Thursday, January 31, 2013

CEI Knows How to Party

Although it wasn't a category in the University of Pennsylvania's recently updated think tank rankings, perhaps it should add the category "Best Party Think Tank."

Here is what the Washington Post reports about a recent party held by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI):
Most think tanks are earnest places — and then there’s the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “People say, ‘CEI has fun people, but some of them are crazy,’” said new president Lawson Bader. The free-market libertarian group threw a “passing of the torch” party Friday — founder Fred Smith is handing the reins to Bader — and because it fell on Scotland’s Robert Burns Night, there was haggis, kilts and plenty of Scotch.
CEI is known for good parties. “I recognized that intellectuals were dour, and that the war was going to be a long one,” Smith explained. “In warfare, you need R&R; in our world, that means having fun while you fight. And we do have fun.”
After 29 years, Smith, 72, figured it was time to give up the top job (he’s not leaving and won’t use the word “retirement”): “You know the great line, ‘The graveyards of the world are full of irreplaceable people.’ ”

Any other possibilities for best think tanks for parties and partying?

Here is a bio of Lawson Bader, CEI's new president.  He came to CEI this month from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he served as Vice President.

Will SecDef Panetta Retire From Think Tanks?

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will be stepping down from his position soon to tend to his walnut farm, but will he completely leave the think tank world?  After all, his ties to a variety of think tanks, both inside and outside of Washington, are quite deep.  Following are some examples:
  • From 2000-2009 Leon Panetta was the Center for National Policy's (CNP) National Advisory Board Chair.  [Earlier this month CNP merged with the Truman National Security Project.]
  • Panetta was the 2012 recipient of CNP's Edmund S. Muskie Distinguished Public Service Award.
  • In June 2012, Panetta gave a speech at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), a think tank which provided staff and support in 2006 for the Iraq Study Group that counted Panetta as one of its members.
  • In November 2012, Panetta gave a speech at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a think tank co-founded by Michele Flournoy, his former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.  She is now a member of the CNAS Board of Directors.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WMD Czar to Become ED of Harvard's Belfer Center

Harvard University announced that Gary Samore, President Obama's Coordinator for Weapons of Mass Destruction Counter-Terrorism and Arms Control, has been appointed Executive Director (Research) for Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Mr. Samore served as a fellow in the International Security Program at the Belfer Center after completing his PhD in Government at Harvard University in 1984.

He previously served as Vice President for Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).  He has also served as Director of Studies and Senior Fellow for Nonproliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London.

The Belfer Center was just ranked as the 22nd best think tank in the US by the University of Pennsylvania.  It was also ranked as the 20th best security and international affairs think tank in the world.  The Belfer Center was also ranked as the 2nd best university-affiliated think tank in the world.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Brookings to Open Branch in India

The Brookings Institution announced this morning that it is opening Brookings India in New Delhi.

Brookings, which was just named as the top think tank in the world in 2012, said that it is opening the India branch because of India's "growing importance on the world's stage as the world's largest democracy and a rising power with one of the fastest growing economies."

Here is the goal of Brookings India:
Brookings India will serve as a platform for cutting-edge, policy-relevant research and analysis on the opportunities and challenges facing India and the world. Indians will play the primary role in directing, staffing and funding the centre. The research priorities of Brookings India—including domestic and global economics, foreign policy, energy policy and infrastructure policy—will be aligned with India's policy agenda. Brookings India will seek to collaborate with existing Indian think tanks across the country. Its work will be based on the Brookings motto of "Quality, Independence, Impact," promoting in India its brand of independent, in-depth research and engagement in the policy debate.
Vikrah Singh Mehta will serve as Chairman of Brookings India.  He was recently Chairman of the Shell Group of Companies in India.

Those funding Brookings India include via the so-called "Founders Circle" include:
  • Nita and Mukesh Ambani (Reliance Industries Ltd.)
  • Rahul Bajaj (Bajaj Auto Ltd.)
  • Shyam S. Bhartia and Hari S. Bhartia (Jubilant Bhartia Group)
  • Gaurav Dalmia (Dalmia Group)
  • Steven A. Denning (General Atlantic LLC)
  • Kris Gopalakrishnan (Infosys)
  • Baba Kalyani (Bharat Forge)
  • Onkar S. Kanwar and Neeraj R. S. Kanwar (Apollo Tyres)
  • Rana Kapoor (YES Bank)
  • Shiv Vikram Khemka and Uday Khemka (SUN Group)
  • Geetanjali and Vikram Kirloskar (Kirloskar Systems Ltd.)
  • Rajiv B. Lall (IDFC)
  • Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (Biocon)
  • Rajan Bharti Mittal and Rakesh Bharti Mittal (Bharti Enterprises)
  • Sanjay Nayar
  • Vineet and Varun Nayar (Sampark)
  • Ajay Piramal (Piramal Enterprises Ltd.)
  • Dattaraj V. Salgaocar (V. M. Salgaocar Group)
  • Harsh Pati Singhania (J.K. Organisation)
  • Krishen Sud (Sivik Global Healthcare, Inc.)
  • Tata Group
  • Antoine van Agtmael (Garten Rothkopf)
  • Adil Zainulbhai and Ashraf Dahod (Dawat-e-Hadiyah)
  • Arshad Zakaria (New Vernon Capital)

Here is what Financial Times has to say about the new Brookings India.

