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Comparative Extension Projects: Pennsylvania Project Funding The General Assembly funded the project based on a proposal by Temple University to build.

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Presentation on theme: "Comparative Extension Projects: Pennsylvania Project Funding The General Assembly funded the project based on a proposal by Temple University to build."— Presentation transcript:

1 Comparative Extension Projects: Pennsylvania Project Funding The General Assembly funded the project based on a proposal by Temple University to build a database similar to the national Policy Agendas model for the years Leaders of all four caucuses have supported the project and appoint representatives to a steering committee. The three year budget is $630,000 virtually all of which pays for student researchers. US ( ) Congressional Hearings Public Laws (and Bills) Executive Orders State of the Union Addresses US Supreme Court Decisions Federal Budgets New York Times Congressional Quarterly Gallup Polls PA ( ) Legislative Hearings Acts, Bills, Resolutions Executive Orders Governors’ Budget Addresses PA Supreme Court Decisions State Finances (Census) Governors’ News Digests Governing Magazine State Polls Parallels to US Project Benefits to State Government Policy-makers and aides can more efficiently research recurring issues and previously-tried solutions, avoiding need to reinvent the wheel. It supplements existing information- retrieval systems. Integration of government records, news accounts, and opinion data should facilitate fuller insights into the underlying causes and politics of issues. Comparability with national database should provide deeper understanding of the inter-relationship of federal and state policies. Policy-makers and aides can more efficiently research recurring issues and previously-tried solutions, avoiding need to reinvent the wheel. It supplements existing information- retrieval systems. Integration of government records, news accounts, and opinion data should facilitate fuller insights into the underlying causes and politics of issues. Comparability with national database should provide deeper understanding of the inter-relationship of federal and state policies. Further Information Our web site is at Although datasets are not yet available, you can see:www.temple.edu/papolicy Our code book, forms used for record processing, and update guidance we have sent to researchers. A progress report that integrates data sets for 1999 and 2000 as an example of final output. Computer-Assisted Coding Plans The project is preparing a stratified sample of bills to train the computer to code remaining legislation. Our working assumption is that computer coding will reduce researcher hours by 50%. Researchers will reexamine records whose coding accuracy is rated low-probability by the computer and revise codes if necessary. We will then submit news stories and other records for computerized coding. Issues in Computer-Assisted Coding Although the PA Constitution requires the short title of all bills to reflect their content, PA titles appear to be less specific than titles of congressional legislation. We may ask the computer to test bill titles against bill content. Our news abstracts have been created by students working on separate campuses and are probably less consistent in use of language than the New York Times abstracts in the national database. Because funded by the General Assembly, our project has less tolerance for random coding error; the computer will not have the last word. RecordsInventoryCompleted Legislation75,32625,302 House Hearings5,280Starts this fall Senate Hearings1, News clips58,0003,855 Governing Mag.5,000 Budget Messages2829 Executive Orders358In progress Supreme Court6,000Starts this fall Polls10 Budgets28In progress University Assignments Although the decentralized organization of the project presents challenges, it also has advantages. Governors’ news digests are not centrally archived: Governor Dick Thornburgh’s news digests ( ) are at the University of Pittsburgh. Governor Robert P. Casey’s news digests ( ) are at Penn State’s University Park Campus. News digests for the period are archived in the Capitol complex in Harrisburg. Processing Records Student researchers abstract bills, resolutions, hearings, and news articles. Students do not apply policy codes to records for which they created the abstract. Using the policy codebook but working separately, two different students then code each record. The goal is to achieve 90% inter-coder reliability for major topics and 75% for minor topics. The graduate research manager checks student work and resolves differences in coding. The GRM meets with researchers each week to go over their work and discuss hard cases. Project Direction Each university team is led by a faculty member who provides oversight. Each team includes: a graduate research manager (GRM) who provides day- to-day direction to student researchers, is responsible for quality control, and maintains communication with the Temple staff, and 4 to 6 researchers who abstract and code records. In addition to researchers, Temple’s team includes computer science faculty and students who are building the website as a class project. Participating Universities Temple University College of Liberal Arts (project HQ). Penn State University, University Park The Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh The Heinz School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University Penn State University, Harrisburg The Fels Institute of Government, University of Pennsylvania. Changes to the National Codebook 13 Substantive Changes (2 Major Topic and 11 Subtopic Codes) 20 Subtopic Additions 1 Major Topic Code Eliminated (Culture and Entertainment) 44 Unused Federal Sub-codes Differences in the Datasets The text and history of US statutes is not directly accessible through the national database website. The text and history of all acts, bills, resolutions, and legislatively authorized studies will be accessible online through the PA database; quantitative analysis of bill histories will be available (bills passed that passed one house, died in conference, etc.) PA records are not as complete as US records. Many committee hearings probably have been lost. The national project abstracts a sample of New York Times stories, many of which are not about public policy. The database can answer the question, “How much attention was the news media (New York Times) paying to various issues from one year to another?” The PA database abstracts a sample of stories from newspapers, wire services, and television and radio states across the state that were included in the daily news digests published by the governors’ (or House) press offices. The database can answer the question, “How much attention were policymakers paying to media accounts of various issues.” Coding by Policy Impact The US and PA projects code data by policy impact, not governmental or legal structure. A bill giving veterans a tax break is coded 1609, veterans issues, not 107, state taxation, even if it amends the state tax code, is considered by the legislative tax committees, and will be administered by the Revenue Department. In determining a code, students are trained to ask, “Who is this bill trying to help,” not what government agency or legislative committee will oversee this policy. But the PA database has filters to further identify important cross-cutting structural and constituency dimensions. Status of Record Processing


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