Volcker Alliance




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $1,873,102
Expenses: $5,469,202
Assets: $15,906,739




Paul A. Volcker


Thomas W. Ross

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The Volcker Alliance was established in 2013 by former Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul Volcker to expand and empower government by attracting a larger and more skilled civil service workforce. 1 The Volcker Alliance advocates for increased government spending on public employees, increased federal engagement in state government budgets and expansion of civil service rules that make it harder to eliminate government employees. 2

It also supports expansions of regulatory state power over the financial industry such as the Dodd-Frank Act and other financial services rules, and supported Obamacare as an opportunity to improve healthcare by increasing the government’s role in it. 3 4

The Volcker Alliance is heavily funded by Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world. 5

History and Leadership

Paul A. Volcker was the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board from 1979 to 1987. 6 In 2013, he founded the Volcker Alliance to promote “effective management of government to achieve results that matter to citizens” by making government programs run more effectively. 7 Volcker died in December 2019.

The current president of the Volcker Alliance is Thomas W. Ross, a former state judge and university president who was ousted as president of the University of North Carolina by UNC’s then-Republican-controlled Board of Governors. 8

Ross was the former executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, which under his leadership completed its transformation from supporting charitable works in North Carolina to funding progressive social and political causes in the state. 9 Ross was also a leader in the Democratic Party-backed initiative in North Carolina against the Republican-led legislature’s drawing of Congressional districts. 10

Research and Policy Priorities

Tracking and Expanding the Size of Government

In a 2017 paper entitled, “The True Size of Government” Volcker Alliance senior fellow Paul C. Light enumerated the combination of federal employees, contractors, grant-funded workers, active-duty military, and U.S. Postal Service employees that he contends make up the true “blended workforce” of the federal government. 11 The report supported the Volcker Alliance viewpoint that a larger federal workforce is better. Light has blamed the inefficiencies of the federal government on understaffing and argued against reducing the size of the federal workforce.

In his report, Light criticized the regulatory reform efforts of President Donald Trump, writing that “his definition of a government that works better and costs less was a government that cost less because it was no longer working.” 12

Modernizing Agency Hiring Practices

In 2018, President Trump implemented hiring reforms for federal civil servants as part of H.R. 5515, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act. 13 The reforms, which broadly made it easier for federal agencies to hire white-collar employees, were supported by the Volcker Alliance and Partnership for Public Service.

Increasing the Power of Financial Regulators

In 2016, the Volcker Alliance published a report, “Unfinished Business: Banking in the Shadows” that warned that “the present regulatory framework, with its redundancies and inconsistencies, simply is not up to the challenge” of protecting the American financial system. 14  Along with the Volcker Alliance’s 2015 report “Reshaping the Financial Regulatory System: Long Awaited, Now Crucial,” it called for a significant restructuring and expansion of the federal government’s financial regulatory agencies. 15

In 2017, Volcker said that the Financial Stability Oversight Council was “insufficient as a vehicle to overcome the serious flaws in the regulatory architecture” and called for the Trump administration to increase regulations and oversight over the financial industry. 16

Proposed changes include moving financial regulation enforcement administration from the traditional place at the Department of the Treasury to an independent entity such as the Federal Reserve Board. This would remove significant authority and responsibility from the Executive Branch and the President and increase the power of Congress and unelected bureaucrats. 17

Promoting Government as a Career

The Volcker Alliance works with federal and state agencies to promote government employment to college and post-secondary graduates. 18 Its goals include increasing “university students’ interest in government jobs and understanding of government hiring processes” and “placement of top university graduates in employment in government agencies.” 19

State Financial Health

One of the Volcker Alliance’s initiatives is a report that grades states on their financial health and promotes policies that would increase federal support of state budgets. 20 21

The report highlights the financial conditions of many states and local governments across the country that face severe budget structural problems and recommends that the federal government avoid cutting federal budgets that could help alleviate these states’ issues. 22 It promotes federal spending and support as solutions for over-leveraged governments such as Detroit and Illinois. 23

The Volcker Alliance asserts that federal tax cuts contribute to states’ fiscal challenges by reducing federal funding to state programs. 24  It recommends the establishment of a new federal agency to coordinate federal and state spending on programs such as Medicaid. 25

The Volcker Alliance also promotes a proposal by Paul Volcker that the federal government spend $90 billion annually on states’ transportation infrastructure. This spending would largely benefit states with large and poorly controlled budgets such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and California. However, the Volcker Alliance also notes that most states and local governments are not disclosing or tracking the deferred costs to maintain and upgrade infrastructure and has awarded failing grades to many states as a result. 26


The Volcker Alliance’s single largest donor is hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio, whose Dalio Philanthropies donated $10 million in 2013. 27 In comparison, the Volcker Alliance only reported receiving roughly $12 million from all other donors combined between 2014 and 2017. 28

Federal Government

The Volcker Alliance’s proposal to improve the federal workforce’s skillsets received $300,000 in funding from the General Services Administration.  29

