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Government Auto Auctions Guide

Government auto auctions are great opportunities to save a lot of money when your budget is tight. Everyone knows that auctions are a bit tricky though, you have to play your cards right, there’s a bit of a strategy to it.

Government auctions are popular because of the quality of the vehicles listed for auction. These auctions typically aim to unload fleet and service vehicles that serve many different Government agencies, staying in service for around 3 to 4 years, they usually have low mileage and a great record of maintenance.

Most Government auto auctions are open to the public, some are kept closed and reserved for licensed pre owned car dealers, and the majority of them get their inventory this way. But most are now open to the public.

There are thousands of these auctions going on throughout the US each week and they’re not that difficult to find. Usually local newspaper will have ads for local auctions.

The easiest way to find Government auctions is to use directory services that gather Government and Police Auctions listings from around the country into one single database that makes it easy to find these locations by zip code. Searching through these databases cuts down the chase of having to contact local Government agencies which usually have a very convoluted system of organizing this type of information.

But where do these vehicles come from? Well the sad truth is that everyday people default on their auto loans, fail to pay taxes or get in trouble for buying property with illegal funds. The Government and various other Law Enforcement Agencies around the country seize and auction off these vehicles to the public mostly to satisfy debts.

The chances of you finding the car you’ve always wanted are endless, since there tens of thousands of vehicles auctioned every month throughout the US.

Government Bidding Glossary (PT 2/2)

Fixed-Price Contract:
Fixed-price contracts normally provide a firm price, or even in some cases an adjustable price. If it provides an adjustable price, this may include a ceiling price, a target price (including target cost) or both. Unless stated in the contract, the ceiling price or the target price is subject to adjustment or other revisions of the contract price if stated in the contract. The contracting officer shall use the fixed price with economic price adjustments when acquiring commercial items.

Government-Wide Commercial Purchase Card:
A purchase card is similar to a commercial credit card, and is given to the authorized personnel to pay for goods and services.

Life Cycle Cost:
This is the cost to any agency/entity for operating, recurring, supporting and disposing of the goods gained over the life of the contract.

Market Survey:
A Market Survey is a way for an agency/entity to get a feel for the availability or qualified people or companies that are able to satisfy the agency’s procurement requirements. This survey can be anything from telephone calls to written inquiries with federal and non- federal experts regarding similar or identical requirements. This way the agency can better plan their solicitations.

The acquisition of goods and services, whose total amount does not exceed $2,500, or if it is dealing with construction $2,000.

Municipal Contracts:
Contracts with a village, town parish, city or other local government.

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS):
The NAICS replaced the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Codes. NAICS is an industry classification system used by the statistical agencies of the United States for classifying business establishments. NAICS includes 1,170 industries of which 565 are service-based industries. Please see our article “What are NAICS Codes”

Parties Excluded from Purchasing Programs:
Any contractors included on the “Consolidated List of Debarred, Suspended and Ineligible Contractors.” The General Services Administration (GSA) creates, maintains and distributes this list.

Pre-Award Survey:
Before an agency/entity decides who to award a contract to, they may sometimes evaluate a contractor’s capability to complete their contract. This could include site visits to a contractor’s facilities to determine the contractor’s qualifications and eligibility.

Pre Bids:
Information regarding bids, including available plans or specifications, conferences and other details needed for a contract.

Private Bids:
A type of bids whose regulations or statute fall outside the realm of the public bidding process.

Procurement is the act of governments purchasing goods or services. This includes soliciting, specifying, selecting and awarding purchase contracts through a competitive bidding process.

Procurement Official:
Any official or employee of an entity who will be dealing personally or substantially with the process of procurement which includes, drafting and reviewing specifications or statements of work for a contract, preparing or developing the purchase request, creating the solicitation, evaluating the bids or proposals, selecting sources, Negotiating prices or terms and conditions of the contract, and reviewing and approving an award or contract modification.

Purchase order:
An offer made by an entity to buy goods or non-personal services from commercial sources with specified terms and conditions. The limit for these purchases is currently $100,000.

