Governance Centers: Washington D.C.

"Making Washington Work" - A Joint Initiative between the Hills Program on Governance and the Committee for Economic Development


The Committee for Economic Development (CED), in conjunction with the CSIS-Hills Program on Governance, Transparency International, Common Cause, Democracy 21, and The Reform Institute has joined forces to understand why bipartisanship has all but disappeared from our national political life and why the political process in Washington, D.C. is failing. Toward this end, CED will hold public issue forums in Washington D.C. and across the country, and will publish issue-based newsletters, fact sheets, and surveys.

Overall the program has a dual purpose: first, to demand that our elected representatives irrespective of political affiliation demonstrate that they are at the very least attempting to solve the real problems that the United States faces; and secondly, to restore effective government by addressing seven critical issues: The Role of Lobbyists, Ethical Behavior, Legislative Procedural Maneuvers, Earmarks, Redistricting Abuse, How Money Is Raised and Spent, and Congressional Pay.

Why is this initiative important?

  • The political process in Washington D.C. has degenerated to the point where vital public issues are not solved.
  • Though the United States has attainted tremendous prosperity, the breakdown of its political process will severely impact socio-economic growth in its future.
  • The inability of our political system -- in the absence of a vigorous, bipartisan center -- to address crucial issues such as the rising accumulation of public debt, ballooning and crippling health-care costs, a looming Social Security shortfall, an education system that leaves too many of our children behind world standards, and serious energy and environmental problems.
  • With recent lobbying scandals at the fore, this project is also an attempt to require lobbying activities to be reported more rigorously and to be made more accessible and transparent to the American public. The most recent lobbying reform law, the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (as amended in 1998) limits gifts to Members of Congress, requires a one year cooling off period before a Member of Congress or senior congressional staff may lobby Congress after leaving public office, and includes some restrictions on privately sponsored travel for members and staff. Unfortunately, the Act's failure to meet its objectives is largely a result of inadequate enforcement of the Act.

The "Making Washington Work" program is directed by Dr. James A. Thurber, Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, and co-chaired by W. Bowman Cutter, Managing Director, Warburg Pincus LLC; Roderick M. Hills, Chairman, Hills, Stern & Morley LLP; and Edward A. Kangas, Retired Chairman and CEO, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

CED Report "Private Enterprise, Public Trust - The State of Corporate America After Sarbanes-Oxley"