I thought some of our readers might be interested in a recent paper by Headwaters Economics examining ideas for reforming the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) and Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT).
Here is the PDF Reform_County_Payments_WhitePaper_LowRes
This outfit does some really neat work and this paper is no exception. Both programs are about to expire and the paper explores eight options in how to possibly move forward. Some of the most interesting ideas are to change the distribution formula to give proportionately higher payments to counties based on various things, such as:
A) giving preferential assistance to counties with the greatest need
B) Linking payments to a County’s willingness to control federal costs by reducing development in wildfire-prone areas
C) Linking payments to the value of ecosystem services provided by federal public lands
D) Distibute higher payments to counties with protected public lands
Also included in the paper is an interactive mapping tool with which you can mess around and see how the various options would impact a particular county, and in some cases a Congressional District.
His first day in office President Obama issued his Memorandum on Transparency and Open Governent . He explained the need for the memorandum as follows:
Our commitment to openness means more than simply informing the American people about how decisions are made. It means recognizing that government does not have all the answers and that public officials need to draw on what citizens know. And, that’s why as of today I’m directing members of my Administration to find new ways of tapping the knowledge and experience of ordinary Americans.
To further these ends, the General Services Administration (GSA) is soliciting comments through its Open Government Initiative wiki. The GSA describes the project as:
. . .a concept for next generation citizen consultation, namely a government-wide software tool and process to elicit expert public participation (working title “ExpertNet”). ExpertNet could:
1. Enable government officials to circulate notice of opportunities to participate in public consultations to members of the public with expertise on a topic.
2. Provide those volunteer experts with a mechanism to provide useful, relevant, and manageable feedback back to government officials.
Will this be the new model for public participation in rule-making?
How should it supplement or relate to the NEPA process?
Jim Fenwood is a retired wildlife biologist living in Atlanta, GA. An eternal optimist, he believes in world peace, Ivory-billed woodpeckers, and Planning Rule revisions.