Policy Update for July-September 2021

Re: Lincoln Policy Team Activities for Q3 2021

Dear friend of Lincoln:

Our work is only possible thanks to the ongoing support of our friends and donors. With this in mind, I’d like to thank the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for supporting Lincoln’s mission through a new $1 million, multi-year grant. This comes as part of Knight’s latest investments in building capacity in the technology governance field. I’d also like to thank the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for their ongoing support, including a grant to support The Realignment Podcast and upcoming conference in Miami. 

Below you can find some updates about our recent events, writing, and advocacy.

Research

Utilizing new nonpublic data, Dan Lips published a Policy Short evaluating GAO’s financial accomplishments over the past two decades.

With declining telecommunications revenues, the Universal Service Fund has an uncertain future. A new Lincoln paper examines the program’s history and current challenges, and reviews policy options to close the digital divide.

Commentary

Dan Lips published two Op-Eds on the Government Accountability Office around its centennial (also see our conference in May on this topic). In The Hill, Dan writes about the importance of the nation’s top watchdog agency and future potential with additional modernization:

Since the 1990s, the comptroller general has been providing annual estimates to Congress about GAO’s return-on-investment. GAO has reported that its work has resulted in more than $1.1 trillion in financial benefits to American taxpayers and more than 25,000 other improvements. For example, GAO reported that its work resulted in more than $77 billion in financial benefits for the government last year, which amounts to a return on investment of $114 for every dollar that Congress provides the agency.

Writing in National Review, Dan discusses a provision included in the FY22 spending bill (proposed by Lincoln) which would require GAO to report to Congress how much federal agencies waste by ignoring the congressional watchdog’s recommendations.

Some of our other writings include:

Fellowships

We recently announced our second cohort of Policy Hackers fellows, and brought them out to Washington, DC for a three day kick-off summit. The event featured policy trainings on a range of topics, as well as meetings with current and former officials including Senate offices, regulatory agencies, and senior White House staff.

We also announced the launch of a new program starting in January, the “Fellowship on Critical Emerging Technologies (FACET).” This will be a one-year, resident program focused on the intersection of national security, geopolitics, and technology. 

We’re excited to continue these fellowships, since they are among the only programs out there designed to cultivate market-oriented tech talent for the policy ecosystem.

Letters & Testimony

In July, we organized a right-of-center coalition letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee advocating for congressional capacity and a stronger Article I. I was also invited to testify at a House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress hearing in September, but it was postponed to next month.

The Realignment Podcast

Notable guests appearing on the podcast this quarter include Dr. Julian Zelizer on how Newt Gingrich reshaped Congress; Katherine Boyle of General Catalyst (now a16z) on American renewal; WSJ reporters Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell on venture capital and startups: NYT reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang on Facebook; and many more.

Catch up on these episodes (and many more!) when you subscribe to The Realignment on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Events

In July, we hosted a salon dinner in Florida with FCC commissioner Brendan Carr. Later that month, we hosted a dinner in DC on interoperability and open protocols for technologists and policy professionals. 

In August, we hosted a salon dinner in Miami with Katherine Boyle of General Catalyst (now a16z). 

In September, we hosted a well-attended Hill reception on congressional modernization with featured speakers from two key committees. Also in September, we hosted a welcome reception and kick-off seminar for our Policy Hackers fellows. 

Our staff also spoke at conferences and panels hosted by other groups, including ISI’s Future of American Political Economy Conference, JMI’s Tech and Innovation Summit, and more. I was also honored to receive an FCW 100 award at their gala in August.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for your support. If you’d like to review earlier updates from us, you can also see them on our blog

Sincerely,

Zach Graves

Head of Policy, Lincoln Network

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