It was reported in early 2012 that Brookings and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
(CEIP) had been looking to set up shop in India.

According to the latest University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, India ranks #4 in the world in terms of number of thinks tanks, with 269.  The US is #1 (1823), China is #2 (429), and the UK is #3 (288).

Currently, the top-ranked think tank in India is the Centre for Civil Society (CCS), ranked #51 in terms of non-US think tanks.

Think Tank Quickies #35

  • CSIS's Asia "forecast" event to feature live audience opinion polling.  A new trend?
  • CASS, China's top think tank, raises 2013 growth forecast to 8.4%.
  • Cato's Richard Rahn on why he is thankful for think tanks, how they balance a "myopic" government, and the most recent think tank rankings.
  • On Hong Kong's new development think tanks.
  • New Heritage leader DeMint tops think tank's Hill scorecard on conservatism.
  • African think tanks feel funding pinch.
  • On think tanks in Latin America.
  • Amazing fact of the day: Slate used to be housed at AEI. 
  • Cato's "Libertarian State of the Union" to be aired on C-SPAN3 tonight.

Monday, January 28, 2013

ASP: The US's New Think Tank Powerhouse?

Here is what Politico is reporting:
President Barack Obama’s second-term Cabinet is shaping up to be a big boon for the American Security Project, a Washington-based think tank founded in part by Chuck Hagel and John Kerry. Among the potential losers: the Center for a New American Security, the Brookings Institution and Harvard University, each with close ties to candidates passed over for top national security posts.
In the article, Politico says that Hagel was recruited into ASP by Kerry.  It also notes that the ASP website recently had its first 1,000+ "hits" in a single day.

American Security Project (ASP) is a Washington, DC-based think tank founded in 2007 in part by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA).

Here is a statement that ASP released on January 7, 2013 about former Sen. Hagel's nomination to be Secretary of Defense and Sen. Kerry's nomination to be Secretary of State.

WPost Attacks CBPP Debt Paper

The Washington Post published an editorial this weekend attacking liberals for using a Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) paper to justify that enough has already been done to reduce US debt.
Mr. [Martin] Wolf [of the Financial Times] and others cite a Jan. 9 paper by the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) that notes that Congress has enacted spending cuts and tax increases worth $2.3 trillion over 10 years since the end of 2010 — when the Simpson-Bowles commission’s ill-fated 10-year, $5.5 trillion plan came out. Also, the problem shrank: The Congressional Budget Office has revised its 10-year deficit forecasts down by $1.5 trillion since Simpson-Bowles.
Ergo, just $1.4 trillion more in savings would bring 10-year debt-reduction to $3.7 trillion and stabilize public debt at 73 percent of gross domestic product from 2018 through 2022. And we’re about to get most or all of that additional saving in the coming weeks — from the scheduled “sequester” of defense and discretionary programs or, preferably, equivalent alternative policies. Problem solved!
If only. A debt-to-GDP ratio “stabilized” at 73 percent would be a paltry achievement — a level of indebtedness 32 percentage points larger than the post-1950 average. A five-year plateau at that ratio would depart markedly from historical patterns, according to which U.S. debt surges during wars and/or recessions, then recedes in equal or near-equal measure amid renewed growth and fiscal consolidation.
The CBPP analysis assumes steady economic growth and no war. If that’s even slightly off, debt-to-GDP could keep rising — and stick dangerously near the 90 percent mark that economists regard as a threat to sustainable economic growth. “Those who argue against a further focus on prospective deficits” based on rosy scenarios “counsel irresponsibly,” President Obama’s former Treasury secretary, Lawrence H. Summers, wrote in The Post on Inauguration Day — and we agree.
Anyway, it’s not like Congress and the White House are close to agreeing on an alternative to the sequester. Many deficit doves would also decry the sequester’s cuts to domestic programs; few, however, have said exactly what tax hikes and spending cuts they would prefer. A memo circulated by the Senate Budget Committee’s Democratic majority alludes to closing tax loopholes but specifies nothing bigger or politically riskier than breaks for corporate jets and oil companies.
The big money is in entitlements, the source of our structural debt problem, which Democrats seem increasingly to treat as untouchable. The CBPP paper concedes that stabilizing debt at 73 percent of GDP by 2018 “would not be enough to address the longer-term budget problem.” Never mind, deficit doves coo, the problem is health spending generally — not a sustainable redesign of Medicare and Medicaid. And health spending is already easing, albeit for unknown reasons.
Given the economy’s fragility, we should not slam on the fiscal brakes, but even the short-term goal should be a downward trajectory for debt-to-GDP — not a high plateau. Regarding structural debt, our leaders can hardly be accused of rushing into things. They should be more ambitious, not less. The longer they wait, the more painful the process will be.
CBPP is a liberal think tank based in Washington, DC.

Hillary Clinton to Give Farewell Speech at CFR

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is stepping down from her position on February 1, 2013, will give her final speech as America's top diplomat at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on January 31.

Here is an announcement from the State Department, which says that the speech will be on "American Leadership."

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on Hillary Clinton's connections to CFR.  Her daughter Chelsea Clinton and husband Bill Clinton are both CFR members.

Sec. Clinton is no stranger to CFR.  Here are some comments she made at CFR back in 2009.  Here are some more comments she made at CFR on September 8, 2010.