Purchase Request (PR):
This document is used to begin a procurement action. It could be called a PR, a requisition or a procurement directive and it is the authorization to proceed with a procurement.

The agency’s contracting officers use this process to legitimize and approve a contract made by someone without contract authority.

Request for Proposal (RFP):
This is a process where the agency can look for specific proposals from vendors. This follows a process of specifications and a formalized set of procedures and standards.

Request for Information (RFI):
An agency can look for vendor input on a proposed product or process. This allows the agency to have more information and consideration, instead of asking for a more specific proposal or actual quotes for the goods and services.

Request for Quote (RFQ):
This requests allows an agency to better determine prices from vendors for a specified good or service.

SCORE stands for The Service Corps of Retired Executives and is a 12,400 member volunteer organization sponsored by the SBA (Small Business Association). It matches volunteer business management counsellors with small business owners in need of expert advice.

Small Business:
A small business that is at least 51 percent unconditionally owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged, or owned by an Indian tribe or native Hawaiian organization.

  • “Socially disadvantaged individuals” are individuals who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their qualities as individuals.
  • “Economically disadvantaged individuals” are socially disadvantaged individuals whose ability to compete in the free enterprise system is impaired due to diminished opportunities to obtain capital and credit as compared to others in the same line of business who are not socially disadvantaged.
  • Individuals who certify that they are members of named groups (Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, Sub-continent-Asian Americans) are to be considered socially and economically disadvantaged.
  • The preferred terminology for these businesses is Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs).

Please see our article about small business and minority businesses

Small Business Development Centers (SBDC):
These centers over a broad array of information and guidance about businesses and even assist in preparing loan applications.

Small Purchase:
Currently purchases can be deemed ‘small’ if they do not exceed $100,000. FASA has redefined the term and limit for “small purchases” and the are now called “simplified acquisition threshold” whose threshold is $100,000 or less. Under the Small Purchases umbrella are purchases under $2,500 (micro purchases). The small purchase set-aside for small businesses for these purchases has been desolved, but it now applies to values between $2,501 – $100,000. If an agency has temporary or full Federal Acquisition Computer Network (FACNET) capability (aka the ability to perform certain functions electronically) the $100,000 threshold applies. If they do not have a FACNET the threshold is set at $50,000.

Sole Source Procurement:
This is a contract for goods and services that is between an agency and only once source they solicited and negotiated with. This type of procurement must be fully justified to indicate the reasons why competitive bidding was not possible.

This document is the beginning of the process of purchasing goods and services. Solicitations instruments must include Invitations for Bid (IFB), Requests for Quotations (RFQ), and Requests for Proposals (RFP) and for small purchase actions.

Source Selection Plan:
This document details how the proposals from the bidders will be evaluated. It includes evaluation factors to be used, the methods used to evaluate proposals and the relative weight of the factors involved.

Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code:
This code represents a category within the Standard Industrial Classification System applied by the Statistical Policy Division of the U.S Office of Management and Budget. It was established to classify all industries in the US economy. A two-digit code is assigned to each major industry group, and the placed with a second two-digit code describing the subcategory.

A contract between a prime contractor and another source to acquire outside goods and services to perform the contract requirements. A subcontract could include any agreement, except employer employee relationship, which the prime contractor agrees to in order to complete the government contract.

A bid or offer to provide a good or service to an agency at a specified price.

Unauthorized Commitment:
The placing of orders, in writing or orally, for goods and services by an employee from a agency who does not have a contracting officer authorize them to enter intothe contract on behalf of the agency. This could include contracting officers exceeding their dollar limit on a contract as well.

Unsolicited Proposal:
A written proposal submitted to an agency by an outside source to perform the needed goods or services more effectively and efficiently. The unsolicited proposal would not be a response to a formal or informal request, unless it’s an agency’s request forming a publicized general statement of need.

Women-Owned Small Business:
Companies which fit into the definition of a small business, and are at least 51% owned by a woman or woman who are U.S citizens and who control and operate the business. The preferred term is Women Business Enterprises (WBEs). For more information see our article on Small and minority businesses.

