We aim to assess and improve America’s national system of self-governance, with a focus on Congress. We research and disseminate solutions to lawmaking, judicial and electoral issues, including topics such as science and budget policy. We are strong proponents of strengthening Congress’s Article One powers and modernizing the legislative branch.
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Restoring the First Branch
Congress is the first branch of government and the “people’s branch,” but it is also where many of our nation’s governance problems come from. We work to defend and restore the powers delegated to the branch closest to the people, with original research and coalitions work like the Power of the Purse network.
An independent and robust judiciary is a cornerstone of our democracy. But in recent years, we have seen a fracturing of our political norms, leading to an increased cynicism of the judiciary’s role in our government. We fill an important role in discussing the role of the third branch, identifying positive reforms, and cautioning against attempts to politicize or undermine the judiciary for political gain.
Improving Transparency and Oversight
Independent oversight and accountability has never been more important to identifying governmental abuse and waste. To that end, we urge Congress to provide key oversight institutions, such as inspectors general (IG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO)—the resources they need to maintain a watchful eye on our oversized federal government. But we need more than just sufficient funding to maintain these core functions: IGs and whistleblowers need enhanced protections, Congress needs clearly defined accountability tools, and everyone needs more open access to the data about where and how our tax dollars are being spent.
Budget Process Reform
The most basic and essential way for Congress to take back its Power of the Purse and exert federal oversight is through the practice of enacting a budget. We advocate for budget process reform and intelligent spending restraint so that limited resources are spent wisely and government waste is curtailed.
Free and fair elections have never been more important and have never been more at risk. Large swaths of Americans have begun to support restricted voting rights and many elected officials are committed to carrying out those wishes. Our electoral reform work stands as a bulwark against these trends with original research and writing on bipartisan, common-sense electoral reform.