Think Tank "Permaterns"

The Washingtonian has an article in its just-released February edition about "permaterns," people who essentially cycle in and out of internships for long periods of time because the tight job market prevents them from getting other types of positions, such as paid, full-time work.

Here is an excerpt that talks about interning at the Wilson Center:
For many in Washington, the American dream starts with a highbrow internship that pays $4.35 an hour - then another, and maybe another.
That's how much Jessica Schulberg, 22, made for the ten months she worked at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a haven for academics and journalists researching public-policy issues.  Every month, before taxes, Jessica was paid a stipend of $700, supplemented by waitressing and bartending at Mr. Henry's on Capitol Hill.
"I felt like ten month was a long time to be there," says Jessica, a 2011 graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara.  But with only a bachelor's degree, she felt she wasn't qualified for many entry-level jobs, a suspicion confirmed by numerous rejections.  The places where she was applying - think tanks and nonprofits - were all "receiving a million applications from people just like me," she says.
Somewhat amazingly, Jessica is upbeat about her situation.  The internship at the Wilson Center, a coveted and prestigious position, made her feel like one of the lucky ones.  During her longer-than-anticipated stint, she assisted foreign-policy heavyweights like Michael Adler, a foreign correspondent for Agence France-Presse, on a book about diplomacy in Iran.  She did research for Mark Mazzetti, a national-security correspondent for the New York Times.
"My friend and I joke that we got paid to read and write and topics that we're interested in," says Jessica, an aspiring foreign correspondent.
Here is an excerpt that talks about internships at the Heritage Foundation:
Internship coordinators around town say they're seeing more applications with advanced degrees and previous internships than in the past.  At the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank, about seven young people apply for each $7.25-an-hour intern slot.  Those positions are coveted because many see a Heritage internship as an entry point into other policy or law jobs in DC, says Heather Pfitzenmaier, director of the foundation's Young Leaders Program.
But the full-time jobs that are supposed to follow a prestigious internship aren't as plentiful as they once were.  "At the end of 2007, every intern had a job lined up," Pfitzenmaier says.  Now more are going to another internship after the Heritage Foundation stint.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Heritage Foundation's Lobbying Might

The Washington Post has just published an article on the Heritage Foundation's lobbying arm, Heritage Action.

Following are some of my favorite lines:
  • Think of Heritage Action as the Clark Kent of the conservative think tank world — as buttoned-down and statistics-laden as can be, but when the nemesis (Democrats! Liberals! Wishy-washy Republicans!) come into sight, the glasses come off and the lobbying muscles flex.
  • The 31-year-old chief executive [Mike Needham] of Heritage Action — the lobbying arm of the storied Heritage Foundation — senses victory where others see defeat.
  • Needham’s group has a distinct way to convince itself and others of its rectitude: reams of data and research from the most visible and well-funded think tank on the right.
  • And here, in part, is why Heritage Action calls itself the “new fangs” on the Heritage “beast”: It has no qualms about holding conservative members accountable to their promises — even if it risks a government shutdown.
  • In the summer of 2003, the Heritage Foundation gained its first true rival on the left as John Podesta, Clinton’s former chief of staff, launched his Center for American Progress — a big, bold progressive think tank with deep pockets and close ties to Democratic Party bigwigs. But there was a key difference: Podesta attached a political advocacy group to the traditional 501(c)3 think tank.
  • While leaders at the Heritage Foundation grudgingly admired CAP’s tactics from afar, it wasn’t until 2010 with the advent of the tea party that Heritage decided to set up its own 501(c)4.
  • In fact, Heritage Action wears much of the outside criticism as a badge of pride. When the group first launched its scorecard giving every legislator a conservative rating, some Republicans were livid about getting low marks. One member — the group declines to specify whom — even summoned [Mike] Needham, [Tim] Chapman and [Ed] Feulner to his office to explain his 77 percent rating. “Well, Mr. Congressman, the reason you have 77 percent is because you got 23 percent of the votes wrong,” Needham told him, as Chapman recalls. (DeMint got a 99 percent rating.)
  • Such friction with the Republican establishment has helped Heritage Action gain a bigger following among conservative activists just as internal turmoil has torn apart the tea party’s most prominent institutions.
  • Heritage Action is still a relatively small operation, raising $4.6 million in contributions and grants in 2011 compared with the Heritage Foundation’s $66 million, and it dipped only a toe into a handful of 2012 races. (Neither makes their donors public, but both groups say they are supported by thousands of small donors. Medvetz’s analysis shows the Heritage Foundation has also historically received major contributions from a handful of individuals.)
Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on the lobbying arms of think tanks.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #34

  • Azerbaijani and Chinese think tanks agree on cooperation.
  • Can you name America's most effective think tank? 
  • CEIP President Jessica Mathews prepares for 1st-ever live Twitter Q&A. 
  • Lieberman staffer Chris Griffin to head Foreign Policy Initiative. 
  • DoD nominee Hagel advises think tank that publishes anti-Israel, pro-Hezbollah screeds. 
  • It will take at least one more decade to refine tools to further measure think tanks. 
  • Brookings teams up with Logistics Management Institute (LMI) to study the future of the national security industrial base. 
  • ISIS fueling Iran nuclear crisis?

