tend to benefit high income taxpayers more than lower income groups.

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Digital Luxembourg

Digital Luxembourg is both a uniting force behind Luxembourg’s digitalization movement & its biggest ally. Inclusive, multidisciplinary & fluid, we are a collaborative government initiative that strengthens & guides the country’s digital efforts. Digitalization is inevitable. Let’s keep it positive, smart & human.

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Emerging Technology

Wastewater projects can rarely be delayed; contracting opportunities are abundant

Article | July 13, 2022

Wastewater is an integral part of public infrastructure, and contracting opportunities related to wastewater projects often represent multi-million-dollar efforts. However, because of their very nature, wastewater projects are often overlooked by companies. The projects, for some reason, rarely merit the type of visibility that road, bridge, and rail projects receive. The COVID-19 pandemic has curbed many things, including public initiatives, but numerous wastewater projects continue to be launched because they are considered critical. Almost all wastewater projects are necessary to either maintain or expand services that citizens must have without interruption. The following represents only a fraction of wastewater-related infrastructure project opportunities currently being planned throughout the U.S. Nebraska In June, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded South Sioux City a $12.2 million grant for a wastewater treatment plant. The project, which will support business growth, will be launched in an area that suffered severe flood damage in 2019. The new plant will be built near an opportunity zone, and the grant, which will be matched with another $12.2 million in local funding, should result in the creation of about 60 jobs. This opportunity will move quickly because the completion date and the timeline established for full operation is less than two and a half years. Arizona The city of Buckeye has appropriated $3.1 million for construction of an additional discharge point for the Sundance Wastewater Reclamation Facility. Planning and design of the facility is scheduled to begin soon, and construction is planned for the city’s upcoming fiscal year. The city of Goodyear has announced plans to install wastewater collection lines as part of a 10-year infrastructure improvement plan which is necessary to support population growth. Funding for this project has been secured, and the city will invest more than $20.5 million in this particular construction project. Oklahoma One of the challenges with operating any wastewater treatment plant is odor control. In Oklahoma City, the water utilities trust has set aside $5.3 million in fiscal year 2021 to deal with that issue. Due to robust development within close proximity of treatment plants and lift stations, the city will install new odor control systems at various wastewater plants in areas where they are needed. To augment water supply and to expand the water reuse system, Oklahoma City also has planned other wastewater reuse improvements. A total of $31.4 million has been budgeted for these purposes. Oregon With the help of a $2.45 million Community Development Block Grant, the city of Ontario will, in the near future, enter the construction phase of a project to improve its wastewater system. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality requires that wastewater discharge into the Snake River be at a limit for arsenic that is lower than the federal drinking water standard. To meet those requirements, the city has completed the final design and environmental assessment of wastewater system improvement needs and almost is ready to begin construction. Officials announced in July that funding has been secured. Minnesota In the city of Shakopee near Minneapolis, the Blue Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant produces Class A fertilizer. The decades-old wastewater solids drying facility is nearing the end of its useful life, and city officials have budgeted $3.1 million in plant design improvements for fiscal year 2021. The cost projection for the construction, which will follow quickly, has been estimated at $45.9 million. Completion of this project may extend over several years. The cities of Lake Elmo and Woodbury are collaborating on a project that will provide interceptor facilities to convey wastewater from portions of each city to the Metro Wastewater Treatment Plant in St. Paul. The estimated $5.6 million project budgeted for fiscal year 2021 calls for reconstruction of the Wilmes Lake force main. The project is critical because of population growth in this eastern portion of the Minneapolis metropolitan area. Both design and construction are scheduled to commence in fiscal year 2021. Texas The North Texas Municipal Water District, which serves customers in several DFW-area cities, has several wastewater projects slated for the summer and fall. The various projects include a $20 million improvement project for the South Mesquite Regional Wastewater Plant and a $50 million plus project to improve drainage at the Wilson Creek Regional Wastewater Plant. These projects are moving quickly, and interested contracting firms should seek more detailed information immediately. Washington The state’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund has awarded a $66 million low-interest loan to the city of Seattle for a Ship Canal Water Quality Project that consists of constructing a storage tunnel between the Ballard and Wallingford neighborhoods. The large-scale project will significantly reduce sewer outflows in the ship canal. The project, a joint effort between Seattle Public Utilities and the King County Department of Natural Resources, is slated for fiscal year 2021. The Eastsound Sewer and Water District has been granted $4.9 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and has announced plans to upgrade its existing wastewater treatment facility. This project is necessary to address aging equipment, future flow and loading capacity, current standards for redundancy and reliability, and discharge permit requirements. This project also is scheduled for fiscal year 2021. Water, in all its many uses, is a precious asset, and when water issues are combined with environmental requirements, demand issues, or aging infrastructure, there is no option to delay necessary repair or expansion. Contracting opportunities for water projects throughout the country in the next decade will be exceedingly abundant. 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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Government Business

How Does Government Operations Continuity Help Them Perform Better?

