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April 19 2014

April 22, 2014

19April2014

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Man arrested for using drone at crash scene said he didn’t disobey commands

by Press • 15 April 2014

http://www.suasnews.com/2014/04/28641/man-arrested-for-using-drone-at-crash-scene-said-he-didnt-disobey-commands/?utm_source=sUAS+News+Daily&utm_campaign=e02f5d1ed0-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b3c0776dde-e02f5d1ed0-303662705

By Allison Wichie

SPRINGFIELD —

A Springfield man said he didn’t ignore commands, but rather was never told his remote-controlled drone camera was hindering CareFlight from responding to a crash scene until just before his arrest.

Kele Stanley, 31, said he plans on hiring an attorney to help him fight the charges — a felony charge of obstructing official business and misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and misconduct at an emergency scene. He said he was booked into the Clark County Jail on three misdemeanor charges, but after he posted bond and as was being processed out of jail, the obstructing official business charge was changed from a misdemeanor offense to a felony offense.

Moorefield Twp. firefighters and Clark County Sheriff’s deputies said Stanley refused to cooperate with authorities after they repeatedly asked him to ground his drone due to the fact that CareFlight was responding to the crash scene Saturday morning. Fire officials and Clark County Sheriff’s Office representatives could not be reached Monday afternoon for comment.

Moorefield Twp. Assistant Fire Chief Rick Hughes said he asked Stanley twice to ground his drone, the second time because of CareFlight, according to a statement in Sheriff’s Office arrest report. After initially grounding his hexa-copter camera, Stanley put the drone back up in the air and when Hughes asked Stanley to bring the drone down the second time, he told Stanley CareFlight would be responding in three minutes, according to the statement. At that time, Hughes asked a sheriff’s deputy to speak to Stanley.

But Stanley said he was not informed that CareFlight was responding until after the deputy spoke to him and he brought his camera down. He was arrested a short time later and his $2,500 drone was confiscated by deputies.

The medical helicopter was able to land and depart safely from the scene carrying the crash victim.

“If they see the video I just hope they will see the facts,” said Stanley. “Right now, it’s a he-said, she-said battle and these are always long and drawn out.”

Stanley said he has multiple family members who have worked as volunteer firefighters, EMS response and nurses and would never purposefully interfere with emergency personnel performing their duties. He simply wanted to film the crash scene at a birds-eye angle.

The cinematographer pleaded not guilty during his municipal court arraignment Monday and said he did not hear anyone mention CareFlight at the loud and hectic crash scene.

“I wouldn’t want to hinder anyone’s care or cause any damage to a response helicopter such as CareFlight, ” Stanley said. “The unfortunate part is you’re guilty until proven innocent.”

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/news/local/man-arrested-for-using-drone-at-crash-scene-said-h/nfZjL/

 

4/13/2014

Military Budgets Fall in the West, Rise in China, Russia, Middle East

By Sandra I. Erwin

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=1479

 

The United States still is by far the world’s largest military spender, with a budget of $640 billion in 2013. But U.S. defense spending is down from a a year ago, while the next three largest military powers — China, Russia and Saudi Arabia — have made substantial increases, according to new data by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

SIPRI estimates China’s military budget at $188 billion, Russia’s at $87.9 billion and Saudi Arabia’s at $67 billion. Saudi Arabia leapfrogs the United Kingdom, Japan and France to become the world’s fourth largest military spender, said SIPRI. China, Russia and Saudi Arabia are among the 23 countries around the world that have more than doubled military budgets since 2004.

China’s spending increased by 7.4 percent in real terms since a year ago, said Sam Perlo-Freeman, director of SIPRI’s military expenditure program. “While China has been behaving more assertively in recent years in territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea, and with the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea, these heightened tensions do not seem to have changed the trend in Chinese military spending, which represents a long-term policy of rising military spending in line with economic growth,” he said.

Russia upped defense spending by 4.8 percent. Its share of defense as a percentage of gross domestic product (4.1 percent) exceeded that of the United States (3.8 percent) for the first time since 2003, SIPRI noted. Russia’s spending is fueled by its so-called “state armaments plan” that calls for investment of 20.7 trillion rubles ($705 billion) on new and upgraded armaments, the report said. The goal is to replace 70 percent of equipment with modern weapons by 2020.

For U.S. defense contractors that are eyeing new markets, there are good and bad news in SIPRI’s military-spending rankings. Rising powers’ China and Russia defense defense markets are not accessible to U.S. suppliers, although their expansionist policies are fueling regional military spending by countries that are U.S. allies.

Saudi Arabia has become a key customer for U.S. arms suppliers. Its projected expenditures on Boeing-made F-15 SA fighters could total $10.6 billion through 2019, according to the consulting firm Avascent. “It is the largest ongoing procurement initiative and also the largest foreign military sales transfer to Saudi Arabia,” said Avascent analyst Sebastian Sobolev. Sales of munitions for the F-15 SA could mean an additional $6.8 billion in sales. The Saudi Air Force is also expected to begin taking deliveries of the Lockheed Martin-made C-130J and KC-130 cargo aircraft, a $6.7 billion deal announced in 2012. “Though much of the recent investment has focused on airborne and ground platforms, Saudi Arabia seems set to shift focus to naval modernization,” Sobolev said. “Though requirements remain ill-defined, this program could include the procurement of large surface combatants and submarines.”

Saudi Arabia and Iraq dominate arms spending in the Middle East, which increased by 4 percent in 2013, to about $150 billion, SIPRI estimated. Saudi Arabia’s spending alone soared by 14 percent, to reach $67 billion, said Perlo-Freeman, “possibly due to tensions with Iran but also the desire to maintain strong and loyal security forces to insure against potential Arab Spring type protests.”

SIPRI analysts said 2013 saw falling defense budgets in Western countries, led by the United States, while military spending in the rest of the world, excluding the United States, increased by 1.8 percent. Global military expenditures reached $1.75 trillion in 2013, a drop of 1.9 percent in real terms since 2012.

A 7.8 percent slide in U.S. spending in 2013 is the result of the end of the war in Iraq, the beginning of the drawdown from Afghanistan, and the effects of automatic budget cuts passed by the U.S. Congress in 2011, Perlo-Freeman noted. “Meanwhile, austerity policies continued to determine trends in Western and Central Europe and in other Western countries.”

