Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Think Tank Quickies (#125)

  • Diane Rehm Show: Think tanks funding and influence.
  • The "Golden Age" of think tanks in China.
  • The Hill newspaper announces launch of a new "Contributors" section, with content from more than 100 scholars, think tankers, and others.
  • Brookings establishes SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies; Katharine H.S. Moon to be Senior Fellow and inaugural holder of the new chair.
  • Former Chairman and CEO of Bloomingdale's Michael Gould, and former DoD official Paul Kaminski join Board of Trustees at RAND Corp.
  • Robert Hormats named Chairman of the Advisory Board for the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy.
  • Global Secular Council: A new think tank for secularism.
  • USIP's 60 Second International Film Festival.
  • Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough coming to CSIS June 2.
  • CNAS's 8th annual security conference to feature UN Amb. Susan Rice and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
  • CSIS's new interactive Ukraine crisis timeline.

Piketty: Wealthy Buy Influence at Think Tanks

This is from a PBS NewsHour interview of French economist Thomas Piketty by correspondent Paul Solman:

Paul Solman: Will inequality threaten our democratic institutions because the people who are wealthy will commandeer them — buy too much influence over them?

Thomas Piketty: Yes, in several ways. Access to the political process and influence in Washington and tax policy is certainly disproportionate, which allows the wealthy to keep some advantages.
When you have large wealth, you cannot just consume like other people. You start to consume influence, consume politicians, consume academics, you consume power; this is what high wealth is here for…

Paul Solman: Wait, but have you been consumed as an academic?

Thomas Piketty: Well, I try not to be, in general, but when the possibility to fund a think tank depends so much on large individual wealth holdings, yes, I think wealth can buy influence and knowledge.

 Paul Solman: Have you “sucked up to” wealthy grant-givers ever?

Thomas Piketty: No, I am lucky enough to have a wage that is paid by my public institution in Paris that makes it so that I don’t need to do that.

Paul Solman: But you know people who do?

Thomas Piketty: Well if you look at the funding of think tanks and expertise centers, in both Asia and Brussels or in Washington, but I think even more so in Washington, yes, private money is playing a big role.

Mr. Piketty is probably most well known for his new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century.  It has been said that conservatives "have flocked to their think tanks" for ideas about how to discredit the book, which focuses on wealth and income inequality in the US and Europe since the 18th century.

(Hat tip to Hans Gutbrod for the PBS link)

Friday, May 23, 2014

CSIS Feeling the Heat on Funding Transparency

Here is what Inside Philanthropy is reporting:
The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies is the Tiffany & Co. of think tanks, with a heady roster of boldface names from the security world such as Henry Kissinger, Frank Carlucci, Richard Armitage and Brent Scowcroft. As befits its stature, CSIS is well-funded. For fiscal year 2012, CSIS had an operating revenue of $33.2 million. Here's how the sources break down: 27 percent corporate, 27 percent foundation, 21 percent government, 11 percent individuals, 4 percent endowment, 10 percent "other."
Those figures are in the annual report. What’s not in the annual report—or on their website, or in their tax forms, or anywhere for public consumption—is who the funders are who are filling the deep pockets of CSIS.
CSIS received a single star [in the recent Transparify report rating think tank financial transparency], which would be great if they were a restaurant and Michelin was rating, but is not so good in Transparify's world. “A one-star think tank is categorized by ‘some donors listed, but not exhaustive or systematic’," said Lappin. “CSIS has not responded to Transparify, stating they were updating their websites for greater financial transparency, and so CSIS is not in the ‘updating’ category.
“Thanks for your query. As a matter of policy we don't provide such information,” said an email from the iPhone of H. Andrew Schwartz, senior V.P. for external relations.

Inside Philanthropy has outlined some of CSIS's funders, and says that "some analysts believe that CSIS is star-struck-out because they get oodles of money from defense contractors and the US government itself."

Andrew Schwartz, Vice President for External Communications at CSIS, says that the think tank's funding transparency policy is "under review."

CSIS was recently ranked as the 4th best think tank in the world by the annual university of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, and as the world's top defense and national security think tank.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rep. Hensarling Using Heritage to Take Over Speakership?