The Trend Toward Free Background Checks – Federal, State & Local Governments Open Access to Records

The Center For Democracy & Technology conducts surveys of the practices of federal, state and local courts in making information public via the Internet. It finds a wide variety of practices and policies, and an important, nearly singular trend. Courts and other government background check services are making their records available to anyone via the Internet, often for free.

Free background checks are being offered by many government sources. Are background checks becoming an “open source” service?

Governments are making records available that span statewide background check services to many instances of single jurisdictions, such as county-level courts, providing Internet access to their records. Some governments provide access to both criminal and civil records while others restrict users’ access to records that may contain sensitive background check information. And while some governments offer free comprehensive access to their background check services, many others charge users a range of fees for Internet access.

On the one hand, moving to post background check services to the Internet represents a hushed upheaval in transparency and accountability for both individuals and government, part of a rapidly shifting social reality. Public access to electronic court background check services provides a convenient way for the public to broaden government checks and balances and ensure the fairness and equality of its operations.

Concurrent to the trend towards background check transparency, governments are struggling to find balance, such as balancing privacy and accountability. What information should be available Internet? Many governments make judicial opinions at the appellate levels freely available Internet but do not offer Internet access to trial court proceedings, which generally contain more detailed and sensitive evidence. Others offer access to trial court dockets and a variety of other information at the trial level. Should a distinction be drawn between civil cases and criminal background check access? Another set of issues concern cost. Is it appropriate to charge for Internet access? Does a subscription or fee-based system unfairly discriminate against those who cannot afford fees for background check services? Do fees exclude everyday citizens? Questions like these pose a significant challenge to governments attempting to design background check services.

In addition to exclusions that may be caused by background check fees, there’s a knowledge gap. Very few citizens are aware that the information is available to them, much less what type or how to find it. Yet, for example, the entire Federal Court System is open to all. A search can lead to the federal government’s registry for all federal criminal, civil, bankruptcy and tax cases, for example. The federal registry charges 8-cents per search.

County courthouse websites can be located, many of which offer free searches of criminal, civil and traffic court cases. Also, Secretary Of State records can be accessed, giving users free background check information on business ownership and transactions.

In addition the web offers articles on important issues and laws, such as those surrounding privacy rights. Guideline for conducting background checks can also be found.

It provides anyone with the ability to search and locate individuals and businesses, criminal and civil court records, property records, bankruptcies, liens, judgments, tax cases, business records, employment histories, federal government exclusion lists, OFAC records, FDA debarment records, healthcare sanctions records — in short, information to conduct a thorough background background check.

There remains quite a bit of secrecy and misunderstanding surrounding background checks. In part because it was long the domain of private investigators who kept the tricks of the trade to themselves, such as the mythology “nationwide criminal records databases” that report criminal records from every jurisdiction in the United States. No such background check exists.

Many commercial background check companies offer database searches that cover many jurisdictions in the majority of states, but they are all incomplete. Commercial nationwide criminal records databases can cover a lot of ground and inexpensively. So, they are worthwhile. However, they may not include the jurisdiction needed. The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division manages the National Crime Information Center, a database of nationwide criminal records. It is the most complete source of records, yet even it is not perfect. Most misdemeanors are not included in the database and many county and state records never make their way to the FBI. En route to the FBI from counties and states there are breakdowns in the process.

All this to say, you can do your own, free background checks. However, it’s not always straightforward, you may need to do some homework to do it right.

Research Source: The Background Checkepedia []

Government Buying and Selling on the Internet

Global Insight, a leading economic and financial forecasting company, (formerly DRI-WEFA), states that all levels of government (federal, state, and local) should see steady increases in the purchases of goods and services through the year 2009.

Vendors willing to make the commitment to sell to government can reap the benefits of this projected government spending.

By the same token, government agencies able to expand and modernize their procurement programs can reap the rewards of increased productivity, and a reduction in the costs of goods and services.

If you are a company looking to efficiently market your goods or services, increase sales and receive targeted sales opportunities, or if you are a government agency looking to simplify your procurement process and increase vendor competition, there exist plenty of opportunities in today’s online procurement marketplace.