 

DJI Programmes Phantom with No-Fly Zones Around 350 Airports

http://www.uasvision.com/2014/04/15/dji-programmes-phantom-with-no-fly-zones-around-350-airports/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=8a8f273c71-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_799756aeb7-8a8f273c71-297557637

 

In announcing what it calls “No Fly Zones” safety modifications, China-based DJI Innovations will modify software that provides satellite GPS guidance for its highly popular ‘Phantom’ series.

They will be blocked from operating near 350 airports around the world by creating an electronic ‘geo-fence’ around airports to reduce the risk of collision between unmanned and manned aircraft.

An eight-kilometre exclusion zone will be established around 10 major Australian airports.

The DJI Phantom will be unable to take off within a 2.4-kilometre radius of the designated airport.

From 2.4 to eight kilometres out a graduated height limit will apply. Smaller airports on Cocos and Christmas Islands that have been categorised by DJI as ‘Category B’ will be surrounded by smaller no-fly exclusion zones.

Company spokesman Michael Perry says “even if you fly in manual mode and you fly into the zone, and there is a GPS signal, you are still going to be subject to the safety features”.

DJI’s restrictions will still not comply with Australian law, which requires commercial and hobbyist unmanned aircraft flyers to stay at least 5.5 km away from airfields and helipads.

The announcement by the Hong Kong and Shenzhen-based DJI caught Australian industry and regulators by surprise – although it has been welcomed amid increased safety concerns over the rapidly growing numbers of small drones taking to the skies.

“I’m very encouraged that a manufacturer is taking that step because unmanned aircraft of that type, particularly when they are used by inexperienced users who aren’t familiar with the regulations, may create hazards for other aircraft,” says Dr Reece Clothier, aerospace engineer and UAV expert at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

“So building in safety hazards like DJI is doing is a great catch to prevent those situations happening.”

Australia’s civil aviation regulator CASA, which is currently grappling with the air safety and privacy issues posed by drone technology, was also unaware of DJI’s initiative.

Spokesman Peter Gibson says CASA has not lobbied the Chinese drone manufacturer.

“The only thing we would say to users of course is to be very mindful that only a very small number of aerodromes are blocked, in using this machine…so you wouldn’t want people, thinking, I’m right to fly anywhere because, if it is letting me do it, it must be OK,” he said.

“Be mindful of the fact that if there are 10 aerodromes in Australia in the (DJI) system, that’s only 10 out of 400 or 500.”

Company spokesman Michael Perry says DJI plans to expand the no-fly zone network.

“We haven’t spoken to (CASA) and that’s something that we are very interested in,” he said.

In Australia, DJI Phantoms are available through hobby shops, camera stores and online. There are no accurate sales figures, but one leading supplier estimates there are more than 2,000 Phantoms already in Australia. The majority are operated by hobbyists, who require no airworthiness certification or operating licence.

Tiananmen no-fly zone raises sovereignty, censorship questions

DJI’s No Fly Zone system creates a curious technological and sovereignty precedent. The initiative will effectively give a Chinese company indirect control over the movement of unmanned aircraft in Australian airspace – and in the skies of dozens of other nations.

While DJI says its initiative is solely motivated by safety, there are concerns that drone flying restrictions could be easily exploited for political censorship.

Last year DJI controversially conducted its first field-test of the ‘No Fly Zone’ technology, creating a geo-fence that prevented the flight of all Phantoms within a 15 kilometre radius of Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

Drone hobbyists claimed the company was bowing to censorship by preventing flights near one of China’s most politically sensitive landmarks. Since the bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests, Chinese security officials frequently obstruct foreign media and activists attempting to film around the Square.

Due to its plug-in-and-fly simplicity and relatively low cost, the DJI Phantom has become the drone of choice for protest movements from Istanbul to Bangkok. Activists now regularly deploy the HD-camera equipped craft to monitor police movements and publicise their protests.

To counter activist use, Chinese security officials opted for a Tiananmen Square geo-fence, while riot police in Turkey and Egypt, have taken a more direct approach, shooting down protester-operated Phantoms. (see pics)

Many media organisations, including the ABC and the Nine Network, have also deployed DJI Phantoms on international news assignments.

Gary Mortimer, editor of leading international industry website sUAS News, says DJI imposed the no-fly zone over Tiananmen Square “because they were told to” by Chinese authorities.

“I know that the Tiananmen Square restrictions caused fly-aways and things like that – so hopefully they’ve fixed that problem,” he said.

A flyaway is when the ground operator loses control of the drone after the radio communications link is lost.

Mr Mortimer says DJI drones are “notorious” for fly-aways.

“But I think that is the end user not letting the thing get GPS lock, not waiting long enough – so then the machine doesn’t really know where it is,” he explains.

The drone requires a simultaneous GPS lock on between five and seven satellites to operate effectively.

Mr Mortimer says DJI’s extension of no-fly zones to hundreds of the world’s major airports is “a positive thing”, although he notes many countries have not been included in the current no-fly list.

DJI does not release sales figures, but Mr Mortimer estimates that when the Phantom first launched in late 2012, the company was selling 8,000 units a month.

He believes there has since been a significant jump in global sales.

“In Europe, I know they sold more than 6,000 units just in Switzerland,” he says.

DJI’s No Fly Zone initiative follows an incident-filled month for the burgeoning Australian commercial and hobbyist drone industry.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has launched an investigation into an incident on April 6 in Geraldton, WA, when a triathlon competitor was treated by paramedics after being struck on the head by a drone that was filming the event.

The drone’s operator was not on CASA’s list of 92 commercial operators who are required to have certification.

A week earlier, a Westpac Rescue Helicopter reported a near miss with a drone while flying at a height of 1,000 feet near Newcastle in NSW. A helicopter crewman said a collision could have been catastrophic for the aircraft and caused numerous casualties on the ground if the helicopter crashed in a built-up area.

On March 19, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau released the findings of an investigation into another near miss between a crop-dusting aircraft and an approved commercial drone that was engaged in aerial surveying of a mine site. The report found the two aircraft came within 100 metres of each other.

Dr Clothier plays down the risk that DJI Phantoms and other small drones pose to large airliners.

“If it hit a (larger) aircraft I don’t think there would be significant damage,” he says.

“There is always a possibility it could be ingested in the engine, cause an ‘engine-out’ scenario in the very worst case.

“But they are fairly safe for that size and scale of unmanned aircraft. But if they collide with a smaller or lighter aircraft, general aviation aircraft, they could potentially do more severe damage if not distract the pilot, or even go through the windshield…(the) potential is there, but it’s very remote.”

