levin center

Checks and balances in action:
legislative oversight across the country
Levin Center commissions first-of-its-kind study

The Levin Center at Wayne Law commissioned a study of each state legislature’s capacity to conduct oversight of its executive branch and the extent to which each state uses that capacity. The study was conducted by the Center for Urban Studies at Wayne State University.

The analysis focuses on six dimensions of legislative oversight: analytic bureaucracies, the appropriations process, committees, the administrative rules process, advice and consent, and monitoring of state contracts.

Using these dimensions, an overall rating was created of the capacity for and the use of oversight in each state. Below is a snapshot of the findings.

This is the first comprehensive study of all 50 states’ oversight authority and how they use that authority.

Overall institutional capacity for oversight
Yellow tint Map of the United States
More Online
Visit stateoversightmap.org for the complete data, as well as several interactive maps.
For more information on the Levin Center, visit law.wayne.edu/levincenter.

A look inside
the Levin Center at Wayne law
with James Townsend ’16,
the Levin Center’s first full-time director
What aspect of the center’s mission brought you back as a full-time staff member?
James Townsend headshot
The clear need for there to be a national center devoted to elevating bipartisan fact-finding at a time when many people have lost faith in our democratic institutions to solve pressing problems. Congress and the states can’t make decisions about how to make people’s lives better unless we can agree on the basic facts. The Levin Center is about helping legislatures find the common ground to do that.
As the Levin Center’s first full-time director, what’s on the horizon?

Building our capacity here at Wayne Law and in our Washington office to create a nationally recognized center on legislative oversight. We’re going to expand our oversight training program so that it touches more state legislatures and convene a conference of oversight experts and lawmakers to share best practices. We are going to continue to build online oversight resources for scholars, practitioners and the public, such as our new website that tracks developments with a dozen federal cases on Congress’ power to conduct oversight. We will be filing an amicus brief in three cases concerning President Trump’s tax and financial records that are before the U.S. Supreme Court.1

We are releasing a report we commissioned on oversight of charter schools in Michigan and plan to follow that up with a conference to discuss ways to improve the system.2

1 On March 4, the Levin Center and The Lugar Center jointly filed an amicus brief in two Supreme Court cases reviewing Congress’ right to information: Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP and Trump v. Deutsche Bank AG.

2 On Feb. 26, the center released the report during a news conference with the Citizens Research Council of Michigan.

Levin Center receives $1 million grant

The Levin Center received a three-year, $1 million grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to continue its work advancing accountability and bipartisanship in U.S. governance.

The grant will enable the Levin Center to build on its foundation of promoting fact-based, bipartisan oversight and civil discourse. It was awarded by the Hewlett Foundation’s U.S. Democracy Program, which seeks to strengthen the values and norms of America’s governing institutions.

“The Levin Center is reinvigorating the legislative oversight process at all levels of government through bipartisan training, academic research and action,” said Wayne Law Dean Richard A. Bierschbach. “We are deeply grateful to the Hewlett Foundation for recognizing the critical nature of the Levin Center’s work and for Hewlett’s continued investment in the center’s mission.”