Vendors: Consider Selling to Government

If you haven’t considered selling to government, you are missing out. With past events like the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, and the slowing down of the private sector economy, more companies are focusing on doing business with government agencies. Believe it or not, the most reliable component of the economy right now is the government.

The U.S. Federal Government is the largest buyer in the world, and state and local governments often make up a large percentage of their respective marketplaces In many cities, government employs more people and buys more products and services that any other entity.

Doing business with government isn’t just for corporate giants, either. The U.S. Small Business
Administration (SBA) helps to ensure that small businesses obtain a certain percentage of everything the government buys. And despite budget crunches in many municipalities, state and
local government spending remains the largest in any single market in the nation.

Deciding whether to bid on a government contract can have far-reaching and long-term implications for companies. It is crucial to reach the right decision – a decision which contributes to the health of an organization. If a company decides to bid, it is creating an opportunity to make money, enhance its reputation, gain experience and cement a relationship with a major new customer.

Where do Vendors Start?

There are literally tens of thousands of purchasing agencies to deal with, and it is difficult to know where to begin. Unfortunately, bidding for lucrative government contracts is a highly decentralized process. Companies used to have to be on an agency’s bidding list in order to be notified of a purchasing opportunity.

Now, with the expansion of electronic government and recent government initiatives encouraging agencies to implement online procurement systems, many agencies are making the move to e-procurement. However, even with this move to online purchasing, identifying targeted bids
can still be very challenging for companies.

Finding and monitoring bid notices is difficult because they are posted in so many different places, and often not well organized. Your business can spend a great deal of time surfing from one site to the next trying to track down the right bid opportunities.

In one area of government bidding, however, an effort to create a government-wide point of entry web site has resulted in an Internet purchasing marketplace called FedBizOpps. As of October 1, 2001 the Federal government requires federal agencies to use this system to post all their opportunities expected to exceed $25,000.

Although no such central web site exists for the over 87,000 state and local government agencies in the country, there are services available that match a company’s criteria with agency bids on the Internet, then send this information directly to them via email.

The benefits of using a bid matching service are detailed by Tammy Axlund, a Marketing Manager with Midland Resources who says, “(Using a Bid) service has helped us build a national database to keep track of the industry happenings throughout the country, rather than just our region. We have also been able to win a few bids of which we had no prior knowledge.”
Similarly, Teresa Eastman, the Inside Sales Manager for Accurate Safety Distributors, Inc. states “I no longer have to spend my days looking for bids individually, a needle in a haystack so to speak, instead (the bid service) does it all and sends them to me daily.”

While no service can provide your company with every bid opportunity from every state and local government agency, bid matching services greatly reduce a vendor’s time and money spent, allowing for additional time to be used to respond to bids.

e-Procurement Benefits for Government: Save time, Save money

In the recent past most agencies had to copy and mail their bid packages to any vendor who requested them, even though many would decide not to bid. Using an online e-procurement system allows agencies to simply provide vendors an electronic notice of their opportunities. This results in a tremendous savings in postage, paper, and time.

There have also been new efforts to simplify the entire procurement process for government agencies. For example, many agencies are having procurement systems customized for them using the Internet, driven by the need to disclose. Agencies used to be required to advertise all their requests for bid in the newspaper. But in recent years, the statutes in many states changed to permit advertising on the Web instead – which meets purchasing departments’ requirements to make contract information public.

While posting bid information may seem like a lot of work, it isn’t a duplicate process for government agencies because their sites serve a dual role as a vehicle for disclosure, and as their primary document archive. And usually only a minimal staff is required to keep the site up to date.

Karen Storm, director of Purchasing for Albany County, NY, explains that since joining the Capital Region Purchasing Group, an e-procurement system in upstate NY, “…our municipality has streamlined the bid distribution and vendor notification processes. This has saved us hours of repetitive clerical tasks and has significantly reduced our copying and mailing costs. Our vendors love the system because it provides them immediate access to our information at little or no cost.”

