The Center for Effective Lawmaking Meets with Delegation from the Ukrainian Parliament

Volden Ukrainian Parliament Presentation
Batten School Professor and Co-Director of the Center for Effective Lawmaking Craig Volden met with a delegation from the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, in early September to discuss lawmaking effectiveness.

The Center for Effective Lawmaking (the “CEL”), a partnership between the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and Vanderbilt University, was recently invited to share its research on legislative effectiveness with delegates from the Ukrainian Parliament.

The CEL was established five years ago by Professors Craig Volden at the Batten School and Alan E. Wiseman at Vanderbilt University to advance the generation, communication and use of new knowledge about the effectiveness of individual lawmakers and U.S. legislative institutions. An invitation to present their insights to a parliamentary government was unexpected, but welcome.

Volden met with a delegation from the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, in early September. Staff members from Parliament were in Washington, D.C. for a program sponsored by the US Agency for International Development and the American Councils for International Education.

Seeking information about good governance practices in the U.S., the visitors requested a presentation from the CEL about how to assess and improve their lawmaking effectiveness. The CEL found their research surprisingly applicable in some manners to governing bodies beyond the U.S. In fact, they found similar issues (and potential solutions) were present in the Ukrainian system as here in the United States.

“I was able to introduce them to the work of the Center and offer insights from our work on Congress that might be applicable in their setting” Volden said. “For example, some of our work from our 'Building a Better Congress’ project has emphasized the value in cultivating policy specialization and expertise among lawmakers, in building more opportunities for bipartisanship and in attracting and retaining competent support staff and institutional support structures. In the discussions, I found that each of these proposals matched some of the challenges faced in the Ukrainian Parliament.”

During the meeting with the Ukrainian Parliament delegation, participants also discussed methodologies and potential challenges to assessing, and holding accountable, political bodies and individual lawmakers. Volden said, “We held an extensive discussion about how to best score lawmakers for their legislative accomplishments, how such scoring leads to insights and accountability – but may also produce biases – and how citizens might use such ratings in their evaluations of legislators, including during elections.”

The collaborative work between the CEL and the visiting international government members affirmed the CEL’s belief that rigorous scholarly work performed on U.S. institutions can be used to inform how others can shape their systems of government – and vice versa. The ability to share lessons learned across forms of governance while remaining aware of the differences could be one of the most powerful ways to assess leadership and impact.

“This session reaffirmed our belief that many of the lessons we are drawing based on studies of the U.S. Congress – and increasingly of the U.S. state legislatures as well – are broadly applicable,” said Volden. “Although one must be careful to adapt these findings to different legislative settings, many of the lessons about building coalitions, resolving complex negotiations, and cultivating expertise to resolve policy challenges are applicable around the world.”

Garrett Hall at Sunset

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