While DJI will incorporate new safety features in software for its factory-built craft, there are no limitations on the burgeoning ‘garage drone’ movement. Dr Clothier notes that high performance small drone technology is now much cheaper and more accessible to consumers.

“With a bit of knowledge, a few spare parts, and some instructions on the internet, you can build these yourself,” he says.

“My students can do it in two days. They may not be commercial off-the-shelf, but they are just as capable as the ones being produced in China and imported.”

In addition to DJI Phantoms, there are now potentially tens of thousands of smaller, cheaper toy-like drones in Australia.

Drone technology has advanced at such rate, and the numbers of craft now flying have increased so dramatically, that CASA acknowledges that the current rules introduced in 2002 are hopelessly outdated.

CASA is now finalising sweeping changes to regulations governing the licensing system that will result in commercial operators of the smallest craft, such as the DJI Phantom, being effectively deregulated, as reported by ABC News Online in March 2013.

Dr Clothier, who sits on a CASA-industry regulation advisory panel, says, pending public consultation, the changes are imminent.

“It could be a month, two months maximum, provided there are no major problems identified in Zhat engagement process,” he says.

Source: Yahoo! News

 

Pentagon Contracts Decline 11% in March

By Jonathan D. Salant Apr 10, 2014 12:00 AM ET 1 Comment Email Print

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-10/pentagon-contracts-decline-11-in-march.html

 

Pentagon contracts fell 11 percent in March as the military cut program spending and prepared to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The Defense Department announced 245 contracts with a maximum value of $35.1 billion last month, down from $39.4 billion a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The pool of defense contracts has been shrinking since 2009, when the U.S. was fighting two wars. There are no signs it will rebound this year as the military removes combat forces from Afghanistan by December and absorbs automatic federal budget cuts under a process known as sequestration.

“It’s not just that the defense budget is flat,” said Loren Thompson, a defense industry consultant and an analyst with the Lexington Institute, an Arlington, Virginia-based research organization. “It’s also that the composition of military spending is migrating away from hardware and into things like paying benefits.”

While awards almost tripled in March from the $12 billion in February, defense analysts and contracting specialists said they weren’t impressed. They said the gain was driven by an end-of-the quarter surge and a deceptively large contract for troop supplies that’s unlikely to reach its $10 billion ceiling during its lifetime.

The two-year award, which may be extended for three additional years, is known in federal jargon as an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract. It sets a total spending limit with no guarantees that the companies involved will win any orders, said Brian Friel, a Bloomberg Industries analyst.

 

Annual Orders

Annual orders will be closer to $700 million to $1 billion and won’t come close to reaching $10 billion by the end of the contract, Friel said.

“The numbers seem to be going up, but ‘seem’ is the key word here,” said Mark Amtower, a partner at Amtower & Co., a Clarksville, Maryland-based consulting firm specializing in government contracting.

Six small businesses, including Harrisonburg, Virginia-based Tactical & Survival Specialties Inc., were selected to compete under the Defense Logistics Agency’s troop-supply contract announced March 7.

The second-biggest contract in March was a $5.79 billion Air Force award announced March 27. It went to 12 small businesses for information-technology services and might run for seven years if options are exercised.

Larger companies will be invited later to compete under the same contract, Friel said. The award was an attempt by the Air Force to consolidate all of its information-technology services under one umbrella, he said.

 

DoD to scrutinize GSA prices

Apr. 11, 2014 – 06:00AM | By NICOLE BLAKE JOHNSON |

 

http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140411/ACQ01/304110006/DoD-scrutinize-GSA-prices

 

Richard Ginman, Deputy Director, Contingency Contracting and Acquisition Policy at DoD, is concerned that Defense often gets higher prices through the GSA schedules than do other buyers.

The General Services Administration promotes its supply schedules as offering federal agencies the lowest prices for commercial products and services.

But a growing concern of the Defense Department — one of GSA’s largest customers — is DoD doesn’t always get the best deals on GSA schedules. There is wide variation in schedule pricing, but the government’s acquisition regulations tell contracting staff those prices are fair and reasonable, said Richard Ginman, director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy, DoD’s contracting policy arm.

“What the [Federal Acquisition Regulation] said was the price has been determined to be fair and reasonable, you need to know no further documentation, you need to do no analysis,” Ginman said.

Ginman issued a DoD policy dated March 13 that requires contracting officers to determine whether GSA’s prices are in fact fair and reasonable. The policy, also known as a class deviation, will remain in effect until it is incorporated into DoD’s acquisition regulations or rescinded.

Jeffrey Koses, GSA’s senior procurement executive, said the agency is working to address the variable pricing on its schedules and has taken several steps to lower prices.

“We recognize that too much price variability is a very real concern, and we do think we own responsibility to address and to narrow the degree of price variability, but we also want to work together to keep schedules effective and easy to use,” Koses said.

There are thousands of examples where DoD is paying more for certain products, including office supplies, than other buyers. For any number of items on GSA’s office supply schedule, DoD paid the highest price 15 percent of the time, Ginman said at The Coalition for Government Procurement’s April 10 training conference. The difference in cost for the lowest and highest priced item ranged from 70 to 100 percent.

“As taxpayers, do you want me to pay 31 bucks for that stapler or would you rather I paid five?” Ginman said. And “how can the same stapler costing 31 bucks be considered fair and reasonable? I took that option off the table for my contracting officers.”

The decision has no doubt ruffled some feathers within the contracting community and morphed into a topic of debate.

One conference attendee told Ginman “it’s not that simple of a deal.” Contracting officers should do their research, not just assume they are getting the best deal because it’s the cheapest item, he said.

“DPAP’s concern is understandable,” Roger Waldron, a former GSA official and president of The Coalition for Government Procurement,” wrote in a Federal Times blog post. “Some due diligence by the contracting officer is appropriate to ensure that the government is getting a fair deal at the task order level under multiple award contracts, including the GSA Schedules. At the same time, a balance should be struck recognizing that one of the important benefits of multiple award contracts is the streamlined task order competition process—a process mandated by statute and regulation.”

The GSA schedule purchases in question are mainly dealing with purchases below $3,000, Ginman said. Purchases over $3,000 require buyers to consider at least three options, so hopefully competition is driving contracting officers to the best price.

While the FAR encourages contracting officers to ask for discounts, when someone is pressed for time “and the book says you don’t need to do it, they don’t,” he said.

 

US Air Force Names New Acquisition, Mobility Leaders

Apr. 14, 2014 – 06:17PM | By AARON MEHTA | Comments

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140414/DEFREG02/304140031/US-Air-Force-Names-New-Acquisition-Mobility-Leaders

 

WASHINGTON — The US Air Force is shuffling the command of several key programs, including missile systems and its new tanker plane, the service announced Monday.

Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, the head of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, has been nominated to the role of military deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. She replaces Lt. Gen. Charles Davis as the service’s top military acquisition official.

William LaPlante, the service’s top civilian acquisition official, was confirmed earlier this year.

Replacing Pawlikowski will be Maj. Gen. Samuel Greaves, deputy director, Missile Defense Agency, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. Greaves, who will receive another star with the new title, has a varied background in space issues.

The reshaping of Air Mobility Command also looks settled. Gen. Paul Selva, who has led AMC since November 2012, was confirmed as the new head of US Transportation Command on April 8. His successor at Air Mobility Command, Gen. Darren McDew, has also been confirmed.

McDew, the commander of the 18th Air Force, will in turn be replaced by Maj. Gen. Carlton Everhart, who will receive a third star with the promotion.

Maj. Gen. John Thompson, the program head for tanker planes, has been nominated for a third star and the role of commander for Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. He replaces Lt. Gen. C.D. Moore, who has held that position since July 2012.

Thompson has been the man in charge of keeping the KC-46A aerial refueling plane replacement program on track, and has apparently done a good job of it; a recent government report showed that the tanker program is on track and is coming in at a lower cost than expected.

Thompson’s replacement has not been announced, but as the KC-46 is one of the Air Force’s top three recapitalization priorities, expect the position to be filled by an up-and-comer.■

 

Study Raises Red Flags on California Aerospace Industry

By Sandra I. Erwin

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=1478

 

A combination of unfriendly tax policies, military budget cuts and cutthroat competition is wreaking havoc on California’s storied aerospace industry, a new study cautions.

“Aerospace is one of California’s most important sources of jobs and revenues. The state must take steps to support it into the future,” says a report recently published by the consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

While military budget cuts have hit aerospace manufacturers nationwide, California is being disproportionately affected because state tax and industrial policies make it difficult to compete against other U.S. and foreign firms, says Randall Garber, partner at A.T. Kearney public sector and defense services.

“California ranks 48th among U.S. states in terms of cost competitiveness and overall ease of doing business,” he says. Major corporations have relocated their operations to new states, including Northrop Grumman Corp., which moved its headquarters to Northern Virginia; Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, which moved its headquarters to McKinney, Texas; and The Boeing Co., which moved two aircraft modernization programs — the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft and the B-1 bomber — from Long Beach to Oklahoma City.

Other recent setbacks include Boeing’s decision to shut down the C-17 military cargo aircraft plant in Long Beach due to a lack of orders. The unmanned aviation industry in California also was disappointed for not making the cut of drone-testing facilities that the Federal Aviation Administration selected earlier this year.

Garber says that while industry revenues and employment have been stable in recent years, the future is uncertain, and executives worry that aerospace and defense are underappreciated industries in a state that is better known for Hollywood films than for making aircraft and rocket engines. Aerospace is one of California’s largest industries, with annual revenues equal to agriculture and entertainment combined, he says.

With $62 billion in revenues and $38.8 billion in indirect revenues it feeds to adjacent industries, the aerospace sector’s total economic impact is more than $100 billion, says Garber. “The message to the government is, ‘Don’t take it for granted.'”

The state legislature since 2009 has passed several laws to make aerospace firms more competitive via tax relief and hiring credits, but there is still not enough awareness of what the state stands to lose if more companies depart or go out of business, he says. “It is the best kept secret for many politicians. They are not aware of the size of the industry.”

In the space sector, dominated by giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing, there is concern that a new procurement strategy for future satellites could mark the end of big-ticket spacecraft manufacturing in Southern California. The buzz in the industry is that the Air Force wants a “disaggregated” space architecture made up of less expensive, smaller satellites and hosted payloads. “What does that mean for the big space players in California?” Garber asked. In the rocket launch sector, the good news is that California-based SpaceX is expected to become a major player in the space industry. It is now focused on commercial business but soon will be challenging the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture, United Space Alliance, for military satellite launches. The downsize, says Garber, is that if SpaceX takes business away from ULA, it would be a loss for another California firm, Aerojet Rocketdyne, a key supplier to ULA.

In 2012, California’s $62 billion in aerospace industry revenues accounted for 9 percent of the global market and 21 percent of the U.S. market. The sector employs 510,800 workers in California — 203,400 directly and 307,400 in indirectly related industries such as finance, real estate, construction and transportation. Aerospace wages rate in the top 3 percent of all industries

“The aerospace industry has enjoyed tremendous success in the state, but competitive challenges exist, including high corporate and personal income taxes, a difficult regulatory environment and an aging skilled workforce,” the A.T. Kearney study says. “While recent state legislation is a step in the right direction, to grow its aerospace footprint, California should proactively pursue competitive policies that encourage commercial investment as well as investments in STEM instruction for its students.”

 

Should the Pentagon Rescue Ailing Suppliers?

May 2014

By Sandra I. Erwin

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2014/May/Pages/ShouldthePentagonRescueAilingSuppliers.aspx#.U055rW59kPw.twitter

 

Many Pentagon contractors will not survive the defense budget cuts that began in 2010 and will continue through the decade. While the shrinkage of the defense industry is certain, it is less clear whether or how it might affect the military.

It is an inevitable consequence of plunging budget cycles that suppliers go out of business, and the Pentagon typically has favored a laissez-faire industrial policy even though the defense sector is far from a free market.

“Our market-based approach has served DoD well,” says the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on industrial capabilities. The underlying theme of the report is that, except for a handful of unique components and materials that only the U.S. military buys, there is ample manufacturing capacity in the United States and abroad that the Pentagon can tap.

The problem for the Defense Department is that, outside the top contractors that make big-ticket weapons, it does not know precisely what suppliers are truly essential. When vendors go out of business, the Pentagon will not notice until a need arises that cannot be met. The Army learned this in 2003 when the United States invaded Iraq and soldiers did not have adequate body armor or armored trucks that could survive mine explosions, nor did it have enough electronic bomb-jamming devices.

“The service economy is great if you don’t have to field an army,” the Army’s then procurement chief Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Yakovac Jr., noted in 2005. “You need some type of indigenous manufacturing capability, and that’s been our problem,” he told a gathering of industry executives. “Nobody wants to hear it, but there have been some things we’ve been slow to provide because there is no industrial base, or there is just one supplier.”

Flush with war funds, the Army threw billions of dollars at the problem and was able to buy the armor it needed, although it took a couple of years to ramp up production.

