January 31, 2012

What is the State of the Union Address?

Last Tuesday, January 24th, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address. He focused on the economy, unemployment, education reform, American energy, and the end of the Iraq War. This address was the 91st State of the Union address in U.S. history. After the address, Indiana Governor, Mitch Daniels gave the Republican response.

The State of the Union address has a rich history and the formal basis for the address is in the Constitution. The first State of the Union address was delivered by George Washington in 1790. Back then it was called the Annual Message and was a formal speech given by the President to Congress. Today, the State of the Union address isn’t just a speech for Congress; it’s a way for the President to speak directly to the American people. Now, it is given in late January in the House Chamber, although the date and place have changed over the years. Since 1976, TV networks have provided a slot for the opposing party to respond immediately after the address.

The University Libraries have several resources on the State of the Union address including past speeches. Check out the following:
State of the union: presidential rhetoric from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush. Edited by Deborah Kalb, Gerhard Peters, & John T. Woolley. Washington D.C.: CQ Press, c2007.
University Library Reference J 81.4 S73 2007

The president’s speeches: beyond “going public.” Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha. Boulder, Colo: Rienner, 2006.
University Library JK 585 E 74 2006

Addressing the state of the union: the evolution and impact of the president’s big speech. Donna R. Hoffman & Allison D. Howard. Boulder Colo: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2006.
University Library JK 587 H65 2006

The State of the Union messages of the Presidents, 1790-1966. Edited by Fred L. Israel. New York: Chelsea House, 1966.
University Library / J 81 C66

The view from the White House; a study of the Presidential State of the Union messages. Seymour H. Fersh. Washington: Public Affairs Press, 1961.
University Library / JK 587 F4

There is also online access to State of the Union addresses from 1992-2011.

If you have any questions about how to find additional resources on the State of the Union address, please contact our bibliographer for Political Science and Public Administration & Policy, Richard Irving. You can email him at or give him a call at (518) 442-3698.

Blog post created by Katherine Farrell

November 29, 2011

The Department of Energy as the Oops Agency

If you watch the news then you probably know about Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry’s oops moment. When trying to list the three government agencies he would eliminate as president, Perry managed to list the Department of Education and the Department of Commerce but forgot the third agency. If the words Department of Energy had come to mind this infamous moment wouldn’t have happened. This post will give you a better understanding of the Department of Energy including the current controversies surrounding the agency. The Department of Energy was created in the late 1970s when President Jimmy Carter signed the Department of Energy Organization Act. This agency is in charge of our nation’s nuclear power, promotes energy related research, and is an advocate for reliable and sustainable energy. This is a large agency with many programs and operations. An organizational chart outlining the Department of Energy’s many facets can be found on page 205 of The United States Government Manual[Dewey Reference JK 421 A3 2009/2010]. This chart will give you a better understanding of the Department of Energy’s complexities. Other titles available at the Dewey Library are Government Agencies[Dewey Reference JK 421 G65 198] and Federal Regulatory Directory[Dewey Reference JK 901 F28]. These reference materials have in-depth information on the Department of Energy and clearly outline the agency and its many functions. The Department of Energy has made its own recent headlines and they aren’t connected to Rick Perry. On November 12th the Washington Post published the article “As Solyndra Fell, Chu Failed to Sound Alarm.” This article talks about the $535 million federal loan that was given to Solyndra before it went bankrupt. The Department of Energy supported Solyndra even though the company had many financial problems. Many people are now questioning the Department of Energy’s financial backing of the now out-of-business company and change within the agency seems inevitable. On November 15th the New York Times published the article “Report Calls for Broad Restructuring of Energy Department. The Department of Energy is criticized for supporting Solyndra and sheds light on a possible restructuring of the entire agency. These changes are being debated by government officials and politicians, including those running for president. It is possible to find congressional hearings on this same subject by searching Congressional Research Service Reports (GalleryWatch CRS Reports) in our Library Databases. People may eventually forget Rick Perry’s blunder but with a presidential election just around the corner, it is obvious that the issues regarding the Department of Energy will be a popular topic of conversation. If you have any questions about how to find additional resources on the Department of Energy, please contact our bibliographer for Political Science and Public Administration & Policy, Richard Irving. You can email him at or give him a call at (518) 442-3698. Blog post created by Katherine Farrell

November 08, 2011

Open Book New York

Open Book New York is an online resource provided by the State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office. This resource provides information on where government money is being spent. Information on stimulus spending, state agency spending, state contracts, and local government spending are all available online. Our New York State Government Information Guide] has a link to Open Book New York as well as other state government resources.

Open Book New York makes it possible to track federal stimulus money. A pie chart is provided, illustrating where funds are allocated. It is possible to click on each section of the pie for more detailed information on stimulus spending. There is also a search box that allows you to search for individual organizations and programs and how they’re spending federal stimulus money. A link to state contracts that have been approved with stimulus money is provided underneath the search box. This data is updated on a daily basis.

There is a tab specifically for searching state agency spending. Here you can select from a list of agencies or search them all, specify fiscal year, and select a time increment or time period. Once you’ve selected what you want, you can view the disbursement amounts of the spending categories within the agency. This information is updated monthly.

Data on state contracts is updated daily. You can search by state agency, state authority, and vendor when looking for who is doing business with the state. Contract amounts, spending to date, contract description, and start and end dates are all available online. There is also an advanced feature that allows you to further limit your search to a time period, type of contract, and spending amount.

It is also possible to search local government spending. There are two types of reports that can be generated from this site. A trend report will provide data on one municipality and a comparison report will compare data of four parts of local government. If you select the trend report you can view data from up to six different years, the earliest year being 1996. A comparison report will let you select and compare four different cities, counties, towns, villages, etc. Both reports provide data on revenues and expenditures. This data is updated annually.

For more information on how to use Open New York, there is an online tutorial on the website’s main page . You can also contact our government documents librarian Cathy Dwyer by email [] or phone 442-3549.

Blog post created by Katie Farrell

October 04, 2011

Remembering and Researching Gov. Hugh Carey and other NYS Executives

I will take “Former New York Governors” for $400 Alex. Question: An attorney, the 51st Governor of New York from 1975 to 1982, and a seven-term United States Representative from 1961–1974. Answer: “Who is Hugh Leo Carey?”. Correct! The long and storied career of Hugh Carey makes him a giant of New York Politics, his achievements as governor and representative mark him as one of the finest political leaders in New York’s history. It is for these reasons that the state and country have mourned the passing of Hugh Carey in early August of this year.

One of the biggest events of Hugh Carey’s career was the New York City Fiscal Crisis of 1975. Hugh Carey entered office in 1974, and at that time New York City was on the verge of bankruptcy. At the time, New York City and its subdivisions had $14 billion of debt outstanding of which almost $6 billion was short-term. Hugh Carey appointed an advisory committee to monitor New York City affairs. One of the main recommendations of the advisory committee was the creation of a Municipal Assistance Corporation. The creation of the Municipal Assistance Corporation marked a turning point in the fiscal crisis, and the group began to implement changes to help the city out of the crisis.

The Municipal Assistance Corporation (MAC) was an independent corporation authorized to sell bonds to meet the borrowing needs of the city. The MAC demanded that the city institute a wage freeze, lay off employees, increase subway fares, and begin charging tuition at city universities. Despite a summer of labor unrest, these measures stuck and MAC was able to refinance some city debt, but the market was still resistant. The fiscal crisis was not totally resolves until 1981, the first year that the city was able to run a balanced budget.

Hugh Carey is most well known for his involvement in the fiscal crisis of the 1970’s but there were other major landmarks in his career. Carey cut taxes significantly, reduced corporate taxes from 14 percent to 10 percent, capped personal income tax at nine percent, and reduced capital gains taxes He also began an initiative to bring new investment to the city and the state as a whole by offering tax credits to encourage investment. As Governor he was responsible for building the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center; Battery Park City; the South Street Seaport and the economic development of the NYC boroughs outside Manhattan. He also secured state funds to begin construction on the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University.

For more information on Hugh Carey, you might try a few books that the library owns. They cover biographical information as well as his governorship, and some of the defining moments of his political career.
*The Man Who Saved New York: Hugh Carey and the Great Fiscal Crisis of 1975 by Seymour P. Lachmann and Robert Polner (Dewey Library HJ 9289 N4 L33 2010)
*The Days of Wine and Roses are Over: Governor Hugh Carey and New York State by Daniel C. Kramer (Dewey Library F 125.3 C37 K73 1997)
*The Crisis Regime: The MAC, The EFCB, and the Political Impact of the New York City Financial Crisis by Robert W. Bailey (Dewey Library HJ 9289 N4 B34 1984)

If you have any other questions about Hugh Carey, his governorship, the fiscal crisis, or anything make sure to contact out bibliographer for Political Science, Public Administration & Policy, and Law, Richard Irving. You can email him at or give him a call at (518) 442-3698. He will be glad to help you find any further information you may need regarding Hugh Carey or other NYS governors.

Post created by Benjamin Knowles

July 25, 2011

Researching the National Debt and Raising the Debt Ceiling

You may have heard a lot of talk in the media recently about the U.S. debt ceiling and the political wrangling going on in Washington D.C. over this topic. So what is the debt ceiling? Where did it come from, what is it for, and who controls or sets it? These questions as well as specific information about the latest debt crisis can be found below, along with some great resources on this topic within and outside of the University Libraries.

The United States Constitution allows Congress to borrow money on the credit of the United States. In the early years of our country Congress would authorize each individual debt issuance separately which made for a rather cumbersome and time consuming process. As World War I rolled around Congress needed more flexibility in issuing debt to respond to the increased involvement in the war. The Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917 created a limit or “ceiling” to the total amount of bonds that could be issued. In 1939 an aggregate limit was applied to all federal debt allowing the Treasury to issue debt needed to fund government operations as long as it did not exceed the stated limit. The most recent increase in the debt ceiling was made in February of 2010, it set the limit to $14.294 trillion.

You may be asking why this has everyone in Washington so nervous. The problem is that in July of 2011 the U.S. was set to reach and exceed the stated debt limit. This could be a crippling problem for the United States, most importantly because it would not allow the government to fulfill all of its financial obligations which would be a serious issue for the nation. There are ways in which the government could pay its federal debt; these include raising taxes, coining money, and selling federal assets.