The City of Rochester Hills, Michigan, reports similar benefits, explaining that they have realized a savings of over $355,000 by posting approximately 85 solicitations from January to June of 2004 on their e-procurement system, the Michigan Inter-Governmental Trade Network. And, the Santa Rosa County School District Purchasing Department, which has been using an e-procurement system since the fall of 2000, says “The biggest benefit we have realized is that we no longer have to manage our bidder’s list. Our old bidder’s list had grown to over 20,000 vendors, most of whom never responded to solicitations. Managing the list was a burden that we do not miss!”

Many companies have been working with Purchasing Departments, to create customized e-procurement systems like the ones described above, that simplify and expedite the entire procurement process. And the best part is, they do this free of charge.

E-procurement systems provide many benefits for vendors as well. Vendors simply register themselves online with a system and create a profile specific to their products and/or services. Vendors then receive notices instantly by fax or e-mail every time bids are issued that match their profile and are given the ability to respond to quotes by fax or e-mail.

Systems like this can save companies significant amounts of time while increasing sales, it’s also a good way for tax dollars to help grow businesses of all sizes and generating new profit centers. At the same time, government agencies benefit by decreasing their spending, gaining more control and simplifying the procurement process.

What are you waiting for? The new era of “e-procurement” is here, and it has significantly streamlined the entire bidding process for both buyers and sellers alike.

Has Anyone Noticed What Has Happened to the UK Government?

For years now the choice between the different political parties has been eroded until the decision about which one to vote for comes down to what kind of tie a man likes to wear or the cut of their suit. There does not appear to have been any significant difference between the different parties for some time and the result of the last election seemed to confirm that we were just getting a different set of ties who would continue to behave in exactly the same way as the last government behaved, because that was the only way that there was to govern.

And then we had the coalition, which almost immediately began to show us a completely different way to govern. We have long talked about the destructive effect of target setting in any business or administration and one of the first things we heard was that the police forces have been told to ignore their old performance targets and instead, get on with policing the nation.

We now hear that targets in the National Health Service are also being dismantled and expect very shortly to hear that teachers have been told to stop filling in forms and get on with educating our children. How bonkers is that system? We have to close our schools to allow teachers to fill in the paperwork to prove how well they are educating our children.

The regional development boards which have cost the taxpayer millions and never had any effect except to use that money to prove that they too were being effective, are also being dismantled. We came across a document called “The LGA (Local Government) Briefing – Summary of Coalition Agreement.” We were stunned at the elegance and simplicity of their approach which seems to be, if it is not adding value then stop spending money on it.

The target savings for the public service budget are 40%. The opposition parties were very quick to lay into the coalition deriding their declared ambition as impossible and therefore foolhardy to even attempt, and yet what we are seeing in the change in the way that they are going about the business of government makes it look as if they will succeed massively and no party will be able to govern effectively again unless they behave in the same way.

We have left behind the directive style of government, where those in power decide what they think is best for the electorate then spend our money trying to force us to accept what they think we should have or how they think that we should behave. In business this is the management style that has proved so destructive and an increasingly expensive waste of resources.

Today we seem to have a government that is behaving in a significantly different way. First they listen to what the electorate want, then they try to give it to us. That sounds expensive until you realise that a lot of the expense incurred by the previous government was in forcing through legislation that we neither needed nor wanted.

Unfortunately there are still many managers who believe that this old style of management is the only way to manage. For them we hope that the example of this new inclusive, supportive, devolved government will allow them to see how destructive their own behaviour really is.

Nick Clegg, as deputy PM, has set up a website to find out what the public believe to be useless pieces of legislation, the usual suspects are the smoking ban, the hunting ban and the various other attempts of the last administration to tell the public how to live their lives. Apart from the person who wanted the law of gravity repealed because it discriminated against fat people, this approach is brilliant. We tried to get on the Deputy PM’s site but after the story was on the news it was inundated. Give it a try, it sounds as if they are trying to listen.

There is a man called John Seddon, an author and acerbic critic of the way that the public purse was being managed. This month he wrote from a loftier perspective than we:

“I listened to Andrew Stunnel, a minister for communities and local government (CLG) in the new coalition, speaking at a conference two weeks ago. He made it absolutely clear: there will be no specifications coming down from the centre. I asked him, for clarification, that this really would mean getting rid of those roles, he said yes. I read Eric Pickles’ article in the Local Government Chronicle, he is the minister in charge at CLG; he said the same. Last week I met Greg Clark, another minister at CLG and he too was unequivocal.