Article | March 11, 2022

One of the challenges the government faced during the COVID-19 pandemic was keeping operations running. Certain advanced economies and developing nations' business continuity plans gave them an edge over their underdeveloped counterparts. But because of the pandemic, the national economy had suffered the pangs of unemployment to fuel the malicious intents of cyber-attackers, thus, protecting government assets that carried important economic information became a national priority. National security and staying competitive with other economies worldwide are becoming increasingly crucial in elevating a country’s economy. Keeping all public-sector companies and federal agencies running efficiently is a foundational block for the economy. Companies in public administration, like the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, as well as different ministries, public sector businesses, and more, need data protection from international cyber-threats. They use disruptive business strategies to make their operations more resilient. Now, that we know the importance of business continuity in the context of federal government and agencies, let us understand what risks does business continuity management mitigate. Business Continuity Management in Government Easily Mitigates: Individuals rely on the government during economic crises and disasters. A crisis or a disaster can be a huge risk to the economy, which can bubble up to an irreversible loss if not handled on a timely basis. Mitigating the risks of crises such as natural disasters, cyber security compromises, power and communication outages, terrorism, wars and military activities, global financial crises and more has become crucial. These crises can cause the loss of physical assets, human safety, and infrastructure that hamper government operations. This is why having a BCM plan in place is the need of the hour. The government must serve and meet the expectations of economic contributors. If there is a divergence or a timely action constraint, the government must maintain peace and harmony for the common good and economic well-being. Government Continuity to Support Individuals and Public Organizations: Resuming operations for public organizations and individuals quickly can be almost impossible without the intervention and support of the government. Government continuity is directly proportional to the level of trust, government reputation, and business resiliency. This is possible because the financial loss can be covered by insurance and financial help, as explained below. Insurance Policy Claims and Coverage: Making it easy to claim insurance during and after the crisis helps individuals and organizations reclaim their finances, thereby restoring essential functions first and full-fledged functions later. Providing reimbursement of expenses and coverage for losses for public organizations and financial assistance for the public sector remains one of the top priorities as far as resuming business operations is concerned post-disaster. Making sure that the insurance can cover the expenses and losses incurred due to the disaster is a part of the business impact analysis (BIA). Resiliency: Restoring public sector infrastructure in an operating condition, overcoming operational obstacles such as IT, power, and communication outages in a short span of time, and maintaining due vigilance to keep a check on national security builds business resiliency for the public sector. Reputation and Recovery Management: Reducing the turn-around time to fix and restore normal operations after a disaster provides operational resiliency through recovery management. This keeps a check on the best interests of the economic contributors and enhances their trust and the government’s reputation in the long run. Now that we understand the risks that a BCP can help mitigate and the role of government policies to support the economic contributors, let us understand how it improves the overall performance of a public organization. Business Continuity Management for Better Performing Public Organizations: The federal governments and public organizations have implemented an agile approach to bounce back from disasters, catastrophes, and crises using BCM. Because of this, the federal government is heavily invested into business continuity plans (BCPs) to improve how well their operations work and keep the economy and government stable. The factors impacting the performance of public organizations using a BCM are as below: Public organizations must know how BCM components influence performance in public sector organizations. They must be aware of BCM and the successful implementation of effective BCM. However, some governments that do not invest in a BCM have a much lower level of awareness due to a lack of human resources, finance, and management. They are allocating enough budget for disaster prevention, preparedness, management, and relief considering the government's