Here is more from The Hill newspaper:
If Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) wants to fuel speculation that he’s going to make a run for Speaker later this year, he’ll have his chance this week.
The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, considered one of the few Republicans who could mount a serious challenge to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) or Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), will attack crony capitalism on Tuesday in a major speech at the Heritage Foundation.
Hensarling’s venue on Tuesday is as noteworthy as his topic. Long one of the capital’s most influential conservative think tanks, Heritage and its political arm, Heritage Action, have become openly hostile to the House GOP leadership over the last two years.

Here is what Roll Call had to say:
That Hensarling spoke at the Heritage Foundation is news in its own right. Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, has made no qualms about his increasing frustration with Heritage, and for Hensarling, who was once the GOP Conference chairman but stepped down to take the gavel of Financial Services, speaking at Heritage while they are in an awkward battle with House leadership may be seen as a soft rebuke of Boehner.

Rep. Hensarling spoke just two hours after Heritage Foundation suffered one of its harshest congressional rebukes ever, with more congressmen than ever before breaking from the advice of Heritage Action and voting for a water resources bill.  Heritage Action had strongly recommended "no" votes on that bill.

The Hensarling speech at Heritage can be viewed here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Think Tank Quickies (#124)

  • Fun with Dick Cheney & Lynne Cheney at AEI.
  • Think tank thinks thinking tanks policy needs rethink.
  • Wilson Quarterly relaunches on digital platform.
  • Think tank boom in Tunisia.
  • Wilson Center holds event on why crack-smoking Rob Ford is still mayor of Toronto.
  • What do corporations get for donations to think tanks?
  • Nearly "unbridgeable gap" between research assistants and senior fellow at think tanks; few middle-level research positions in Washington think tanks; leading to lack of foreign affairs expertise.
  • CFR's Nigeria Security Tracker - mapping violence in Nigeria.
  • Brookings cafeteria "awesome?"
  • Major liberal think tank (CAP) wants Obamacare management shakeup.

Lack of Mid-Level Think Tankers Leaves Expertise Gap

Here is more from Melinda Haring, Associate Scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) and Hannah Thoburn, Eurasia Analyst at the Foreign Policy Initiative and Senior Research Assistant at Brookings:
As journalists seek to understand the crisis in Ukraine and Putin’s next moves, they find themselves turning time and again to the same experts for insights and quotes. In the media, these same talking heads have bemoaned the dearth of junior peers and dwindling resources available to educate them.
While there are entry-level and high-level jobs, there is nearly no opportunity for incremental career advancement working on the former Soviet Union in Washington today. The lack of mid-level positions affords few chances to develop analytic and leadership skills or regional expertise. One either makes coffee and schedules meetings or writes books and talks to Putin. Frustration at the paucity of opportunities for growth pushes many young experts out of the field.
But these are symptoms, not the disease. The disease is a double whammy: a disregard for regional expertise and the disappearance of key rungs in the career ladder.
Think tanks, once regarded as elite universities without students, employ research assistants and senior fellows, but there is a nearly unbridgeable gap between them. Even if research assistants are loyal to the institution, publish furiously and earn a PhD, only rarely will they become senior fellows. There are few mid-level research positions in Washington think tanks and therefore no ladder to climb and no opportunity for advancement.

Here is the story of one man trying to find a "mid-level" policy job as a Russia expert.  Here is a piece about the lack of Central Asia experts.  Are there only one or two Russia scholars at Washington think tanks in there 30s?

Why do so many think tanks lack mid-level, mid-career positions?  Is it because they are too expensive to house at think tanks (e.g., cannot raise funds compared to someone more senior but still have to pay them more than junior staff)?

Monday, May 19, 2014

As DeMint & McConnell Feud, Chao Stuck in Middle

Awkward.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and former senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) have a long history a feuding.  DeMint, who now heads the Heritage Foundation, is the boss of Elaine Chao, who happens to be McConnel's wife.

Chao is a Distinguished Fellow at the conservative think tank, where she works on jobs, employment, trade, workforce, and competitiveness issues.  She is currently working hard to support her husband is his Senate re-election bid, but DeMint is encouraging her husband's critics in the election.

