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News & Announcements

  • Updates to Topics Codebook and Datasets
    04 / 09 / 14

    We have recently updated our website to include a revised 2014 Topics Codebook and subsequent updates to all datasets.  These revisions increase alignment with the Comparative Agendas Project (CAP) coding system.  Dataset updates include new columns for corresponding CAP codes where appropriate.  Archived versions and detailed summary information are available here

  • Jochim and Jones on the Polarization of Issues
    10 / 24 / 13

    Featured on the LSE American Politics and Policy Blog, Ashley Jochim and Bryan Jones describe their recent work on the political polarization of issues in Congress. The full post is available at http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/2013/10/24/congress-polarization-issues/.

  • Launch of Policy Moods App
    10 / 14 / 13

    Created in collaboration with UT’s Liberal Arts ITS, the Policy Moods Custom Series App allows users to generate custom series of policy mood on demand. Users can select any combination of survey questions found in the Policy Agendas Project’s Policy Moods dataset. For more information about the Policy Moods dataset (originally created by James Stimson, Frank Baumgartner, and Elizabeth Coggins) read the overview here, or email policyagendas@gmail.com with any questions.

  • Spring 2013 Data Updates
    04 / 30 / 13

    Following the summer 2012 release of two new datasets, Policy Moods and Encyclopedia of Associations, the Policy Agendas Project is now current to most available primary source material. Project datasets have been updated with observations from the following years:

    • Congressional Hearings (1946-2010)
    • Most Important Problem (1946-2012)
    • CQ Almanac (1948-2011)
    • Public Laws (1948-2011)
    • Executive Orders (1945-2012)
    • Supreme Court Cases (1944-2009)

    • The Project is currently developing a web application for researchers utilizing Policy Moods data through collaboration with Jim Stimson and Frank Baumgartner (UNC Chapel Hill).   The new tool will enable users to build custom data series from the full set of Policy Agendas categorized survey questions and is expected to be released later this spring.

      In addition, the Project’s Topics Codebook now includes an overview of coding guidelines and procedures.  Future updates to the Roll Call Votes, New York Times, and Budget datasets are expected this summer.
  • Bryan Jones Editorial on NSF Political Science Funding
    03 / 28 / 13

    In a recent editorial on the Huffington Post, Bryan Jones discusses the NSF funding of political science research.  Read the full-text of his post "The Attack on Fact-centered Political Science" here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bryan-d-jones/the-attack-on-a-fact_b_2935695.html

  • Policy Images and the Guns Debate on HuffPost and Monkey Cage
    12 / 22 / 12

    A recent article on the Huffington Post discusses the research of Jones and Baumgartner and the policy image of gun control in America (available here).  Jones follows up with a guest post on the Monkey Cage (available here).

  • Washington Post Mentions Punctuated Equilibrium
    11 / 13 / 12

    In a Washington Post blog, Ezra Klein discusses the period of recent changes in American politics and mentions punctuated equilibrium theory. Read the full article here.

    An excerpt from the article:

    "Political scientists Frank Baumgartner and Bryan Jones have argued that' punctuated equilibrium' describes the path of political systems, too. Typically, politics is held in stasis, with little progress being made in the slow boring of those hard boards. But when change does come, it’s not a steady process of incremental advances but a breathless flurry in which the boards give all at once."

  • USA Today Article on Political Punctuations
    10 / 09 / 12

    Update: Further coverage by Hank Campbell from Science 2.0 and by Keith Kloor is available here and here.

    An article in the USA Today (July 2011) mentions punctuated equilibrium theory in political science.  Read "Paleontogy Points to Political Punctuations" by Dan Verganohere.

  • Release of New Datasets and Updates
    08 / 29 / 12

    The Policy Agendas Project, directed by Bryan D. Jones at the University of Texas, announces the release of two new datasets: Policy Moods and Encyclopedia of Associations.

    The Policy Moods dataset, compiled by James A. Stimson and K. Elizabeth Coggins, applies the well-known 'Mood' measure to the Policy Agendas subtopic codes. Using nearly 400 survey questions across 60 years and 8,000 administrations, the Policy Moods dataset includes dozens of high quality policy-specific mood measures. The data will interest those studying the dynamics of public opinion as they relate to public policy inputs and outcomes.

    The Encyclopedia of Associations dataset, compiled by Frank R. Baumgartner, John D. McCarthy, and Shaun Bevan, classifies thousands of U.S. associations across Policy Agendas major topic codes. These data will interest those studying interest group population dynamics as they relate to government, media, and public agendas. Complete data are available in 5-year intervals from 1970-2005 as well as estimated annual counts for the full period. A complete description of coverage and important details concerning the lag between reported copyright years and the information they represent is included in the corresponding data codebook.

    These new datasets supplement recent improvements to the Policy Agendas website’s Trends Analysis Tool. The tool now features the Roll Calls dataset and data from John Wilkerson and E. Scott Adler’s Congressional Bills Project. The Roll Calls, Bills, and Hearings data can now be compared across congressional chambers. 

    Other project datasets have been updated with observations from the following years:

    Congressional Hearings (2008)
    CQ Almanac (2008-2010)
    Public Laws (2008-2010)
    Executive Orders (2004-July 2012)
    State of the Union (2006-2012)
    Supreme Court Cases (2006-2009)
    New York Times (2006-2009)

    Further updates to the Congressional Hearings, Roll Calls, and the Most Important Problem datasets are planned for a fall 2012 release. Click here to join the mailing list for data notifications.

    Email Trey Thomas, Project Manager, at policyagendas@gmail.com with any questions.

  • Punctuated Equilibrium Mentioned in The Atlantic
    08 / 08 / 12

    A recent article in The Atlantic mentions Bryan Jones and Frank Baumgartner's work on Punctuated Equilibrium Theory. Read the article here.

  • Punctuated Equilibrium Mentioned in Advertising Age
    05 / 02 / 12

    A recent article in Advertising Age mentions Graeme Boushey's work on punctuated equilibrium and policy diffusion.  Read the article here.

  • PSJ Special Issue on Punctuated Equilibrium
    01 / 25 / 12

    The Policy Studies Journal has released a special issue on Punctuated Equilibrium, available here online and in print soon.

    The introductory article in the issue, written by Bryan D. Jones and Frank R. Baumgartner, provides an overview of the approach, discusses major developments, and puts the articles that follow in context.  It is available here.

  • Report by Sen. Coburn Uses Policy Agendas Data
    12 / 21 / 11

    A recent report by Senator Tom Coburn uses Policy Agendas Data to defend funding for the GAO.  Read the Dept. of Government press release about the report below or here.

    Policy Agendas Project Mined in Senate Report

    Tom Coburn (R-OK) uses Policy Agendas Project data to defend GAO budget


    Posted: December 6, 2011

    Tom Coburn, a Republican Senator from Oklahoma and member of the Senate Finance Committee, has issued a major investigative report utilizing data drawn from the Policy Agendas Project, which is housed in The University of Texas at Austin Department of Government.

    The report, “Shooting the Messenger: Congress Targets the Taxpayers’ Watchdog,” concludes that the federal budget continues rising while the number of congressional hearings declines, meaning Congress is neglecting its oversight responsibility and the budget of the Government Accountability Office should therefore be protected from cuts.

    Bryan Jones, the Government Department’s J. J. "Jake" Pickle Regents Chair in Congressional Studies and co-founder of the Policy Agendas Project says, “Senator Coburn has issued an important report. Relying in part on data from the Policy Agendas Project, the report documents the decline of Congress’s ability to oversee government programs, even as government has grown substantially. We are pleased that Senator Coburn used the Project to aid in making that case.”

    Coburn’s report cites and graphs Policy Agendas Project data showing that in 1979-80 there were nearly 4,000 congressional hearings, but today the number of hearings is often closer to 2,500 and has been in steady decline. The report then cites and graphs the Project’s federal budget data to show that the drop in hearing activity runs in contrast to the steadily increasing federal budget and rising need for oversight.

    Frank Baumgartner, political science professor at the University of North Carolina and co-founder of the Policy Agendas Projects says, “When we started the Project one of our ideas was that it should be useful to many audiences, ranging from undergraduate students seeking a way to get their hands dirty with some original research about the history of U.S. government activities in a field of interest, to the broader scholarly community, and beyond. Because the project provides a basic research infrastructure, we do not know how it might be used. But seeing it being used by the very people (those in Congress) about whom it reports certainly suggests that they see the value of it, and that is indeed gratifying.”

    Following its release, the report and the Policy Agendas Project were cited in numerous media outlets, including“Roll Call” and “Huffington Post.”

    The report can be accessed through Senator Coburn’s website.

  • Policy Agendas Mentioned on the Monkey Cage
    12 / 21 / 11

    In a post on the Monkey Cage, Professor John Sides discusses the use of Policy Agendas Project data in Senator Tom Coburn's recent report defending funding for the GAO.

    Read the post here.

    Bryan Jones comments "Whatever one thinks of Senator Coburn’s tough stance on the funding of NSF research (and you can imagine what I think), the report he put out using our data, which focused on workloads in Congress and was highly supportive of systematic policy analysis by GAO, should be applauded by all of us."

  • APSA 2011 - Short Course on US and Comparative Agendas Projects
    06 / 17 / 11

    The Policy Agendas Project will be offering a short course on the US and comparative agendas projects at the 2011 APSA meeting.  Visit here for an overview and registration information.