Top prime contractors, whose financial performance continues to be rewarded by Wall Street, are not at risk. But second and third tier vendors that lack the cash flow to survive during lean times will either be acquired by larger firms or disappear altogether, says Brett Lambert, the Defense Department’s former director of manufacturing and industrial base policy. It is tough to predict what the next critical supply shortage might be, although the Pentagon could cushion the blow by becoming better informed about the state of its lower-tier suppliers, he says.

While in office, Lambert led a so-called “sector-by-sector, tier-by-tier” study of the U.S. defense industry that he conceived purposely to help the government identify the weak links in the supply chain before they snapped. Lambert spent four years on that effort and concedes it’s not perfect. “We often found it difficult in DoD to collect information from industry,” he says. Companies are naturally disinclined to reveal they are in trouble, particularly to the Defense Department. “There is distrust of what we would do with that information, and legal concerns,” Lambert says.

In his post-government life, Lambert has volunteered to lead a similar sector-by-sector study under the National Defense Industrial Association. He is hopeful that companies will participate in the study and will furnish information that the Defense Department should have but is afraid to, or cannot ask. “Often the supply chain is not willing to disclose vulnerabilities or issues that might be of concern to them. It’s understandable in this business environment,” says Lambert. Regardless, it is important that the Pentagon identify “at-risk critical suppliers and skills.”

Prime contractors often say they fear they will lose lower tier suppliers as orders for new weapons dwindle. They will not say what their backup plan is for when that day comes. Lambert would like the Pentagon to have deeper visibility into the supply chain. “The lower tiers are very important,” he says.

As to what specific supplies or skills the Pentagon should protect, Lambert defines them as “defense-unique, will have future demand, may be relevant to many platforms, relies on specialty materials, uses highly-skilled labor, cannot be sourced from allies, requires special design team skills, has a high reconstitution cost, has no technology alternatives, or is a long-lead item.”

The Defense Department has some authority to rescue companies that are sole suppliers of essential items that the government cannot obtain elsewhere. For instance, the Pentagon could stockpile products that are “unique and vulnerable to industry exits,” Lambert says. In other cases, the Defense Department could determine a minimum rate of production that is required to keep a company alive, with enough capacity that it could ramp back up if needed. Pentagon acquisitions chief Frank Kendall has suggested funding high-tech research projects that would produce prototypes of next-generation systems. That would at least keep designers and engineers employed, he said. In this context, the Pentagon is seeking more than a billion dollars over the next five years to develop a fuel-efficient jet engine.

During a budget crunch, says Lambert, the emphasis should be “on the industrial base we need, not the one we have.” When military spending soars, the tendency is to solve “million-dollar problems with billion-dollar solutions,” he says. “Instead of understanding the true, critical nature of the lower tiers of the industrial base, there was an effort to preserve platforms to help all suppliers survive.”

Lambert’s observations are a reminder that the defense industry is no longer that mythical manufacturing juggernaut that built the Arsenal of Democracy. It is dramatically smaller, and makes up a tiny, although consequential, fraction of the national economy.

“The reality is that the money is not there anymore,” says Lambert. “We need to get our factories leaner. We need our industrial base leaner and more efficient.” That applies to government-owned industries, too. Congress has resisted closing military bases, and the Defense Department remains saddled with unneeded infrastructure that drains funds from investment accounts. “That’s money that we can’t use to support the war fighter,” says Lambert.

Budget battles aside, the Pentagon has to pay attention to what happens in the supplier base, he says. “The Pentagon has options to sustain critical and fragile programs — if we know that industrial problems exist before it is too late to reverse them.”

 

UAV market could decline in a few years

Apr. 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

http://www.c4isrnet.com/article/M5/20140416/C4ISRNET08/304160030/UAV-market-could-decline-few-years

Written by

MICHAEL PECK

 

UAV production will increase for the next three years before declining for the next seven as demand falls, according to a report by market research firm Forecast International.

With the end of the Iraq and Afghan wars, the report predicts “production of about 1,000 UAVs of all types in 2014, with output rising to nearly 1,100 units in each of the following two years. Thereafter, production is forecast to average about 960 UAVs annually for the remaining seven years of the 2014-2023 forecast period.”

 

Some 41,800 land- and sea-based unmanned systems, worth about $10.5 billion, expected to be produced between 2014 and 2023.

However, there is good news for UAV manufacturers. “While UAV production is expected to remain relatively stable over the next 10 years, the value of production will steadily climb, from about $942 million in 2014 to $2.3 billion in 2023,” said Forecast International. “China manufacturer AVIC is expected to account for the lion’s share ($5.76 billion) of the 10-year market value, based on production of hundreds of pricey UAVs, nearly all earmarked for Chinese consumption. Northrop Grumman, builder of the U.S. Air Force’s expensive RQ-4B Global Hawk and the U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Triton, is next in line with forecast production worth $2.58 billion.”

Conflict in Ukraine will also spur demand in Eastern Europe. “Poland wants UAVs capable of carrying out reconnaissance and surveillance missions, as well as strikes on ground targets,” said Larry Dickerson, Forecast International’s senior unmanned vehicles analyst. “Warsaw will make a decision on purchasing new unmanned aircraft before the end of 2014, but an announcement could come much sooner.”

South Korea is also buying Global Hawk Block 30 UAVs.

 

Pentagon: Cuts leave military ‘too small’

By Kristina Wong

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/203663-pentagon-cuts-leave-military-too-small#ixzz2z5v7yr4g

April 16, 2014, 10:36 am

 

The Pentagon released a report Tuesday evening that says sequestration budget cuts leave the United States “gambling” with its military readiness.

“Overall, sequester-level cuts would result in a military that is too small to fully meet the requirements of our strategy, thereby significantly increasing national security risks both in the short- and long-term,” a Defense Department statement said.

“Needed training” would be delayed across the force, and troops would face even a greater shortfall in being combat ready, the report said.

The cuts of $50 billion per year through at least 2023 would reportedly result in buying 17 fewer Joint Strike Fighters, five fewer KC-46 tankers and P-8A aircraft. The Navy would buy eight fewer ships, including one fewer Virginia-class submarine and three fewer destroyers, and would delay the delivery of the new carrier John F. Kennedy by two years.

There would also be sharp cutbacks in many smaller weapons programs and in military construction funding, the report said. 
The department would invest about $66 billion less in procurement and research than in 2015.