Here is how Washington lobbyist and McConnell-Chao friend Richard Hohlt put it: "She's at Heritage as a fellow, and there is Heritage trying to blow him up."

Here is more on the tension and some more background.  Those think tank cocktail receptions have to be pretty awkward...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Should Think Tank Reports Be Shorter?

Besides Think Tank Watch, how many of you have actually read a think tank report from front to back?  And I'm not just talking about the 500-pager, I'm talking about a 10- or 20-page report?

Yesterday, Think Tank Watch wrote a piece titled "Does Anyone Actually Read Think Tank Reports."  And the seeming lack of readership of many reports floating around Washington and elsewhere got me thinking, should think tank reports be shorter?

If so, perhaps the wire services can provide a model.  Here is more on the Associated Press's new guidelines for article length:
The world’s largest independent news organization, the Associated Press...has told its journalists to cut the fat — and keep their stories between 300 and 500 words.
Exceptions: AP has told its reporters that the top one or two stories in each state may run between 500 and 700 words, and the top global stories of the day may be a practically Faulknerian 700-plus words. Reporters in AP’s newly expanded investigative unit will be permitted to bust the limits.
AP’s wire-service rival, Reuters, instructed its reporters to keep stories under 500 words.

To be sure, think tankers are not necessarily journalists, and there are many short reports that think tank scholars write.  Moreover, there are many different formats that think tanks are using, such as blog posts and short policy briefs.

But most of the ideas in reports that Think Tank Watch reviews can be said with much more brevity.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Think Tank Quickies (#123)

  • Will think tanks be impacted by decline of donors with wills?
  • UK invites Atlantic Council to host future leaders meeting at NATO Wales Summit.
  • Wilson Center report: "Surf and Turf: The Environmental Impact's of China's Growing Appetite for Pork and Seafood."
  • What if Steven Seagal and Dennis Rodman formed a foreign policy think tank?
  • China establishes new financial think tank.
  • Rise of think tanks: Foreign policy and national security culture in Turkey.
  • Close to one-third of DC and NY's foreign affairs think tanks run by women.
  • Think tanks influence public policy, but who influences think tanks?
  • US climate report and Cato.
  • This year Heritage Foundation ended 5-year sponsorship of Rush Limbaugh's show, after $9.5+ million in contributions.

Does Anyone Actually Read Think Tank Reports?

The World Bank recently conducted a study about how many of its reports are actually downloaded.  Here are the shocking results, as summarized by The Washington Post:
Nearly one-third of their [World Bank] PDF reports had never been downloaded, not even once. Another 40 percent of their reports had been downloaded fewer than 100 times. Only 13 percent had seen more than 250 downloads in their lifetimes. Since most World Bank reports have a stated objective of informing public debate or government policy, this seems like a pretty lousy track record.
...It's fair to assume that many big-idea reports with lofty goals to elevate the public discourse never get read by anyone other than the report writer and maybe an editor or two. Maybe the author's spouse. Or mom.
And don't think for a second that this is just a World Bank problem. PDF reports are basically the bread and butter of Washington's huge think tank industry, for instance. Every single one of these groups should be taking a serious look at their own PDF analytics the way the bank has.

Think Tank Watch is not aware of any think tank that has publicly released data regarding the viewership of its reports.  But Think Tank Watch is pretty sure that many think tanks reports fade away into obscurity without any readers at all.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Breaking News: SIPRI Heads Axed

Both the Director (Tilman Bruck) and Chairman (Goran Lennmarker) of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) have have been kicked out of their positions amid a growing controversy over the work environment at the think tank.

The Governing Board of SIPRI and Tilman Bruck have agreed that Bruck will leave his position as Director of SIPRI on June 30, 2014.  Bruck, however, will continue to be affiliated with SIPRI as a Distinguished Senior Fellow.

The SIPRI Governing Board will be chaired by the Deputy Chairman Jayantha Dhanapala (with the title of "Acting Director") until further notice.

In a press release, SIPRI said that the Governing Board has agreed to appoint an international expert to undertake a comprehensive review of SIPRI and to make recommendations for its future.

More details coming soon...