Much of the debate is over whether or not to increase the federal debt ceiling and if there is a way or ways to avoid such actions. Both parties in Washington have supplied ideas on how to fix this latest debt ceiling issue, both with their pros and cons. One of the ways to limit debt increase is to cut sending but some argue that this would damage vital services around the country and the world, permanently damaging the reputation and economy of the United States. Not increasing the debt ceiling could cause irreparable damage to U.S. creditor ship around the world and would be disastrous to our economy as a whole.

Check out a few of these articles and websites related to the recent debate over the debt crisis in the U.S.

Also here are a few resources here at the University Libraries that can help you understand the debt ceiling and the debate surrounding it.

  • Public Debt and Economic Growth by Alfred Greiner and Bettina Fincke (DEWEY HJ 8015 G745X 2009)

  • One Nation Under Debt: Hamilton, Jefferson, and the History of What We Owe by Robert E. Wright (DEWEY HJ 8106 W75 2008)

  • The Federal Budget: Politics, Policy, Process by Allen Schick (DEWEY HJ 2051 S3424 2007)

  • Government at Risk: Contingent Liabilities and Fiscal Risk edited by Hana Polackova Brixi and Allen Schick (DEWEY HJ 192.5 G68 2002)

I hope we have helped to clarify some questions about this hot button issue; it affects all of our lives so it is important to be aware of the facts and the debate. Browse some of these items and if you have any further question or need a recommendation for further reading you can contact the bibliographer for Political Science, Public Administration & Policy, and Law, Richard Irving. You can email him at or call him at (518) 442-3698, he will be happy to answer any and all of your questions in this regard.

Blog post created by Benjamin Knowles

June 15, 2011

New Report fromt he Rockefeller Institute on SUNY's Economic Impact

Have you ever considered the economic impact of the SUNY school system, whether all around the state or right here in Albany? If so, you are not the only one, The Rockefeller Institute recently wrote a report on the economic impact of the SUNY school system. The report is called “How SUNY Matters: Economic Impacts of the State University of New York” and can be found on the Rockefeller Institute website. There is both a press release outlining some of the main points of the report as well as a PDF version of the report if you choose to read the whole thing.

So, what is the Rockefeller Institute, and what exactly do they do? Some would call the Rockefeller Institute a “think tank”, but that implies that they advocate for certain policies or have a certain political leaning. The Rockefeller Institute’s mission is to “enhance the capacities of state governments and the federal system to deal effectively with the nation’s domestic challenges”. They accomplish this goal by tracking state fiscal conditions, tax policies, fiscal capabilities and spending trends as well as conducting nationwide field research studies that examine whether and how states have implemented major initiatives, and the institutional strengths and weaknesses revealed by such efforts. While some of the Rockefeller Institute’s work is national; they also serve agencies of New York State government through studies, special projects, books, reports, and frequent public forums.

Without ruining the whole report I will try to give a few main points about the report and what is says. The report stressed the need for job creation in the state and sees the SUNY system as a catalyst for this change. Thomas Gais, director of the Rockefeller Institute is quoted in the report, he says "New York State's job growth has been less than a third of the nation's over the past two decades; SUNY is the key to making our comeback." According to the report SUNY can contribute to the state's capacity to grow and produce jobs in the new economy in these ways:

• Educating a competitive workforce, through its broad educational mission and through a rich array of career-specific programs at community colleges and other campuses.

• Helping employers large and small with the adoption of new technologies and new ideas.

• Rapidly growing the capacity of its research campuses, in particular, to develop new technologies and to transfer their research findings into commercial use.

These and many other interesting points are raised within the contents of the Rockefeller Institute’s Report on the economic impact of the SUNY system. Make sure to visit their website and read the press release and the report. Then tell us what you think! Feel free to comment on this post and see what other people think about the report and its findings.

Also if you have any questions about the Rockefeller Institute, or their latest report, get in contact with Richard Irving, he is the Bibliographer for Political Science, Public Administration & Policy, and Law here at the Dewey Library. He will be able to answer your questions as well as direct you to new sources of information on this topic.

Blog post created by Benjamin Knowles

March 15, 2011

Public Policy Research Spotlight: CQ Resources

For public policy, political science, and social welfare students conducting research, the suite of Congressional Quarterly (CQ) resources available through the UA Libraries is a great way to get an overview of congressional activity presented in an easy to understand style. These resources are available online (with the exception of the CQ Almanac, which is available at the Dewey Library and in the reference area of the University Library) by doing a title search in our online catalog, Minerva. or through the links provided in the “ Guide to Federal Public Policy Research. The CQ resources can be are referenced in the Historical development section of the guide.

CQ Researcher is a great periodical for getting an overview of public policy topics. Although it doesn’t provide cutting edge news, you can use this resource to get an introduction, background, pros and cons, timeline, bibliography, and other features on a topic. Let’s check out a topic currently in the news by doing a keyword search at the top of the page. When I searched for gay marriage, the result “Gay Marriage Showdowns” looked relevant and was updated recently. After clicking on the article, you can use the tools on the right to find related reports and related topics in order to broaden the search and find other resources; you can also use the Bibliography and Contacts sections at the bottom of the article for additional resources. On the left, a table of contents is available that will guide you to the most relevant portions of the article. In the Pro/Con section you can read arguments both for and against gay marriage written by experts. If you’re more graphically inclined, check out some of the maps and graphs. Citing any information in the article is as simple as clicking the CiteNow! button at the top of the page.

Once you have a general overview, you might want to check out Congress and the Nation (for four-year overviews available up through 2008) or the CQ Almanac (for annual overviews available up through 2009) to gain historical/congressional perspective on an issue. You can find out what parties were for and against public policy decisions in either resource. To trace the evolution of an issue, take advantage of the wider scope of Congress and the Nation; for a more specific look at particular events, use the more narrowly focused CQ Almanac.

Still stumped on your research topic, or need help getting started with CQ resources? Stop by the reference desk, or email the Public Policy, Political Science, and Law Bibliographer Richard Irving to set up an appointment for individualized help.

Blog post created by Lauren Stern and Richard Irving

February 08, 2011

Presidential Libraries: Vital to Public Policy Research

Presidential libraries are more than a memorial or time capsule; they also represent an invaluable tool for research. For example, in Wainess’s examination of the health care reform actions of the 1970s (“The ways and means of national health care reform, 1974 and beyond,” available from the CINAHL Plus database), he used the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library as a source of primary documents that gave him insight into the political processes and machinations surrounding an on-going political issue that is still making headlines. As Schick stated in his book Records of the Presidency: Presidential Papers and Libraries from Washington to Reagan, “the personal and public papers of the presidents are crucial to the understanding of this country’s history; they are a direct reflection of the problems and pressures that have been faced by the nation’s chief executives” both in years past and in years to come.

Historically, many presidents have saved their documents, but Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to develop the idea of an official presidential library and Ronald Reagan was the first president to be required by law to have his documents stored within a presidential library, funded privately but maintained by the National Archives. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library will be celebrating Reagan’s centennial birthday event shortly, featuring both in-person and video tributes from world leaders and live music. In a reflection of the increasingly digital environment that presidential libraries have embraced, for those unable to visit the event in person there will be a live video feed available.

Those interested in using the invaluable primary resources of the presidential libraries can find maps of the presidential libraries, visiting information, and links to visit the libraries digitally at the website of the National Archives]. Additional information and locations to access presidential documents online include:

If you would like more information on Presidential policies you may wish to contact Dick Irving, our Public Policy, Political Science, Public Administration and Law Bibliograhper. He can be reached at 442-3698 or Also check out our new display on presidential libraries in the main room of the Dewey Library and pick up a bibliography of many more print and online resources.

Blog post created by Lauren Stern

December 08, 2010

Resources on Congressional/Legislative Redistricting

The United States Constitution (Article I, Section 2) requires that a census be undertaken every ten years specifically for the purpose of determining the number of Congressional seats allocated to each state. The process of allocating the number of congressional seats to each state is called reapportionment. The process by which each state redraws its congressional districts, based on its new allocation, is called redistricting. Similarly, each state uses the census data to redraw its state legislative districts. Soon, each state will be undertaking the redistricting process using the 2010 census data.

In New York State, the state legislature is responsible for redrawing NYS congressional districts, and state assembly and senate districts. The State Constitution sets the number of assembly seats at 150 (Article III, Section 2). The number of state senate seats (at present 62) is determined by a formula described in the State Constitution (Article III, Section 4). The New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment was established in 1978 to provide technical support to the state legislature in the redistricting process. Redistricting must be in effect prior to the 2002 election and must meet the following approval requirements:

“the redistricting plan must be approved by the state Legislature and the Governor. In addition, 3 counties of New York City (Bronx, Kings, and New York) require that the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia review and approve the plan for compliance with the Voting Rights Act” (LATFOR, n.d., n.p.).
Many advocates of government reform have been critical of the current redistricting process, “the Republican-controlled Senate draws its lines and the Democrat-controlled Assembly does the same,” because impartial, nonpartisan redistricting – as originally intended by the framers of the State Constitution – has the potential to impact the reelection of incumbent politicians (NYPIRG, 2010, n.p.). To understand more about the process of redistricting and its impact on you and your community, please browse the digital and print resources available at UAlbany’s libraries, including those listed below.


Behr, J. G. (2004). Race, ethnicity, and the politics of city redistricting: Minority-opportunity districts and the election of Hispanics and Blacks to city councils. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
University Library: JS 371 B44 2004
Brunell, T. L. (2008). Redistricting and representation: Why competitive elections are bad for America. New York: Routledge.University Library: JK 1976 B74 2008

Bullock, C. S. (2010). Redistricting: The most political activity in America. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
University Library: KF 4905 B85 2010

Clarke, B. M. and Reagan, R. T. (2002). Redistricting litigation: An overview of legal, statistical, and case-management issues. Washington, DC: Federal Judicial Center.

