Friday, February 23, 2018

Think Tank Workers at CBPP to Join a Union?

Here is more from Bloomberg Law:

Staffers at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities are looking to join the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union, a burgeoning group with almost a dozen nonprofits under its umbrella.
CBPP management and the union are finalizing talks on card check recognition at the nonpartisan research institute in hopes of achieving voluntary recognition, Alan Barber, the president of the NPEU, told Bloomberg Law.
The unit would be the 12th group to join the NPEU if the campaign is successful and the third to join in two years. This progress at the CBPP is indicative of a wider trend of organizing in the nonprofit and professional sector, Barber said, even as unionization rates in other sectors decline.
Overall the U.S. unionization rate remained at a record low 10.7 percent in 2017, but union membership in the traditionally nonunion professional and technical sectors grew by nearly 90,000 members, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Nonprofit organizing isn’t a new phenomenon, Cornell University’s Kate Bronfenbrenner said. Bronfenbrenner is the director of Labor Education Research there. Social workers, nonprofit hospitals, and public universities have been a focus of union organizing going back to the 1970s and 1980s, but it appears that think tanks like the CBPP are the new focus.
The nature of these nonprofits, where head researchers serve as supervisors, might result in small gains for unions. But supervisors can’t organize and “an awful lot of people are managers,” Bronfenbrenner said.
The NPEU has also organized the Center for American Progress and the Economic Policy Institute.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch piece about the Center for American Progress (CAP) being unionized.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Think Tank Quickies (#300)

  • Higher standards?  UT Austin rejects Chinese money that many think tanks are taking.
  • What is a post-doctoral fellowship with Brookings like?
  • Naomi Creason in The Sentinel: Think Tanks - Transparency Can Help Build Trust; experts debate influence of think tanks..
  • Sputnik: Think tanks, not Russian media, are the enemy within.
  • Harmeet Dhillon, lawyer for engineer suing Google over controversial memo, used to work at the Heritage Foundation.
  • New think tank at Duke focused on "sexism, homophobia, gender bias, and violence."
  • Top 10 most popular Brookings content pieces in 2017.
  • Profiles of Brooking's leaders since 1927.
  • Brookings Press names Bill Finan as new director.
  • Brooking's gets new rooftop solar energy system.
  • Camille Busette becomes new director of of the Race, Place, and Economic Mobility Initiative at Brookings.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Charles Koch Institute VP on the Dangers of Think Tank Groupthink

William Ruger, Vice President of Research and Policy at the Charles Koch Institute, has a new piece entitled "Groupthink, Not the Deep State, Is the Real Culprit."  Following is an excerpt:

And yet “deep state” language has been adopted by legitimate commentators in America, trying to analyze our politics today. While usages vary, the basic idea behind these deep-state arguments is that well-placed elements inside the permanent national-security bureaucracy, and those tightly connected to them in industry and think tanks, have been able to dominate—or even control—U.S. foreign policy. They allegedly do so through various mechanisms, including inside and outside pressure; control of vast resources and capabilities; leveraging information asymmetries to their advantage; engaging in threat inflation and selective leaking; and replicating, reinforcing and policing the ideas and culture within key institutions to produce a “groupthink” mentality.

Last year, the Charles Koch Institute teamed up with the Brookings Institution to launch a new foreign policy debate series with Politico.

The Institute also funds various think tanks, including the Fraser Institute, and partners with think tanks such as the Cato Institute.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Libertarian Think Tank Hires Lobbyist

Here is more from Politico:

The Niskanen Center, a libertarian think tank, has hired Green Capitol to lobby on changes to the Natural Gas Act, according to a recent lobbying disclosure. In an interview with PI, David Bookbinder, the think tank’s chief counsel, said Green Capitol was hired to push for “a series of modest procedural amendments” to the law’s provisions that affect interstate pipelines in order to “enhance the protections of property owners.” The Niskanen Center, he said, is pushing for changes that would prohibit pipeline companies from exercising eminent domain until they meet all conditions contained in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s certificate to build. “This should be nonpartisan and should not be highly controversial,” he said. In addition, Green Capitol will lobby for a change to the law that would increase FERC’s oversight of the process under which pipeline companies provide landowners notice of their proposal to build a pipeline. “We’ve run into situations where the pipeline companies have [given] less than perfectly accurate information to the landowners because they have no interest in the landowners doing anything but signing over their rights,” Bookbinder said.

