China appears to have fulfilled a promise to dismantle hundreds of labour camps and release tens of thousands of people who were imprisoned in them without trial.
A series of visits by The Daily Telegraph to six enormous labour camps on the outskirts of Beijing suggested that four had been shut down, with their signs removed. Staff said all their prisoners had been released and they were waiting for further orders. The other two camps had been converted; one into a drug rehabilitation centre and the other into the second cell block of a local prison.
This guest post is contributed by Kathryn McDermott and Lisa Keller. McDermott is Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy and Keller is Assistant Professor in the Research and Evaluation Methods Program, both at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.Guest blog post by Lisa Casias, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Department of Commerce As the Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Director for Financial Management, I work with all of the bureaus CFOs and financial management teams to provide support to the Department’s program managers in meeting their missions. As a community we ensure that we meet the many requirements of the federal government’s financial reporting mandates, maintain robust internal control environments, and maintain the systems to produce financial information. Perhaps, the most important aspect of our work is to ensure program managers have the information needed for decision making. I am also responsible for the Office of Secretary’s budget operations and most recently the travel, fleet and personal property offices. I have worked in the Department for over 22 years in both the Office of Secretary and Office of Inspector General. I have held different positions within these organizations and added new areas to my portfolio over that time. While some choose career paths that cross into many federal agencies, the opportunities to continually learn new things and ability to work with outstanding financial and administrative communities have kept me in the Department.One of the most interesting aspects in working at the Department level is the ability to engage with all of the bureaus and learn their missions as we support their financial management needs. As demonstrated in the Department’s Strategic Plan , the Department plays a critical role in the nation’s economy and the financial and administrative management communities are an integral part of mission success. I attribute my ability to follow my dreams (yes, I always wanted to be an accountant) and my career successes to the support of my parents. I grew up in Dumont, New Jersey where my parents had migrated from England. They taught by example instilling in both my sister and me the importance of having strong work ethic, integrity and belief in oneself. They stayed in the United States as they believed we would have more opportunities to achieve our dreams, including obtaining a college education. We were the first in our family to graduate from college.
Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.Guest blog post by Gabriel Sanchez, Improving Operational Efficiency Program Manager, U.S. Census BureauThe Improving Operational Efficiency (IOE) program
at the U.S. Census Bureau harvests ideas from employees and brings cost saving
and efficiency-improving innovation to executive staff for possible investment.
The program has invested in 109 projects in the last three years and saved more
than $32 million. I am currently revamping the program to streamline and
improve metrics, objectives, performance and the harvesting of ideas.
There are several overarching themes within my
current responsibilities that relate to the President’s blueprint for America —
innovation, efficiency, saving money, avoiding costs, streamlining processes,
and creating projects that add strategic value to the organization. By spurring
innovation and improving operational efficiency, my program helps government
run more efficiently and do more with less.
In my varied career since joining the Department of
Commerce in 1998, I have worked in five of the Census Bureau’s12 regional
offices as well as the headquarters building in Suitland, Md. My previous
position — director of the Dallas Regional Office — was the most challenging,
as at the peak of operations during the 2010 Census, it had 111,000 employees
in 51 local census offices. I led the enumeration of more than 33 million
people while dealing with 45 congressional districts and four of the 10 most populous
cities in the country.
I was born in Uruguay and immigrated to the United
States at the age of eight. I was raised in New York City, but I have been
fortunate to live in various places around the country, which helped ratchet
down the big city experience. I was very proud of my heritage when I became the
first-ever foreign-born regional director of the Census Bureau. Still, I keep
searching for another Uruguayan in the Commerce Department.
Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight
on Commerce series, which highlights members of
the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of
winning the future through their work.
Guest blog by Dee Alexander, Program Analyst, Decennial
Management Division’s Outreach and Promotion Branch, U.S. Census Bureau
an employee in the U.S. Census Bureau, I serve as a program analyst in the
Decennial Management Division’s Outreach and Promotion Branch. My key
responsibilities include responding to internal and external stakeholders, and the planning
implementation and evaluation of assigned American Indian and Alaska Native and
decennial communication program activities and products related to the 2010 Census.
My journey into this profession started many
years ago. I grew up in a suburb of Del City, Oklahoma. Both of my parents were
government employees and they worked at the Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest
City, Oklahoma until they retired. After high school, I attended Rose State
College on a basketball scholarship and graduated with an Associate’s Degree in
Travel and Tourism. Later, I received my Masters Degree in Project Management
from George Washington University in 2007.
1998, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce recommended me to the Census Bureau’s
Kansas City Regional Office for a Partnership and Data Services Specialist. This position was responsible for developing
partnerships primarily with federal, state, local and tribal governments for
pre-census and Census 2000 promotion activities. This position allowed me to develop
partnerships with the 39 Federally-recognized tribes in the state of Oklahoma
for pre-census and post Census 2000 activities.
I also felt that being a member of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribe was
instrumental in forming these partnerships.
These partnerships helped in producing and creating a new geographic
delineation now known as an Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Area, (OTSA). This delineation
is documented on the Census 2000 and current 2010 AIAN Wall map. The AIAN wall map is the product most
requested from the AIAN population. The
work accomplished for Census 2000 helped in my employment to the Census Bureau
Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series
highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to
an Economy Built to Last.
Guest blog post by Dr. Daniel Meléndez, Meteorologist, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, Department
of CommerceAt the National Weather Service, my main responsibility at
the Office of Science and Technology is to support and manage science and
technology infusion in the areas of radar meteorology, severe weather, and
tropical cyclones. I also handle grants for the Hurricane Forecast Improvement
Program. During my detail in the Office of the Federal Coordinator for
Meteorology, I staff the National Hurricane Operations Plan, road weather management,
air transport and dispersion, Multipurpose Phased Array Radar, air domain
awareness issues, and the Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference.
I am committed to public service because weather information
is ultimately an economic driver and because science provides enormous benefits
to the public. Strengthening science and technology that enables better weather
information provides many benefits to both the public and private sectors,
saves lives and property, and even provides the foundation for new businesses.
My role in managing science and technology infusion helps improve performance
through new science and technology strengthens core economic and public
infrastructure. In my current detail I support various interagency
meteorological efforts that allow me to see and contribute to larger
governmental aims to advance the economic and security interests of society.
Texas had been running an interesting experiment in an alternative to old fashioned affirmation action. The way it worked was that instead of using an explicitly race-conscious admissions formula, instead the University of Texas just guaranteed that the top ten percent of performers from any high school in Texas could gain admission to a UT campus of their choice. I think that struck a lot of people as a reasonable-sounding alternative to race-based formulae that a lot of folks are uncomfortable with.