Darling, M. J. T. (Ed.) (2001). Race, voting, redistricting, and the constitution: Sources and explorations on the Fifteenth Amendment. New York: Routledge.
University Library: KF 4905 R33 2001

Galie, P. J. (1991). The New York state constitution: A reference guide. New York: Greenwood Press.
Dewey Library: Reference: KFN 5680 1777 A6 G35 1990
Mann, T. E. and Cain, B. E. (Eds.). (2005). Party lines: Competition, partisanship, and congressional redistricting. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
University Library: JK 1341 P37 2005

Monmonier, M. (2001). Bushmanders & bullwinkles: How politicians manipulate electronic maps and census data to win elections. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
University Library: JK 1341 M66 2001

U.S. Census Bureau. (2004). Designing P.L. 94-171 redistricting data for the year 2010 census: The view from the states. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration.
University Library: GovDoc J 85 C 3.2:V 67/2
Winburn, J. (2008). The realities of redistricting: Following the rules and limiting gerrymandering in state legislative redistricting. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
University Library: JK 1341 W56 2008

Yarbrough, T. E. (2002). Race and redistricting: The Shaw-Cromartie cases. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas.University Library: KF 4905 Y37 2002


Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. (n.d.). Redistricting. Retrieved from
Cooper, M. (2010, Sep. 25). How to tilt an election through redistricting. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Davey, M. (2010, Sep. 27). Winners and losers in reapportionment. The New York Times.
LATFOR. (n.d.). NYS legislative task force on demographic research and reapportionment. Retrieved from
NYPIRG (2010, Nov. 11). Reform New York: Redistricting. Retrieved from
The Association of the Bar of the City of New York. (2007). A proposed New York State Constitutional amendment to emancipate redistricting from partisan gerrymanders: Partisanship channeled for fair line‐drawing. Retrieved from

If you have any questions about researching the redistricting process in New York or the United States, please contact Dick Irving, our Political Science and Public Administration Subject Specialist. He can be reached at 442-3698 or

Blog post created by Lauren Stern and Dick Irving

November 02, 2010

Every Election Brings a Lame Duck Session

The term lame duck refers to “a person, legislature, or administration that continues to hold office after losing an election” (“Lame duck,” 2010). The term “lame duck” has also been used to describe a second term President who is not eligible for re-election and a session of Congress taking place between a congressional election and the convening of the just elected Congress. A “lame duck” session of Congress includes both exiting members and members who will be returning to the next session of Congress. Both groups, for various reasons, may vote differently in a lame duck session than they would have in the preceding regular Congressional session.
It is expected that after this year’s midterm elections, we will have another lame duck Congress; what effects could this have on public policy? One of the issues likely to be considered is an extension of the “Bush tax cuts”.

UAlbany has many full-text resources available, including journal articles at Academic Search Complete [] and JSTOR and newspaper articles at LexisNexis Academic. Most of the resources located below can be accessed remotely by logging in with your UAlbany account or found at the library.

Baumann, D. (2004). How lame is a lame duck anyway? National Journal, 36(39), 2898-2899. Available in Academic Search Complete database.

Brady, D. W., and McCubbins, M. D. (Eds.). (2007). Party, process, and political change in Congress. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. University Library: JK 1021 P38 2002

Franklin, D., and Westin, T. (1998). Predicting the institutional effects of term limits. Public Choice, 96(3/4), 381-393. Available in JSTOR database.

Herszenhorn, D. M. (2008, November 21). Lame duck? The dodo seems a more apt bird.
The New York Times, pp. A23. Available in LexisNexis Academic database.

Jenkins, J. A., and Nokken, T. P. (2008). Partisanship, the Electoral Connection, and Lame-Duck Sessions of Congress, 1877-2006. The Journal of Politics, 70(2), 450-465. Available from Cambridge Journals online (see journal record in Minerva).

Lame duck. (2010). in The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics. Available from Oxford Online Reference (see e-book record in Minerva).

Parker, G. R. (2005). Reputational capital, opportunism, and self-policing in legislatures. Public Choice, 122(3/4), 333-354. Available in JSTOR database.

Nagle, J. (1998, December 21). On the authority of lame ducks. The Washington Post, pp. A28. Available in LexisNexis Academic database.

Newton-Small, J. (2010). GOP goes (lame) duck hunting. Time, 176(6), 12. Available in Academic Search Complete database.

Rothenberg, L. S., and Sanders, M. S. (2000). Lame-Duck politics: Impending departure and the votes on impeachment. Political Research Quarterly, 53(3), 523-536. Available in JSTOR database.

Thiessen, M. A. (2010, August 17). Mark Kirk, the lame-duck killer. The Washington Post, [n.p.]. Available in LexisNexis Academic database.

If you are interested in researching the past actions of lame duck sessions of Congress, come talk to Dick Irving our Political Science, Public Policy and Public Administration bibliographer. His expertise will help you efficiently find the resources you need. Give him a call at 442-3693 or email him at

Blog post created by Lauren Stern and Richard Irving

October 12, 2010

Researching Populist Movements

Populist movements appear several times throughout our nation’s history, typically under the guise of a “Populist party” or “People’s party.” Examples include the agrarian Populist party, considered to be the originator of populism in our country (active 1891-1908); the People’s party of 1971, which focused on decreasing the defense budget in favor of increased spending on social programs like universal health care (Political Parties in America, 2001); and the Tea Party of today. The specific political agenda of each movement has varied according to the sociopolitical climate of its times, but populist movements typically consider themselves to be under-represented by the political leaders of their times and respond with a grassroots approach to reform.

To learn more about the variety of populist movements in our country, you may want to check out the encyclopedia mentioned above at the Dewey Library (Reference, JK 2261 P636 2001) or one of the other public policy or political science encyclopedias available there, such as:

Nagel, S.S. (Ed.). (1994). Encyclopedia of policy studies (2nd ed.). New York: M. Dekker.
Dewey Library: Reference, H 97 E6 1994

Peters, B.G. and Pierre, J. (Eds.) (2006). Handbook of public policy. London; Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication.
Dewey Library: Reference, H 97 H3582 2006

Plano, J.C. and Greenberg, M. (Eds.). (1997). The American political dictionary (10th ed.). Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.
Dewey Library: Reference, JK 9 P55 1997
University Library: JK 9 P55 1997

Safire, W. (2008). Safire’s political dictionary. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.
Dewey Library: Reference, JK 9 S2 2008

Additional recommended reading includes:

Adam, A. J. and Gaither, G. H. (2004). Black populism in the United States: An annotated
. Westport, CT: Praeger.
University Library: E 185.6 Z999 A33 2004

Berman, D.R. (2007). Radicalism in the mountain West, 1890-1920: Socialists, populists,
miners, and Wobblies.
Boulder: University Press of Colorado.
University Library: HN 49 R33 B47 2007

Formisano, R. P. (2008). For the people: American populist movements from the Revolution
to the 1850s.
Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
University Library: E 302.1 F67 2008

Lee, H. (2010). The next American Civil War: The populist revolt against the liberal elite. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
University Library: JC 559 U5 H37 2010

Panizza, F. (Ed.). (2005). Populism and the mirror of democracy. London; New York: Verso.
University Library: JC 423 P5868 2005

Piott, S. L. (Ed.). (2006). American reformers, 1870-1920: Progressives in word and deed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
University Library: E 663 A47 2006

Taggart, P. (2000). Populism. Buckingham; Philadelphia: Open University Press.
University Library: JC 423 T252 2000

There are many print resources available beyond those listed above. To search Minerva for additional UAlbany resources on this topic, following are several relevant Library of Congress subject headings (which can be copied from below and then entered into the main Minerva search screen):

Populism -- United States.
Populism -- United States -- History -- 18th century.
Populism -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
Populism -- West (U.S.) -- History.
Populism -- Southern States -- History -- 19th century.
Farmers -- Political activity -- Southern States -- History -- 19th century.
Working class -- Political activity -- Southern States -- History -- 19th century.

Finally, information about particular US populist movements can be found through UAlbany’s databases and also online:

Farmers, the Populist Party, and Mississippi (1870-1900) (Mississippi Historical Society)

Excerpt from ''People's Party Platform,"' Omaha 1892. (W. W. Norton)

Reform and the Pacific Northwest, 1880-1920 (University of Washington)

Tea Party Political Hotsheet

Blog post created by Lauren Stern

September 14, 2010

When Disaster Strikes

Hurricaine Earl did not turn out to be as severe as we might have feared, but there have been a number of disasters (both natural and man made) in recent years: floods, tornadoes, blizzards, wildfires. In fact, there have been 65 designated disasters in the United States in 2010 alone. In New York State, most of our disasters are from floods or snowstorms. Both the federal and state levels of government have administrative organizations to coordinate activities when disaster strikes.

FEMA stands for Federal Emergency Management agency. FEMA helps prepare for disasters and responds to them when they strike. The Congressional Act of 1803 was the very beginning of what FEMA is today. The Congressional Act of 1803 supplied assistance to a town in New Hampshire that had suffered from a devastating fire. After this act, many other disaster-related organizations were formed and FEMA was the merger of all of these in 1979. September 11th proved to be a great challenge for FEMA and homeland security has become a new focus of the agency. FEMA’s vision is “to lead America to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from disasters with a vision of ‘A Nation Prepared’.”

SEMO is the New York State Emergency Management Office. This office has been around for more than 50 years and coordinates the of the State agencies in order to keep the residents of New York State safe during disasters and emergencies. Similar to FEMA, SEMO is an agency on the state level that focuses on preparing and recovering from disasters.

For more information on FEMA and SEMO check out these articles:

Belasco, A. (2010). FY2010 supplemental for wars, disaster assistance, Haiti relief, and other programs. Retrieved from GalleryWatch CRS Reports database.

Jones, N.L. (2010). The Americans with Disabilities Act and emergency preparedness and response. Retrieved from GalleryWatch CRS Reports database.

McCarthy, F. & Keegan, N. (2010). FEMA’s pre-disaster mitigation program: overview and issues. Retrieved from GalleryWatch CRS Reports database.

McCarthy, F. (2008). FEMA disaster housing and Hurricane Katrina: overview, analysis, and congressional issues. Retrieved from GalleryWatch CRS Reports database.

Also check out these materials at the Dewey Library and online:

Anderson, C.V. (2002). The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Hauppauge, NY : Nova Science Publishers. Dewey Library / HV 555 U6 F43 2002

Cooper, C. & Block, R. (2006). Disaster : Hurricane Katrina and the failure of Homeland Security. New York : Times Books. Dewey Library / HV 636 2005 G85 C66 2006

United States Congress. (2010) FEMA Independence Act of 2009 [electronic resource] : report (to accompany H.R. 1174) (including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office). Washington : U.S. G.P.O. Online / GovDoc: J 85 Y 1.1/8:111-459/

United States Congress. (2010). The new FEMA [electronic resource] : is the agency better prepared for a catastrophe now than it was in 2005? : hearing before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Tenth Congress, second session, April 3, 2008. Washington : U.S. G.P.O. Online / GovDoc: J 85 Y 4.G 74/9:S.HRG.110-1021

For more information on researching disaster management in the United States please contact our Public Administration and Public Policy librarian Richard Irving at or 442-3698.

Blog post created by Katie Farrell

August 11, 2010

Research on the Adirondack Park

We are fortunate here in the Capital District to be so close to the Adirondack Park. The Park is made up of 6 million acres in northern New York State and is one of the largest publicly protected areas in the U.S. The park is a popular place for camping, fishing, and hiking. There are over 3,000 lakes and ponds and 2,000 miles of hiking trails. Many residents of this area spend considerable time in the park during the summer months. If you've spent time in the Adirondacks, you may be interested to know a little bit about the public policies governing the area.

There are many efforts to protect and conserve Adirondack Park’s natural beauty. The Adirondack Park Agency (APA\) is a New York State governmental agency that acts on policy issues within the park. The goal of APA is to protect Adirondack Park through the ways of the law. The Adirondack Council is a not for profit environment group that also aims to protect the resources within the park. The Adirondack Council advocates for Adirondack Park through lobbying efforts, education, and environmental awareness. The Adirondack Council also deals with the issues of acid rain, mercury levels, and water quality. Another organization committed to protecting the nature and region of Adirondack Park is the Adirondack Nature Conservancy.

The Dewey Library has many resources on public policy and governance in the Adirondacks. Please check out these resources:

Adirondack Park Agency. (1979). A Citizen’s Guide to Adirondack Park Agency Land Use Regulations. Ray Brook, N.Y.: Adirondack Park Agency.
Dewey Library / HD 243 N7 C47X

Glynn, C.J. (1987). Communication and Science Policy Decision Making: Perceptions of Adirondack Community Residents. Albany, NY: Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, State University of New York.
Dewey Library / TD 196 A25 G49X 1987

Graham, F. (1984). The Adirondack Park: A Political History. New York: Syracuse University Press.
Dewey Library / F 127 A2 G83 1984

Wissel, P.A. (1986). New York’s Adirondack Park: A Study of Land Price Effects from Developmental Restriction . Albany, NY: Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, State University of New York.
Dewey Library / F 127 A2 W57X 1986

If you have any questions, please contact our Public Administration and Public Policy librarian Richard Irving at or 442-3698.

Blog post created by Katie Farrell

June 14, 2010

Job Searching: Public Administration and Policy

Public administration and public policy students and alumni have the benefit of the Office of Career and Alumni Programs to help them throughout their time at UAlbany and to make a smooth transition to the work world once their degree is completed. In addition, most public policy students are aware of the MPP Listserv, but if you are not, you can subscribe online and get regular emails about job listings and other important notices.

Dewey Library has some other resources that may supplement the work of this office and provided you with additional helpful information in your career search.

Some books that may be helpful include:

Careers in Government / Mary Elisabeth Pitz. (1999).
Location Dewey Library / Reference: JK 716 P58 1999

Job-Hunting Online : a Guide to Job Listings, Message Boards, Research Sites, the UnderWeb, Counseling, Networking, Self-assessment Tools, Niche Sites / Mark Emery Bolles & Richard Nelson Bolles. (2008).
Location Dewey Library / Reference: HF 5382.75 U6 B65 2008

What Color is Your Parachute? / Richard Nelson Bolles (2010).
Dewey Library / Reference: HF 5382.7 B64

Insider’s Guide to Finding a Job in Washington : Contacts and Strategies to Build your Career in Public Policy / Bruce Maxwell. (2000).
Location Dewey Library / Reference: HF 5382.75 U62 W356 2000

Real People Working in Government / Blythe Camenson.
Location Dewey Library / Reference: JK 716 C32 1998

Many times professional associations can be helpful in the job search process. The American Society for Public Administration is the main professional association for this subject area.

The Riley Guide has a number of good resources that are starting points for locating jobs in public administration. In addition, AdministrationJobs has a variety of resources on all types of administrative positions, including those in public administration.

In addition, public administration job seekers may wish to look up the New York State Department of Civil Service and USAJobs, the Federal civil service website .

The Dewey Library Reference section also contains many directories that can be helpful for public administration job seekers. We have directories for state, federal, and local government agencies, lobby firms, think tanks, and advocacy organizations. Stop by the reference desk and we’ll be glad to help you locate and use these resources!

April 06, 2010

Now Available: Online Access to Public Policy Resources

CQ Press, a respected publisher of public policy and political resources, has recently made some of their printed resources, the Washington Information Directory 2009-2010, CQ’s Politics in America 2010, and the Political Handbook of the World 2009 Edition, available online and are now available to all UAlbany members. University Libraries will now offer current and future editions of these prublications in online format only. While the Minerva catalog entries for these resources do not currently provide access to their online editions, you can get to them through the CQ Press Electronic Library.

<Washington Information Directory 2009-2010
The Washington information Directory provides information on governmental and nongovernmental organization within the United States. Also contained within the WID is information on groups involved with war and conflict issues, including lobbying groups active in international affairs and anti-war movements, as well as information on new agencies and posts created in the latter half of 2008 and early 2009 in response to the financial crisis. In addition, the WID provides contact information for Congress and federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, U.S. and foreign diplomats, Governors and other state officials, and policy groups, foundations and institutions.

CQ’s Politics in America 2010

This resource contains a broad range of information pertaining to the members of the U.S. Congress and their districts. Detailed profiles are created for each member of Congress, and data is collected regarding their constituencies, apportionment, and redistricting. Each member profile includes detailed descriptions of their congressional district as drawn for that term of Congress, as well as biographical information, committee assignments, contact information, election results, CQ Key Votes and Vote Studies, and interest group ratings.

Political Handbook of the World 2009 Edition.
This resource provides government and political information on countries from around the world. As with the printed handbook, the online edition contains a copious amount of information for each country profile, including its political status, physical size, population, major urban centers, heads of government and state, historical trends regarding the government and regime changes, constitutional history, leading and minor parties, alliances, party histories, recent national election results, legislative leaders, cabinet ministers, television coverage, and Internet usage.

If you have any questions about using these new online resources, or other research questions related to public policy, political science, or legal research, contact Subject Specialist Richard Irving (email:, 442-3698). And as always, ask at the reference desk if you don't know where to start!

Blog post created by Matthew Laudiciina

March 09, 2010

Information and Resources on the Federal Reserve System

Ever since the economy took a downturn a few years ago, a significant amount of attention and scrutiny has been placed on the U.S. Economy. A major component of the current economic system is that of the Federal Reserve System. In order to have a functioning knowledge of the economy and the current economic situation the United States currently finds itself, it is imperative that an understanding of the role played by the Federal Reserve System is established.

While the foundation for the modern Federal Reserve System, or Fed, was established approximately around 1913, the concept of central banking in the United States dates all the way back to the 18th century, with the creation of the First Bank of the United States. After a series of bank panics and economic crises from 1873 to 1907, it became apparent that the only way for the country to achieve any kind of financial stability would be to heavily reform the currency and banking systems. The following years, particularly 1912 and 1913, would produce much debate between Democrats and Republicans regarding the specifics of the reforms to the then current banking system. The new system would be signed into law under the Federal Reserve Act on December 23rd, 1913. As a result of the compromises made by both Democrats and Republicans, the product of the Federal Reserve act was a decentralized bank that balanced the competing interests of private banks and the populist sentiment. For more information on the history of the Federal Reserve System, FED101 provides a closer look on its history and evolution.

In its current state, the Federal Reserve is comprised of three main branches: the Board of Governors, the Reserve Banks, and the Federal Open Market Committee. There are three main responsibilities that the Fed aims to accomplish.

The first of these goals is to conduct monetary policy. Through its influence on the nation’s supply of money and credit through monetary policy, the Fed is able to maintain price stability and sustain economic growth. To this end, the Federal Open Market Committee establishes the goals of the monetary policy, and is responsible for evaluating its impact of its policies on the national economy. Research economists at the Board of Governors and each of the twelve Reserve Banks contribute to the policy making process.

The second goal of the Federal Reserve is to ensure that the national banking system is safe and has the proper competitive practices in place. To this end, Congress has given the Federal Reserve the authority to conduct key functions towards the fulfillment of this goal. The Board of Governors is responsible for providing a clear definition of acceptable behavior for financial institutions, while the Reserve Banks enforce these rules and definitions on the financial institutions. In practice, the Fed creates and enforces these rules and guidelines in order to establish safe banking practices, protect consumers in financial transactions, and ensure the stability of U.S. financial markets.

The third goal of the Federal Reserve is to facilitate efficient and safe means of transferring funds throughout the banking system. In addition, the Fed is responsible for promoting technological advancements to help improve the payments system. Each of the twelve Federal Banks is primarily responsible for fulfilling these goals. Some of the actions taken by the Federal Banks include providing electronic payment services that transfer funds among financial institutions electronically, provide a nationwide network designed to exchange paperless payments among financial institutions and government agencies, maintain accounts for the United States Treasury, process government checks, and collect federal tax deposits.

All of these details and definitions regarding the Federal Reserve System, along with much more additional information, are available through the Functions page of the FED101 information site. You can find current information on the recent activities and actions of the Federal Reserve, as well as transcripts and videos of speeches and testimony, from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System News and Events. For information on the Federal Reserve from a statistical and historical perspective, you can visit their site containing Statistics and Historical Data . You can also get detailed information on the twelve Federal Reserve Banks and an outline of their districts from the Twelve Federal Reserve Districts. The Federal Reserve Education page has a collection of publications and videos, online learning tutorials, Federal Reserve websites, resources and research links to help you become knowledgeable of the Federal Reserve System.

The United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs has various documents and video coverage of the recent hearings for the reappointment of Ben Bernanke to be Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Among the documents posted on their site include a Statement from Senator Tim Johnson from the December 3rd hearing, the Statement by Ben S. Bernanke before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and an archive of the webcast from the December 3rd hearing.

