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Political Science: Public Policy & Interest Groups

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Public policy & interest group sources are listed under the following categories:

  • General sources on public policy. 
  • Federal government agencies involved in policy analysis.  
  • State government agencies involved in policy analysis.  
  • Political parties sources. 
  • Links to select think tanks & interest groups

Public Policy & Interest Groups

General Sources on Public Policy

Online sources that cover public policy

Federal Government Agencies Involved in Policy Analysis

Congressional Research Service. (CRS)
- CRS works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation. CRS reports are widely regarded as authoritative, confidential, objective and nonpartisan. 
- CRS does not print or distribute the reports to libraries, but thousands of CRS reports are freely available on the Internet via:


Office of Management and Budget. (OMB) 
- The OMB assists the President in the preparation and administration of the federal budget, and oversees and coordinates the Administration's procurement, financial management, information and regulatory policies. See its annual Budget of the United States Government

U.S. General Accountability Office. (GAO) 
- The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress and aims to help improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people.

Additional federal sources involved in public policy can be found under the "American Government & Politics" tab of this guide, under its "Executive Departments & Agencies" links.

Sources on State (California) government agencies involved in public policy analysis:


National Political Parties:

Democratic Party.
Republican Party.

State (California) Political Parties:

California Democratic Party.
California Republican Party.

Local (Santa Barbara) Political Parties:

Santa Barbara County Democratic Party.
Santa Barbara County Republican Party.


Select List of Think Tank and Interest Groups:

American Enterprise Institute
- A conservative think tank dedicated to "defending human dignity, expanding human potential, and building a freer and safer world." Look for the 'Policy Areas' tab on AEI's home page.

Amnesty International
- A worldwide global movement dedicated to ending grave abuses of human rights. 

Annenberg Public Policy Center.
- Focuses on the role of communication in politics, adolescent behavior, child development, health care, civics and mental health, among other important arenas, and helps policy-makers, journalists, scholars, and others better understand the role that media play in their lives and the life of the nation. 

Broaden. (Formerly known as the World Policy Institute) 
- A non-partisan source of global policy analysis and thought the aims to identify critical emerging global issues in an interdependent world, addressing such concerns as migration, climate change, technology, economic development, human rights, and counter-terrorism.

Brookings Institution
- An independent research and policy institute with a left-liberal inclination, which seeks to improve the performance of American institutions, the effectiveness of government programs, and the quality of U.S. public policies.

The Business Roundtable
- An association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies "working to promote a thriving U.S. economy and expanded opportunity for all Americans through sound public policy." 

The Carter Center.
- A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, that seeks to promote human rights and the alleviation of human suffering through work aimed at preventing and resolving conflicts, enhancing freedom and democracy, and improving health.

The Cato Institute.
- A non-profit, libertarian public policy research foundation that promotes public policies based on the principles of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and peace.

Center for Strategic and International Studies. (CSIS) 
- CSIS is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization and network of affiliated scholars that conducts research and analysis and develops policy initiatives focused on defense and security, regional stability, and transnational challenges ranging from energy and climate to global development and economic integration.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
- A policy organization that works at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs affecting low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

Common Cause
- A nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest and accountable government that serves the public interest, and empowering ordinary people to make their voices heard in the political process. 

Council of State Governments.
- A region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy, to collaborate and to create problem-solving partnerships.

Council on Foreign Relations.
- An independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank and publisher dedicated to being a resource for better understanding the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. 

Economic Policy Institute
- A nonpartisan think tank that seeks to broaden the public debate about strategies to achieve a prosperous and fair economy.

Global Policy Forum
- An independent policy watchdog that monitors the work of the United Nations and scrutinizes global policy making. It promotes accountability and citizen participation in decisions on peace and security, social justice and international law.

Heritage Foundation
- A policy research organization that aims to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values and a strong national defense.

Hudson Institute
- A conservative policy research organization dedicated to innovative research and analysis that promotes global security, prosperity, and freedom. 

Human Rights Watch
- An independent organization dedicated to protecting human rights by focusing international attention where human rights are violated, giving voice to the oppressed and holding oppressors accountable for their crimes.

International Institute for Strategic Studies. (IISS) 
- IISS is a non-partisan organization (independent of government and other bodies) that is a world-leading authority on global security, political risk and military conflict which seeks "to promote the adoption of sound policies to further global peace and security and maintain civilised international relations."

Institute for Policy Studies
- A progressive policy and research think tank which focuses on social justice issues, linking peace, justice, and the environment in the U.S. and globally, promoting true democracy and challenging concentrated wealth, corporate influence, and military power.

NARAL Pro-Choice America.
- Works for reproductive freedom for every person in every state by supporting policies that ensure access to abortion care, birth control, paid parental leave and protections from pregnancy discrimination.

National Governors Association
- The bipartisan organization of the nation's governors which seeks to identify priority issues and deal collectively with matters of public policy and governance at the state and national levels, to promote visionary state leadership, to share best practices and to speak with a collective voice on national policy. 

National Right to Life Committee.
- Founded in 1968, the National Right to Life committee is a pro-life organization that works "to restore legal protection to the most defenseless members of our society who are threatened by abortion, infanticide, assisted suicide and euthanasia."

National Urban League
- The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment in order to elevate the standard of living in historically under served urban communities. 

Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
- An independent, not-for-profit public policy research institute that focuses on key science, technology, and national security issues in order to develop meaningful policy options and to ensure their implementation at the intersection of business and government.

Progressive Policy Institute
- The Progressive Policy Institute is an independent think tank that seeks to advance progressive, market-friendly ideas that promote American innovation, economic growth and wider opportunity.

Public Agenda
- A nonpartisan and nonprofit public opinion research and public engagement organization that works to strengthen our democracy's capacity to tackle tough public policy issues, including K-12 and higher education, energy issues and climate change, the federal budget deficit and national debt, and foreign policy.

Public Policy Institute of California
- A nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research. 

RAND Corporation
- A nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision making through research and analysis, RAND focuses on health, education, national security, international affairs, law and business, the environment, and more.

Southern Poverty Law Center
- A nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.

Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy
- The Udall Center sponsors policy-relevant, interdisciplinary research and forums that link scholarship and education with decision making, especially with regard to environmental policy, immigration policy of the United States and Indigenous nations policy.

The United States Conference of Mayors.  
- As the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more, the USCM seeks to promote the development of effective national urban/suburban policy; strengthen federal-city relationships; ensure that federal policy meets urban needs; provide mayors with leadership and management tools; and create a forum in which mayors can share ideas and information.

The Urban Institute
- The Urban Institute gathers data, conducts research, evaluates programs, offers technical assistance overseas, and educates Americans on social and economic issues — to foster sound public policy and effective government.

Check out the most excellent Think Tanks page on Michigan State University Library's research guide for Political Science/Public Policy Resources for an extensive list of organizations that focus on public policy issues.

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