initiatives. But not getting enough help from the government can make people unhappy, which can hurt the ruling party and lead to people protesting for their rights. Even though there is no direct financial benefit or gain from investing in a BCM, BCM testing helps to improve performance significantly. For governments to consider investing in the successful implementation of BCM and get funding for it, BCM professionals need to predict and evaluate the potential loss due to idle service time and its results. Each government entity must identify the likelihood of risks, define the best rescue objectives, and indicate the most cost-effective clarification and knowledge about BCM. Another challenge is using BCM in organizations that cut across several business groups or completing it with collective business-wide support. These situations show that old management responsibility and regulation are useful for making sure that all members of an organization prefer BCM actions. Recognizing the potential impacts of BCM on organizational performance is required in order to provide accurate value to the BCM powers, attract consideration, and, finally, obtain adequate assistance from senior management. In the journey to optimizing the performance of your public sector company using BCM, there are many hurdles that you need to overcome. Let us discuss them further. Challenges in Maintaining BCPs and Performance Growth in the Public Sector: Maintaining a business continuity plan as per the recommended guidelines is crucial to optimize its performance and efficacy. Your public sector organization's BCP will need to overcome some of the challenges to enable their performance growth as follows: Dedication of time from the top management of the public organizations, the ministry, and leaders towards deciding which functions are essential to maintain the BCP. Lack of complete understanding of all the business functions and their dependencies on other public sector organizations. Comparing the business functions on the level of criticality. Not implementing the BCM approach completely. Tweaking the BCM approach to show everything is taken care of Inaccurate assumptions are used to create a business continuity plan. Business Impact Analysis (BIA) - Determining how long a business process can be rendered inoperable without affecting performance. The Business Continuity Plan (BCP) takes care of aspects such as: Who will be affected by the business operations disruption? How and when will customers be notified? What issues are to be addressed in the first 48 hours? From the initial response to restoration, unique access roles and functions are assigned. Testing of BCP should be done regularly with the help of table-top exercises, walkthroughs, crisis communications, emergency enactments The importance of a BCP cannot be undermined as it minimizes the cost of business disruptions on the operations of public organizations. Let us discuss them in-depth. The Cost of Not Having a Crisis Plan like a BCP for All Sizes of Public Organizations: Although the costs involved during times of crisis may be difficult to calculate, there may be significant infrastructure and data recovery charges that can have a long-term impact on business revenue. Monetary loss, revenue loss due to idle time, reputation loss, productivity loss are some of the consequences that small, medium, and large enterprises have to go through. The major losses among them are as under: Loss of time and revenue for recovery and resuming operations. The company's brand image and reputation are at stake. Financial instability and loss Productivity loss Customer satisfaction is hampered. Some laws and regulations are violated during idle time. Distrust and loss of faith among investors Employee safety is at risk with the consequences of injury and death. Loss of infrastructure A business continuity plan has four strategies to boost business resilience. These include crisis and risk management; disaster recovery; incident response management; and business continuity planning. Acting quickly to mitigate the risks of loss as per incident response management during the event of distress is the first step. Crisis and risk management take care of the plan of action during the event of distress. The disaster recovery plan takes care of resuming the business operations to their normal condition after the disaster has subsided, whereas the business continuity plan takes care of all these aspects to minimize loss during distress as well as the time required to resume normal operations with the help of dedicated software. Conclusion: Performance optimization for public organizations is the number one priority for economic growth. A business continuity plan can directly boost performance as it encourages organizations to identify essential functions and maintain their operations during uncertain times. It helps save time, money, and safeguards people, processes, and technologies in the long run.