University Libraries are another source of information about the Federal Reserve. The following are a sample of the many books that discuss the Federal Reserve System:

Axilrod, S. H. Inside the Fed: Monetary Policy and Its Management, Martin through Greenspan to Bernanke. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2009
University Library / HG 501 A95 2009

Cassidy, John. How Markets Fail: the Logic of Economic Calamities. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009
University Library / HB 3722 C37 2009

Harris, Ethan S. Ben Bernanke's Fed: the Federal Reserve after Greenspan. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business, 2008
University Library / HG 2563 H34 2008

Shull, Bernard. The Fourth Branch: the Federal Reserve's Unlikely Rise to Power and Influence. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2005
University Library / HG 2563 S58 2005

If you have any questions or need assistance with research on this or any related topic, please contact Richard Irving, our Bibliographer for Political Science, Public Administration & Policy, and Law. He can be reach by email at or by calling 442-3698.

Blog post created by Matthew Laudicina

January 26, 2010

Governor's Budget Information Sources

On Tuesday, January 19, Gov. Paterson presented the Executive Budget for 2010/2011 to the New York State Legislature. The budget documents as well as a video of Gov. Paterson’s budget address are available at . The budget for 2010/2011 covers spending for the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2010 and ending March 31, 2011.

The Governor’s budget proposal includes appropriation bills which will be considered and amended by the New York State Legislature. Once the New York State Assembly and New York State Senate agree on, and pass the appropriation bills they become law with the exception of the appropriation bills for the Legislative and Judiciary spending. The Governor must approve or disapprove the latter two bills. The New York State Division of Budget has made a description of the budget process, the Citizen’s Guide, available at .

Here are some key Internet sites regarding the NYS budget and the budget process:

New York State Division of Budget -
Includes budget documents for the 2010/2011 budget as well as an archive for budget documents back to 1999/2000.
New York State Assembly -
The Ways and Means Committee has primary responsibility for the appropriation bills.
New York State Senate -
The Finance Committee has primary responsibility for the appropriation bills.
Office of the State Comptroller –
Provides analysis of the budget and the state’s fiscal condition
Department of Taxation and Finance – http;//
Information on the state’s revenue collections and projections.
Citizens Budget Commission -
CBC "is a nonpartisan, nonprofit civic organization devoted to influencing constructive change in the finances and services of NYC and NYS government."

November 24, 2009

The Ins and Outs of New York State's Recent Special Election

When President Obama selected former New York Representative John McHugh to be the new Secretary of the Army on September 21st of this year, it created a unique situation for the state of New York. With the departure of McHugh, who received his Masters degree from our own Rockefeller College, to his new position in Washington, a special election became necessary to fill the vacancy created in the 23rd Congressional District of New York. Let's take a moment to examine the process that led up to this month's Special Election.

A Special Election is an election held to fill a political office that becomes vacant during the incumbent's term of office. The two most common causes of a vacancy in a political office are the death of the incumbent, or in the case of New York's 23rd Congressional District, the incumbent resigns for any number of reasons. Once John McHugh accepted the offer to become the Secretary of the Army, he had to resign his position as a member of the House of Representatives.

Following his acceptance of the position of Secretary of the Army, Governor David Patterson issued a proclamation declaring November 3rd to be the day that the Special Election take place to vote in John McHugh's replacement for the 23rd Congressional District. The Governor of New York has the sole authority to declare a Special Election. There is no timetable for the Governor to release an election proclamation declaring the seat vacant. Once the Governor declares the seat vacant, the Special Election must take place within forty days of the proclamation. New York law does not provide for a primary election when a special election is needed for a vacant House seat. In place of a primary election, nominees are chosen by the county leaders of each party within the district.

The Democratic Party nominated businessman and attorney Bill Owens, while the Conservative Party of New York nominated businessman and accountant Doug Hoffman (the Republicans nominated New York State Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, who withdrew days before the election). According to the preliminary unofficial tally, Bill Owens emerged victorious, narrowly beating out his opponent, Doug Hoffman. This was a most unusual result because the area represented by the 23rd Congressional District has historically been one of the most Republican districts in the State.

With the unofficial tally showing a 5,000 vote lead for Owens, Hoffman had conceded the race, thereby allowing Owens to be sworn into Congress and vote for important legislation including the Health Care Reform Act. Now that the absentee votes are being counted, however, it looks like Owens has a chance at coming out as the victor in the race. The Health Care Reform Act passed the House by only 5 votes, including Owens’, making it strategically critical for Congress to swear Owens in before the count has been certified. If Owens is found to have lost the election, Owens could be asked to resign, but it will likely be a more drawn out process than that -- it would be almost a given that he would ask for a recount. But Owens' votes while currently in Congress will remain valid, because he has been officially sworn in for the time being.

UPDATE from Nov 25 New York Times --

Continue reading "The Ins and Outs of New York State's Recent Special Election" »

November 03, 2009

The Congressional Budget Office and the Federal Budget

One of the key players in the advisement and development of the federal budget is the Congressional Budget Office. Located on the fourth floor of the Ford House Office Building in Washington, D.C., the CBO was created with the enactment of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act in 1974. The agency began operations the following year.

According to the “Who We Are” section of the Congressional Budget Office website:

CBO produces policy analyses, cost estimates of legislation, and budget and economic projections that serve as a basis for the Congress's decisions about spending and taxes. Every piece of legislation affecting the use of the nation's resources undergoes CBO's scrutiny. The agency is a public-sector think tank that employs an elite, multidisciplinary staff of professional analysts--public-policy and budget experts, economists, and other critical thinkers who enjoy challenges--at levels ranging from undergraduate and graduate interns to researchers with doctorates and substantial experience.

While they may seem similar at a glance, the Congressional Budget Office and the U.S. Government Accountability Office are not one in the same. The CBO assists the House and Senate Budget Committees with the creation of the budget by preparing reports and analyses as an enforceable blueprint for Congressional action on spending and revenue legislation, whereas the GAO supports Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people.

One interesting feature of the Congressional Budget Office website is that the current Director of the CBO, Douglas W. Elmendorf, maintains a blog covering pertinent topics and issues. His recent post, titled “Health Care Reform and the Federal Budget” provides a unique perspective on the debate of health care reform and how the Congressional Budget Office factors into the discussion. The CBO also has a Panel of Health Advisers, which consists of experts in health care. This Panel of Health Advisers examines current research in health policy and advises the CBO on its analysis of health care issues.

There are several resources available in the Dewey Graduate Library on the topic of Congressional budgeting:

Schick, Allen. (2007) The Federal Budget: politics, policy, process. Washington, D.C. Brookings Institution Press.
Dewey Library / HJ 2051 S3424 2007

Fisher, Patrick. (2005) Congressional budgeting : a representational perspective. Lanham, Md. University Press of America.
Dewey Library / HJ 2051 F484 2005

Le Loup, Lance T. (2005) Parties, rules, and the evolution of congressional budgeting. Columbus, OH : The Ohio State University Press.
Dewey Library / HJ 2051 L45 2005

If you have any questions about researching the Congressional Budget Office, the federal budget process, or any related topic, please contact our Bibliographer for Political Science, Public Administration & Policy, and Law, Richard Irving. He can be reached by calling 442-3698 or by email at:

Blog post created by Matthew Laudicina

October 06, 2009

Health Reform Resources: at the Library and On the Web

Easily one of the most hotly contested topics currently debated in the United States is that of health care reform. Whether or not significant changes are made to the current health care system is a matter that will undoubtedly affect the lives of millions of Americans. For many people, sifting through the constant stream of new information and the arguments being made by those on both sides of the issue presents a significant hurdle. Where can one go to filter through the noise and formulate informed opinions and conclusions? Take a look at the following resources for detailed information on the issue of health care reform.

C-SPAN has a page called the Health Care Hub that is dedicated to the issue of health care reform. The site provides nonpartisan explanations of what is being proposed in addition to a sizeable collection of videos from the C-SPAN network. The videos consist of C-SPAN coverage from the Town Hall Meetings, Floor Debates, Hearings, Markups, and Citizen Videos. Also included on the site is an index of Health Care Links where users can obtain more information.

Another valuable resource is the Health Reform page created by the Kaiser Foundation. Users can choose one or more proposals along with one or more topics for comparison, and the site will generate nonpartisan explanations of the chosen proposals and topics. Also available on the site is a printable PDF of side by side comparisons of all proposals and topics, as well as a printable version of the three Congressional authorizing committee proposals.

The American Hospital Association has an Issues and Initiatives page. Clearly taking a pro-reform stance, this site provides information on the issues and initiatives surrounding health care from the point of view of the American Hospital Association.

Another association that has taken a pro-reform position on health care is the American Medical Association. Their Health System Reform News site provides links to official AMA Press Releases and Statements, as well as links to pertinent articles from American Medical News, and videos from MSNBC news stories.

NAIC, or the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, offers their Health Care Reform Principles. This site outlines the principles for how the NAIC wants the current health care system to be reformed. Also available on the site is a comprehensive bibliography of NAIC publications that address health care reform.

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity is an organization that provides information on health care reform and how it impacts Americans living at or below the poverty line. The site is organized into sections that cover Ideas in Action, recent news items, exclusive commentary provided by influential individuals fighting for those who live at or below the poverty line, news related to the organization, and a calendar of events.

The Consumers Union has a site dedicated to the issue of health care reform. A nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, the Consumers Union is fighting for reforms to health care to make it more affordable and to elevate the quality of available care. The site offers information on how people can get involved in the fight for health care reform, in addition to health news and blogs pertaining to reform.

In addition to the websites listed above, there are several library resources that provide access to a wealth of information regarding all aspects of the proposed health care reforms. CQ Researcher, Gallery Watch CRS Reports, and CQ Weekly are just a few of the many valuable resources for research on health care reform. Access these databases and more through the Databases & Indexes page on the University Libraries homepage.

If you have any questions about researching health care reform, please contact our Political Science, Public Administration & Policy, and Law Bibliographer, Richard Irving. He can be reached by email at or by calling 442-3698.

Blog post created by Matthew Laudicina

June 29, 2009

On the New Books Shelf

Public Administration Bibliographer Richard Irving recommends a new book about collaborative government: Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful. The title may be somewhat misleading; this is not a book that describes how to make a publicly editable wiki page (like Wikipedia) for government. Instead, Noveck uses the term “wiki” in a more general sense of using Web 2.0 technologies to bring the public into government decision-making processes.

Noveck, the Director of the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York University, spearheaded an effort to bring such collaboration into the patent approval process. Instead of having a single reviewer approve and grant a patent, Noveck suggested that the US Patent and Trade Office ask the public to review and provide information about patent applications. The result is the successful Peer to Patent program, which encourages volunteers from the public to join collaborative teams who put together research and information on pending applications.

