News / USA

Research 'Think Tanks' Have Back-and-Forth Relationship with Government

There is a back-and-forth relationship in the U.S. capital between government and 'think tanks.'
There is a back-and-forth relationship in the U.S. capital between government and 'think tanks.'

Multimedia

Washington D.C.'s research organizations -- the so-called "think tanks -- provide opinions and research on public-policy issues for lawmakers and the U.S. government's Executive Branch.  But they also serve another function.  These "think tanks" commonly house officials from previous administrations who often return to government when their political party comes back in power.

It is the beginning of a new presidential administration.  A huge turnover of Executive Branch personnel is taking place. People who worked for the last president have cleaned out their desks and departed. And ... some of the new people coming into those offices are from research organizations -- so-called 'think tanks' -- in Washington.  

Indeed, there is a back-and-forth relationship in the U.S. capital between government and 'think tanks.'  Just as a new administration draws from the ranks of researchers, those organizations also take in those who carried out policy for the last president.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has seen both sides of that street.  After holding positions in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush in the 1980s and early 1990s, he went to the research organization American Enterprise Institute as a Senior Vice President. When George W. Bush took office in 2001, Bolton came back to government as Undersecretary of State, and then as an ambassador.  At the end of the Bush administration, he went back to AEI as a Senior Fellow.

Similarly, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is with another Washington research organization, the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  

Also at CSIS is former Ambassador to the U.N. and to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad.  Similar examples can be found in other Washington 'think tanks.'

Ambassador Bolton says this is a normal -- and logical -- aspect of the Washington policy process.

"For people like myself who have the luxury of coming back to a research institute, it is a way to 'recharge our batteries' intellectually," Bolton said. "It is a way to think about policy without having the day-to-day responsibility of making it, or recommending it, or discussing it in the governmental context.  And, I think [that] from the point of view of the overall effectiveness of the American government, that is a very, very important contribution that the 'think tanks' make."

At The Center for American Progress, Chief Operating Officer Neera Tanden says being out of power actually caused her research organization to be created.

"Under First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, I was one of her domestic policy advisors.  And, when she decided to run for the Senate [in 2000], I worked for her then," explained Tanden. "But then, when we came out of power [with the election of Republican George W. Bush], we recognized -- Hillary recognized, [former White House Chief of Staff] John Podesta recognized, [and now former] President Clinton recognized  there was no organization that worked across issues to try and move the debate over the long term in a more progressive direction. That is one of the reasons why I, along with John Podesta, started the Center for American Progress."

While many Washington research organizations have a number of people who served in previous presidential administrations, Jeffrey Hiday says the so-called "revolving door" is smaller, and slower, at the RAND Corporation.

"In the last change of [presidential] administration [Bush - Obama], we may have lost a half dozen researchers to the Obama administration.  We may have picked up a handful [of people] from the [George W.] Bush administration.  But, bear in mind, we have close to 900 researchers. We are a quite large organization," Hiday said.

Creating and carrying out policy is a core function of government. The policy process is complicated, requiring highly experienced people who know in detail what needs to be in place. And, because of that, research organizations -- 'think tanks' -- have been, and will be ... an important, even essential, part of that endeavor.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid