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While the past few years have held a tremendous amount of change for state procurement officials, 2005 demonstrated that the role of the procurement official has become more complex. The procurement official is now expected to be a leader in the charge to streamline the procurement process and eliminate procedures that are perceived as adding delay and cost without any commensurate benefit. These demands for change are occurring at a time that government’s reliance on purchased services and commodities is increasing; the services and commodities are less routine; and the role that public procurement plays within the executive branch is becoming more important to the success of essential government programs.

Hiring private sector contractors to perform functions and services that would otherwise be performed by government employees—now called “outsourcing”—is not new to state government, especially for Information Technology (IT). Many states have outsourced key IT functions and services, including all or part of their networks, since the 1990s. In fact, as early as 1999, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) gave recognition awards to states with outstanding public-private partnerships. What has changed for states are (1) the increased importance of using IT outsourcing in ways that tangibly enhance efficiency and costeffectiveness; and (2) emphasis on successfully managing the outsourced IT function.

State legislatures show signs of departing from their customary professional licensing approach as new professions gain state licensure without initiation by a profession or the public. Unprecedented measures are being enacted, some on behalf of the licensees. Agencies in many states are focusing on emergency preparedness for displaced professional populations.

Similar to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Hurricane Katrina shone a bright light on the nation’s level of preparedness and revealed serious gaps in the country’s ability to respond to another terrorist attack. Debate continues on whether the federal government’s focus on preparing for a terrorism incident has overlooked the more common threat of natural disasters. Adequate funding for allhazards is a major concern for all state and local emergency managers, particularly since federal mandates in preparedness and response increase regularly, without matching federal funding.

The No Child Left Behind Act is the most ambitious piece of educational legislation ever enacted by Congress. Designed to promote accountability and prod states to address educational inequities, NCLB included significant new provisions regarding assessment, sanctions for low-performing schools and districts, teacher quality, and standards for educational research.

The article provides an overview of several systematic factors contributing to the variation in faculty salaries. Institutional type is the most significant factor in determining faculty salaries overall; faculty members are also compared according to academic rank. Two other important factors are gender and region, and several individual factors are also identified. The article also discusses several policy issues related to the decline in state funding for higher education.

A modernized Medicaid system will give states greater flexibility with reduced administrative burden. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 gives states additional flexibility to provide health insurance coverage among low-income but healthy children and families that reflect the 21st century dynamics in health insurance and increased options for community alternatives rather than being stuck in the assumptions that are now 40 years behind the times.

While the national economy began to ease its way out of the recession two years after economists declared an end to the debilitating condition, state economic development organizations continued their ardent efforts to further economic development in 2005 as though the recession was still nipping at the nation’s heels. States’ ardent drive for local economic advancement expanded in several areas, from increased efforts to lure filmmakers to developing comprehensive information Web site portals for businesses seeking to relocate.

The clash over cash to corporate projects is headed to the country’s highest court, and is also the subject of a new bill in Congress. What emerges from those two branches of the federal  government may go a long way toward solving state and corporate uncertainty about incentive programs. Details of a case in North Carolina may offer some guidance as to what lies ahead.

Congress reauthorized the nation’s welfare bill along with the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. The legislation substantially changes TANF’s work participation requirements. States will need to meet a 50 percent participation rate for all families receiving assistance, including those in separate state-funded programs. The rate will be adjusted downward for any caseload decline occurring after 2005. The new participation requirement will present a challenge to many states. Current work participation rates generally fall substantially below the new requirement. Also, many states have depleted their TANF reserve funds, leaving them little flexibility to develop new strategies to increase work among caseload participants.

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