The Project on Political Reform

Our Mission

The Project on Political Reform investigates the sources of government dysfunction and identifies pragmatic solutions. PPR addresses topics such as legislative decision-making, lobbying, political accountability, campaign laws and practices, structural incentives influencing candidate and office-holder behavior, and the relationships between governing institutions. PPR focuses primarily on local, state and federal government in the United States but, at times, may also address governmental dysfunction in other western democracies. PPR is non-partisan and strongly committed to thoughtful, evidence-based policymaking without regard to political party or ideology. Learn more >>>


Applications for the winter Community Action Bureau Fellowships are now available! And the list of CAB Fellowship projects is also available. Or you can click HERE for more information about CAB and the CAB Fellowship program.

Recent Events

Can Data and Technology Fix Government?

Governments seem unable to meet the needs of people living in increasingly complex modern societies.  Can data and technology save us?  Can they help improve public policy and decision-making…and restore confidence?  And are governments even capable of adopting the technologies that would help them improve? On October 26th, PPR held a panel discussion at Harris to address these critical questions. Panelists were Denise Turner Roth, Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), and Brett Goldstein, Harris Senior Fellow in Urban Science and former Chief Data Officer for the City of Chicago. The event was co-sponsored by Women in Public Policy.  Learn more >>>


Political Campaign Simulation

Conducted on Friday January 27th by American Majority, one of the nation's premier political training organizations. American Majority is on the right side of the political spectrum but liberals, conservatives and moderates were all welcome. 


Clinton vs. Trump:  What’s Really at Stake in the 2016 Elections?

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have radically different visions for America’s future. But how will the voters’ choice really impact economic policy, trade, national security, immigration, and other major policy areas. On November 2nd, PPR held a panel disucssion to drill down beyond the rhetoric and hyperbole and get to the bottom of ‘what’s really at stake?’ Panelists included former staff director of the Senate Budget Committee and Bipartisan Policy Center senior fellow Steve Bell, former HHS Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight director Jay Angoff, and Director of Urban Policy Iniatives at the Urban Institute Erika Poethig, MPP'96.  PPR director Professor William Howell, an expert on the presidency, moderated the discussion. In the photo below, Jay Angoff, who served as the Obama Administration's first implementation director for the Affordable Care Act, explains why most of Obamacare is here to stay regardless of who wins the presidency. Looking on, from left to right, are Howell, Bell, and Poethig. Learn more or watch the entire discussion>>>



Upcoming Events


Certificate in Political Campaigns Lunch'n Learn

Learn about the Certificate in Political Campaigns and have lunch, too! Tuesday, March 28th noon to 1:15 in room 140B.


  Across the Aisle Dinner

The dinner on immigration reform was great!  STAY TUNED.  Another dinner is being planned for spring quarter. Can Democrats and Republicans agree on ANY solutions to the seemingly intractable problems confronting the United States? Join this experiment in dialogue and help us find out. Learn more >>>


Lunch with Congressman Mike Quigley

On Friday, March 3rd, PPR will host a lunch with Illinois 5th CD Represenative Mike Quigley (AM '85) at a restaurant in his district which includes the North Side of Chicago as well as areas to the north and west of the city. Ten Harris students will participate in this intimate off-the-record conversation.  Quigley is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the House Permandent Select Committee on Intelligence.  Check back here for details and to register.


Community Action Bureau Skills Development Sessions

The Community Action Bureau is hosting a series of professional development sessions during the fall quarter. The sessions focus on specific skills that will help ensure success and professional enrichment for students interested in CAB Fellowships, but you don't have to be an aspiring CAB fellow to attend. All Harris students are welcome.

The first session was held on Thursday November 10th.  Attendees discussed best practices for managing a non-profit organization and heard from Pat Mosena, President of Options for Youth, Inc. 

The second session was held on Tuesday November 29th. The topic was Essential Technical Skills For Program Evaluation. The program focused on crucial program evaluation techniques and skills (such as Basic Stata Analysis, LaTex, Information Systems Training, and Survey Methodologies).

Check back here for information on future sessions.

Applications for the winter Community Action Bureau Fellowships are now available! And the list of CAB Fellowship projects is also available. 

For more information, contact Greg at or Tade at


Conference on the Electoral Process

This coming spring, PPR, the Center for Survey Methodology, the Associated Press NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, and the Bipartisan Policy Center will convene a meeting of political consultants from both parties to discuss the current state of the electoral process. Political consultants are the principal custodians of the nation’s electoral system. They understand campaign processes and tactics better than almost anyone else and are constantly engaged in leveraging the system’s strength and exploiting its weaknesses. Yet their opinions and ideas are rarely sought by either researchers or reformers. Check back here for further details.