Coalition of Think Tanks to Host Talks on Iran Nuclear Deal

A coalition of think tanks will be hosting three discussions about the Iran nuclear negotiations to coincide with the last three rounds of the talks.

The first event, titled "The Rubik's Cube of a Final Agreement," will be held May 13 at the US Institute of Peace (USIP) and will explore 10 issues that need to be resolved in the negotiations.

The coalition includes: USIP, RAND Corp., Wilson Center, Center for a New American Security (CNAS), and Stimson Center.  It also includes Partnership for a Secure America, Ploughshares Fund, and staff from Brookings and the Center for Non-Proliferation Studies.

The other two discussions will be held on June 10 and July 8.  The deadline the P5+1 countries have set for reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran in July 20, 2014.

Think Tank Quickies (#122)

  • Former Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL): Congress turns to think tanks such as AEI and Heritage to read the thousands of reports that federal agency produce for Congress.
  • HuffPo: A plethora of think tanks continue to criticize the Obama Administration for presiding over what appears to be persistent failures in the foreign policy arena.
  • Think tanks starting to shape the debate on driverless cars.
  • Track events related to the crisis in Ukraine with Atlantic Council's "Ukraine Alert." 
  • Why Zimbabwe needs a national think tank.
  • Asia Society launches US-Asia think tank: Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI).
  • Sharon Burke, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs, joins New America Foundation (NAF) as a Senior Advisor.
  • Robert Litan and Fed economist Louise Sheiner join Brookings.
  • New Peterson Institute report: "Economic Normalization with Cuba: A Roadmap for US Policymakers."
  • New CSIS headquarters achieves LEED platinum status, becoming only 5th Washington, DC building to get that award; former USTR chief agriculture negotiator Islam Siddiqui joins CSIS as Senior Adviser. Launches New "Think Tank" Feature

The Wall Street Journal has launched a new feature called Think Tank, a section of that draws news and analysis from outside contributors from across the political spectrum.

According to WSJ, the goal of the new feature is to help strengthen its coverage of Washington politics, policy, and national security.  More details and other changes to can be found here.

So far, writers that have contributed to the Think Tank feature include: Jeff Horwitt, Richard Reeves, Linda Killian, David Wessel, Jim Manley, Dennis Ross, Ben Domenech, Timothy Noah, Jess McIntosh, Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, Brian Katulis, Stephen Sestanovich, John Feehery, Michael O'Hanlon, Peter Wehner, Kimberly Kagan, and Drew Altman.

Although this new feature is called "Think Tank," many of the blog posts have nothing to do with think tanks and are not written by think tankers.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Clintons Take Control of Think Tank Land

The Clintons are cozying up to some of the most powerful think tanks in Washington, making sure that influential think tanks are on their side should Hillary Clinton decide to run for president.

Brookings recently announced that it will host former President Bill Clinton on Thursday (May 15) for the inaugural Robert S. Brookings President's Lecture.  He will speak on the the global economy.

Bill Clinton is also set to headline the Center for American Progress (CAP) annual fundraiser on May 14.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton will be a keynote speaker this week at New America Foundation's (NAF) annual conference focusing on "Big Ideas for a New America."

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post about Hillary Clinton speaking at CAP's 10th anniversary event.  Here is another previous Think Tank Watch post about CAP founder John Podesta convening meetings for a Hillary run.

CAP was recently ranked as the 30th best think tank in the US by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  CAP was also ranked as the 10th best think tank in the US.

And to prepare for a 2032 presidential run, Chelsea Clinton has become a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).  Bill Clinton is also a CFR member, but Hillary is not.  But she has given CFR some love.  Hillary used the foreign policy-focused think tank to give her final speech as Secretary of State.