Peter Peterson Foundation

The Volcker Alliance has received millions in donations from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. The bipartisan Peterson Foundation focuses on debt reduction and fiscal responsibility30. 31

Carnegie Corporation of New York

The Volcker Alliance has received almost two million dollars32 from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which also supports left of center organizations like ACLU, ACORN, the New Venture Fund, and National Public Radio. 33


  1. “Our Mission.” The Volcker Alliance, January 9, 2020.
  2. “History.” The Robertson Foundation for Government, February 21, 2019.
  3. Nelson. “Volcker’s Aim: Responsive Government.” The New York Times. The New York Times, May 29, 2013.
  4. Accessed December 13, 2019. a Network of Field Researchers to Enhance a Culture of Learning – The Brookings Institution.pdf.
  5. Vardi, Nathan. “Hedge Fund Billionaire Ray Dalio Steps Up Foundation Giving.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, March 30, 2015.
  6. “Our Mission.” The Volcker Alliance, January 9, 2020.
  7. Forbes, Miguel. “Paul Volcker Launches Volcker Alliance.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, May 12, 2015.
  8. Jane. “Tom Ross, Former UNC President, to Lead Volcker Alliance.” newsobserver. Raleigh News & Observer, May 17, 2016.
  9. Todd Cohen. “Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation shifts grant focus.” Triad Business Journal. Feb 4, 2002. Accessed May 15, 2017.
  10. Anne. “U.S. Supreme Court Agrees NC Lawmakers Created Illegal Congressional District Maps in 2011.” newsobserver. Raleigh News & Observer, May 22, 2017.
  11. “The True Size of Government.” The Volcker Alliance, October 2, 2017.
  12. “The True Size of Government.” The Volcker Alliance, October 2, 2017.
  13. Alliance, Volcker. “President Trump Signs Bill Adopting Volcker Alliance Recommendations For Federal Civil Service Hiring Practices.” PR Newswire: press release distribution, targeting, monitoring and marketing, August 13, 2018.
  14. Parramore, Lynn, William Lazonick, Matt Hopkins, Mustafa Erdem Sakinç, Ken Jacobson, Edward J. Kane, Jayati Ghosh, et al. “Volcker: Tackle the Unfinished Business of 2008.” Institute for New Economic Thinking. Accessed December 13, 2019.
  15. “Reshaping the Financial Regulatory System.” The Volcker Alliance, August 20, 2019.
  16. “The Future of the Global Financial System.” The Volcker Alliance, August 2, 2018.
  17. Accessed December 13, 2019. the Financial Regulatory System – The Volcker Alliance.pdf.
  18. “LBJ School to Host Volcker Alliance Government-to-University Initiative.” LBJ School of Public Affairs, December 3, 2018.
  19. “Government-to-University Initiative.” The Volcker Alliance, December 18, 2019.
  20. “Burgling The Future.” Palisades Hudson Financial Group, October 7, 2016.
  21. Glasgall, William. “Truth, Integrity, and Budgeting: the Volcker Alliance Grades the States.” Bond Buyer, November 9, 2017.
  22. “Burgling The Future.” Palisades Hudson Financial Group, October 7, 2016.

  23. “DOWNLOAD FINAL REPORT.” State Budget Crisis Task Force. Accessed December 13, 2019.
  24. Accessed December 13, 2019.
  25. Accessed December 13, 2019.
  26. “Paul A. Volcker (1927-2019).” The Volcker Alliance, December 10, 2019.
  27. Dalio Foundation, Return of a Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2013, Part XV Line 3
  28. Author’s calculations from Returns of Organization Exempt from Income Tax for the Volcker Alliance.
  29. “GEAR Center Challenge Winner on Upskilling the Federal Government.” Government Matters, November 21, 2019.
  30. Feuer, Alan. “Peter G. Peterson’s Last Anti-Debt Crusade.” The New York Times. The New York Times, April 8, 2011.
  31. “Peter G. Peterson Foundation.” Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Accessed December 13, 2019.
  32. Carnegie Corporation. “Volcker Alliance.” Carnegie Corporation of New York. Accessed December 13, 2019.!/grants/grants-database/grant/406161544.0/.
  33. “Carnegie Corporation of New York.” Carnegie Corporation of New York. Accessed December 13, 2019.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Thomas Ross
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: November 1, 2012

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $1,873,102 $5,469,202 $15,906,739 $161,564 N $1,044,491 $436 $496,759 $1,065,519
    2016 Dec Form 990 $3,619,421 $4,078,814 $18,688,671 $444,275 N $3,072,796 $18,517 $528,108 $1,164,862
    2015 Dec Form 990 $1,398,634 $3,149,603 $18,739,960 $113,026 N $704,550 $174,788 $519,296 $987,049 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $7,640,559 $1,886,893 $21,235,365 $85,978 N $7,173,591 $46,343 $420,625 $280,848 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $15,289,864 $786,053 $14,878,094 $35,138 N $15,169,584 $115,500 $4,589 $152,378 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $500,000 $160,855 $433,500 $94,355 N $500,000 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Volcker Alliance

    NEW YORK, NY 10022-6828