Government Capacity

January 27, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post Government CapacityHousing

Sabotaged HUD Must Rebuild to Fix The Housing Crisis

As the pandemic exacerbates the nation’s ongoing housing crisis, President Biden has promised swift and immediate action. Effectively deploying the federal government’s powers to address this crisis, however, will require more than just good policy and motivated leadership. Past administrations eroded the federal government’s capacity to carry out effective policy to help tenants and homeowners. This administration will need to form new infrastructure, with an outsized focus on staffing reforms, in order to both restore capacity and implement new housing policies that will enable Americans to readily access safe and affordable housing. 

January 27, 2022

Letter Anti-MonopolyDepartment of JusticeGovernment CapacityRevolving Door

Letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland Highlights Urgent Need for Resources in the Antitrust Division 

The Justice Department plays a key role in President Biden’s vision of promoting “the interests of American workers, businesses, and consumers” through increasing competition, a plan which stands to be one the most enduring legacies of this administration. Your commitment to promote “competition by fairly and vigorously enforcing the antitrust laws,” along with the confirmation of Jonathan Kanter to Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division, are crucial steps forward in this vision.

January 26, 2022 | Revolving Door Project Newsletter

Eleanor Eagan

Newsletter

Government Capacity

Don’t Continue Downplaying Continuing Resolution’s Import

We don’t know much about the new Build Back Better – what will be in it, if it has any chance of passing – but one thing is certain: it’s not moving anytime soon. That, combined with the voting rights bill’s recent defeat at the hands of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, has many Democrats looking to executive action as their last best hope to deliver for regular people and hold on to majorities in the House and Senate this November.

January 21, 2022 | The American Prospect

Eleanor Eagan

Op-Ed Government Capacity

The Government Is Still Operating Under Trump’s Budget

A lot has changed in the year since President Biden took office. Across the executive branch, leaders who believe in the power of government to advance the public interest have replaced predecessors who were intent on dismantling the institutions they led. Unsurprisingly, policy priorities have shifted as well, with regulators embarking on ambitious new rulemakings and ramping up enforcement.

But there is one troubling constant looming above all of these changes: President Trump’s holdover budget is (basically) still in place, leaving the Biden administration to implement a bold new agenda with funding levels negotiated and approved by an administration that was determined to make that impossible.

January 20, 2022

Eleanor Eagan

Blog Post Government Capacity

Revolving Door Project Examines Agency Capacity

The Revolving Door Project is fighting for an executive branch whose every corner is working tirelessly to advance the broad public interest and not to further entrench corporate power. That means scrutinizing the federal government’s highest ranks and applying pressure to keep them free of undue corporate influence. It also means interrogating whether the institutions those political leaders steer have the provisions they need to fulfill their missions. 

January 19, 2022

Press Release ClimateGovernment Capacity

New Report Warns Agency Capture Threatens OCC Climate Response

Today the Revolving Door Project released a report on the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s OCC) capacity to implement and enforce climate regulation. This is the third installment of the project’s ongoing Climate Finance Capacity project \identifying the tools each component of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) has to address the climate crisis through regulatory reform and the capacity-related obstacles that could stand in the way. Prior installments have looked at the Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).Through this project, we aim to highlight the responsibility each of these agencies have in regulating our financial system towards a more sustainable future, and the reforms necessary to achieve this vision as examined through the lens of each agency’s unique resourcing.

January 11, 2022

Fatou Ndiaye

Blog Post ClimateFinancial RegulationGovernment CapacityIndependent Agencies

Climate Finance Capacity Project: Securities and Exchange Commission

Climate change poses a serious threat to everything the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is meant to protect and oversee. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC)’s “Managing Climate Risk in the U.S. The Financial System ”report makes this abundantly clear. The report concludes that climate change may “exacerbate existing, non-climate related vulnerabilities in the financial system, with potentially serious consequences for market stability”. Furthermore, the physical and transitional risks of climate change will likely lead to systemic and sub-systemic financial shocks. These shocks would cause “unprecedented disruption in the proper functioning of financial markets and institutions” and further marginalize communities underserved by the financial system. To fulfill its mandate, of maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets, protecting investors, and facilitating capital formation, the SEC must proactively ensure there is enough personnel to monitor and enforce regulations that will keep markets stable and adaptable. 

January 11, 2022

Press Release ClimateGovernment CapacityIndependent Agencies

New Report Warns That Insufficient Capacity at The SEC Might Limit its Role In the Fight Against Climate Change

Today, the Revolving Door Project released its SEC Climate Capacity Report examining the detrimental impact of capacity shortfalls on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s climate work. This report is the second installment of its Climate Finance Capacity Project. The Climate Finance Capacity Project explores the power and responsibility that each of the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s member agencies has to address the climate crisis and consider how resource limitations threaten to limit their impact. 

