At Business for America, we believe that better government isn’t just possible — it’s imperative.
That’s why we’re advancing policies and technologies to upgrade government from end to end: how we run elections, how laws are made, and how laws are implemented. Our objective is to make government more efficient, effective, and accountable for all Americans.
We consult with policy experts from across the political spectrum to identify the best ways to upgrade government and elections. Some of the best ideas we’ve identified so far are listed below.
Taken altogether, these improvements will bring government into the 21st century. However, we cannot do it all at once, so we’re working with our business members and strategic partners to advance our top priorities in 2018.
Elections are how we hold our representatives — and by extension, our government — accountable. Therefore our elections must offer voters meaningful choices and be accurate, auditable, and safe from cyber threats.
Data-Driven Redistricting. Partisan gerrymandering undermines competition, drives hyperpartisanship, and disenfranchises voters. Independent redistricting commissions help ensure that districts are not drawn to favor any party.
Multi-Member Districts. Instead of winner-take-all competitions across many small districts, multi-member districts elect several representatives who more accurately reflect the electorate.
Open Primaries. Closed primaries encourage candidates to appeal solely to voters from their own party and drives hyperpartisanship. Open primaries allow voters to choose candidates from any party before the top candidates advance to the general election.
Ranked Choice Voting. Voters rank candidates in order of preference, eliminating the “spoiler effect” that compels voters to choose the lesser of two evils. Ranked choice voting discourages negative campaigning, promotes voter turnout, and makes elections more competitive.
Simple, Secure, Auditable Voting. Modern technology and streamlined processes will help protect elections against manipulation while ensuring all eligible citizens are able to participate.
- Simple sign-up like automatic voter registration
- Uniform standards to maintain accurate, up-to-date voter rolls and ensure no-one is removed without due cause
- Election systems that meet modern security standards and leave auditable records
- Post-election audits to increase public trust in the integrity of the results
Election Security. Election-technology security is vital to our national security. By protecting America’s election technology infrastructure as critical infrastructure, we can ensure accuracy and restore trust in our elections.
Candidate Information. Online tools can track the candidates’ policy positions and incumbents’ voting history, allowing voters to make more informed choices.
Disclosure. Streamlining campaign finance reporting systems with modern technology will facilitate timely online reporting, making it easier to run for office. User-friendly online reporting tools will make major funding sources more transparent, while small donations are anonymized.
For our country to move forward, our elected leaders must work together and put the country’s long-term interests ahead of their own personal, political, and party agendas. Our policymaking solutions incentivize lawmakers to work together and solve problems in a collaborative, results-driven manner.
Campaign Funding. Too many lawmakers are under nonstop pressure to fundraise. Better policy will encourage politicians to do what’s in the long-term interests of the country, instead of their biggest donors.
- Limit fundraising activity while Congress is in session to promote a focus on legislating.
- Set up vouchers or matching funds to increase the influence of small donors and make it easier to run without reliance on large donors.
- Stop donors from hiding behind secret-money groups. Require disclosure of major donors for all significant political advertising.
- Close loopholes to ensure that campaign contributions cannot be used to cover personal expenses.
Ethics & Integrity. Stronger ethics rules and enforcement will help minimize conflicts of interest while maximizing transparency and accountability.
- End political bribery. Make it illegal for politicians to take money from lobbyists, including bundled contributions.
- Strengthen enforcement and increase transparency. Tighten the definition of “lobbyist” to close loopholes. Disclose all lobbyist meetings with staff in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
- Close the revolving door. Prohibit lawmakers and staff from taking lobbyist jobs until five years after they’ve left government.
Legislative Process. Simple rule changes will encourage compromise and putting the public interest ahead of short-term political gain.
- 72-hour rule. Publish bills online at least 72 hours before the vote so that lawmakers, staff, and the general public have an opportunity to discuss bills’ merits.
- Read the bill. Require lawmakers to certify that they’ve read the bill before casting their vote to encourage accountability, as well as shorter bills in clear language.
- Single-subject rule. Require legislation to focus on one main issue to reduce complexity and prevent lawmakers from sneaking unpopular provisions into larger bills.
- Right-sized lawmaker staff levels. Provide elected leaders with the staff necessary to evaluate legislation and reduce dependence on lobbyists, especially at the state level.
- Clearly written laws. Complicated wording makes it difficult to know whether you’re in compliance with the law and wastes money on legal advice. Plain English legal writing will save legislators and regulators time and effort — as well as the general public.
Policy Data & Analytics. When our lawmakers and regulators have easy access to reliable and accurate data and analysis, it will be easier to make good decisions and improve existing programs.
- Invest in data. Upon the passage of each new program, funds would be appropriated for evaluation and measurement to provide a clear picture of what is and isn’t working.
- Key performance metrics. Require that legislation include key performance metrics (KPMs) to bring more accountability to the policymaking process.
Online Deliberation Tools. Whether the term is used for official purposes or informally, the essential purpose of lobbying is to persuade public officials. By creating a platform for advocacy groups, think tanks, the general public, and even lobbyists to post their best information, the policymaking process will become more transparent, participatory, and evidence-based.
Version Control. Draft legislation online with “track changes” functionality, including privacy options for lawmaker discretion, negotiation, and revision. This will make the drafting process more efficient and transparent.
Government can do its job better and at a lower cost, but only if we invest in long-term solutions. It starts with the mandate and leadership to embrace modern technology, results-oriented management, and a customer focus.
Accurate Census. A thorough, accurate 2020 Census requires current technology and the funding to get it right. The decennial census is essential to the allocation of government services and accurate political representation, as well as business research and investment.
Continuous Improvement. The world’s greatest businesses never stop striving for excellence. With the right incentives, our government will, too. Setting goals, measuring outcomes, and iterating solutions will give the public sector the same results-focus that works so well in the private sector.
Artificial Intelligence. Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to help government officials gather and interpret information in new ways, creating huge leaps in efficiency.
Distributed Ledger Technology. Blockchain and other distributed ledger technology (DLT) have immense potential to increase government transparency and integrity — while saving taxpayers time and money.
Online Laws and Codes. The laws and regulatory codes that govern us must be publicly and freely available online in a machine-readable format.
Open Civic Data. When federal, state, and local governments publish structured data online with application programming interfaces (APIs), it leads to improved policy measurement, deeper analytical insights, greater citizen participation, and opportunities for useful new products and services using the data.
Our nonpartisan policy agenda is joining business leaders from across the political spectrum to support commonsense improvements to our government and elections.
Want to help? Send us an email to get involved, or make a tax-deductible donation today.