Noveck then uses the example of the successful patent evaluation program to demonstrate how public involvement and collaborative strategies can be used to enhance citizen participation and democratic involvement in a wider array of government dealings. As Noveck states in her preface, using these collaborative techniques can “strengthen and deepen democracy by creating government by the people, of the people and with the people (xvi).”

Wiki Government can be found on the Dewey Library New Books Shelf, located behind the slide show monitor and next to the color printer. Check it out today!

Noveck, Beth Simone (2009) Wiki government: how technology can make government better, democracy stronger, and citizens more powerful. Washington, DC: Beth Simone Noveck. [Dewey Library: JK 1764 N68 2009].

May 05, 2009

Do We Really Need Another "Tea Party?" Tax Policy Resources at Dewey

With income taxes due less than two weeks ago, the issue of taxes might still be on your mind. Did you ever want to learn more about our taxation policies here in the United States? Here are a few information sources that you can research to learn more.

For starters, you could check out the Federal Government’s Internal Revenue Services’ web page ( In particular interest is the “Understanding Taxes” section written for both teachers and students. This section helps explain everything from the “Hows of Taxes” (which explains the various terms and concepts) to the “Whys of Taxes (which explains the theory and history of taxes).

The 16th Amendment gave Congress the ability to mandate an income tax. This first income tax was 1 percent tax on net personal incomes above $3,000 with an additional 6 percent surtax on incomes over $500,000. You can learn more about the history of the income tax and see an example of the first income tax form from 1913 on the web site.

Many public interest groups have been formed that claim to be nonpartisan taxation watchdog groups. But their mission statements can lead you to believe they lean towards the Republican Party side of the political spectrum. Some of these groups and their web sites are:

  • National Taxpayers Union: whose mission is to “helping to protect every single American’s right to keep what they’ve earned.”

  • Americans for Tax Reform: “opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle”.

  • FreedomWorks: “fights for lower taxes, less government and more economic freedom for all Americans.”

New York State

  • The Citizens Budget Commission “is devoted to influencing constructive change in the finances and services of New York City and New York State government.”

To see a list of more public interest groups, check out the Internet Resources page in the library’s Public Administration and Policy subject page.

Recently a number of anti taxation proponents staged “Tea Parties”. These tea parties were reminiscent of the Boston Tea Party where people protested against the British government’s “taxation without representation”. The current protest idea was started by Rick Santelli of CNBC when he expressed opposition to the White House Administration and Congress’ Stimulus Bill and budget. He called for a “Chicago Tea Party where advocates of the free-market system could join in a protest against out of control government spending.” After that, activists began organizing the first nationwide “Tea Party”. This first protest was held on February 27, 2009. A second nationwide protest was held on April 15th. To learn more about the April 15th protest, you might want to read the Tax Day Tea Party web site.

To see what resources on our taxation policy that we have here in the University at Albany Libraries you can search Minerva for anything with the Subject of ‘taxation’.)
A few items of interest here in Dewey Library are:

  • The Encyclopedia of Taxation and Tax Policy – Dewey Library / Reference: HJ 2305 E53 2005

  • Congressional Quarterly’s Desk Reference on the Federal Budget – Dewey Library / Reference: HJ 2051 W43 1998

  • The Law of Tax-Exempt Organizations – Dewey Library / Reference: KF 6449 H6 2007

  • The Theory of Taxation and Public Economics - Dewey Library / HJ 141 K36 2008

For more help on this topic, contact the Public Administration and Policy Bibliographer Dick Irving by phone at: 442-3698 or by email:

Blog post created by Judith Mueller

April 07, 2009

Resources on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Economic Stimulus Act)

On February 16th, 2009 President Obama’s signed into law “the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act”. This act was created to help our faltering economy and to help move the United States forward in the 21st century.

This act was approved in the House of Representatives and the Senate on February 13, 2009. On February 16th, President Obama signed the act, and on February 17th, the Office of Management and Budget Director, Peter Orszag, sent a memo to the heads of all of the departments and agencies receiving money from this act. Many of these agencies also have their own web sites. (

A few of the various departments and agencies receiving funds are:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created a board of inspector generals to watch over the Federal agencies. This board is called the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board. This board is made up of a Chairman (The Honorable Earl E. Devaney) and 10 inspector generals. These inspector generals come from the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Treasury, the Department of Education, along with an inspector general for Tax Administration.

The website is the primary way that the board keeps the American people informed. The entire American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 can be accessed on the White House web site. This act is 407 pages long. To get a condensed version of answers to some common questions, read the Frequently Asked Questions found on the website.

New York’s Guide to the 2008 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, provides information on how the funds are being allocated in New York State.

If you have any further questions about researching this topic, please do not hesitate to contact Public Policy and Political Science Bibliographer Dick Irving. His phone number is 442-3698 and his e-mail is

Blog post created by Judith Mueller

March 10, 2009

Want to know more about the Federal and State Government Budget Processes?

Budgets are in the news right now with both New York State and the Federal Government needing more money than they actually have. The Federal Budget Process is dictated by the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, as well as the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. The President must present the Congress his budget request which is compiled with the help of the Office of the Management and Budget. The Office of Management and Budget makes the Budget of the United States Government available online on its main web page.

Then the United States House Committee on the Budget and the United States Senate Committee on the Budget draft budget resolutions which are then voted on by the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively. The budget resolutions are not laws but provide the framework for the appropriation bills. Once the House of Representatives and the Senate agree upon their respective budget resolutions, selected members of each create a Conference Report to smooth out any differences between the two budget resolutions. This Conference Report must then be approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Congressional Budget Office provides Congress with information and estimates that they need when working on their budget resolutions.

New York State’s budget process is similar but not identical to the Federal Government’s budget process. The Governor of New York State must prepare a balanced budget which he proposes to the Legislature. The Legislature (the State House of Representatives and the State Senate) modifies this proposal and enacts it into law. The Governor is the one who must produce the appropriation bills and any other legislature needed to fulfill the budget. The Executive Budget documents produced by Governor Patterson can be found online.

The Senate’s Finance Committee and the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee review the Governor’s budget, seeking clarification if needed, and then the Legislature acts on the appropriation bills. The budget reform legislation passed in 2007 describes the Legislative process needed to reach a budget agreement. Also, the State Finance Law dictates that the Executive (Governor) and the Legislature must meet and issue a consensus report on tax, lottery, and miscellaneous receipts on or before March 1st. If they fail to do so, the State Comptroller is required to issue one by March 5th.

The Governor’s appropriation bills become law automatically at this point. The bills added by the Legislature and the appropriations for the Legislature and Judiciary must be approved by the Governor. Should the Governor veto a bill, the Legislature can override his veto with a two thirds vote. You can read a more detailed explanation about New York State’s budget process on the New York Division of the Budget’s web site.

Here are some sources of information where you can learn more about the budget making process both in the Federal Government and in New York State:

Continue reading "Want to know more about the Federal and State Government Budget Processes?" »

February 03, 2009

Finding Executive Orders

President Obama has already signed several significant Executive Orders since taking the oath of office. But what exactly is an Executive Order?

Without any action from Congress or the House of Representatives, the President can issue orders for certain actions to be taken. This is called an Executive Order and can occur due to certain statutory powers already in place. The governmental archives website defines an Executive Order in more formal terms: ”Executive Orders are official documents, numbered consecutively, through which the President of the United States manages the operations of the Federal Government.” Perhaps the best example of a recent Executive Order made by President Obama was the decision to close the facilities at Guantanamo Bay, made on January 22, 2009.

There are several places one can find the actual text of an Executive Order. Online, the White House’s official site gives a briefing and the full text of the official documents. They also appear daily in the Federal Register since the order itself is received from the President in the Office of the Federal Register. They also appear in Title 3 of the CFR, or Code of Federal Regulations. CFR can be found in Dewey Reference at LAW KJ 70 A3.

Still confused about Executive Orders? Please check out some books we have that can better explain to you what executive orders are all about:

By Order of the President: The Use and Abuse of Executive Direct Action
(Phillip J. Cooper)
KF5053 C578 2002

Executing the Constitution: Putting the President Back into the Constitution
(Christopher S. Kelley, editor)
JK511 E93 2006

Executive Orders and the Modern Presidency: Legislating from the Oval Office
(Adam L. Warber)
JK516 W35 2006

Policy by Other Means: Alternative Adoption by Presidents
(Steven A. Shull)
JK511 S54 2006

Power Without Persuasion: The Politics of Direct Presidential Action
(William G. Howell)
KF5053 H68 2003

Lastly, feel free to contact our Law and Public Administration Bibliographer, Dick Irving at 442-3698 and at Or, ask at the reference desk!

Blog post created by Jill Parsons

January 07, 2009

Inauguration Festivities and Foibles

President Elect Barack Obama officially takes office on January 20, 2009. There is much discussion about the inaugural preparations: the parade, the balls, the pomp and circumstance. Many presidents have put their own personal stamp on the inaugural ceremonies, and no doubt Obama will have his own distinct celebratory events. Here are some fun facts about past inaugurations:

Much of the inaugural activities are prescribed by tradition: the only stipulation for the ceremonies in the United States Constitution is that the president must take the Oath of Office. Traditionally this has been done by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Justice John Marshall administered the oath more than any other chief justice, for a total of nine times in his career.

The inaugural date was originally March 5, but was changed in the 1930s to January 20th. This was because Roosevelt thought that November through March was too long of a “lame duck” period for the outgoing president. This change was done by constitutional amendment – the 20th amendment. When George Washington was to be inaugurated, the House of Representatives did not have enough members to call a quorum for counting the electoral votes, making the first inauguration six weeks late.

Since it is in January, the weather has sometimes played a role in inaugural celebrations: Ronald Reagan cancelled the parade on his second term for the first time in history due to the cold weather. In 1873, the champagne froze at Ulysses S. Grant’s inaugural reception. At John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, large crowds turned out despite the 22-degree temperature, 19 mph winds and 8 inches of snow. President William Henry Harrison died a month after his inauguration, and this was attributed to his not wearing an overcoat or hat during a rainy inauguration ceremony (and also due to giving the longest inaugural speech in history – one hour and forty minutes).