The regime is over. No longer will children in Whitehall dream up their dumb ideas on how to design, manage and measure public services; no longer will they tell local public service managers what to do and send the Audit Commission in to bully people in to compliance. The message from the ministers is crystal clear: they want leaders of local public services to get on with it. Responsibility has been put in the right place. We should rejoice. “

Thank You John, Indeed we should!

Albanian Governances – Beyond Tax Policy

Governments use their taxation systems to get their hands on, and then spend, between 10 percent and 40 percent of national income. That is a lot of money. There is little doubt that taxing is one of the most important things that governments do. Correspondingly, it is widely agreed that it is important that governments should get tax policy right.

When people debate and argue about tax policy, they mostly address some aspect of four big questions:

– How much money should government gather as tax? It should be enough to meet public spending needs and contribute to fiscal stability, but not so much as to encourage the government itself to be wasteful or to appropriate money that could be better used in private hands.

– How should the tax burden be distributed among actual taxpayers? This issue may be argued either in terms of fairness in burden sharing, or in terms of the potential instrumental advantages of using tax policy to help achieve other public policy goals, for example, encouraging businesses to locate in poorer regions or to invest in particular sectors, or actively redistributing income or wealth from one group of citizens to another.

– How can the potential adverse economic costs of taxation be contained or minimized? Taxpayers tend to be alert to the costs that they directly incur, whether these take the less damaging form of complex and costly paperwork and record-keeping obligations, or the more malign form of harassment: arbitrariness on the part of tax collectors and the need to pay bribes. If collectively well organized, taxpayers or their legislators may inquire into the efficiency of the tax administration itself.

– How much of the money that it raises is absorbed in the collection process? Economists also routinely focus our attention on the indirect costs of revenue raising that taxing any activity almost inevitably discourages it. If, for example, a government chooses the easy option of raising most of its income by taxing chrome exports, it may be biasing the whole economy, in an inefficient way, against producing chrome for export. It is probably more efficient simply to spread the tax burden broadly. These tax policy questions are very important.

These questions will continue to dominate debate about taxation in most countries and to absorb the attentions of tax policy specialists. However, they are not the only important tax policy issues. In particular, there is a growing debate focused on poorer countries and on governments enjoying large incomes from grants and borrow funds or from oil, and mineral exports that addresses a different and in some ways more foundational set of questions: not ”What is good tax policy?” but ”How does the taxation relationship between state and citizens itself contribute to the quality of governance?”

Taxation and Governance?

Governments need to command the services of a large number of people and acquire substantial monetary and material resources. Historically, governments have depended on two main kinds of material resources, extracted from the societies over which they rule: conscript manpower, mainly for military purposes, and financial resources to pay the salaries of civilian and military personnel and to meet the other capital and recurrent costs of warfare and government.

The most convincing evidence on the connections between tax dependence and governance is now emerging from comparisons between local governments within the same country. They depend substantially but with significant inter local variations on fiscal transfers from central government and, in a few cases, local revenues from the specific region industry. The local governments most dependent on broad taxation of their citizens had historically been more democratic. When provincial governments were most generously supplied with financial transfers from central government or specific region industry revenues, local political leaders had been better able to buy off or suppress competition from democratic oppositions.

I have compared some economic statistics of big local governments in Albania, a country in which central and local revenue raising is often coercive. I term ”coercive taxation ‘an assessment and collection conducted in ways that are likely to be validly perceived by taxpayers as arbitrary, extractive, unfair, or brutal. Why? There is a formal answer: Taxpayers have few rights. But why do they have few rights? I don’t have a complete answer, but I can see some reasons why public authorities in Albania are motivated to tax coercively.

