AAPI Highlights, January 22, 2013

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AAPI Highlights, January 22, 2013


Welcome to this edition of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) Highlights. Read about President Obama’s second inauguration, the President’s new measures to prevent gun violence, and a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct or sponsor research into the causes of gun violence and the ways to prevent it, agency announcements, and grant opportunities.

The Second Inauguration of Barack Obama

President Obama 

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office to President Barack Obama during the Inaugural swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert) 

On January 22, 2013 11:55 AM Eastern Time, President Obama delivered his Second Inaugural Address. The speech was 2,137 words long and took 15 minutes to deliver.

"America’s possibilities are limitless," he said, "for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it -- so long as we seize it together."

To watch a video of the President’s Inaugural Speech click here. President Obama and Vice President Biden were officially sworn into office on January 20, 2013. To read more about the President and Vice President’s swearing in ceremonies, click here 

President Obama Announces New Measures to Prevent Gun Violence

President Obama and Vice President Biden

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, signs executive orders initiating 23 separate executive actions, after delivering remarks to unveil new gun control proposals as part of the Administration’s response to the Newtown, Conn., shootings, and other tragedies, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Jan. 16, 2013. Joining them on stage are children from around the country who wrote the President letters in the wake of the Newtown tragedy expressing their concerns about gun violence and school safety, and their parents. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

On January 16, 2013, President Obama announced a series of sweeping reforms that will help curb gun violence in our nation. In front of a crowd that included victims of gun violence, families who lost loved ones to gun violence, elected officials, and school children who had written letters asking him to do something to prevent more senseless massacres like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the President introduced a comprehensive proposal that will make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and will give law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals, and the public health community the tools they need to help reduce gun violence, and keep our children safe.  

President Obama also affirmed his belief that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms, and stressed that, like most Americans, he believes that we all have a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to ensure guns are used safely. Read the President’s full remarks here, a video of his remarks here, and the President’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence here.

Agency Announcements 

USCIS Vietnamese Public Engagement – How to Become a U.S. Citizen

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invites you to attend a free Vietnamese language engagement on the naturalization process. Representatives from USCIS will be on hand to answer your questions in Vietnamese about becoming a U.S. citizen. The training will take place on Thursday, February 21, 2013; 2:00 – 3:30 PM PST, at USCIS Santa Ana Field Office, 34 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana, CA 92701. A teleconference is also available at 1-888-989-4980 with passcode: “Giao tiep” and a live stream at www.uscis.gov/live/giaotiep.


For more information regarding this event, email public.engagement@uscis.dhs.gov and write “Giao tiep” in the subject line or click here. To learn more about USCIS’s multilingual resources, please visit www.uscis.gov/multilingual. 


Census Bureau to Host Instructional Webinar on 2012 Economic Census Forms


The U.S. Census Bureau will hold an instructional webinar on Thursday, January 24, 2013; 1:00 PM EST, to promote response to the 2012 Economic Census. This webinar will feature reporting options available to businesses and other information for respondents, associations and the media. The economic census is the U.S. government's official five-year measure of American business and the economy. It provides accurate benchmark statistics that are fundamental building blocks of economic indicators, including the gross domestic product, monthly retail sales and the producer price index. The economic census gives businesses the information they need to make informed decisions that affect America's economy. A question-and-answer session will follow the presentation. For more information, click here.


Administration Proposes Guidance for Medicaid and Health Insurance Marketplaces

Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans will be newly eligible to receive quality, affordable health care through Medicaid and the new health insurance marketplaces (also known as the Exchanges) in 2014.  Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on January 14, 2013, released a proposed rule that promotes consistent policies and processes for eligibility notices and appeals in Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Exchanges and gives states more flexibility when operating their Medicaid programs. HHS encourages all Americans to review and submit comments on the proposed rule. To read the full statement, click here, and to comment on the proposed rule, click here.   


HHS Re-launch of HealthCare.gov to Include New Information about the Health Insurance Marketplace

On January 16, 2013, Health and Human Services launched the newly rebuilt HealthCare.gov website, where Americans will be able to get the information they need for open enrollment in October 2013. Consumers now have the opportunity to sign up for emails and text messages, which will provide them with more information to help them make well-informed decisions when the time to enroll for coverage begins. In October 2013, individuals and small businesses will be able to buy insurance from qualified private health plans and check if they are eligible for financial assistance — all in one place. The website will help you prepare for the coming new Health Insurance Marketplace, learn about the law, and more. Read more here.


HHS Awards $1.5 billion to Support States Building Health Insurance Marketplaces

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on January 17, 2013, announced $1.5 billion in new Exchange Establishment Grants to California, Delaware, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, and Vermont to ensure these states have the resources necessary to build a marketplace that meets the needs of their residents. A total of 49 states, the District of Columbia, and four territories have received grants to plan their marketplaces, and 34 states and the District of Columbia have received grants to build their marketplaces. To read the full statement, click here, and to see a detailed breakdown of marketplace grant awards to states, click here.


Department of Veterans Affairs Begins National Deployment of Paperless Claims Processing System

On January 14, 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a nationwide transition to paperless processing of veterans’ disability claims at its regional benefits processing offices is underway. VA is aggressively building a strong foundation for its new electronic claims processing system, called Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) – a lasting solution that will transform how VA eliminates the backlog in 2015.

As of December 2012, 18 VA regional offices have implemented the new system and are beginning to process newly received compensation claims in an entirely digital format. The VA is on track for full deployment of the system to the remaining 38 regional offices in 2013. Read the full announcement here and a blog post explaining the announcement here.


SBA Presidential Innovation Fellows Launch Online Contracting System: RFP-EZ

On January 17, 2013, the U.S. Small Business Administration, in conjunction with the White House’s Presidential Innovation Fellows, launched a “beta” (pilot) version of RFP-EZ, a new online marketplace that streamlines the government contracting process, making it simpler for small businesses to find and bid on low-dollar contracts from federal agencies.


The new program allows the government to source low-cost, high-impact solutions from innovative tech companies. A limited number of low-dollar contracts through RFP-EZ are now available at http://rfpez.sba.gov. If successful, the pilot will be expanded to include more contracts for a more diverse group of innovative startups. Read the full announcement here.


SBA Announces Changes to Contracting Program For Women-Owned Small Businesses

On January 17, 2013, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program announced women-owned small businesses will have greater access to federal contracting opportunities as a result of changes included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (NDAA). .

The NDAA removes the anticipated award price of the contract thresholds for women-owned small businesses and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses to allow them greater access to federal contracting opportunities without limitations to the size of the contract. Read the full announcement at the link.

Grant Opportunities

Social Security Administration’s Disability Determination Process Small Grant Program

This grant program awards stipends to graduate students to conduct research on ways to improve the disability determination process for the Social Security Administration’s two disability programs – Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The application processes for SSI and SSDI are complex, and members of the public with health problems and economic hardships often find it difficult to navigate this process. This grant program hopes to improve the efficiency and reduce the complexity of disability determination processes by facilitating innovative research through stipends to a broad spectrum of graduate students and by allowing those students to access technical information on SSA disability program operations from disability experts. The application deadline is March 1, 2013. Learn more about the program here.

Department of Labor Announces Availability of $75 million through YouthBuild Grants Program to Help Young People Develop Job Skills

On January 17, 2013, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, announced the availability of approximately $75 million in YouthBuild grant funds to develop programs that will help out-of-school youths complete high school or General Educational Development programs, as well as learn critical occupational skills in construction, health care, information technology and other fields. To learn more about the grant opportunity, click here.