Congressman Defends Funding for East-West Center

Here is more from Roll Call:
A senator is vocally contesting the inclusion of a project in his home state in the 2014 ”Congressional Pig Book.”
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, issued a statement over the weekend touting his effort to preserve (and in fact increase) funding for the East-West Center, a cultural and education exchange center established by Congress in 1960 that’s based in Honolulu.
“For years, the State Department tried to eliminate the center by not requesting funding in the department’s annual budget requests,” the group Citizens Against Government Waste said in the “Pig Book.”
Of course, attempting to zero out funding for a center in the home state of a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee was never likely to succeed. That was true for years under the watchful eye of the late Democratic Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, and the center has continued past his death.
Schatz has defended its funding since then, and in a Saturday statement, he particularly seized on the presence of Texas Republican Ted Cruz at the Citizens Against Government Waste 2014 unveil event, along with live pigs and a costumed pig character.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post titled "East-West Center Collapsing?"

The East-West Center (EWC) was established in 1960 by the US Congress.  Here is a biography of EWC President Charles Morrison.  Here is a list of EWC's Board of Governors.  Here is its annual report from 2012 and one from 2013.

The think tank has a 21-acre campus in Honolulu, Hawaii as well as an office in Washington, DC.

EWC was recently rated as the 12th best government-affiliated think tank by the University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Think Tank Quickies (#121)

  • White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) Google/Netflix party held at US Institute of Peace (USIP).
  • CFR President Richard Haass: American foreign policy in "troubling disarray."
  • African think tanks take great strides in building their policy engagement capacity.
  • US envoy Martin Indyk headed back to think tank land?
  • US has best brains and best think tanks, yet often misjudges other countries.
  • Heritage Action rips House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).
  • Video: The future of think tank communications.
  • Student think tank tackles proliferation, energy, and weapons.
  • Think Tank Watch on CNAS, via CNAS.
  • Flashback: 2011 survey by Micah Zenko: Women make up less than 30% of senior positions at think tanks.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Most Think Tanks Flunk in Funding Transparency Says New Report

The nonprofit groups Transparify has released the first-of-its-kind report on think tank funding transparency, and not surprisingly, most think tanks have essentially failed.

Here is more from The New York Times:
According to a survey of the world’s most prominent research organizations, the institutions share an important trait: a relatively poor record of disclosing the sources of their financing.
The survey, conducted by a small nonprofit group called Transparify, has already caused major ripples in the think tank world, even before its official release.
Major research organizations around the world — including at least half a dozen in the United States like the Washington-based Stimson Center, which focuses on foreign policy, and the Center for Global Development, which combats poverty worldwide — have taken steps in recent months to avoid a poor ranking by disclosing more information about their funding sources on their websites.
Transparify is one of nearly three dozen nonprofit groups worldwide that have recently been stepping up pressure on research groups to be more transparent, with other major players including Who Funds You?, a Britain-based organization, and the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard.

The ratings reportedly will be updated at the end of the year and then annually.  A partial rankings list can be found here.

Update: The full think tank survey of 169 think tanks in 47 countries can be found here.

On a scale of 1-5, North American think tanks are the most transparent (2.5), then European think tanks (2.3), then African (1.8) and South American (1.8), and finally South Asia & Oceania think tanks (1.5).

There were only two "highly transparent" (i.e., five-star) think tanks in the US: Center for Global Development (CGD) and World Resources Institute (WRI).

"Transparent: (i.e., four-star) think tanks in the US include: Brookings, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), Heritage Foundation, RAND Corp., Urban Institute, and Wilson Center.

The least transparent (i.e., one-star) think tanks in the US include Center for American Progress (CAP), Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Hoover Institution, and Hudson Institute.

The Transparify report says that the number of transparent or highly transparent think tanks increased from 25 to 35 over the first four months of 2014 alone, an increase of 40 percent.  Transparify says that at least 28 think tanks in its sample are likely to become more transparent by the end of 2014.

And in case you were wondering, Transparify if funded by the Think Tank Fund of the Open Society Foundations (OSF), a grantmaking operation funded by George Soros.

Brookings Wants Deeper Impact on Climate & Energy Policy

This week the Brookings Institution announced a new blog called PlanetPolicy which aims to shape the debate on energy and climate change.