Brookings Named Think Tank of the Year - Again

The University of Pennsylvania's Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) has just released its 2012 Global Go To Think Tanks Report ranking the world's 6,603 think tanks.  This is the sixth edition of the annual report.

Here are this year's top 10 think tanks in the world:
  1. Brookings Institution (US)
  2. Chatham House (UK)
  3. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (US)
  4. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sweden)
  5. Center for Strategic and International Studies (US)
  6. Council on Foreign Relations (US)
  7. Amnesty International (UK)
  8. Bruegel (Belgium)
  9. Rand Corporation (US)
  10. International Institute for Strategic Studies (UK)
Interestingly, the list now has a section on best for-profit think tanks.  Examples include:
  • AT Kearney Business Roundtable
  • Deutsche Bank Research
  • Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Ernst & Young
  • Eurasia Group
  • Kissinger Associates
  • McKinsey Global Institute
  • Nomura Research Institute
  • Oxford Analytica
  • Statfor
Here are the changes that have been made since the previous report: 
This year’s Rankings feature a number of new or modified categories. The 2012 Global Go-To Think Tank Index includes several new categories and several categories that have been altered from the 2011 index. The new categories are: “Top Energy and Resource Policy Think Tanks”, “Top Education Policy Think Tanks”, “Best For-Profit Think Tanks”, “Best Independent Think Tanks (financially, structurally, and legally independent of government and political parties)”, “Best Advocacy Campaign” and “Best Policy Study/Report Produced by a Think Tank 2011-2012.”  “Top Think Tanks in Asia” was split into “Top Think Tanks in China, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea” and “Top Think Tanks in Asia (excluding China, India, Japan, and the Republic of Korea).”  The regional categories for the Americas were rearranged into “Top Think Tanks in South America,” “Top Think Tanks in Central America and the Caribbean” and “Top Think Tanks in Mexico and Canada.” Finally, “Best New Think Tank” is now determined by the past 24, previously 18, months.
The report has has a section on emerging issues and trends facing think tanksFollowing are the 12 trends:
 I. Dramatic Shifts in Funding Patterns: National, regional, and local governments
have cut their funding for public policy research while corporations and private
foundations have limited their grant-making to project-specific support. Foreign donors
from Asia, and the oil-rich countries of the Middle East increasingly help fill the funding
gap while baby boomers make significant resources available to non-profit institutions
through planned giving. This can be a mixed blessing since these donors often have very
specialized interests and want to be involved in the projects they support on an ongoing
basis. In addition, some private foundations and individual donors have been moving
their support away from analysis to activism and from think tanks to advocacy
organizations. The recent economic crisis continues to have a negative impact on think
tanks that are not considered as critical as social welfare programs. Many institutions are
taking a hard look at their programs and a number of think tanks are considering
merging with larger, more established institutions.
II. Increased Specialization: Specialized institutions and programs are attractive to
funders who want to target their dollars at specific problems or issues. This trend toward
increased specialization has had a direct impact on the programs, constituencies and
funding sources of multi-purpose policy organizations, thereby increasing competition
among think tanks simultaneously. It has become increasingly difficult for think tanks to
convince prospective funders that their programs are worthy of support. Moreover,
increased specialization discourages interdisciplinary responses to complex issues and
limits creativity of scholars.
III. Increased Competition: Think tanks have embraced specialization as a means of
distinguishing themselves from the competition. This branding has taken the form of
functional, political and issue specialization that helps market their institution to donors
who are increasingly providing project- specific support, to policymakers, and to the
public who is trying to make sense of the crowded marketplace of ideas and institutions.
The vast majority of the think tanks that have come into existence in the last 30 years
have been focused on a single issue or area of policy research. More recently, think
tanks have faced a new competitive threat from consulting firms, law firms, advocacy
groups and cable news networks that now directly compete with think tanks for gifts,
grants and contracts.
IV. Influence and Independence: As think tanks become more visible and influential,
some organizations appear to be losing their voice and independence along the way.
Managing the tensions associated with relevance, influence and independence is a
delicate balancing act that must be carefully managed if think tanks are to maintain their
credibility with policymakers and the public.
V. Outputs vs. Impact: Historically think tanks have placed a focus on output over
impact. How do think tanks measure their impact? For many institutions, it is limited to
the number of books and policy briefs produced rather than providing the impetus for
new legislation or changes in policy. This issue is further complicated by donors who are
increasingly interested in supporting “high impact organizations” and want think tanks
to demonstrate their impact on public policy.
VI. Phantom NGO Think Tanks: Governments are creating think tanks that are
designed to appear to be non-governmental organizations but are in fact arms of the
government. Likewise, corporations and individuals have established think tanks to
promote their special interests. This trend raises concerns about a lack of transparency
and private interest masquerading as public interest.
VII. Hybrid Organization: As think tanks have faced new challenges in the societies in
