2014 Workshop Data


The Poliinformatics team will be curating extensive data with the goal of lowering the costs of undertaking investigations of policymaking processes, broadly defined. This page describes one unique and innovative database developed as part of the project. This database will be available to all participants.

Our core datasets focus on the genesis and policy impact of laws from 2005 to the present.  Specifically, a relational database  joins U.S. federal policymaking activities from the introduction of congressional bills to statutes, to the US Code, to proposed federal regulations, to final rules (see below for an example of how the database works).  At any one of these stages, researchers will have the ability to integrate additional information, such as committee hearings transcripts, floor debates. or legislative text at the lawmaking stage,  public commenting and lobbying activity at the regulatory stage, and subsequent oversight activity in the executive and legislative branches (see graphic above).


What can be learned from these data? Answering this question is the central objective of the Poliinformatics challenge!  We are effectively offering up barely explored territory, and encouraging researchers across disciplines to see what they can discover in that territory using their unique analytic and methodological perspectives.  To continue the analogy, one research might be interested in providing a bird’s eye view of the landscape or a portion of it (e.g. Katz and Bommarito), while another might use the data as an opportunity to explore a very specific chronology or event.

For the 2014 challenges, we strongly encourage researchers to focus on questions with implications for better understanding the 2007-08 financial crisis. We will be providing an inventory of relevant data resources that may or may not connect to the core database in a meaningful way.

As an example, Congress commissioned a blue ribbon panel to investigate the causes of the financial crisis, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. The FCIC conducted hundreds of recorded or transcribed interviews,  held numerous hearings, and issued several reports. Several congressional committees conducted their own investigations not only of the causes of the crisis, but also of implementation of laws passed in response (such as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP). Once again, this is barely explored ‘big data’ territory related to a world changing event.In addition to archiving potential data resources, we will also be offering tools for lowering the costs of using them. An example is a scraper that converts .pdf versions of hearings into machine readable text.  It is our hope that Poliinformatics participants will similarly share the tools they develop  as they work with these data.More to come!


Core database example

TARP became law as part of Public Law 110-343  Scrolling through the law reveals references to locations in the US code on the right hand margin. For example Section 111 (relating to Executive Compensation) references  12 US Code 5221, the specific location in the US Code that PL 110-343 Section 111 updates.  New laws can add provisions to the Code but they can also repeal or amend existing provisions.

….. Where the Secretary determines that the purposes of this Act are best met through direct purchases of troubled assets from an individual financial institution where no bidding process or market prices are available, and the Secretary receives a meaningful equity or debt position in the financial institution as a result of the transaction, the Secretary shall require that the financial institution meet appropriate standards for executive compensation….. (more text)

Using the Parallel Table of Authorities to search for regulations citing Title 12 Section 5221 as authority for regulations, we find a reference to 17 CFR 240 and we then discover that 17 CFR 240.14a-21 is one of the specific regulation developed in response to Section 111 of PL 100-343:

Section 204.14a-21 Shareholder approval of executive compensation, frequency of votes for approval of executive compensation and shareholder approval of golden parachute compensation.

And we can search for ancillary information, such as information about the rulemaking process and public comment through regulations,gov
Department of the Treasury (TREAS)
This interim final rule, promulgated pursuant to sections 101(a)(1), 101(c)(5), and 111 of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA), as amended by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), provides guidance on the executive compensation and corporate governance provisions of EESA that apply to entities that receive financial assistance under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Alternately, we can go back to Congress to investigate how executive compensation got on the agenda in the first place…..(see the schematic above)

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