Brookings President Strobe Talbott wrote this week about how important climate change is to the think tank:
...contributing to the search for a transformative climate and energy policy is a Brookings priority. In the dozen years that I’ve been at Brookings, my colleagues and I have been on the case.  We have published dozens of books on the subject, including one that Bill Antholis and I wrote in 2010.  All five of our research programs have promoted climate and change and clean energy research—designing local energy innovation initiatives, shaping the design and economic assessment of national approaches, shaping the structure of global negotiations, and crafting diplomatic strategies for U.S.-China cooperation. We have worked closely with administrations and members of Congress from both parties, the media, and numerous NGOs to contribute our ideas directly into the public debate and the policy process.
Talbott wrote that the latest United Nations (UN) assessment on climate change raises the urgency of the threat, and said that Brookings wants to expand the scope and increase the impact of its climate-related work.

Talbott also said that Brookings has been beefing up its energy/climate team.  He cited the recent appointment of Qi Ye as Senior Fellow and Director of the Brookings Tsinghua Center, and said that Ye is one of China's leading authorities on environmental implementation.  He also pointed to the Brookings India Center led by Vikram Mehta, an expert on energy policy.  Brookings also announced a few weeks ago that Patricia Mulroy, one of the US's leading authorities on water resources, will join Brookings as a Senior Fellow in Metropolitan Studies.

Brookings, according to Talbott, wants to design smart policies that can reduce carbon emissions, without reducing energy security or American competitiveness.  To that end, Brookings has launched the new PlanetPolicy blog which will cover a range of questions and solutions for the climate and energy challenges facing the world.

The blog already has several posts, including one from William Antholis on climate change policy in India, and one from Joshua Meltzer and Claire Langley on the need for US leadership on climate change.  Other writings from Brookings about climate change can be found here.

Brookings was recently ranked as the top think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  Brookings was ranked as the 4th best think tank in the world in terms of environmental policy, after World Resources Institute (#1), Stockholm Environment Institute (#2), and Worldwatch Institute (#3).

It is also worth noting that Brookings is not the only think tank with a climate blog.  For example, the Center for American Progress (CAP) has its ClimateProgress blog.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on the first-ever ranking of climate think tanks.

Wealthy Liberal Donors Who Bankrolled CAP Eyeing New Strategy

The Democracy Alliance (DA), an invitation-only donor group founded in 2005 to help build powerful liberal think tanks and activist groups to counterbalance conservatives, is now focusing on state-level work.  The goal is to help give Democrats more influence in redrawing district lines for state legislatures and the US House.  Most notably, DA has helped fund the Center for American Progress (CAP), an influential liberal think tank.

Here is more from The Washington Post:
The focus on ground-level politics would mark a new emphasis for the Democracy Alliance, whose members have helped finance influential national liberal groups such as Media Matters for America, the media watchdog group; America Votes, which coordinates the efforts of allied interest groups; and Catalist, which provides voter data. The Center for American Progress, created during the George W. Bush years, has emerged as one of Washington’s powerhouse think tanks, serving as an intellectual engine for the liberal movement and the Obama White House.
The Democracy Alliance does not make contributions itself. Instead, donors who join the alliance, known as “partners,” are required to contribute at least $200,000 a year to groups it recommends. Among the partners are some of the country’s largest labor unions.  The system has pumped an estimated $500 million into an array of organizations on the left over the past nine years, according to the alliance.

Here is more about the members of Democracy Alliance.  In 2012, Huffington Post said that DA dropped a number of prominent organizations, but has kept funding groups such as Center for American Progress (CAP) - a think tank which has "retained its status with Democracy Alliance as a favored organization."

In 2005, organizers of Democracy Alliance said that the goal of the group would be to "foster the growth of liberal or left-leaning institutions equipped to take on prominent think tanks on the right, including the Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institution, American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and the Cato Institute."

Think Tank Watch is working to verify this, but it has been said that besides CAP, Democracy Alliance supports at least two other think tanks: Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBBP).

Monday, May 5, 2014

CFR's "Think Tanks on International Affairs" Links

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has a useful directory of research links related to think tanks and international affairs.  Here is a summary of what is listed:
Research Links on Think Tanks on International Affairs provides directories, analysis of the functions, impact, and transparency of think tanks, and tools to search for think tank publications and events.

The links are categorized by directories, events/publications, and analysis/transparency.