which they operate, they have adapted and created hybrid institutions. More and more
think tanks are a blend of organizational types (academic research center, consulting
group, marketing firm, and media outlet) and the roles of key staff have changed as well.
Think tank budgets and staffing patterns now place as much emphasis on policy research
as they do on promoting it and the scholars who conduct it. Today, the staff of think
tank institutions are comprised of multifaceted individuals who are part scholar,
journalist, marketing executive and policy entrepreneur.
VIII. Impact of the Internet, New Media, Social Networking and the Cloud:
Information no longer translates into power unless it is in the right form at the right time, and it is redefining how think tanks operate. Most think tanks now have websites and conduct policy debates via the Internet. The reality that more and more people get their information from the Internet, traditional and new media, and through social networking sites requires that organizations reexamine how they create, disseminate, and discuss public policy issues. This reality also requires that organizations reconsider the methods they use to reach the constituents they represent and/or the clients they serve and to produce academic-quality research that is understandable and accessible to policymakers and to the public. These dramatic changes have transformed how public policies are analyzed, debated and made and think tanks need to keep pace with these changes or be buried by them.
IX. Action vs. Ideas: Non-partisan, multi-purpose organizations are forced to abandon
traditional methods of operation, such as dialogue and debate, and consider new
methods as funders and other stakeholders in the policy process have grown impatient
with conferences, forums and seminars on public policy issues. This trend owes
significantly to the influence of donors who now prefer operational, advocacy-oriented
programs and institutions over conferences, forums, and seminars. New policy-oriented
institutions have out-marketed traditional policy research establishments that fail to
understand and respond to the fundamental changes that have taken place in
Washington and other capitals around the world.
X. Greater Emphasis on External Relations and Marketing Strategies: The rise of
special interests and a need for a quick response to complex policy problems have
created a greater demand for policy research and fostered the growth of specialized
public policy think tanks. This trend has placed greater emphasis on marketing strategies
and external relations that effectively target key constituencies and donors. Think tanks
are forced to redesign their “products” so they can be disseminated to a number of
strategically selected target audiences for the greatest impact. In this new world, pithy,
punchy policy briefs replace books, journals and white papers in order meet the time
constraints of policymakers and the demand for a quick response to policy issues and
problems. Four hundred-page books and reports now are reduced to a few pages or
words if the material is disseminated as a text message or blog. These new realities pose
immense challenges for think tanks that must adapt to these changes while not losing the
quality and integrity of their research.
XI. Going Global: Think tanks are increasingly adopting a global presence, perspective
and audience. The economist Joseph Stiglitz commented that think tanks must “scan
globally and act locally” if they are to be effective in today’s policy environment. This
trend is driven, in part, by transnational issues such as global warming, proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction, pandemics and terrorism. In recent years, a number of
global think tanks (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the International
Crisis Group) have emerged. They are designed to address global issues and serve a
global audience of policymakers. Numerous think tanks are trying to cultivate stronger
ties to counterpart organizations within their region and across the world. The
emergence of regional economic alliances due to global interdependence has created a
new network of regionally oriented policy institutions. But these organizations tend to be
the same ones that find it difficult to compete with the highly specialized organizations
that have a clear market niche and constituency.
XII. Leadership & Managing Tensions: An unprecedented number of think tank
executives are retiring or stepping down. Many of these leaders founded and/or led the
think tanks for many years so the impact and transitions are likely to be problematic. Key
institutions like RAND, Peterson Institute for International Economics, Urban Institute,
and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars have all seen leadership
changes in the last 12 months and others like the Heritage Foundation and the
Brookings Institute are planning for a transition to new leadership. The issue is more
severe in Africa and Eastern and Central Europe where the senior staffs are very small.
Transitions there can have a far greater impact on an organization. The successor
generations of leadership – whether of governments or other institutions – is never easy,
but nonetheless essential. One bad hire or a rocky transition can cripple an organization
for years. Even when the search for an executive is successful, the institution will face a
range of challenges that will require careful management by the governing board. New
leaders will face new challenges and will be required to deal with the continuing
challenge of managing the tensions among influence and independence, rigor and
relevance, degree of specialization, breadth and depth in the range of issues they seek to
address, between continuity and change in pursuing those issues, and ultimately, having
an impact on policy and the lives of the people in the countries in which they operate.
You can click here for the full report.  You can click here to see the Power Point presentation given by Dr. McGann during his presentation about the release of the report.