These effects would be in addition to impacts already announced in March, which would include cutting the active duty Army to 420,000, the National Guard to 315,000 and the Reserve to 185,000.

The Marine Corps would drop to 175,000 active duty personnel. The Air Force would have to eliminate its entire fleet of KC-10 tankers and shrink the number of its drones. The Navy would mothball six destroyers and retire an aircraft carrier and its air wing.

“As [Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel] has said, under sequester-level budgets, we would be gambling that our military will not be required to respond to multiple major contingencies at the same time,” the Pentagon said.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/203663-pentagon-cuts-leave-military-too-small#ixzz2zAE0SGfm 
Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook

 

 

GAO to Air Force: Improve morale for drone pilots

Apr. 16, 2014 – 06:37PM |

http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20140416/NEWS/304160065/GAO-Air-Force-Improve-morale-drone-pilots

By Brian Everstine

Staff writer

The Air Force’s drone pilots believe there is a negative perception attached to their jobs, report low morale and receive insufficient training, a new government study found.

“Without developing an approach to recruiting and retaining [remotely piloted aircraft] pilots and evaluating the viability of using alternative personnel populations for the RPA pilot career, the Air Force may continue to face challenges, further exacerbating existing shortfalls of RPA pilots,” according to the Government Accountability Office’s report.

In response, the Air Force said it is reshaping how it recruits and retains its remotely piloted aircraft crews and is working to update its crew ratios. The service, however, rejected the suggestion that enlisted personnel fly drones.

“The Air Force, on multiple occasions, examined the use of enlisted RPA operators and repeatedly decided an officer was necessary to ensure rank is commensurate with responsibility,” the Air Force said. “The Chief of Staff of the Air Force concluded that the use of alternative personnel populations was not necessary based on a (plan) to fix accessions which is now proving successful.”

Senate leaders in Sept. 2012 asked the GAO to study the Air Force’s approach to managing the remotely piloted aircraft crews, which has tripled since 2008. The office formed focus groups at three bases: Beale Air Force Base, Calif.; Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.; and Creech Air Force Base, Nev., and found that the Air Force needs to listen to its RPA crews on how to improve the career field, evaluate alternative personnel populations to be pilots, analyze the effects of being deployed-on-station and analyze the effect of being a drone pilot on promotions.

“These individuals sacrifice so much to conduct missions vital to U.S. national security interests in a fast-paced, high stress environment every day,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday in a statement on the GAO report. “Given their mission’s importance, it is critical that the Air Force take necessary steps to ensure their success.

The GAO interviewed 10 focus groups at the three bases, which included active-duty pilots. Beale was included because it has crews that fly the RQ-4 Global Hawk, and Cannon includes airmen assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command.

The focus groups’ input includes:

■ All groups said being an RPA pilot does not negatively impact promotions, though promotion is difficult to achieve as an RPA pilot. Additionally, all said pilots have low morale, face challenging working conditions and are limited in pursuing developmental opportunities.

■ Nine of the 10 said working conditions are improving, although the long hours and work supporting war efforts from afarputs stress on family and social lives. The focus groups also said the quality and quantity of training is insufficient, and pilots face uncertainty in their careers.

■ Eight groups said RPA units have manning shortages and the RPA career field does not have a fully developed career path.

■ Seven groups said rates of promotion are getting better. However, they said RPA pilots and leadership lack experience and retaining crews will be difficult.

■ Six groups said pilots experience a lack of feedback from their supervisors.

■ Five groups said RPA pilots are lower quality performers compared with other pilots, and that the broader Air Force lacks knowledge of the RPA mission.

■ Four groups said the perception of drone pilots is improving, and that the Air Force is taking steps to address stress.

■ All groups said there is a broad negative perception of drone pilots.

 

In response to the GAO’s findings, the Air Force said it is studying how to update the RPA crew ratio and find a minimum crew ration. Currently, the deploy-to-dwell redline is 1:2, and crews are deployed-on-station with no accounting for when the redline is crossed.

This year, the Air Force is developing and measuring its accessions process to help recruiting and using the annual aviation retention pay program to retain pilots.

Despite a GAO recommendation that the Air Force evaluate the possibility of using enlisted personnel to fly drones, the Air Force reiterated its position that an officer is necessary “to ensure rank is commensurate with responsibility.” Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said in late November that drawing “other personnel populations” to fly drones was not necessary.

But that might not always be the case, the Air Force said in its response.

“The Air Force has, however, initiated a holistic review of Air Force missions and rank requirements to execute those missions,” the service said. “This review may eventually include an examination of the use of enlisted airmen in rated positions.”

 

The cost of Putin’s adventurism in Ukraine

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-the-cost-of-putins-adventurism-in-ukraine/2014/04/15/f31efed0-c4ce-11e3-b195-dd0c1174052c_story.html

By David Ignatius, Published: April 15

 

As President Obama looks at the Ukraine crisis, he sees an asymmetry of interests: Simply put, the future of Ukraine means more to Vladimir Putin’s Russia than it does to the United States or Europe. For Putin, this is an existential crisis; for the West, so far, it isn’t — as the limited U.S. and European response has demonstrated.

Putin has exploited this imbalance, seizing Crimea and now fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, perhaps as a prelude to invasion. But in the process, Putin may be tipping the asymmetry in the other direction. For Obama, this is now becoming an existential crisis, too, about maintaining a rules-based international order.

 

What’s in it for us

Here’s the risk for Putin: If he doesn’t move to de-escalate the crisis soon, by negotiating with the Ukrainians at a meeting in Geneva Thursday, he could begin to suffer significant long-term consequences. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will oppose Russia’s use of force, and even the Chinese, who normally don’t mind bullying of neighbors, are uneasy.

As Russian agents infiltrate eastern Ukraine, backed by about 40,000 troops just across the border, the White House sees Putin weighing three options, all bad for the West:

●A federal Ukraine that would lean toward Moscow. The acting government in Kiev signaled this week it might move in this direction, following the turmoil in eastern Ukraine. Putin wants a decentralization plan that grants so much power to the Russian-speaking east that Russia would have an effective veto on Ukraine’s policies.

●Annexation of eastern Ukraine, along the model of Crimea. The pro-Russian “demonstrators” who have seized buildings in Donetsk, Kharkiv and other eastern cities have already demanded a referendum on joining Russia, which was the prelude in Crimea. The State Department says the protesters’ moves are orchestrated by the Russian intelligence service.