The structure and organization of economy and businesses are the main reason that matters. It is difficult actually (a) to collect taxes from middle-income services-agrarian businesses like economy of Albania is organized in small and medium size enterprises that lack formal, bureaucratic structure and operate without extensive use of banking systems and written or electronic records of economic transactions, and (b) to collect without resorting to arbitrariness and coercion. In this model of economy, tax collecting tends to be coercive and conflictual. The dearth of records of economic transactions and the limited use of banking systems encourage face to face interaction between taxpayer and tax assessor or collector and oblige the latter to make discretionary decisions about tax liabilities that cannot easily be independently validated. The inspector who tells you what you owe also gets his hands on the money. These logistical factors endow tax collectors with considerable discretionary power, facilitate corruption and perhaps extortion, increase the leakage of tax revenues into private hands, generate resentment and tax resistance on the part of taxpayers, establish taxation as the issue of choice for political rebels, and make it practically and politically difficult for governments to appropriate a high proportion of national income through taxation, especially direct taxation.

How Much Do Citizens Pay in Taxes?

The potential causal interactions between the state and taxpayers are many and relatively complex, especially because government face choices between taxing broadly and thus engaging with citizens, and exploiting unearned revenues, which requires to be engaged with a narrow range of other actors and monitors or a small number of large companies, public or private, in the oil, construction, telecommunication and minerals sector. The question of how heavily government tax citizens is distinct and conceptually less complex. How the level of revenue demand might impact the political actions of taxpayers? We know that the political implications are not straightforward. Increases in the tax take are unlikely to occur in isolation. They will generally result also in increases in public expenditure, which might in turn intensify the processes through which the politics around public expenditure ”confuses” the politics around revenue raising. However, there are good, logical reasons, to believe that the more of their income the citizens pay in tax, the more they are likely to be politically engaged in and demanding of the government. Marked increases in the level of tax burdens has mobilized taxpayers, as well as recent statistical evidence indicating that increases in revenue demands precede by only a few years shifts toward more democratic tax resistance. In sum, there is compelling evidence that the dependence of state on unearned income is likely to have adverse effects on the quality of governance and that the overall level of taxes does help mobilize citizens politically.

Who and what is taxed and how are taxes assessed and collected?

Government is more accountable and responsive to their citizens when dependent on them for revenue. Does that also imply that governments are only accountable and responsive to taxpayers that is, those citizens who pay taxes? Is the policy implication that we should find ways of ensuring the poor are taxed to prevent government being accountable and responsive only to the non poor, at the expense of the poor?

The answer to the last question is no. There are two reasons:

The first is cautionary: We simply do not know enough about the effects of taxation on political behavior to justify this kind of experimental social. The second is that there is good reason to believe that the entire polity and all social groups normally will benefit from greater state responsiveness and accountability to taxpayers. Why? Especially, in Albania with relatively fragile public institutions, politics is rarely the kind of rational public finance game that economists love to model, in which one particular definable group for example, small entrepreneurs will be calculating in detail the benefits of, say, exchanging reduced simplified profit tax for a stronger legal commitment to employees’ rights. The more that politics is like that, the more we should be concerned about the problem of accountability only to taxpayers. However, in some of the regions with which we are concerned the poorest, and those dependent on aid and mineral resource wealth the pressure for government to be accountable or responsive to taxpayers is likely to have more positive effects at a more basic level of the polity by encouraging the creation of the kinds of stable institutions and predictable political behaviors that are often in deficit. Poor people will normally benefit and rarely lose out when ruled by government that, because they are dependent on general taxes, face incentives to coax rather than simply extract revenues from citizens, and therefore confront restraints on their power, are motivated to protect human and property rights, and understand that they and citizens share a common interest in economic growth.

What is needed then?

Take a look at the logistical advantages enjoyed by tax collection agencies in wealthier economies. Four factors facilitate their task and help to explain the historical shifts from levying taxes on specific items (oil, tobacco, beverages, landed property, houses) to levying them according to accounting categories (especially income, value added, and profits rather than simply asset values):

– Extensive written and electronic records of economic transactions help collectors to hunt down their quarry accurately and to create effective checks against misappropriation within the tax bureaucracy itself.

– The relative insulation of most economic transactions and incomes from seasonality or the weather makes it feasible to collect most taxes in regular installments over the course of a year.

