This is a periodic newsletter of the interesting things we’ve seen and what we are thinking about in open source policy analysis.
Policy Simulation Library meeting series returns with a webinar on OG-USA. On Thursday, April 16, at 2:00 p.m., Matt Jensen (AEI) will interview Jason DeBacker (University of South Carolina) about dynamic tax modeling and the OG-USA* web application. OG-USA, an overlapping-generations model of the US economy, now features a web application, where users can adjust model parameters and run a steady state version of the model without any code. After a brief conversation with Jensen, DeBacker will walk through the web application’s inputs and outputs. Link
MIT is working on an open-source ventilator. As more people contract COVID-19, some hospitals will face a shortage of ventilators, machines that help patients breathe. A team of engineers, physicians, and computer scientists based at MIT are designing a low-cost, open-source, emergency ventilator that can easily be assembled around the world for just a few hundred dollars. The team’s primary innovation has been to develop a mechanical system that will automatically squeeze and release an Ambu bag, a common medical device that is typically operated by hand. Link
Tax-Calculator breakdown of the CARES Act rebate. In a blog post, Kyle Pomerleau and Burke O’Brien (AEI) use Tax-Calculator* to evaluate the rebate to individuals as part of Congress’ COVID-19 economic relief package. Pomerleau and O’Brien find that the average value of the rebate will be $1,729 and that 91.3 percent of filers will receive it. Link
Researchers reconstruct a risk assessment algorithm. In our February newsletter, we discussed the black box risk assessment algorithms that play a prominent role in the criminal justice system. In a recent study, Cynthia Rudin, Caroline Wang, and Beau Coker partially reconstructed the COMPAS model — a widely used risk assessment algorithm. In constructing and analyzing the model, the researchers find that it is biased in some ways, but not necessarily in the ways that ProPublica reports. This discrepancy reinforces the notion that, at a minimum, lack of transparency raises questions and, more likely, introduces problems. Link
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) publishes report on transparency. In 2020, the CBO aims to produce more materials that detail its models’ assumptions and methodology. Link
* These projects are attendees or graduates of OSPC’s incubator program.
Edited by Matt Jensen and Peter Metz