Here is more about Niskanen Center, which was launched in 2015.  Think Tank Watch should also note that the think tank has a 501(c)(4) sister lobbying arm - the Niskanen Center for Public Policy.

Donors to Niskanen Center include the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Open Philanthropy Project, the Democracy Fund, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Alex C. Walter Foundation.

Another note: this is it is not the first time that a think tank has used a lobbyist.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Qatar Getting Red-Carpet Treatment at Powerful Think Tanks

Here is more from the New York Times:

With a mix of lobbying, potential investment and pledged support for the United States military, Qatar's charm offensive with the Trump Administration appears to have paid off.
Last week, top Qatari officials were feted at a lavish reception and august think tank in Washington...Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar's foreign minister, was given a respectful audience at the American Enterprise Institute, one of Washington's most prestigious conservative think tanks.

Here is a link to the February 1, 2018 AEI event that the newspaper referenced.

Here is a 2012 Think Tank Watch piece about Qatar's influence at US think tanks.

In 2014, a member of Congress even targeted the Brookings Institution, which has a branch in Doha, Qatar, for its funding of the country.

In 2017, a watchdog group put together "Your Western Think Tank Funding Cheatsheet for the Qatar-GCC Conflict."

Monday, February 12, 2018

Think Tank Quickies (#299)

  • DC think tank launches tool exploring West Bank land swap scenarios.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): Trickle-down economics a fraudulent theory cooked up by think tanks funded by the wealthy.
  • Think tank worked to control Arizona school voucher program behind scenes, emails show.
  • Rosa Balfour: What are think tanks for?  Policy research in the age of anti-expertise.
  • New CSIS series: Bad Ideas in National Security.
  • Brexit think tank removes "institute" from its name.
  • CSIS head John Hamre weighs in on North Korea. 
  • Turning the National Cybersecurity Center into a think tank.
  • Pic: Comms team at Brookings celebrating the holidays.
  • Pic: Think tanker Alejandro Chafuen cleaning out 32 years of files.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Sex Scandal Rocks Cato Institute

Here is more from Politico:

Three former employees of the famed Cato Institute say they were sexually harassed by Ed Crane, the 73-year-old co-founder and president emeritus of the think tank and one of the most recognizable figures in the libertarian movement.
One former employee said Crane asked her to take off her bra. Another said he compared her breasts to pornographic images on his computer. A third said he sent her an email on breast augmentation. Crane also settled an additional sexual harassment claim by a former employee in 2012, her lawyer confirmed to POLITICO.
Crane retains the title of president emeritus at Cato and was paid more than $400,000 annually from the powerful think tank in the years after he left, but a Cato spokesperson said his consulting contract has ended and he is no longer employed by the think tank.
Former employees say Cato’s libertarian ideals extended to the workplace. A 1999 book on sexual harassment published as a “Cato Institute book” encouraged women to find avenues for dealing with sexual harassment that didn’t involve reporting incidents to management or using the legal system.
Under Crane, Cato “liked to hire beautiful young people,” Jones added. “Everybody was above-average ... I was flattered to be picked.” Jones emphasized she never experienced any inappropriate behavior while working at Cato and had a positive experience there.
Whenever a new crop of interns arrived, which happened three times a year, Cato would distribute headshots and short bios of the interns to staff. The handout was colloquially known by some men around the office as “The Menu,” according to two former Cato employees.

Here is Think Tank Watch's piece from December about a wave of sexual misconduct allegations hitting think tank land.