– The widespread use of banking and other indirect systems of money transfer reduces the need for tax collectors to meet personally with most taxpayers.

– The prevalence of bureaucratically organized economic enterprises provides opportunities to place the collection process on the impersonal and quasi-automatic basis that underpins most contemporary company taxation and employees’ pay-as-you-earn systems.

When local populations have the greatest potential economic mobility, and therefore the widest scope to flee from coercive local and national taxation, local and central government spend higher proportions of their revenues on providing services for their citizens and less on themselves. In different ways, studies provide evidence for the balance of power hypothesis: When governments face the strongest pressures to finance themselves by coaxing rather than extracting revenues from their citizens, they are more likely to rule democratically or to spend money providing services to citizens.

It’s pity, but true the fact that in Albania there are no great intellectual or organizational wars that need to be fought and won before government is in a position to change tax policies in ways that will improve governance: abolish some taxes, replace them with more modern and effective alternatives that can be levied less coercively, use widely known techniques to make the taxpaying experience less coercive, and find national revenue sources to replace the former coercive techniques in the long term. Let’s hope to see soon the change needed to go ahead.

How Adopting Local Government Software Can Create Efficient Public Services

Local government software solutions are designed to fill the exacting needs of users such as city, county and state governments who require assistance with core concerns relating to day-to-day management. These users can employ such solutions to help them more efficiently manage a comprehensive range of key activities.

For instance, users can look to these software solutions to help them properly manage public works and utilities. These software systems enable the dedicated management of individual public infrastructure assets such as streets, bridges, water resources, parks and landscapes, and other facilities and projects. More specifically, these municipal government software solutions permit users to record and track key information concerning these individual assets, may also allow users to save and track information concerning code enforcement and permits, and can also assist with licensing activities.

A comprehensive government software system can also assist with work planning. To this end, these systems can also serve as financial tools, making use of activities based benchmarking and helping prepare budgets. To help improve budgeting, these solutions evaluate budgeting and financial activities by tracking budgeted work versus completed work in terms of the actual amounts of equipment, materials and labor utilized. Such planning and analysis can take place weekly, monthly, quarterly or semi-annually as per the needs of users.

Lastly, in addition to these powerful standard functions, many of the best local government software solutions also offer expansion and additional functionality through modules. By doing so, they allow government users to ensure a customized fit whatever their needs.

Getting City Contracts; Local Government Contracting

All cities have a purchasing office and/or a procurement officer. They handle all city contracts that are sent out to bid. Usually, to become a small business vendor of the city you must satisfy either some or all of the requirements listed below:

Minority Or Woman Owned Business

Small Business (Under $500,000/Year Gross)

Worker’s Compensation Insurance (If Employees Work On Contract)

Liability Insurance Of $500,000-1,000,000 Aggregate With The City As Additional

Insured (For Autos And Completed Operations) (finish products liability)

City Business License

Local Business In Town

Hire Local Employees

Not all contracts are sent out to bid however. Some of the gravy contracts are ad-ons, additions or “Oh, by the way,” contracts. The latter of which are by far the best. These contracts come up often. Here’s how its works. Now for this example lets use a cleaning service:

The city manager comes up with an idea. He’s seen you out at the corporation yard cleaning cars with your high-pressure machine. He needs you to clean the bird droppings off a flagpole in front of city hall, frontage of the library and awnings around the civic center. You work out a price at $100/hour once a week. Since this is out of their budget, they settle on every other week. You adjust the price to $120/hour. Then as you do the job, you figure out a way to do it in one-half the time ($240/hour).

You then donate $30-50 in coupons to his kid’s school, rotary club and whatever church he and the current mayor attend. First you have to get a city contract. Bid low. It’s worth it. This is how it really works, no matter what the rest of the world says. Government is no different or anymore ethical than rat living at the dump. If you are wondering why all the same companies get all the city’s business, it is because they understand how it all works. It would be nice to have a more honest government at all levels, but since you can provide great services to the city and you deserve the business, you may as well get out there and go get it. It is not good or bad, it just is; it is much different than they teach you in school. Maybe some day it will be; one can only hope. Think about it.