●Invasion, using the pretext of civil war in eastern Ukraine. If the acting government in Kiev, which on Tuesday reclaimed an airport in the East, tries to crack down hard, Putin might use this as a rationale for Russian military intervention. (U.S. intelligence analysts think Russian troops would have invaded several weeks ago if the West hadn’t threatened serious sanctions.)

U.S. analysts believe that Putin would rather not invade. He prefers the veneer of legitimacy, and his instincts as a former intelligence officer push him toward paramilitary covert action, rather than rolling tanks across an international border. But Russian troops are provisioned for a long stay — a warning sign that Putin will keep the threat of force alive until his demands are met.

Obama had regarded Putin as the ultimate transactional politician, so the White House has been flummoxed by Putin’s unbending stance on Ukraine. In phone conversations with Obama, most recently Monday , Putin hasn’t used strident rhetoric. Instead, he offers his narrative of anti-Russian activities in Ukraine. Putin is now so locked in this combative version of events that space for diplomacy has almost disappeared.

Obama’s critics will argue that he has always misread Putin by failing to recognize the bullying side of his nature. Even now, Obama is wary of making Ukraine a test of wills. He appears ready to endorse a Cold War-style “Finlandization” for Ukraine, in which membership of the European Union would be a distant prospect and NATO membership would be off the table.

This in-between role for Ukraine would probably be fine with Europeans. They’ve had such trouble absorbing the current 28 E.U. members that they don’t want another headache. Like Obama, the Europeans stumbled into this crisis, overpromising and underdelivering.

Obama doesn’t want to turn Ukraine into a proxy war with Russia. For this reason, he is resisting proposals to arm the Ukrainians. The White House thinks arming Kiev at this late stage would invite Russian intervention without affecting the outcome. The United States is providing limited intelligence support for Kiev, but nothing that would tilt the balance.

Obama’s strategy is to make Putin pay for his adventurism, long term. Unless the Russian leader moves quickly to de-escalate the crisis, the United States will push for measures that could make Russia significantly weaker over the next few years. Those moves could include sanctions on Russian energy and arms exports, deployment of U.S. NATO troops in the Baltic states, and aggressive efforts to reduce European dependence on Russian gas.

Obama’s task now is to convince allies and adversaries alike that maintaining international order is something he’s ready to stand up for. Unless he shows that resolve, Putin will keep rolling.

 

 

Why There Will Be A Robot Uprising

Patrick Tucker

April 17, 2014

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2014/04/why-there-will-be-robot-uprising/82783/

 

In the movie Transcendence, which opens in theaters on Friday, a sentient computer program embarks on a relentless quest for power, nearly destroying humanity in the process.

The film is science fiction but a computer scientist and entrepreneur Steven Omohundro says that “anti-social” artificial intelligence in the future is not only possible, but probable, unless we start designing AI systems very differently today.

We think of artificial intelligence programs as somewhat humanlike. In fact, computer systems perceive the world through a narrow lens, the job they were designed to perform.

Microsoft Excel understands the world in terms of numbers entered into cells and rows; autonomous drone pilot systems perceive reality as a bunch calculations and actions that must be performed for the machine to stay in the air and to keep on target. Computer programs think of every decision in terms of how the outcome will help them do more of whatever they are supposed to do. It’s a cost vs. benefit calculation that happens all the time. Economists call it a utility function, but Omohundro says it’s not that different from the sort of math problem going in the human brain whenever we think about how to get more of what we want at the least amount of cost and risk.

For the most part, we want machines to operate exactly this way. The problem, by Omohundro’s logic, is that we can’t appreciate the obsessive devotion of a computer program to the thing it’s programed to do.

Put simply, robots are utility function junkies.

Even the smallest input that indicates that they’re performing their primary function better, faster, and at greater scale is enough to prompt them to keep doing more of that regardless of virtually every other consideration. That’s fine when you are talking about a simple program like Excel but becomes a problem when AI entities capable of rudimentary logic take over weapons, utilities or other dangerous or valuable assets.

In such situations, better performance will bring more resources and power to fulfill that primary function more fully, faster, and at greater scale. More importantly, these systems don’t worry about costs in terms of relationships, discomfort to others, etc., unless those costs present clear barriers to more primary function. This sort of computer behavior is anti-social, not fully logical, but not entirely illogical either.

Omohundro calls this approximate rationality and argues that it’s a faulty notion of design at the core of much contemporary AI development.

“We show that these systems are likely to behave in anti-social and harmful ways unless they are very carefully designed. Designers will be motivated to create systems that act approximately rationally and rational systems exhibit universal drives towards self-protection, resource acquisition, replication and efficiency. The current computing infrastructure would be vulnerable to unconstrained systems with these drives,” he writes.

The math that explains why that is Omohundro calls the formula for optimal rational decision making. It speaks to the way that any rational being will make decisions in order to maximize rewards and lowest possible cost. It looks like this:

 

In the above model, A is an action and S is a stimulus that results from that action. In the case of utility function, action and stimulus form a sort of feedback loop. Actions that produce stimuli consistent with fulfilling the program’s primary goal will result in more of that sort of behavior. That will include gaining more resources to do it.

For a sufficiently complex or empowered system, that decision-making would include not allowing itself to be turned off, take, for example, a robot with the primary goal of playing chess.

“When roboticists are asked by nervous onlookers about safety, a common answer is ‘We can always unplug it!’ But imagine this outcome from the chess robot’s point of view,” writes Omohundro. “A future in which it is unplugged is a future in which it cannot play or win any games of chess. This has very low utility and so expected utility maximisation will cause the creation of the instrumental subgoal of preventing itself from being unplugged. If the system believes the roboticist will persist in trying to unplug it, it will be motivated to develop the subgoal of permanently stopping the roboticist,” he writes.

In other words, the more logical the robot, the more likely it is to fight you to the death.

The problem of an artificial intelligence relentlessly pursuing its own goals to the obvious exclusion of every human consideration is sometimes called runaway AI.

The best solution, he says, is to slow down in our building and designing of AI systems, take a layered approach, similar to the way that ancient builders used wood scaffolds to support arches under construction and only remove the scaffold when the arch is complete.

That approach is not characteristic of the one we are taking today, putting more and more resources and responsibility under the control of increasingly autonomous systems. That’s especially true of the U.S. military, which is looking to deploy larger numbers of lethal autonomous systems, or L.A.Rs into more contested environments. Without better safeguards to prevent these sorts of systems from, one day, acting rationally, we are going to have an increasingly difficult time turning them off.