Just before the UPenn report was released, the Center for Global Development (CGD) released its own think tank rankings in which the Cato Institute was ranked #1.

Ernst & Young to Lobby for BPC

Ernst & Young has been hired by the Bipartisan Policy Center's (BPC) lobbying arm, the Bipartisan Policy Center Action Network (BPCAN), to lobby on its behalf.  Here is what Politico says:
Anne Phelps will lobby for the group on issues related to the Bipartisan Policy Center's Health Care Cost Containment Initiative, entitlement reforms in the context of the federal budget negotiations and other miscellaneous health care issues. Capitol Solutions, Dutko Worldwide and Forbes-Tate are among the firms that have previously lobbied on behalf of the group, which spent $1.3 million on lobbying in 2012.
Here is Ernst & Young's lobbying registration form for BPCAN.

Several people affiliated at BPC are connected to Ernst & Young, including Robert Rozen.  He is a Principal of the Washington Council Ernst & Young and a member of BPC's Housing Commission.  Mark Olson is a member of Ernst & Young's Global Advisory Board and is a task force member of BPC's Financial Regulatory Reform Initiative.

BPCAN, registered as a 501(c)(4), is the lobbying arm of the think tank BPC.  There are more than a dozen former Members of Congress where are affiliated with the think tank.

Here is what BPC's 2011 annual report says about BPCAN:
Bipartisan Policy Center Advocacy Network (BPCAN) works directly with Congress and the administration—translating BPC projects into workable proposals and finding common ground between the left and right.
BPCAN pairs the substantive analysis of BPC with strong advocacy efforts and ongoing strategic engagement with the legislative process. The sister organizations work as complementary efforts: BPC impacts the public dialogue and then BPCAN influences the policy outcomes. In 2011, BPCAN fully staffed up, adding legislative expertise from both congressional chambers and both sides of the aisle, creating a seasoned team of strategists with a combined nearly 40 years spent working on Capitol Hill.
The results speak for themselves: In 2011 alone, BPCAN held nearly 300 meetings with members of Congress and their staffs as well as hosting more than two dozen committee briefings, and public events on Capitol Hill. Composed of federal legislative-process experts, BPCAN provides BPC programs with political insight, advice, comprehensive advocacy strategies, and targeted materials for each of BPC’s program areas. BPCAN leaders then forge relationships with members of Congress and their staffs, serve as resources for Capitol Hill, and, of course, advocate for bipartisan solutions.
In related news, BPCAN is currently seeking a manager for energy.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on the lobbying arm of think tanks, sometimes called "sisters" of think tanks.

Monday, January 21, 2013

CAP Holds Swanky Inaugural Brunch

Center for American Progress (CAP), the liberal think tank with deep connections to President Obama, held an inaugural brunch yesterday (January 20) at the National Portrait Gallery with Google and Elle magazine.

Here is what the New York Times was saying about the event:
Google is toning things down from its 2009 inaugural bash, which featured dancing, a game room and big names like Ben Affleck, John Cusack and Craig Newmark (of Craigslist). This time, the search engine (which has a big legislative agenda) is partnering with Elle and the Center for American Progress for a Leading Women in Washington brunch, toasting the record number of new congresswomen, many of whom are expected to attend. No binders full of women here, just the real thing.
Here is a photo album of the event, which was invitation-only.

On January 21, the Third Way, The Huffington Post, and White House Correspondents Insider held an inauguration viewing part at the Old Ebbitt Grill.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #33

  • Think tanks cranking out debt ceiling reports.
  • CSIS says that President Obama should visit India again.
  • Anne-Marie Slaughter reviews three grand strategies put out by different think tanks.
  • New CGD Index ranks Cato #1.
  • What is the role of intelligence services and think tanks? 
  • Brookings video: Big Bets and Black Swans - foreign policy recommendations for Obama's 2nd term. 
  • CAP tells Obama to reject Keystone XL pipeline. 
  • ISIS says Iran will have material for at least one nuclear bomb by mid-2014. 
  • BPC and Third Way are "worthy" moderate think tanks?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Chinese Think Tank Head Removed in Sex Scandal

Here is what the Associated Press is reporting:
A Marxist theoretician has been removed as head of an important, but obscure Communist Party research institute over a sex scandal as China’s new leadership moves to end the latest, embarrassing revelation of high-level sleaze.
The removal of Yi Junqing as director of the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, which was announced Thursday, has been anticipated for weeks since the appearance online of a salacious account supposedly written by a female post-doctoral fellow at the bureau who was a former lover of Yi.
The 210-page document — which was a brief Internet sensation before it was scrubbed off the web — chronicled the illicit relationship between Yi and Chang Yan, from December 2011 to November 2012.
Chang said she bribed Yi with tens of thousands of yuan in cash and slept with him to get her fellowship turned into a permanent position only to discover he was not going to help and that he had other lovers.
The scandal is reflective of how deeply embedded corruption is in the corridors of power, even in stuffy think-tanks, and of the hypocrisy of professed communists.
Here is another article on the think tank sex scandal.

In other think tank sex news, this UK think tank has just recommended that the government lower the age of consent to 14.

CAP Alum to Become Obama's Chief of Staff

Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Adviser, reportedly will become President Obama's next Chief of Staff.  McDonough is an alum of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress (CAP).

Here is what Politico says:
McDonough joined Obama’s presidential campaign in 2007 after serving as the chief foreign policy adviser to Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) in the Senate and during a stint Daschle spent at the Center for American Progress after losing his seat in 2004.
Foreign Policy says McDonough was a Senior Fellow at CAP focusing on foreign policy.  The Washington Post also says that he helped Daschle with research on health care policy.

Following are some examples of what Denis McDonough was involved with while at CAP:
  • This January 2008 report, CAP's economic plan for the next administration, lists McDonough as a contributor as says that at the time he was a Senior Fellow focusing on energy.
  • Here is a piece on the climate change debate that McDonough wrote while at CAP.
  • Here is a piece on Congressional oversight of the US intelligence community that he wrote while at CAP.
  • Here is a piece he wrote on promoting US business opportunities in China.
  • He was a panelists at this CAP event focusing on US foreign policy.  He also participated in this CAP conference call on then President Bush's trip to the G8 Summit in 2007.
  • He moderated this 2006 CAP event on Catholic progressives and their role of faith in governance.
  • He was a member of a CAP task force on energy security in the 21st century.
McDonough is among dozens  of CAP folks who have gone into the Obama Administration throughout the past four years.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Truman Project & Center for National Policy "Merge"

The Truman National Security Project and the Center for National Policy (CNP) last week announced that they will be "merging."

