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Center for Effective Lawmaking
Center for Effective Lawmaking


Charlottesville, VA, USA


11-50 employees

founded in


It is widely believed that members of Congress (and other legislative bodies) are failing to address the most pressing public policy problems. They appear to be unable to formulate coherent policy proposals and advance them through the legislative process and into law. The Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) is an organization that promotes legislative effectiveness among lawmakers in legislatures across the U.S. and around the world through research and engagement. The Center is currently focused on the U.S. Congress, but over time the work will expand to U.S. state legislatures and to legislative institutions beyond the U.S. The CEL is a joint partnership between the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and Vanderbilt University. It was created in 2017 to advance the generation, communication and use of new knowledge about the effectiveness of individual lawmakers and legislative institutions in Congress. The Center came grew out of the Legislative Effectiveness Project; the scholarship of Volden and Wiseman as featured in the award-winning book Legislative Effectiveness in the United States Congress: The Lawmakers. Through the CEL, Volden and Wiseman advance the argument: (1) that legislators vary in their effectiveness at lawmaking; (2) that such differences can be measured systematically; (3) that doing so yields a better understanding of how legislatures work and why they produce particular public policies; and (4) that such research and understanding yields new opportunities to improve lawmaking effectiveness. Among the tools used to advance this agenda of scholarship and engagement, Volden and Wiseman developed the Legislative Effectiveness Score (LES). The LES combines 15 metrics related to the bills sponsored by members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, how far they move through the lawmaking process, and the significance of the policy changes they advocate.

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