Other Group

Institute for Responsive Government (IRG)

Website:

responsivegoverning.org/

Type:

Government Consulting and Policy Group

Executive Director:

Sam Oliker-Friedland

Project of:

New Venture Fund (NVF)

Institute for Responsive Government (IRG) is a policy think tank that purports to seek to improve government effectiveness and correct bureaucratic inefficiency. It is a fiscally-sponsored project of New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit managed by consulting company Arabella Advisors that makes grants to left-of-center organizations. [1]

In June 2022, the name “Institute for Responsive Government” was filed for a trademark by New Venture Fund with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. [2]

Activities

Institute for Responsive Government aims to use its research and advising experts to create a more “practical and efficient [government] agency system” to help “promote greater confidence in government and democracy.” IRG claims that the government should make better use of the information that citizens give it, such as when they change addresses, and that different government agencies should share more information with each other. It further argues that policies should be made to adapt to each local context, that state and local election officials need more funding to make government more “user-friendly” (such as by offering the option to register to vote online), and that policies pertaining to government services can be “radically redesign[ed]” to “work the way humans do.” [3]

In a memo dated to June 3, 2022, the Institute for Responsive Government outlined its arguments for why the government should use its consultation. “Unfortunately, it feels like our government is slowing down, even as our technology and culture move faster-and-faster,” one line read. It cited long lines at the DMV, the overwhelming amount of government paperwork, infighting between agencies, “gridlock” which halts “policy change,” and lack of accountability allegedly due to “gerrymandering” as examples of the government bureaucracies’ shortcomings. [4]

IRG stated that its intention is to build a system of feedback and transparency that would make the government more responsive to the needs of citizens. It aims to do this through advising from experienced administrators, user-experience (UX) design consultants, and researchers that can suggest changes bureaucracies could make to strengthen themselves. It specifically singled out “public services, government filings, the safety net, schools, and other systems” as its main targets for improvement. [5]

Research reports from IRG include “Automatic Enrollment in Health Coverage Programs,” “Changing the Default: The Impact of Motor-Voter Reform in Colorado,” “Voter Registration: A Very Short History,” “50 States of Need: How We Can Fully Fund Our State and Local Election Infrastructure,” “Online Voter Registration APIs – The Next Step in Voter Registration Modernization,” and “Considerations for Voter Registration at Public Colleges & Universities.” [6]

IRG offers readers to subscribe to its newsletter on its activities, reports, and memos. [7]

Funding

Institute for Responsive Government is a fiscally-sponsored project of New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit managed by consulting company Arabella Advisors that makes grants to left-of-center organizations. [8]

Leadership

Sam Oliker-Friedland is the executive director of the Institute for Responsive Government. He was the voting rights litigator at the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division under the Obama administration and the Trump administration. [9] As of October 2019, Oliker-Friedland was the chief counsel for the Center for Secure and Modern Elections, a left-of-center advocacy group created as a project by New Venture Fund which was sued by the Louisiana Attorney General in 2020 for allegedly improperly interfering in the state’s 2020 election. [10] The lawsuit was initially struck down, but was upheld and allowed to proceed by the Louisiana Supreme Court. [11] IRG chief of staff Ashish Sinha and fellow John Lindback also worked at Center for Secure and Modern Elections. [12] [13]

Tiana Epps-Johnson, the founder and executive director of the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), which served as the main conduit for $400 million in highly controversial and allegedly partisan contributions from Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to local election offices during the 2020 election, is on the advisory board of IRG. [14] Before founding CTCL, Epps-Johnson worked as a high level employee of the New Organizing Institute, a Democratic campaign training organization.

Other advisory board members include Kathy Boockvar, vice president of election operations at Center for Internet Security (CIS); Trey Grayson, a former Republican Secretary of State of Kentucky who works as a lawyer for left-of-center election administration groups; Jessica Barba Brown, senior advisor for the Healthy Democracy Healthy People Initiative and director of We Can Vote; Katrina Gamble, founder and president of Sojourn Strategies; Noah Praetz, election security consultant; Jennifer Morrell, Democracy Fund election consultant; Tom Lopach, Democratic political operative; and Vanessa Williamson, Brookings Senior Fellow in Governance Studies. [15]

References

  1. “Home.” Institute for Responsive Government. Accessed 27 June 2022. https://web.archive.org/web/20220627164526/https://responsivegoverning.org/. ^
  2.  “INSTITUTE FOR RESPONSIVE GOVERNMENT Trademark.” Alter.com. Accessed 27 June 2022. https://alter.com/trademarks/institute-for-responsive-government-97456904. ^
  3. [1] “Home.” Institute for Responsive Government. Accessed 27 June 2022. https://web.archive.org/web/20220627164526/https://responsivegoverning.org/. ^
  4.  Singer, Matt (Impactual). “On Responsiveness.” Institute for Responsive Government, 3 June 2022. Accessed 27 June 2022. https://responsivegoverning.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/On-Responsiveness-1.pdf. ^
  5. Singer, Matt (Impactual). “On Responsiveness.” Institute for Responsive Government, 3 June 2022. Accessed 27 June 2022. https://responsivegoverning.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/On-Responsiveness-1.pdf. ^
  6. “Home – Institute for Responsive Government.” Institute for Responsive Government. Accessed 27 June 2022. https://web.archive.org/web/20220627164526/https://responsivegoverning.org/. ^
  7. “Home.” Institute for Responsive Government. Accessed 27 June 2022. https://web.archive.org/web/20220627164526/https://responsivegoverning.org/. ^
  8.  “Home.” Institute for Responsive Government. Accessed 27 June 2022. https://web.archive.org/web/20220627164526/https://responsivegoverning.org/. ^
  9. “Home.” Institute for Responsive Government. Accessed 27 June 2022. https://web.archive.org/web/20220627164526/https://responsivegoverning.org/. ^
  10. Miller, Shannon. “Inquest to automatically register voters at DMV, permits that allow undocumented residents to drive prove a hang-up”. The Nevada Independent, 31 October 2019.  Accessed 27 June 2022. https://thenevadaindependent.com/article/in-quest-to-automatically-register-voters-at-dmv-permits-that-allow-undocumented-residents-to-drive-prove-a-hang-up. ^
  11. Carroll, Michael. “Louisiana Lawsuit Challenging Zuckerberg-Funded Group’s Election Donations Gets Green Light.” Louisiana Record, July 15, 2022. https://louisianarecord.com/stories/628727629-louisiana-lawsuit-challenging-zuckerberg-funded-group-s-election-donations-gets-green-light. ^
  12.  “Donor Look-up – Ashish Sinha.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed 27 June 2022. https://www.opensecrets.org/donor-lookup/results?name=Ashish+Sinha. ^
  13. “We’re Still Asking: What Is Automatic Voter Registration? Just improved Motor-Voter?” ncsl.org, May 2019. Accessed 27 June 2022. https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/the-canvass-may-2019.aspx. ^
  14. “Home.” Institute for Responsive Government. Accessed 27 June 2022. https://web.archive.org/web/20220627164526/https://responsivegoverning.org/. ^
  15. “Home.” Institute for Responsive Government. Accessed 27 June 2022. https://web.archive.org/web/20220627164526/https://responsivegoverning.org/ ^
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