  • Tutorial on Computational Social Science
    05 / 25 / 11

    Péter Érdi (Henry R. Luce Professor at the Center for Complex Systems Studies at Kalamzoo College), will be hosting a tutorial on computational social science on July 31, 2011.  It is being held at the 2011 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks in San Jose, CA.  More information is available here.

  • Special Issue of Comparative Political Studies
    02 / 24 / 11

    A special issue of Comparative Political Studies featuring works from the Comparative Agendas Projects (www.comparativeagendas.org) is forthcoming in August 2011.  Editors Frank R. Baumgartner, Sylvain Brouard, Chistoffer Green-Pedersen, Bryan D. Jones, and Stefaan Walgrave, present comparative analyses of policy change dynamics from Spain, the Netherlands, the U.K., Belgium, Denmark, France, and the U.S.

    For more information visit: http://www.unc.edu/~fbaum/books/cps/cps-home.htm

  • Chronicle of Higher Education Mention
    01 / 10 / 11

    The Policy Agendas Project was recently mentioned on The Chronicle of Higher Education's Wired Campus blog.  View the full posting here.

    "Web Site Seeks to Show What Drives National Policy Debates"

    An interactive online database is making it easier to map the rise and fall of policy debates on Capitol Hill, and it is beginning to be used as a teaching tool in college.

    The Policy Agendas Project—which got an updated user interface in September—lets users track a wide range of national political issues with detailed data on congressional hearings and voting records, press coverage, and public opinion data. Visitors to the free database can download full data sets or use Web-based software to instantly generate trend graphs. According to Bryan Jones, a professor of political science at the University of Texas at Austin and a founder of the project, it attempts to answer one central question: “Why is it that Congress focuses on some policies rather than others?”

    Researchers are beginning to answer that question by looking at the apparent link between public-opinion polls and what’s actually happening on the Hill, for instance. According to Mr. Jones, the number of congressional hearings and bills being passed in Washington tends to correspond closely with what constituents are talking about back home.

    For instance, Mr. Jones found that public interest in education peaked in the late-1990s, just before passage of the vast No Child Left Behind education bill. Increased public awareness of education issues, he said, may have created “a window of opportunity” for major Congressional action on the issue. ..."

  • Policy Agendas Project Featured on UT News Page
    12 / 15 / 10

    Read the full article here.

    "AUSTIN, Texas — As a new Congress prepares to take office, a powerful online tool from University of Texas at Austin political scientists can help answer questions about lawmakers' shifting focus over time, differences between Republican and Democratic priorities and whether wave elections correlate with policy changes in Washington. The Policy Agendas Project database allows journalists, scholars and interest groups to easily track and compare the issues that presidents and members of Congress have taken up since 1947 and to assess how those actions reflected the mood of the country.

    The interface lets users sift through dozens of issues and sub-issues — health care, the environment, taxes — to look at the topics leaders dealt with in congressional hearings, new laws, executive orders and State of the Union addresses, as well as public opinion about problems facing the nation. ..."

  • Policy Agendas Project in College of Liberal Arts Magazine - Gov. Department 100th Anniversary Coverage
    12 / 15 / 10

    Read the full version of the print article here

    "Public policy has traditionally been a centerpiece of political science at The University of Texas at Austin. Emmette Redford was an early leader in the field. He sharpened his expertise through real public service in the 1940s, most notably his four years at the federal Office of Price Administration during World War II.

    Today, public policy is receiving a new push from Professor Bryan Jones, who received his Ph.D. from the Department of Government in 1970 and returned in 2008 to become the first occupant of the J.J. “Jake” Pickle Chair in Congressional Studies, named for the former Austin Congressman.

    Public policy studies focus on the patterns of actions (and inactions) taken by governments, as well as the impacts, costs and benefits of policy initiatives.

    “The quality of policies we get varies wildly, and policymakers often focus on issues that seem, at least to us, to be of little importance. We study public policy to understand why,” says Jones. ..."

  • Data Updates for Congressional Hearings and Budget
    11 / 01 / 10

    Updates to the Congressional Hearings and Budget datasets are now available for download and trends analysis on the Policy Agendas website.

    The Congressional hearings on the website are up to date through Fiscal Year 2008. Note that hearings for the most recent calendar year are incomplete due to a lag in our primary data source, the bound volumes of Congressional Information Services' (CIS) Abstracts. For more information, please reference the codebook for the hearings dataset.

    The U.S. Budget Authority dataset is up to date through FY 2009.

  • Version One Released
    07 / 06 / 10

    The first version of the new Policy Agendas Project website, made possible by the National Science Foundation and in collaboration with the College of Liberal Arts ITS, is now live for public use.  This new site is the product of a complete redevelopment of our online data structures, analysis tools, and content.  While some  features are still under development and the site content is currently being updated, we look forward to hearing comments about usability, organization and content.  Contact us at ampol@gov.utexas.edu.