Here is an old Think Tank Watch piece about the head of a Chinese think tank being removed from his post due to a sex scandal. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Brookings Snags Yellen, Becomes Mini-Federal Reserve

Brookings can now be called the Federal Reserve Bank of Think Tank Row.

The think tank has announced that Janet Yellen, who just stepped down as Chair of the Federal Reserve, has become a Distinguished Fellow in Residence with the Economic Studies program.

Here is what David Wessel, Director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at Brookings, had to say:
Although many hoped that she’d get a second term as Fed chair, we at Brookings are very pleased to have her join our team. She will be sitting down the hall from other scholars in Brookings’s Economic Studies program, including her predecessor at the Fed, Ben Bernanke; former Fed vice-chair Don Kohn, and Nellie Liang, former director of the Fed’s division of financial stability.

Here is more about Brookings's deep connections to the Federal Reserve:
Yellen’s appointment continues Brookings’s long history of collaboration with economists and policymakers who served in the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Most recently, Nellie Liang, former director of the Office of Financial Stability Policy and Research at the Federal Reserve, joined Economic Studies as the Miriam K. Carliner Senior Fellow in Economic Studies in February 2017. Alice Rivlin and Donald Kohn, both of whom served as Vice Chairs of the Federal Reserve, are Senior Fellows in the Economic Studies Program. Kohn is also the Robert V. Roosa Chair in International Economics. Alan Blinder, former Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, is a Nonresident Senior Fellow in Economic Studies.
Past Brookings Board of Trustee members Frederic Delano and Paul Warburg were original members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in 1914. Longtime Fed Chair William McChesney Martin, Jr. was a member of the Brookings Board of Trustees from 1970-1997. Edward Gramlich and Nancy Teeters, both Federal Reserve Governors, were Senior Fellows in the Economic Studies. Lael Brainard, also a Federal Reserve Governor, was a Brookings Vice President.
In 2014, after Brookings snagged Ben Bernanke, Think Tank Watch noted how Brookings had become the new "Shadow Fed."  Brookings is now both the mini-CIA and mini-Fed.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

2018 Think Tank Rankings - Cheat Sheet

The University of Pennsylvania has just released its annual think tank rankings today - the 11th version of its extensive rankings of the world's think tanks.

As always, it is no surprise that the Brookings Institution remains the world's #1 think tank, particularly since they were the ones who recently published a book by the UPenn professor who runs the rankings (more on that here).

Top Think Tank Worldwide (US & Non-US):

  1. Brookings Institution
  2. French Institute of International Relations (IFRI)
  3. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  4. Bruegel
  5. Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
  6. Chatham House
  7. Fundacao Getulio Vargas
  8. Heritage Foundation
  9. RAND Corporation
  10. International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)
Top Think Tanks in the US:
  1. Brookings Institution
  2. CSIS
  3. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  4. Heritage
  5. Wilson Center
  6. RAND Corp.
  7. Center for American Progress (CAP)
  8. Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)
  9. Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE)
  10. Cato Institute

Top Think Tanks in Mexico and Canada:
  1. Fraser Institute
  2. Fundar, Centro de Analisis e Investigacion
  3. Institute for Research on Public Policy
  4. Mexico Evalua Centro de Analisis de Politicas Publicas
  5. Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)

Top Think Tanks in Central and South America:
  1. Fundacao Getulia Vargas
  2. Fedesarrollo
  3. Centro Brasileiro de Relacoes Internacionais (CEBRI)
  4. Consejo Argentino para las Relaciones Internacionales (CARI)
  5. Centro de Implementacion de Politicas Publicas para la Equidad y el Crecimiento (CIPPEC)

Top Think Tanks in Sub-Saharan Africa:
  1. Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) 
  2. African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)
  3. IMANI Center for Policy and Education
  4. Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA)
  5. Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA)

Top Think Tanks in Central Asia:
  1. Center for Economic and Social Development (CESD)
  2. Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies
  3. Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD)
  4. Caucuses Research Resource Center (CRRC)
  5. Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU)