The crowds have sometimes gotten out of hand at inaugurations: Andrew Jackson had a party at the White House which anyone could attend, and people came in droves, destroying furniture and breaking windows. At Abraham Lincoln’s party, the crowd stole food, silverware, and parts of the draperies from the White House. Contrast this with the security at George W. Bush’s second inaugural ceremonies: the 9/11 attacks had just occurred, so the government brought in 6,000 police officers from both within and outside of Washington DC.

There are many balls and parties after the inauguration and the president traditionally attends all of the official parties. Despite attending all of the inaugural balls, Bush was home by 10:00pm the night of his second inauguration. Clinton was criticized for the 12 balls that were held in his honor – it was felt this was too many. The cost of both George W. Bush’s inaugural ceremonies was about $40 million, whereas Bill Clinton’s cost $25 million in 1993 and $42 million in 1997.

There are many other interesting facts about past inaugural ceremonies as well as the presidency in general. Check out these and other books in the Dewey Library Reference Collection:

Kalba, Deborah,, eds. State of the Union: Presidential Rhetoric from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush. Washington DC: CQ Press (2007). University Library Reference: J 81.4 S73 2007

Levy, Leonard and Louis Fisher, eds. Encyclopedia of the American Presidency. Vols. 1 & 2. New York: Simon and Schuster (1994). Dewey Reference JK 511 E53 1994.

Nelson, Michael, ed. The Presidency A to Z 2nd ed. Washington: Congressional Quarterly, Inc. (1998). Dewey Reference: JK 511 P775 1998

Nelson, Michael, ed. Guide to the Presidency, 4th ed. Vols. 1 & 2. Washington, DC: CQ Press (2008). Dewey Reference JK 516 G83 2008

United States, President. Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States from George Washington to Bill Clinton. Champagne Ill.: Project Gutenberg, Boolder Colorado: Netlibrary (199-?). ONLINE through NetLibrary.

For assistance in researching the presidency, stop by the reference desk or make an appointment with Richard Irving (

November 25, 2008

Library Congratulates Desfosses on Award

The University at Albany Foundation is a non-profit organization formed to encourage donations to the University at Albany. One of their annual events is the Citizen Laureate Awards Ceremony. The proceeds of this awards dinner help the University at Albany Foundation. This is the 29th year that the University at Albany Foundation has awarded its Citizen Laureate Awards to honor outstanding leaders in business and industry, government, and academics for their accomplishments. The Academic Laureate Award is given to individuals for their notable achievements in academia and research. This year Dr. Helen R. Desfosses, Associate Professor in the departments of Public Administration & Policy, and Africana Studies was awarded the Academic Laureate award at the awards ceremony on Wednesday November 19, 2008 at the Hall of Springs in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Not only is Dr. Helen Desfosses an Associate Professor in the Public Administration & Policy department and the Africana Studies department, she also is the Professor in Residence at the New York State Assembly Internship program. She has served as President of the Albany Common Council from 1997-2005. She also is a regular political commentator on the public radio station WAMC, and on Albany area television. She has also authored several books and articles on national and international issues. She teaches courses on public policy, legislative politics, and Africa.

She has served as Interim Dean and Associate Dean of Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, and as Director of the Master’s in Public Policy program. Formerly, she was Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the State University of New York at Albany. She has also served as a consultant on legislative development around the world. She has also received numerous awards and honors.

For all of her hard work and many distinguished accomplishments, we along with the University at Albany Foundation offer our deep thanks and congratulations to Dr. Helen Desfosses.

Blog post created by Judith Mueller

November 04, 2008

Who is the current President of Tanzania? How do you find out?

Try the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) database. This database contains information on countries around the world. For a country’s economic status, political status, and other background information check out the EIU database first. This database is revised once a year from various national and international sources. The statistical tables provide five-years worth of data on topics such as manufacturing, fiscal policy, and unemployment. Together with the text, this information provides you with detailed information about the structure and functioning of each country. However, you can only access this database on the University at Albany campus. To locate this database, go to our Databases and Indexes page, and click on the letter "E".

Another database to check out for foreign affairs is Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO). This database was created in collaboration between Columbia University libraries and Columbia University Press. It is the most complete source of information by prominent research organizations in the field of international affairs. It is also known for its teaching materials for history and political science classes. If you select the menu item atlas in the left most column on the first page, a map of the world appears. By selecting a continent on the map, you are taken to a second map labeled with the countries in that continent from which you can also select. By doing so, you will retrieve a third map, brief information about that country as well as both political and economic information for that country. This information though provided by the Economist Intelligence Unit that produces the previous database, is not as thorough. To locate this resource, go to our Databases and Indexes page and click on the letter "C ".

The CIA World Factbook is another source for information on world countries. This provides national-level information about countries, territories, and dependencies. This web site provides data about the geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, military, and any transnational issues for each country as well as provides a map.

Another US government web site that provides information on foreign affairs is the State Department. The State Department web site provides background notes on many countries that include information about the land, people, history, government, political conditions, economy, defense, foreign relations, and U.S. relations. This information is updated on a regular basis.
So when you are doing research on foreign countries, try these electronic resources available at the University at Albany libraries. If you need more help, contact Dick Irving ( at Dewey Graduate Library to set up an appointment.

...By the way, the President of Tanzania is Jakaya Kikwete.

Blog Post created by Judith Mueller

September 30, 2008

Separate Campaign Hype from Fact

Did Sarah Palin attempt to have books removed from the Wasilla Public Library? Did Barak Obama sponsor legislation to teach comprehensive sex education to kindergarteners? The allegations, whether from the presidential candidates’ campaigns or third parties, are coming fast and furious as we head toward election day. Here are a couple of web sites you can use to check the veracity of the charges.,, is a site maintained by Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.,, is a joint project of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly ( a reputable commercial publisher based in Washington, D.C.). Both of the sites investigate the allegations and provide a report based on reputable sources. As to the allegations referenced above, placed them both in their infamous “Pants on Fire” category.

For more information about researching campaign issues, contact bibliographer Richard Irving: 442-3698 or

Blog post created by Dick Irving

September 01, 2008

Primary Elections are Just Around the Corner

September 9 is primary day in New York State. Although there are no elections for statewide positions this year, all House of Representative seats, NYS Senate seats, and NYS Assembly seats are being elected this year. Many of these positions have primary contests. Here are a few key websites and reference resources to help you find out where to vote, which way to vote, and who got elected.

The New York State Board of Elections web site has a lot of helpful information regarding HAVA compliance in NYS, NYS election law, enrollment statistics, and links to county boards of elections. The latter can provide helpful information for those planning to vote in the primary election because you can determine the location of polling places which are not necessarily the same as the ones for the general election.

Voting Guide:
C-SPAN: Election Guide-New York, has the names of primary candidates for Congress and the NYS Legislature, and in some cases biographical information and issue statements.

Election Results:
The NYS Board of Elections site has the primary elections results for the 2006 congressional and state legislature races, and some primary results for previous congressional races. America Votes [Dewey Reference JK 1967 A8], is a series which includes the primary results for federal and statewide primary elections. Guide to U.S. Elections 5th ed. [Dewey Reference 1867 C662] has primary results for U.S. Presidential elections (1912-2004), U.S. Senate elections (1920-2004), and Gubernatorial elections (1919-2004). The ICPSR database also has historical data on U.S. primary elections.

Blog post created by Richard Irving

July 08, 2008

New Online Archives Cover the Political Spectrum

With the presidential election just around the corner, the University Libraries announces the timely addition of online access to the complete archives of three prominent political journals. The National Review ,The New Republic , and The Nation occupy unique positions on the American political spectrum.

Unabashedly the most conservative of the three (think of the late William F. Buckley), the National Review’s content embraces and very often dictates the political climate of the day. From brief synopses of important news events to longer researched pieces, the National Review Archive allows users to trace the development of conservatism from 1955 to the present day. Of particular note are the book reviews – especially those of works running counter to conservative philosophies – which help to (re)define some of the ideological battle lines present in American politics.

Countering the National Review’s far right leaning, The Nation represents a decidedly liberal stance on issues of politics, religion, arts and culture. The oldest of the three, the online archives provide content from 1865 to present. Besides being an excellent source of original material, the archives guide users through the various bends and re-alignments the word “liberal” has undergone in the last 150 years.

Running more to the political center, The New Republic provides the most objective voice of the three. With over ninety years of content (including the most recent issues), its archives give access to a journal that effectively treats American politics, American culture and foreign policy with equal rigor from both sides of the aisle.

These collections are accessible through Minerva, the University Libraries' online catalog. Locate the journal title in Minerva, click on the “Online” location, and then the “available from Ebscohost” link. Or, search for the collections in Databases and Indexes – clicking on the letter “N” is a convenient way to do this. The EBSCOhost platform allows you to search all content by keyword, author or title. You can also narrow your search by year(s) or specific volumes/issues. If you need help accessing these online archives, please visit a reference librarian, or Ask a Librarian! .

Blog Post Created by Michael V. Daly

May 20, 2008

Now Online: Congressional Research Service Reports

From Dick Irving, our bibliographer for Public Administration and Policy, Law and Political Science:

We now have an online subscription to Gallery Watch CRS Reports. The database includes the full text of all Congressional Research Service reports published since 1993. The reports are excellent starting places for students researching public policy issues. Gallery Watch CRS Reports can be accessed through Databases & Indexes. It is also included on the Political Science. "My Research Subject" page.

Dick also notes that researchers may wish to check out free internet sites providing CRS Reports on his Federal Public Policy page, such as,, and the collection of CRS Reports Hosted by the University of North Texas Libraries.

If you have any questions about Gallery Watch CRS Reports or other questions relating to political science, public administration and policy or law, you may wish to set up a one-on-one appointment with Dick. Call him at 442-3698 or feel free to send him an email at .

Blog post created by Michael V. Daly

March 11, 2008

Decision '08: Web Resources

The 2008 campaign for US President is in high gear. Gathering credible information on the candidates is an important endeavor, whether for an academic project or simply to become a more informed citizen. Dick Irving, our Subject Specialist in Political Science, Law, and Public Administration maintains an internet resource guide on United States Politics and Elections. Dick evaluated and collected the most authoritative Internet sites with information on political parties, campaign finance, well-known polling entities, and other useful campaign-related topics.