January 04, 2022

Hannah Story Brown

Blog Post Anti-MonopolyExecutive BranchGovernment CapacityIndependent AgenciesTrade Policy

Amidst a Record Supply Chain Crisis, What is the Federal Maritime Commission’s Capacity?

One tiny federal agency with 116 full-time employees and a $28.9 million dollar budget is in charge of regulating the global marine economy, which contributes $397 billion to the US GDP annually and accounts for 80 percent of goods shipped worldwide. That’s not just an apples and oranges discrepancy—that’s like an apple versus Apple. The budget for the military’s marching bands is fifteen times greater than the Federal Maritime Commission’s budget; the Marines alone have five times more musicians than the Commission has staff.

December 22, 2021 | Revolving Door Project Newsletter

Eleanor Eagan

Newsletter

Confirmations CrisisCongressional OversightDe-TrumpificationGovernment Capacity

New Year’s Resolutions for Official Washington

The jury’s still out on whether Build Back Better is really, truly dead. Some think that there’s still a deal to be made after Senator Joe Manchin unceremoniously blew up negotiations over the weekend. Others argue that, if Manchin isn’t satisfied with a bill that has already been thoroughly hacked and chiseled to conform to his demands, he won’t accept anything. But whichever camp you fall in, it’s clear that the landmark legislation is unlikely to remain the only topic in town next year. (Indeed, as important as the needs requiring BBB are, the executive branch is always also critical). As our political leaders prepare for the post-Build Back Better world, we ask that they consider making the following resolutions for the New Year.

December 08, 2021 | Revolving Door Project Newsletter

Eleanor Eagan

Newsletter

Department of TransportationFinancial RegulationGovernment Capacity

To Get A Promotion, Would-Be Candidates Should Consider Doing Their Jobs

Biden hasn’t even reached the end of his first year in office and already eyes are turning to the likely contest between Vice President Kamala Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination (provided, of course, that Biden steps aside). Prospective voters are being inundated with stories of palace intrigue, invaluable information about the would-be candidates’ preferences (Harris doesn’t like to use Bluetooth, Buttigieg loves electric bikes), and speeches and media appearances in which the Vice President and Secretary boost Build Back Better (despite neither having a substantive role in its passage). Notably missing from this deluge, however, is much discussion of how well either one is performing the job they currently hold. That seems to us among the most relevant considerations as prospective voters mull giving either a promotion.

December 03, 2021

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post Ethics in GovernmentGovernment CapacityRevolving Door

Active Revolving Door Between Government and Contracting Industry Could Threaten Reform

Officially speaking, the federal government employs just shy of 3.6 million people (2.2 in the civilian workforce and 1.4 in the military). In reality, however, the number of people whose paychecks originate with the federal government (through grants or service contracts) is much larger — around 12 million according to recent estimates. This workforce, and the contracts that sustain it, rarely get much attention in public discourse. Yet, the federal government’s power to set standards and direct funds through contracting is not an insignificant one. President Biden has begun to tap into those powers with directives to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour for federal contractors and institute a vaccine mandate for those same workers. These are strong first steps but they only scratch the surface of what is possible and what is needed to address the many problems that plague federal contracting. Fully harnessing that power, however, will likely require confronting a deep-seated problem: an active revolving door between the offices charged with granting and monitoring federal contracts and the companies that receive them. 

December 02, 2021

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post ClimateFinancial RegulationGovernment CapacityIndependent Agencies

Climate Finance Capacity Project: Commodity Futures Trading Commission

The Biden Administration was elected to office with an urgent mandate to change our current trajectory towards catastrophic climate change. Climate-focused financial regulation, or the regulation of markets to accurately account for climate risk and the social and material costs of climate-damaging activities, must be a part of this coordinated federal response in order to meaningfully address climate concerns at the governmental level. An agency that is particularly key to this goal is the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The CFTC is one of the smallest federal financial regulatory bodies and yet it is responsible for regulating one of the country’s largest markets, derivatives. While it was originally founded to regulate futures trading in commodities, the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 expanded the CFTC’s mandate to include swaps markets and broadened the agency’s role in regulating other derivatives, in part due to their extreme volatility and outsized role in the 2008 financial crisis. 

November 05, 2021 | The American Prospect

Eleanor Eagan Fatou Ndiaye

Op-Ed ClimateGovernment Capacity

A Missing Link in the Fight Against the Climate Crisis

With his legislative climate agenda hanging in the balance, President Biden turned to executive action this week in his attempt to “assert American leadership” at COP26 in Glasgow. On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced sweeping new rules to curb methane emissions. Those standards, which the agency estimates would eliminate a greater volume of emissions between 2023 and 2035 than those emitted from all U.S. passenger cars and commercial planes in 2019, were rightly applauded. For now, however, these are just estimates. Ensuring that they turn into real-life emissions reductions that meet or exceed expectations will require that agencies have the capacity to promptly write strong new rules and, then, enforce them.