CFR also has a variety of other research links on a diverse set of topics, including:  development, terrorism, humanitarian relief organizations, climate change, cybersecurity policy, the Americas, the Iraq War, immigration, democracy and human rights, economics, debt/deficits, comparative education, Russia, Africa, Europe, defense/security, Middle East, the Artic, Asia, international trade/investment, and many others.

Think Tank Quickies (#120)

  • Think tanks harsher in their appraisal of President Obama is general?
  • How the Center for Global Development (CGD) leverages donor dollars.
  • Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom on think tanks: "We understand and value of your support and insight."
  • Elites at well-endowed think tanks support Common Core and charter schools?
  • Think tank debate in China heats up: Serve the government or be independent?
  • Reps from 59 think tanks met at 1st-ever North American Think Summit held in Washington, DC.
  • Free-Market Think Tanks in the Americas: Their Debt to the "Chicago Boys." 
  • Truman Project and CNP announce new Board of Advisors; present Muskie award to Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL).
  • Carter Center sends high-level delegation to Panama elections.
  • Atlantic Council's 2014 Distinguished Leadership Awards draws 900; honors Europe at annual awards dinner; VP Joe Biden speaks at ACUS event, and so does Secretary of State John Kerry.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Michele Flournoy Named CEO of CNAS; New Board Members Named

On May 1 the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) announced that Michele Flournoy will become the think tank's new CEO.

She replaces former CNAS CEO Robert Work, who was confirmed this week as the Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Flournoy, a co-founder of CNAS, served as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy from 2009-2012.

CNAS also announced the selection of four new members to the think tank's Board: David Hogen, Lewis Kaden, William Kennard, and David Schwimmer.

Kurt Campbell, the other co-founder of CNAS, remains Chairman of the Board of Directors at the think tank.

CNAS, which has extremely close ties to the Obama Administration, acts both as a talent pool for DoD and as a landing pad for former DoD officials.

In an interview with Foreign Policy (FP), Flournoy said that her short-term plans for the think tank are to have a "sizeable impact on the 2016 elections."  FP describes CNAS as a "clearinghouse for middle-of-the-road foreign policy views" and a "minor league team for the Obama Administration."  Flournoy said that the think tank hopes to help both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.

In the recently-released University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, CNAS was rated as the 14th best think tank in the United States.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Urban Institute Issues New Pimps & Prostitutes Study

Last month the Urban Institute (UI) released an intriguing report titled "Estimating the Size and Structure of the Underground Commercial Sex Economy in Eight Major US Cities."

So, how much does a pimp make?  According to the think tank study, pimps and traffickers take home between $5,000 and $32,833 per week.  So in one year, they would make between $260,000 and $1.7 million.  In other words, some would make more money than even the highest paid think tank heads.

Here is the abstract of the report:
The underground commercial sex economy (UCSE) generates millions of dollars annually, yet investigation and data collection remain under resourced. Our study aimed to unveil the scale of the UCSE in eight major US cities—Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, and Washington, DC. Across cities, the UCSE's worth was estimated between $39.9 and $290 million in 2007, but decreased since 2003 in all but two cities. Interviews with pimps, traffickers, sex workers, child pornographers, and law enforcement revealed the dynamics central to the underground commercial sex trade—and shaped the policy suggestions to combat it.

The full 339-page report, which was funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ; a research/development/evaluation agency of the US Department of Justice), can be read here.  And here is an easy-to-read summary of key findings.

The report got tons of media attention.  After all, sex sells.

Here is what Slate says about the sex-work study.  Here is what The New York Times says about the think tank study.  Here is what Bloomberg BusinessWeek says about the study.  Here is Gawker's take on the study.  Here is The Atlantic's take on the study.  Here is what The Washington Post says.

In related Urban Institute news, the think tank has a new study showing that declining marriage rates suggest a growing fraction of millennials will remain unmarried through age 40.  Vox summarizes key findings of that study in four charts.

The Urban Institute was recently ranked as the 24th best think tank in the United States in the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  Urban Institute was also ranked as the second best social policy think tank, only behind the Brookings Institution.

The Urban Institute was established in 1968 by the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration to study the US's urban problems.  Today, federal government contracts provide about 55% of the think tank's operating funds.  Here is a list of Urban Institute's funders.