Two new additions to the Politics and Elections page include:

  • Politifact, which can be used to evaluate the accuracy in statements of the candidates. Another site Dick recommends for this purpose is
  • YouTube: You Choose ’08, which has campaign videos arranged by both candidate and issues.

Dick Irving is happy to help you with any research on the campaigns or any other related topics. Feel free to set up an appointment with him at the Reference Desk – drop by or call 442-3691. You may also e-mail him directly.

February 19, 2008

New Book by Rockefeller College Professor

While Tip O’Neil’s infamous phrase “all politics is local” remains part of national political rhetoric, (especially in election years!) a new book by University at Albany professor Sally Friedman, Dilemmas of Representation: Local Politics, National Factors, and the Home Styles of Modern U.S. Congress Members, highlights how “legislators can find surprising and creative ways of combining the local and the national” (29).

Seemingly contrary to her thesis, Friedman, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Rockefeller College, University at Albany, keeps the focus of her book localized. In the opening chapter, “Overview of Theoretical and Methodological Concerns” readers learn not only how she focused on New York State, but also why. Using ten congressional representatives from New York as her starting point, Freidman suggests that in the twenty years since Richard Fenno’s Home Style, which presented representational politics as requiring almost a singular focus on local issues, there has been shift more equal focus between local and national issues. In this new focus, Freidman points to the trend of representatives working more intimately at national and international events, in conjunction with local concerns, to structure their stances and policies. Friedman investigates the numerous factors initiating this change, detailing how adherence to ideologies along party lines, pressing (and highly contestable) national issues and the role of the Executive Branch come together to directly influence legislators.

Written in conjunction with several of her graduate students, Friedman’s book is thoroughly researched while remaining accessible and informative. The plethora of charts and data she incorporates to support her conclusions are well-designed and add much to the presentation of the topic. Local readers might also enjoy the fact that one of her highlighted representatives is Mike McNulty, the Democrat who represents the 21st Congressional District, which includes Albany County. Astute readers will note that Fenno was Friedman’s undergraduate professor. This book is a prime source for those interested in, or students engaged with American politics and the forces driving them in the 21st century.

Blog Post Written By Michael Daly

January 21, 2008

*New* Online Research Databases

The University at Albany Libraries now offer two new databases that may be of particular interest to the downtown campus community.

Public Administration Abstracts provides bibliographic information for a wide variety of topics related to the disciplne of public administration, for example: administration and economy; law, politics and society; administrative structures and organization; international relations, organizations and policy; national government; public and social services; taxation, budgeting and finance; and theory and methods. Coverage runs from 1974 to the present.

Abstracts in Social Gerontology provides bibliographic information on topics such as: elder abuse, services and advocacy for the elderly, mental and physical health issues affecting the elderly, caregiving, death and bereavement, family issues concerning the elderly, and legislation and policies affecting the elderly.

Both of these databases are replacing their print counterparts and are available from the Database and Indexes page on the UA Libraries' main web page.

Don't forget to contact us if you have questions about these new resources, or if we can help you with any other request.

January 11, 2008

CHE Preliminary Report Released

The Commission on Higher Education released its Preliminary Report in December. The Executive Summary highlights the following reccomendations:

• Establish a $3 billion research fund, the Empire State Innovation Fund, to support meritorious research important to New York's future.
• Create a low-cost student loan program for residents attending college in New York State.
• Establish the New York State Compact for Public Higher Education to clearly delineate shared responsibility for public higher education resources.
• Rebuild CUNY and SUNY faculty ranks by strategically hiring an additional 2,000 full-time faculty, including 250 eminent scholars, over the next five years.
• Modify SUNY's governance structure and system administration to provide more focused attention and support for the research campuses.
• Provide meaningful regulatory relief for SUNY and CUNY, by removing restrictions that impede campuses' ability to adapt quickly and promote quality.
• Develop Educational Partnership Zones in high-need school districts, bringing together higher education and P-12 resources to improve student outcomes and enhance college participation.
• Ensure that high school graduates are well prepared for college through a College Readiness Act.
• Strengthen articulation and transfer throughout SUNY and CUNY with a goal of system-wide articulation of comparable courses and seamless transfer into parallel programs by 2011-12.
• Address the backlog of critical maintenance at SUNY and CUNY with a sustained program of capital reinvestment.

The Commission was created by Executive Order in May of 2007. The members consist of representatives from the Executive and Legislative branches of state government; public and private college/university administrators; SUNY and CUNY faculty and students; unions; and advocacy groups. The final report of the Commission is due in June 2008 after incorporating input from the public.

December 12, 2007

Reference Review - Oxford Handbook of Public Policy

The Oxford Handbook of Public Policy. Edited by Michael Moran, Martin Rein, and Robert E. Goodi Oxford. New York : Oxford University Press, 2006. [Location: Dewey Library / Reference: H 97 O88 2006]

The Oxford Handbook of Public Policy is part of a 10 volume series collectively known as The Oxford Handbooks of Political Science (use Minerva to find other volumes by selecting the option “Series begins with…” and then typing “Oxford Handbooks of Political Science” in the search box).

Some of the issues covered by the Oxford Handbook of Public Policy include: policy persuasion, practice, constraints, and change. The editors have focused on aspects that limit “ambitious” policy making as well as the impact, causes and effects of more moderate effots. This is beneficial because it helps to avoid redundancy and it raises issues a researcher may want to further explore.

The categorizations used in the Handbook make the volume user-friendly for researchers and cover historical background, policy analysis models and various aspects of policy making such as how it is created, implemented, or constrained. If one has a general topic in mind he or she can readily see if it is covered in this work. The book also provides guidance as to some of the divisions of study for researchers who do not have a clear view on divisions of the general subject of public policy.

The Handbook has two indexes that are extremely useful to researchers. The Name Index includes all referenced authors and organizations. Even more useful for researchers is the Subject Index. This index references all subjects covered and breaks them down in a manner that helps one to find the specific subject and aspect(s) of that subject he or she is looking for. This index allows one to either narrow his or her search or expand it. Someone with a general idea of the topic is given more specific breakdowns. A user with a more focused subject term is given other topics that could be relevant to his or her research.

This volume functions both as a good starting point for research and a source for more in-depth and focused research. The Handbook is both scholarly and easy to follow. The authors break the subjects down into subdivisions when necessary. Each chapter also ends with a list of references used by its author. All of these elements make this set valuable to users.

Come take a look at this or other titles in the Dewey Reference Collection -- you may be suprised at the great information you are quickly able to find! And don’t forget -- if you are working on a project in the area of Public Administration/Policy, Subject Specialist Dick Irving is here to help. You can always e-mail or call him (442-3698) to set up an appointment.

Blog post created by David Phillips.

January 25, 2007

Get Information on the New Congress - Part II

For the first time in 12 years, the majority in Congress has switched from Republican to Democrat. There are many resources to help you identify the change in policy directions or keep current on Congressional Activities.

For current developments in Congress:

Thomas : this free website maintained by the Library of Congress contains bills, resolutions, congressional record schedules, calendars, committee information, treaties and more.

C-Span: this free website is created by the public access channel on cable television that broadcasts all of the activities of Congress. This site provides video clips of notable activities, roll calls, congressional schedule, and programming schedules.

CQ Weekly: current and past issues of this magazine from Congressional Quarterly are available online and in print. Check the Minerva record for information about accessing online.

LexisNexis Congressional: UA Libraries pay for a subscription to this database which provides significant legislative documentation on the current activities of congress, such as the congressional record, legislative histories, and a “Political News/ Hot Topics” section. Access this resource through the Library’s Database Finder.

For past Congressional activity:

CQ Weekly: Online access for this resource dates back to 1983, and print access is from 1998-2005 (Dewey JK 1 C15). Check the Minerva record for information about accessing online.

LexisNexis Congressional: Online access to Congressional materials in this database dates back to 1969. Access this resource through the Library’s Database Finder

CQ Almanac: This annual compendium of key votes, texts, and activities of Congress is available at the Dewey Library (Call number: JK 1 C66) Recent issues are in the Reference section and older volumes are in the regular collection, but do not circulate.

For a concise history of Congress:

Congressional Quarterly’s Guide to Congress has sections on Congressional origins and development, powers, procedures, pay, qualifications and conduct. This item is print only (Dewey Reference JK 1021 C565).

If you need help with your research relating to Congress or other legal/political/policy issues, contact Dick Irving for an appointment.

January 19, 2007

Get Information on the New Congress - Part I

Taking office this January are ten new members of the United States Senate and 54 new members of the House of Representatives. Here is a rundown of some information sources regarding members of Congress and their districts:

Thomas is a government-produced website with information on the Legislative Branch of government, operated by the Library of Congress. Information about the 110th Congress and its activites are available here.

LexisNexis Congressional is a subscription database you have access to as a Univeriity at Albany student, staff or faculty member. This database contains information on Congressional activities, as well as members and their committee assignments, political news, and the Rules of Congress. Access Lexis Nexis Congrssional by searching for it in the Database Finder.

For members of previous Congresses, check the following print and online sources:

  • Almanac of American Politics: Dewey and University Libraries, JK 271 B343. (Check item record in Minerva for online access). The newest volumes are in Reference, the olders ones in the general collection.

  • Politics in America: Dewey and Univerity Libraries, JK 1010 P64. (Software also available at Interactive Media Center)

  • Biographical Directory of the American Congress Dewey and University Libraries: Reference: JK 1030 B56 (print only).

  • For demographic information on congressional districts:

  • Fast Facts for Congress Provides a snapshot of demographic information on congressional districts.

  • Congressional districts in the 2000s : a portrait of America. Dewey Library Reference: JK 1341 C65 2003 Provides demographic information plus business, education, media information, etc.
  • Contact Dick Irving if you would like assistance with your public administration, political science, or legal research.

    June 08, 2006

    CQ Weekly Now Available Online

    CQ Weekly is an authoritative source for information regarding the US Congress and its activities. Dick Irving likes the publication for it's frequent updates of congressional news as well as its analysis of political trends.

    The University Libraries recently converted its subscription for CQ Weekly to the online version. Now University at Albany faculty, staff, and students can access the full text of this valuable resource from on campus or home. The online version contains the full text of articles as well as floor votes and its coverage extends back to 1983. There is a link to the database from the record for CQ Weekly in the university libraries’ online catalog, Minerva. It can also be accessed directly thru the following url: .

    Off campus access requires that the accessing pc be set up as a proxy server (see instructions at for doing that here ).