Following is a fact sheet explaining the partnership:


Why are the Truman Project and the Center for National Policy partnering? We are partnering to create a preeminent national security organization which combines the political power, community building, and leadership development strengths of the Truman Project with the policy heft and heritage of the Center for National Policy. Truman and CNP have been longtime friends and allies. As an example of that relationship, the Truman Project's first office space was actually a sublet from CNP.

Is either organization changing its issue or ideological focus? No. Truman and CNP share a set of values that drive everything we do. We are fundamentally forward-leaning, embracing the challenges of a changing world, and helping define America's role in it. We are driven to improve the national and economic security of the United States through strong alliances, a robust military, international engagement, and support for democracy, human rights, development and trade.

Who leads this new organization? As required by law, the two organizations maintain separate Boards of Directors while sharing staff. Rachel Kleinfeld remains the President of the Truman Project and Scott Bates remains President of the Center for National Policy; both serve as Senior Advisors to the sister organization. Michael Breen is Executive Director of both organizations,Sarah Bruno is COO, Michael Moschella is Chief Organizer, David Solimini is Vice President for Strategic Communications, and Robin McQueen is Vice President of External Relations. Complete staff biographies can be found at and

Legally, what happened? Is this a merger? The Truman National Security Project and the Center for National Policy are partner organizations with a shared staff, single Executive Director, and separate Presidents and Boards of Directors. Legally, The Truman Project's sister organization, the Truman Institute, merged with the Center for National Policy and adopted the name and its leadership.

Will this partnership result in any staffing consolidation or cuts? No. Because this partnership represents growth for the two organizations, our shared staff will stay on and continue to grow. New employment opportunities are available at

Is Truman or CNP changing their name? No. In a setup typical to c3 and c4 sister organizations, the Truman Project and the Center for National Policy will retain their names.

What does this mean for Truman Project Members? Truman Security Fellows, Political Partners, and Veteran Leadership Academy graduates will remain Members of the Truman Project. Those programs will continue to recruit, train, and position the next generation of national security leaders.

How are Truman and CNP funded? We are funded by a wide range of individual, foundation, and corporate donors. There is no primary funder or “angel” donor for either organization.

Are Truman and CNP moving offices? We are currently exploring joint office space options. For the time being, mail can continue to be directed to Truman at 1050 17th Street NW, Washington DC 20036 and CNP at One Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC 20001.

Somalia Launches First Think Tank

On January 15, 2013 Somalia launched its first think tank, the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS), which is based in Mogadishu.

HIPS says that it "aims to inform and influence public policy and practice" and will "conduct field based research, informed analysis, and innovative solutions in the form of reports, policy briefs, and public debates."

They already have a Facebook page and a Twitter account, but it looks like its website is not yet live as of writing this post.

According to the latest University of Pennsylvania think tank ratings, Africa has 550 think tanks, or 8.4% of the world's total of 6545.  Within Africa, South Africa has the largest number of think tanks, with 85.  Here is the list of countries in Africa with 10 or more think tanks:
  • South Africa: 85
  • Kenya: 53
  • Nigeria: 46
  • Ghana: 36 
  • Uganda: 27
  • Ethiopia: 25
  • Zimbabwe: 24
  • Cameroon: 21
  • Burkina Faso: 16
  • Senegal: 16
  • Malawi: 15
  • Tanzania: 15
  • Benin: 14
  • Namibia: 14
  • Botswana: 13
  • Cote d'Ivoire: 12
In related news, the President of Somalia was a guest speaker this week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC.

Update: Foreign Policy writes about Somalia's "first think tanker."

Monday, January 14, 2013

Top White House Aide Headed to Brookings

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy-Ann DeParle will reportedly be leaving the White House to join the Brookings Institution as a Guest Scholar in Economic Studies.  She is scheduled to join Brookings on January 28, 2013.

Before being named as Deputy Chief of Staff, DeParle served as the Director of the White House Office of Health Reform.

Here is the official Brookings announcement.

The announcement comes just a day after her boss, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, was nominated to head the Treasury Department.  Lew served on the Advisory Board of the Brookings Institution Hamilton Project.

Perhaps Lew got DeParle a job at Brookings?

Lew was also on the Board of Directors at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).  Lew is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Think Tank Quickies #32

  • DC is not just the province of think tanks, tepid salmon, and boxy suits anymore.
  • CAP proposes sweeping new restrictions on guns.
  • Jim DeMint on how he will use the Heritage Foundation to launch a "conservative revival."
  • CIGI highlights its own "growing" influence.
  • New think tank launched by China to focus on marine affairs.
  • A new worldwide map of climate think tanks. 
  • American Action forum says White House issued $236 billion worth of new regulations in 2012. 
  • Are think tanks the masters of the universe? 
  • Think tanks think their word is gospel
  • Nike co-founder Phil Knight interviewed by TMZ at Brookings event.

Friday, January 11, 2013

UPenn Annual Think Tank Index to be Released

The University of Pennsylvania is about to release its annual index of the world's top think tanks.  The release will take place January 17, 2013 at the World Bank (morning) and the United Nations University (afternoon).

The report will be released by Dr. James McGann, Assistant Director of the International Relations Program, and Director of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, at the University of Pennsylvania.