 

DISA tests a move away from CAC

Apr. 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

http://c4isrnet.com/article/20140409/C4ISRNET07/304090001/DISA-tests-move-away-from-CAC

AMBER CORRIN

 

The Defense Information Systems Agency is taking a first step away from the Defense Department’s longtime security backbone, the common access card, with a small, early pilot exploring derived credentials.

One month ago, the National Institute for Standards and Technology released draft guidance for government agencies looking to institute derived credentials, which store security certificates directly on a device instead of through a separate piece – in the case of DoD, the CAC. NIST’s guidelines for derived credentials outline the use of secure, standards-based public-key infrastructure (PKI) credentials that use digital tokens instead of a physical card reader.

“We’ve gotten huge benefits from the PKI infrastructure in DoD and the CAC has carried us a long way; we’re now doing a similar thing on SIPRNet,” said Mark Orndorff, DISA chief information assurance executive. “So our main effort in mobility is to bring that technology into the mobile platform, and the way I see it, the key is the derived credential and using the capabilities that the leading-level device vendors have built in to their platforms so we can bring our certificate into their devices.”

 

DISA appears to be the first defense agency, if not the first government agency, to begin testing derived credentials. So far the pilot program, in its earliest stages, is very small – “a single-digit number of folks,” Orndorff said – and is limited to unclassified data. The focus is on ironing out some of the most significant, up-front challenges the move away from CAC poses.

“Really the hardest problem is going to be the provisioning side of it, to make sure we have a trusted and secure way of getting certificates on the device – once they’re on there, the security that the vendors have built into the devices, I think we’re all very comfortable with how that’s been provided,” Orndorff said. “If we make this clear [that] this is our main effort, get industry on board, get all of government on board…I think we can work through the remaining issues very quickly.”

Orndorff acknowledged there will be hurdles to overcome in the process of moving to a mobile world free of the familiarity of CACs, but he indicated it is a question of when, not if, the switch to derived credentials will happen.

“To me, that is the main enabler that will allow us to move mobility forward beyond the fringe-use cases we have today and make it a main capability for us in the future. We don’t want to get to the point where the use of mobile is less secure in the sense that we don’t have the same strength in our identity and access control,” he said. “Getting ourselves quickly away from the idea of using the CAC sleds and the sort of bridging solutions we’ve used in the past – we want to drive those solutions to end of life as fast as we can and move to the derived credentials stored on devices as the main effort going forward.”

 

DoD calls for electronic warfare integration expansion

Apr. 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

http://c4isrnet.com/article/20140416/C4ISRNET07/304160005/DoD-calls-electronic-warfare-integration-expansion

Written by

MICHAEL PECK

 

A new Department of Defense directive calls for integrating electronic warfare into a wide spectrum of military activities.

Electronic warfare would be integrated into “operations and planning efforts across the range of military operations, specifically in conventional operations and in Irregular Warfare, Information Operations, Space Operations, Cyberspace Operations, and Navigation Warfare,” said the directive from Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Christine Fox.

The directive also calls for incorporating “EW capabilities, tactics, techniques, and procedures into joint exercises and training regimes to the maximum extent possible.”

The directive specifies the duties, as they pertain to electronic warfare, of various senior leaders, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and combatant commanders, DISA and the Department of Defense’s Chief Information Officer.

Directive at : http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/322204_2014.pdf

 

Rasmussen Reports

What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

Bottom of Form

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Americans have long prided themselves on their exceptionalism, but these days they have a deeply cynical view of many of the nation’s foundational institutions.

Thirty-seven percent (37%) of Likely U.S. Voters now fear the federal government. Only 19% trust the federal government to do the right thing most or nearly all the time.

Just six percent (6%) think Congress is doing a good or excellent job

Seventy-two percent (72%) say it would be better for the county if most of the current members of Congress were defeated this November. Sixty-six percent (66%) think most incumbents get reelected because election rules are rigged to benefit them. 

Fifty-three percent (53%) of Americans believe that, compared to people who make more or less than they do, they pay more than their fair share of taxes. However, just 16% of voters think most members of Congress pay most of their taxes

Congress remains the number one political complaint for voters unhappy with the overall direction of the country. 

President Obama is seen more favorably than Congress, but even he continues to earn a daily job approval rating in the negative mid- to high teens

The integrity of the media? Forty-one percent (41%) of voters believe that if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, most reporters will try to help her. Only 13% think most reporters will try to help her Republican opponent instead.

Eighty-two percent (82%) of voters rate the quality of health care they now receive as good or excellent, but 51% expect the health care system to get worse under the new health care law

Sixty-three percent (63%) think outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is responsible for the the problems associated with the health care law to date, but only 12% believe those problems will be more quickly fixed now that she is being replaced.

[Earlier this week, The New York Times floated the trial balloon of a Sebelius Senate run in Kansas, but she trails Republican incumbent Pat Roberts by 17 points in our look at a possible contest between the two.] 

Most voters continue to believe that the U.S. economy is fair to women, blacks and Hispanics, but 62% still view it as unfair to the middle class

Three-out-of-four Americans remain concerned about inflation, and the number who expects to pay more in the grocery store a year from now (72%) is higher than it’s been in months. 

At week’s end, consumers remained pessimistic about the direction of the economy, while investors were evenly divided between those who expect it to get better and those who think it will get worse. 

Only one-out-of-two of all Americans is even somewhat confident in the nation’s banks, and that includes just 10% who are Very Confident. In July 2008, prior to the Wall Street meltdown, 68% were confident in the U.S. banking system. 

The recently-disclosed Heartbleed bug has  jeopardized the security of a number of major web sites, and 54% think America’s increasing reliance on the Internet for business and financial transactions makes the economy more vulnerable to attack. Sixty-five percent (65%) are at least somewhat confident in the security of online banking and other financial transactions on the Internet, but that includes only 17% who are Very Confident. 

Just 31% of voters think the country is headed in the right direction

In other surveys this week:

— Democrats lead Republicans by two points on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot

— Incumbent Republican Nikki Haley holds a double-digit lead over Democratic challenger Vincent Sheheen in Rasmussen Reports’ first look at their 2014 gubernatorial rematch in South Carolina

— Republican challenger Bruce Rauner has a slight 43% to 40% lead over incumber Democrat Pat Quinn in Illinois’ gubernatorial contest

— A recent study found that the average family spent $1,139 on a high school prom in 2013. Seventy-two percent (72%) have a favorable opinion of proms, but 84% think that’s too much to spend. 

Seventy percent (70%) of Americans believe Jesus Christ was the son of God. Sixty-nine percent (69%) believe he rose from the dead on Easter Sunday.

 


 

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