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Risks and Rewards of Working with the Federal Government. May 15, 2011 Israel Democracy Institute Conference, “What Do Think Tanks Do” Jerusalem. Daniel S. Gaylin Executive Vice President. Think Tanks and Knowledge Generation. NORC Core Principles. Excellence

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Risks and rewards of working with the federal government

Risks and Rewards of Working with the Federal Government

May 15, 2011

Israel Democracy Institute Conference, “What Do Think Tanks Do” Jerusalem

Daniel S. Gaylin

Executive Vice President

Think Tanks and Knowledge Generation

Norc core principles
NORC Core Principles


  • Highest academic and methodological standards

  • Ideological independence and transparency

  • Commitment to dissemination

Broad array of stakeholders

Long tradition of research in the public interest

Non-partisan, objective, evidence based


  • Collaborative and open partnerships

  • Interdisciplinary approach, learning culture

  • Public discourse


  • Leadership in methods and tools

  • Breakthrough technologies

  • Flexible business and funding models


Close affiliate of the university of chicago
Close Affiliate of the University of Chicago


International development
International Development

Ghana Impact Evaluation


Academic research centers yes but does that work in theory
Academic Research Centers: “Yes but does that work in theory?”

Think tanks two paths to knowledge generation
Think Tanks: Two Paths to Knowledge Generation

Path1 : Focus on Private Funding

Think tanks two paths to knowledge generation1
Think Tanks: Two Paths to Knowledge Generation

Path 2 : Focus on Federal Funding

Path 2 avoiding the pitfalls
Path 2: Avoiding the Pitfalls

FOIA is a key tool to preserve independence


Data knowledge informed decisions key research areas central core
Data Knowledge Informed Decisions Key Research Areas, Central Core



Data Collection


Advanced Methods & Analysis


Evaluation and Assessment


Policy Recommendations


Defining Knowledge Gaps


Knowledge and Discourse


General social survey tracking the public s attitudes on key social issues for 40 years
General Social Survey: Tracking the Public’s Attitudes on Key Social Issues for 40 Years


Florida ballots project all branches of government and the press
Florida Ballots Project: All Branchesof Government…and the Press

November 12, 2001

Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote


A comprehensive review of the uncounted Florida ballots from last year's presidential election reveals that George W. Bush would have won even if the United States Supreme Court had allowed the statewide manual recount of the votes that the Florida Supreme Court had ordered to go forward.

Optimizing information access data enclave
Optimizing Information Access: Data Enclave

  • Access sensitive data per use agreement

  • Statistical software available for analysis

  • Interact with other researchers

  • Receive information from data producers

  • Perform computationally intensive tasks

  • Configure environment

Customized Virtual Machine





Data Enclave Desktop(Windows Environment)

Information access the data enclave as an illustration of think tank impact
Information Access: the Data Enclave as An Illustration of Think Tank Impact

  • Context: Commission investigates the causes, domestic and global, of the 2008 financial and economic crisis.

  • Issue: hedge fund data very sensitive, difficult to obtain:

    • risk of legal challenges

    • incomplete reporting.

    • funds given the “option”: enclave or subpoena

  • Challenge: How to preserve firms’ confidentiality while also providing analytically useful data and results?

  • Solution: Data Enclave becomes “honest broker” between private sector and government

Data liberaci n inter national indicators for the general public
Data Think Tank Impact Liberación!  (Inter)national Indicators for the General Public

Source: State of the USA analysis of OECD data

Associated press norc center for public affairs research
Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Legislative Branch

Maximized Public Relevancy

Global Dissemination


High Social Value

Objective, Non-Partisan

Journalistic Impact

Methodological/Scientific Rigor

Deep Subject Matter Expertise