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American seaports provide thousands of contracting opportunities

Article | May 26, 2021

We know that an infrastructure bill is coming, and the debate in Congress will likely begin in July. Industry leaders, public officials, think tanks, and economic development organizations have provided lots of input. They know that some of their messages have been heard. There is no consensus between Democrats and Republicans about how the bill will be structured, but one thing appears certain – Congress must deliver an economic recovery bill. Because infrastructure is considered to be the quickest route to economic recovery, it is safe to assume that large amounts of funding will be allocated to infrastructure projects. Depending on how the final infrastructure bill is structured, the funding could come completely from government or it could be delivered from various types of alternative funding sources. And, when an infrastructure bill passes, it will almost certainly include funding for the country’s seaports. That’s because America’s sea and inland ports are essential cogs in the country’s economic recovery. Ports have played an incredibly important role in our short-term emergency response to COVID-19. The delivery of vital commodities and products reached recipients through ports. And, despite very difficult times, a vast majority of ports managed to remain open to cargo operations. Data is always lagging but according to the American Association of Port Authorities, cargo activities at U.S. seaports accounted for 26 percent of the U.S. economy in 2018. A study released by the organization outlines approximately $5.4 trillion in total economic activity and more than $378 billion in federal, state, and local taxes that resulted from economic activity related to ports. The anticipation of large amounts of revenue through an infrastructure bill is encouraging, but the reality is that there’s already a great amount of activity at most seaports. Planning documents have been completed or updated and contracting opportunities are abundant. Additionally, the potential for public-private partnerships is great. Florida The world’s third largest cruise port, Port Everglades, recently received approval from the Broward County Board of County Commissioners for its 20-Year Master/Vision Plan. The county manages the port’s operations, and the plan outlines 50 projects for delivery through 2028. Currently, the projects are projected to cost approximately $3.02 billion. Immediate opportunities include: Terminal 21 redevelopment at a cost of $124 million; the Ro-Ro Yard relocation and expansion for $10 million; upgrades to the Entrance Channel North Wall for $12 million; and other projects estimated at $26 million. California The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners has approved a $1.5 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2020-2021 that includes a $163.6 million capital improvement plan that provides funding for numerous terminal upgrades. Projects include an allocation of $38.1 million for improvements at the Everport Container Terminal and a $4.8 million project designated for the Pasha Terminal. The port’s waterfront public access projects include work at the San Pedro Public Market estimated at approximately $42.3 million. Smaller projects are set for the Wilmington Waterfront Promenade. Security related projects, whichinclude the development of a Port Cyber Resilience Center, are funded at $7.8 million. This port is considered to be North America’s leading seaport by container volume and cargo value, and it facilitated $276 billion in trade during 2019. Oklahoma The U.S. Department of Transportation in June awarded a $6.1 million grant to the Tulsa-Rogers County Port Authority for the Tulsa Port of Catoosa. Funding was obtained from the federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) Program. which provides approximately 50 percent of funding for projects such as the port’s rail switching project. Work will include the improvement of an existing 3-mile industrial rail spur. The completed project is estimated to cost $12.1 million. In 2019, the Public Service Company of Oklahoma entrusted the Tulsa Port Authority with future development of the Inola industrial site by granting an historic land transfer of 2,000 acres. In May 2020, a firm was hired to process survey data so that the project could move forward. Ohio A $16 million federal grant was received recently by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. The revenue is designated for a project that will receive an additional $4 million to rebuild and upgrade a mile-long dock wall. The dock-wall reconstruction is expected to take three years to complete and will be done in phases so that port operations can continue unabated. About $6 million of the funding is allocated for construction of a bulk-liquid transfer and storage facility. Currently, the port authority cannot perform liquid cargo movements, but the completion of this project will remedy that as well as allow for multiple sources of commodities. Texas The Port of Houston Authority was recently awarded $79.5 million in federal funding to improve 2,700 linear feet of wharf and upgrade 84 acres of yard space at the Barbours Cut Container Terminal. Total cost of the project is $198.7 million. The upgrades will reduce ship delay by providing additional berthing capacity and will decrease truck turn times, idling, and congestion. The port has several other projects planned including an inspection and repair design of wharves at Turning Basin South. Another upcoming project is for construction at the Bayport Terminal Wharf 6. In the fourth quarter of 2020 construction is scheduled to begin on a new maintenance facility at the Barbours Cut terminal. Washington A study has been approved by the Port of Woodland to evaluate the potential of a railroad-dependent development on recently acquired port land along Kuhnis Road. The study will provide critical engineering information required for funding applications as well as future port investments. Once funding is secured, contracting opportunities will be available. There is no doubt that America’s seaports will continue to generate an abundance of contracting opportunities in the future. but contractors now may find projects of interest at almost every port in the nation. 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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The Deadly Coronavirus Crisis is Also an Opportunity

