72 resources available

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The EPA was formed in 1970 by President Nixon and Congress as an independent government agency to coordinate and oversee the preservation and protection of the environment. Previously, various environmental programs had been handled by different departments.

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The Environmental Defense Fund is a nonprofit advocacy group “dedicated to protecting the environmental rights of all people.” It works on issues such as air and water pollution and climate change.

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The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that publishes investigative journalism projects on issues of public concern. The center’s mission, according to its website, is to “make institutional power more transparent and accountable.”

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People for the American Way says it favors “pluralism, individuality, freedom of thought, expression and religion, a sense of community, and tolerance and compassion for others.” PFAW was founded in 1981 by Norman Lear, Barbara Jordan, the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, and Andrew Heiskell, in part as a response to the political efforts of religious figures Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

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In 1971, Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger advocated the creation of a “central source for the state courts,” which led to the birth of the National Center for State Courts. The NCSC prides itself on “improving the administration through leadership and service to the state courts and serving as an information clearinghouse so that innovations in one court can benefit all courts.” The NCSC does this by conducting research, publishing reports and hosting educational programs about court operations.

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Justice at Stake is a national, nonpartisan organization that aims to “keep our courts fair and impartial.” Launched in February 2002, the group is composed of more than 45 judicial, legal and citizen organizations with the common goal of educating the public on the importance of limiting the influence of outside interest groups on the U.S. judicial system.

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The Federal Judicial Center is the “educational and research agency for the federal courts.” Its website contains research on federal court operations, procedures and court history as well as educational resources for judges and court employees.

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The FBI gathers and publishes U.S. crime statistics through its Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which was created in 1929 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Among the UCR’s annual publications are “Crime in the United States,” “Hate Crime Statistics” and “Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted.”

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The Committee for Justice says its mission is “to defend and promote constitutionalist judicial nominees to the federal courts and educate the public on the importance of judges in American life.” Its founder is C. Boyden Gray, former White House counsel to President George H.W. Bush.

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The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts maintains www.uscourts.gov and describes itself as the “administrative arm of the federal Judiciary.” Established by Congress in 1939, the agency is directed and supervised by the Judicial Conference of the U.S. – the policy-making body of the federal judiciary, which is in turn made up of the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the chief justice of each circuit court, a representative from each district court, and the chief judge of the Court of International Trade.

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On the website of this Senate office, visitors can search the disclosure reports that individuals who are hired to lobby government officials must file. The website came into being as a result of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, which aimed to make the business at least somewhat more transparent.

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The National Taxpayers Union is a lobbying organization favoring “lower taxes and smaller government.” It favors scrapping the income tax in favor of a “flat tax” or a national sales tax. Since its founding in 1969, the Taxpayers Union has been a critic of what it sees as wasteful federal spending, saying “NTU staffers know a boondoggle when they see it.”

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LegiStorm was launched in 2006, originally as a searchable database of congressional staff salaries. It has since expanded to include a range of financial data about legislators and government employees. The site collects staff salaries, trips paid for by private institutions, financial disclosure forms, foreign gifts and earmarks for Congress members and key staff. It also indexes policy reports, congressional schedules, FEC press releases and political news. Much of the data are available elsewhere; for instance, the information on congressional earmarks is drawn from Taxpayers for Common Sense. Some, however, can be difficult to find.

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This congressional committee – unlike most – does not have separate Democratic and Republican staffs. It was set up in 1926, when the federal income tax in its present form was only 13 years old. Congress sought professional analysis independent of the Treasury Department, which is run by a political appointee named by the president. The Joint Tax Committee uses a sophisticated, computerized microsimulation model of the U.S. federal income tax system, based on information from a random sample of 200,000 tax returns each year, to project the likely effects of proposed changes in tax law.

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Formerly known as the General Accounting Office, the GAO changed its name in July 2004 to the Government Accountability Office. It is the investigative arm of Congress, serving both Republican and Democratic members. The GAO evaluates federal programs, audits federal expenditures, issues legal opinions and makes recommendations for improved efficiency. The head of GAO is known as the comptroller general.

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The Congressional Budget Office’s stated mission is to “provide the Congress with the objective, timely, nonpartisan analyses needed for economic and budget decisions.” Its director is appointed jointly by the majority leaders of the House and Senate.

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Founded in 1992 by former Sens. Warren Rudman (R., N.H.) and Paul Tsongas (D., Mass.) and former Secretary of Commerce Peter Peterson, the Concord Coalition is “a nationwide, nonpartisan, grassroots organization advocating fiscal responsibility while ensuring Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are secure for all generations.”

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The Innocence Project was founded in 1992 and is dedicated to “exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.” It is a nonprofit legal clinic directly affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University and was founded by attorneys Peter J. Neufeld and Barry C. Scheck.

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The Death Penalty Information Center is a nonprofit organization that publishes reports and conducts press briefings on issues concerning capital punishment. The center says that it does not have a position on the death penalty “in the abstract.” However, the center notes that “we have been critical … of various aspects of the death penalty in the United States.” The website highlights problems with the way capital punishment is used.

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Planned Parenthood describes itself as “a visible and passionate advocate for policies that enable Americans to access comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care, education, and information.”

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The Guttmacher Institute was founded in 1968 as the Center for Family Planning Program Development and was named after Alan Guttmacher, a former president of Planned Parenthood and distinguished obstetrician-gynecologist.

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Project Vote Smart is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that gathers and organizes information on candidates for political office. Vote Smart seeks to discover where candidates stand on any number of issues by scouring public voting records, public statements and biographical information, by monitoring ratings of candidates given by more than 100 competing special-interest groups, and by sending its own detailed questionnaires to candidates through its National Political Awareness Test.