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Discovery

Uncovering Trends in Public Policy-Making

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Capital Building with inset of Policy Agendas Website.

The Policy Agendas Project collects and organizes data from various archived sources to trace changes in the national policy agenda and public policy outcomes since the Second World War.

Credit: Photos.com, inset www.policyagendas.org

 

Waving hands

Do the activities of Congress respond to those issues considered by the American public to be the most important ones facing the country? "Our research showed that when citizens become concerned about a matter, Congress holds hearings and has a pretty high probability of doing something about the problem," said Dr. Jones, Director of the Policy Agendas Project. "If I were a Congressman, this would be music to my ears."

Credit: Photodisc

 

graph

To assess the policy priorities of the mass public, the Policy Agendas Project coded "Most Important Problem" data from Gallup polls across the postwar period into categories already developed by the Project. Clearly, the public agenda is dominated by concerns of national and economic security. Civil rights occupied a prominent place in the priorities of the general public during the 1950s and 1960s but dropped from the agenda in the 1970s. Crime was prominent in the 1970s and again in the 1990s.

Credit: www.policyagendas.org


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graph

Congressional priorities were assessed by the proportion of total hearings in a given year focusing in each of 19 major topics defined in the Project. Results showed that,while the congressional agenda is more complex, there is an impressive congruence between the priorities of the public and the priorities of Congress across time, which is reflected in lawmaking activities.

Credit: www.policyagendas.org


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Student presentation

Graduate and undergraduate students who work on datasets for the Policy Agendas Project often use the data for their own research projects. For this award-winning undergraduate project, Lindsey Scola used Policy Agendas data to ascertain that there is not a strong correlation between executive orders on volunteerism and the social services budget.

Credit: The Policy Agendas Project.