AN ECONOMIC/PUBLIC POLICY THINK TANK FOR CONGRESS

Think tanks have become increasingly influential and are sometimes cited more often than the Congressional Research Service (CRS).  The CRS and Congressional Budget Office are excellent sources for nonpartisan for policy analysis, but they are restricted to issues and data provided by lawmakers. 

With an eye towards “thinking outside the box,” Jobs-First.org calls for the creation a new organization to could assist lawmakers by providing them both with policy idea as well as analysis called the US Economic Policy and Innovation Center (EPIC).

EPIC could support lawmakers by proactively seeking out the best ideas, policies, technologies, and innovations from around the world and present them to legislators.  This organization would have dual roles as a federal funded economic policy think tank and as a venture capital firm.

A POLICY RESEARCH CENTER

As a think tank, EPIC’s mission would be to employ the best and brightest to travel around the world looking for policy ideas.  EPIC’s mantra would be “anything that works,” meaning any idea is welcome, as long as you can make it work. 

Once researchers discovers a new idea, they would be required to analyze the specifics, develop implementation plans, and coordinate with the committee staff to draft legislation.  After the bill is finalized, it could approved by the committee and forwarded to the House and Senate for an up or down vote. 

It would employ economists, researchers, scientists and policy analysts whose job is to focus on their area of expertise and solicit ideas from every source possible.  They would also collaborate with other think tanks, universities, government labs, research groups, corporate firms, and international institutions, to adopt their best practices.  Similarly to the Brookings Institute, EPIC could fund a fellows program allowing federal, military, non-profit, students, or private-sector researchers to work alongside permanent staff. 

A federal VENTURE CAPITAL FIRM

EPIC could also function as a federally funded venture capital firm similar to In-Q-Tel.  In-Q-Tel was launched in 1999 as an independent, not-for-profit commissioned by the US Intelligence Community.  Its mission is to identify and invest in new technologies and accelerate their delivery to the Intelligence Community.  It employs experts which vet each technology, compare alternative approaches, and validates claims.  In addition, In-Q-Tel’s Strategic Investment Team evaluates the company’s commercial potential and potential for long-term success.

EPIC will be modeled after In-Q-Tel, but instead of supporting the Intelligence Community, it could focus on providing venture capital to American-owned small business and high-tech manufacturing startups.  The purpose of this investment would be to encourage advanced technology manufacturing and to assist the development of next-generation technologies.  

 In additional to capital investments, EPIC could also provide business consultation services, training, and mentorship in order to support the entrepreneur and to protect EPIC’s investments.  As is the case with In-Q-Tel, EPIC could market their services and request business plans/proposals from potential startups.  Once an initial review has been completed, EPIC representatives could initiate meetings with the business owners in order to assess their proposals and to begin the development process.