Here is a flyer from the World Bank about the event.

The latest report ranks 6,500 think tanks. Here are the 2011 rankings which were released January 2012.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

CFR Fellow Bashes CFR Member

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) distanced itself from statements made by Senior Fellow Elliott Abrams calling Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel an anti-Semite.

Hagel is the Chairman of the think tank Atlantic Council of the United States (ACUS). Hagel is also a member of CFR.

Here is what Laura Rozen writes in Al-Monitor:
Meantime, the Council on Foreign Relations told Al Monitor Tuesday that controversial accusations made by its senior fellow Elliott Abrams in an interview Monday did not represent the views of the institution.
Abrams, the former Bush White House Middle East advisor, called Hagel an anti Semite in an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered. The accusation was widely lambasted on social media sites after the interview aired. Asked by Al-Monitor what evidence he has to support his accusation, Abrams did not respond.
“As you may know, the Council on Foreign Relations takes no institutional position on matters of policy,” CFR’s vice president for global communications and media relations Lisa Shields told Al-Monitor by email Tuesday. “The views expressed by our more than seventy experts, who reflect a broad range of backgrounds and perspectives, are theirs only.”
Here is what the Daily Beast has to say:
Abrams's remarks about Hagel are getting noticed: the Council on Foreign Relations, as establishment as think tanks get, is facing pressure to be answerable for its fellow's baseless accusations. Remarkably, CFR pushed out Henry Siegman after "complaints from Jewish members" about his outspoken criticisms of Israel's right-wing leadership. One wonders if the group faces similar complaints about Abrams's conduct.
Here is what ThinkProgress, the blog connected to pro-Obama think tank Center for American Progress (CAP), has to say.

CFR President Richard Haass went on Meet the Press to further distance himself from Abrams' comments.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

NAF Chairman Visits North Korea

Eric Schmidt, Chairman of New America Foundation's (NAF) Board of Directors, and Google, Inc. Executive Chairman, is traveling to North Korea.

He is also traveling with Jared Cohen, a former State Department official who founded Google's think tank, Google Ideas.  Mr. Cohen used to work at the Office of Policy and Planning, the State Department's internal think tank.  Mr. Cohen is also an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

The Schmidt-Cohen think tank duo have traveled together before and have also co-authored several op-eds, including this and this.

NAF Fellow Emily Parker comments about the North Korea trip in Slate.

Fast Company notes that Schmidt may be visiting North Korea in part due to his role at NAF:
Schmidt also has a reason to visit North Korea that has little to do with Google. Apart from serving as Google's executive chairman, Schmidt chairs the New America Foundation, a prominent thinktank which publishes extensively on technology through their Open Technology Initiative.
Schmidt was appointed as Chairman of NAF's Board of Directors on February 7, 2008.

Here is a recent article that criticizing Shmidt's "role" in a recent NAF report on broadband caps.

Monday, January 7, 2013

CFR Attacked by Chinese Hackers

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) was attacked by Chinese hackers dubbed the "Elderwood Project."

Here is what the SC Magazine had to say:
The latest zero-day was used as part of a so-called "watering hole" attack against the website for the policy think tank Council on Foreign Relations, the influential membership group that helps shape U.S. foreign policy.
About two weeks ago, the site was hijacked with malicious JavaScript to serve an Adobe Flash exploit, which in turn triggered a heap-spray attack, according to researchers at security firm FireEye. The malware was delivered to users whose operating system language was set to English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Russian.
The Elderwood attacks kicked off in 2010, when Google, Adobe and about 30 other high-profile companies said they were hit by sophisticated attacks believed to have been launched by Chinese adversaries looking to steal intellectual property.
Here is more on the attack by Bill Gertz of Free Beacon.

Cyber spies targeting Washington think tanks is nothing new.  Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on this topic.

Think Tank Quickies #31

  • The Century Foundation (TCF) names three new fellows to focus on economic/social inequality.
  • Think tankers have more influence than Members of Congress?
  • UAE orders Rand Corp. to close its Abu Dhabi office.
  • Iran to host gathering of world parliaments' think tanks.
  • Sudan closes think tank after protest. 
  • CFR sets up Nigeria security tracker. 
  • BPC says US may to default on debt between Feb. 15 and March 1. 
  • Stephen Hawking joins anti-robot apocalypse think tank. 
  • First annual Hero Summit held at USIP. 
  • New food think tank launches.  Its site can be found here.

Think Tanker to Replace Think Tanker at NSC?

Steven Simon, formerly at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), and now President Obama's senior director at the National Security Council (NSC) for the Middle East and North Africa, is reportedly returning to IISS to be executive director of the US and Middle East offices.

Possible replacements for Simon include:
  • Jon Alterman, Zbigniew Bzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy and Director, Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
  • Colin Kahl, a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

In other think tank personnel news, Kristin Lord, Executive Vice President and Director of Studies at CNAS, is said to be heading to the US Institute of Peace (USIP) to be Executive Vice President, taking the job once held by Tara Sonenshine, now Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

Here is the press release from USIP on Lord's new position.  She will assume her new duties on January 28, 2013.  Lord previously worked at the Brookings Institution.

Lord will be replaced by Shawn Brimley, who is currently a Senior Fellow at CNAS.  He will become Vice President and Director of Studies at CNAS as of February 1, 2013.