Article | August 13, 2020

Unless America and China assume joint leadership for global economic recovery, reconstruction of the post-coronavirus world could take years, with unimaginable consequences for the world’s 7.8 billion inhabitants, including unprecedented levels of global unemployment, famine, and even war. In the pre-coronavirus world, suggestions for a partnership between the world’s two superpowers would have been met with gales of laughter. But now, despite the two leaders’ daggers drawn posture, hundreds of doctors and scientists in the U.S. and China are already working together on clinical trials of potential coronavirus drugs; and one of China’s biggest property developers has funded a five-year $115 million project between Harvard University and the Guangzhou Institute for Respiratory Health. But the window of opportunity for acting together is short. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to decimate the world’s economies. Unemployment in the U.S. now tops 22 million, a level not seen since the great-depression of the nineteen-thirties; while China’s economy stopped growing for the first time in four decades as half a million small and mid-size businesses, the backbone of China’s economy closed; and Italy, the second largest manufacturing economy in the EU watches helplessly as the pandemic axe dismembers its economy. Were India and Africa were unable to control the coronavirus the results could be catastrophic. So, are there issues of such import and mutual benefit that they would convince President’s Trump and Xi Jinping to work together? I believe there are. My two cents worth below. The two superpowers could leverage China’s vast, trillion-dollar global infrastructure project—the Belt and Road Initiative or BRI, that aims to build infrastructure in over 120 countries of Asia, Europe, and Africa. The BRI is designed to act as a conveyer belt to transmit Chinese investment and technology into these countries to improve their economies, and to link them to China. But now Covid-19 has crimped China’s ability to sustain BRI’s trillion-dollar underwriting tab and President Xi Jinping’s grandiose vision is at risk. On the other hand, the United States, which has been searching for a counter to BRI, has settled on an initiative called the Blue Dot Network or BDN. The idea behind the BDN is the U.S. would rigorously vet infrastructure project applications in developing countries to ensure high levels of transparency, sustainability, and economic viability before seeding them with startup funds from the U.S. Government. The BDN hallmark would then inspire confidence in the projects to attract private U.S. funding. But the relatively paltry BDN budget of $60 billion (versus China’s 1000 billion or trillion-dollar BRI budget) and developing countries’ skepticism of Western (read U.S.) dominated standards for infrastructure construction have hobbled the BDN. If the U.S. and China could find a way to combine BRI and the BDN it would ensure a stream of dollars from private U.S. companies into BRI and ensure its projects remain on track to create jobs and raise living standards around the world. The compromises required by America and China to weld BRI and BDN together would ensure the U.S. gets a seat at the table to influence the adoption of standards for starting and executing BRI projects. Here’s another idea: The U.S. military is especially qualified to help fight natural disasters. In 2004, for instance, 3,000 U.S. military personnel were deployed to West Africa to help combat a deadly Ebola epidemic. Their work included constructing 17 hospitals, field training, and deploying assistance by air to remote villages. Today the U.S. military is being used to rapidly set up hospitals in U.S. cities to handle the burgeoning coronavirus caseload. The People’s Liberation Army meanwhile seems determined to play a more active global role in peace-keeping projects around the world. Coronavirus-aid projects delivered to less-off countries through joint U.S.-China military teams would double what the U.S. and China could do on their own. And help establish the military to military connections that the U.S. has tried to foster with China for some time. A working relationship between the two nations’ militaries might even lead to a more stable geopolitical balance of power. The Chinese word for crisis contains two characters. One signals danger, the other opportunity. Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping should boldly find a way to join forces to convert the deadly Covid-19 crisis into an opportunity that would supercharge global economic recovery and might well change the course of the 21st Century. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity that ought not to be squandered.

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Spotlight

Digital Luxembourg

Digital Luxembourg is both a uniting force behind Luxembourg’s digitalization movement & its biggest ally. Inclusive, multidisciplinary & fluid, we are a collaborative government initiative that strengthens & guides the country’s digital efforts. Digitalization is inevitable. Let’s keep it positive, smart & human.

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It’s 11:30 a.m., and after three hours of waiting, I have finally gotten to the front of the line at the Social Security Administration on M Street in Washington, D.C. I have come to see if they received a fax—the agency rarely uses email to communicate with the public.

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US government agency's own numbers predict virtually no gains from TPP

June 02, 2016

The United States International Trade Commission, "an independent, bipartisan, quasi-judicial, federal agency of the United States that provides trade expertise to both the legislative and executive branches," has just tabled a deep, 792-page report on the likely economic benefits to the USA from the secretly negotiated, anti-democratic Trans-Pacific Partnership, and they predict that the agreement will deliver 0.01% growth to the US economy between now and 2032, when it will level off altogether.

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Marijuana’s potential health benefits are being obscured by the US government’s ineptitude

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