Top Think Tanks in China, Japan, India, and South Korea:
  1. Korea Development Institute (KDI)
  2. Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA)
  3. Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  4. China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR)
  5. Observer Research Foundation (ORF)

Top Think Tanks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific:
  1. Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies (IDSS)
  2. Australian Institute for International Affairs (AIIA)
  3. Centre for Strategic Studies (CSS)
  4. Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS)
  5. Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

Top Think Tanks in Central and Eastern Europe:
  1. Center for Social and Economic Research (CASE)
  2. Carnegie Moscow Center
  3. Institute of World Economy and International Relations
  4. Razumkov Centre
  5. EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy

Top Think Tanks in Western Europe:
  1. French Institute of International Relations (IFRI)
  2. Bruegel
  3. Chatham House
  4. Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS)
  5. Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS)

Top Think Tanks in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA):
  1. Center for Strategic Studies (CSS)
  2. Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  3. Carnegie Middle East Center
  4. Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS)
  5. Al Jazeera Cenre for Studies (AJCS)

Top Defense and National Security Think Tanks:
  1. Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
  2. International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)
  3. RAND Corporation
  4. Brookings Institution
  5. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks:
  1. Brookings
  2. Adam Smith Institute (ASI)
  3. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
  4. PIIE
  5. Heritage Foundation

Top Education Policy Think Tanks:
  1. National Institute for Education Policy Research
  2. Urban Institute
  3. Brookings
  4. RAND Corp.
  5. Center for Education Policy, SRI International

Top Energy and Resource Policy Think Tanks:
  1. James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
  2. Institute of Energy Economics
  3. Oxford Institute for Energy Studies
  4. Korea Energy Economics Institute
  5. Center for Science of Environment, Resources and Energy

Top Environment Policy Think Tanks:
  1. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  2. Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
  3. World Resources Institute
  4. Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)
  5. E3G - Third Generation Environmentalism

Top Foreign Policy and International Affairs Think Tanks:
  1. Brookings
  2. French Institute of International Relations
  3. Chatham House
  4. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  5. CSIS

Top Domestic Health Policy Think Tanks:
  1. Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research
  2. Bloomberg School of Public Health Research Centers
  3. Health and Global Policy Institute
  4. RAND Corp.
  5. Philips Center for Health and Well-Being

Top Global Health Policy Think Tanks:
  1. Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research
  2. Bloomberg School of Public Health Research Centers
  3. CSIS
  4. Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI)
  5. Chatham House, Centre on Global Health Security

Top International Economics Think Tanks:
  1. PIIE
  2. Bruegel
  3. Brookings
  4. Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies
  5. Korea Institute for Economic Policy

Top Science and Technology Think Tanks:
  1. Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)
  2. Max Planck Institutes
  3. Science Policy Research Unit
  4. Institute for Future Engineering; FKA Institute for Future Technology
  5. RAND Corp.

Top Social Policy Think Tanks:
  1. Urban Institute
  2. Center for Social and Economic Research (CASE)
  3. Brookings
  4. Fraser Institute
  5. Fundacao Getulio Vargas

Best For-Profit Think Tanks:
  1. McKinsey Global Institute
  2. Economist Intelligence United
  3. Boston Consulting Group
  4. A.T. Kearney Global Business Policy Center
  5. Nomura Research Institute

Best Government-Affiliated Think Tanks:
  1. Development Research Group, World Bank
  2. Asian Development Bank Institute
  3. Congressional Research Service (CRS)
  4. World Bank Institute (WBI)
  5. German Development Institute (DIE)

Here is a look at the cheat sheet for the 2017 rankings and here is the 2016 cheat sheet, compiled by Think Tank Watch.

Remember, you may want to be careful about reading too much into these rankings, which have numerous flaws and biases. 

According to the report, the world now has a whopping 7,815 think tanks, with 1,872 of those in the United States and 512 in China.

More coming soon...