Policy Update for March April 2020

Policy Update for March-April 2020

The following post was originally set as an email newsletter to our friends and supporters.

Re: Lincoln Policy Team Activities for March-April 2020

Dear friends and supporters of Lincoln:

Thanks for tuning in again. After narrowly making it back from vacationing in Portugal, I've been spending a lot of time getting our new CRM and project management systems running, including experimenting with different types of integrations and automation. It's a bit of an investment on the front end, but our team is already using it consistently and it's saving a lot of headaches for us in our remote operations. We've also been putting some work into other internal operations, including goal setting, brand management, and communications strategy. Exciting stuff, but I'll spare you the details.

In addition, you may have noticed that the look of this newsletter is a bit different than previous ones. It's one of several templates I just finished updating, so I hope you like them.

Keep scrolling to see some of what we've been up to in our programming and writing in March and April, and get a preview of what's coming up next.

Policy Hackers

I'm excited to announce our 2020 Policy Hackers fellowship cohort of 10 awesome fellows with backgrounds in areas like artificial intelligence, aeronautics, and media. Fellows come with experience from companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, SpaceX, Intel, as well as from startups and smaller firms. Programming kicks off May 7 and will feature virtual workshops in the near term featuring a number of our prominent DC friends (unfortunately, we had to push back our in person kick-off summit).

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Reboot Conference

We're still planning to move forward with our annual conference on November 11 and 12. You can get the latest on our website, We're planning to open registration in June, but given the current uncertainty this is still tentative. The show must go on, but hopefully we won't be forced to do it as an 8 hour Zoom session.

New Podcast

Lincoln is launching a new podcast focused on the intersection of Silicon Valley and Washington, hosted by Marshall Kosloff and a TBA mystery co-host. We'll be featuring a lot of our tech industry friends out in the Bay Area. Look out for it in early June.


Dan Lips has an op-ed in The Hill on boosting state governments’ IT and cybersecurity capacity, including election infrastructure, in the wake of COVID-19. He had another op-ed in The Hill with Lincoln technologist Sean Roberts on securing November's election.

Dan also had an op-ed in the Washington Times with the Heritage Foundation's Jonathan Butcher on using surplus federal real property to boost hospital capacity.

Rounding out his op-ed streak for The Hill, Dan co-authored a piece with Keith Ashdown on Senator Tom Coburn's legacy. They write:

Many Americans will no doubt remember the former Oklahoma senator as “Dr. No” for his record of blocking costly and unnecessary legislation. But the media stereotype obscures an important truth: Dr. Coburn actually devoted a majority of his time in the Senate to the important work of government oversight....As the nation faces grave medical and fiscal challenges, Sen. Coburn’s approach to exercising Congress’s oversight responsibly is needed now more than ever.

We also featured several interesting contributions to our blog, including:

  • An article by Jordan McGillis on how China's sharp power has influenced American firms, and what we can do about it.
  • piece by Garrett Johnson on failing government IT infrastructure in the wake of COVID-19 and a related piece by Dan Lips
  • piece by Dan Lips and Maggi Molina on using data science to stop improper government payments
  • An article by Ryan Khurana on how East Asian countries are using data to combat COVID-19
  • post by me on our new Wiki resource for technologists interesting in public service
  • An analysis by Sean Roberts on the challenges of vote-by-mail systems

The blog also featured several additional pieces on telecom issues, as well as election security.

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Research & Testimony

Dan Lips has a new policy brief published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University on leveraging surplus federal real property to augment hospital capacity in the COVID-19 crisis.

J. Scott McKaig joined R Street's Charles Duan in petitioning the Supreme Court to grant a writ of certiorari and hear Comcast Corporation v. International Trade Commission.

We published a new paper by Carnegie Mellon professors Jon Peha and M. Granger Morgan, "The Case for a Congressional Office of Science and Technology Analysis." The piece is part of our Symposium on Technology Assessment.

Garrett Johnson and Joel Thayer submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission on the digital divide, internet freedom, and the lifeline program.

Dan Lips testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee for the Legislative Branch on strengthening congressional oversight through the Government Accountability Office. He says:

GAO’s impressive track record achieving savings and other benefits for the government should lead Congress and the American public to consider what additional benefits could be achieved if the Comptroller General had more resources....[For example] data science has the potential to revolutionize oversight...imagine if the federal government was able to use similar kinds of analytics that banks use to monitor consumers’ credit card transactions. GAO estimates that government-wide improper payments have totaled $1.4 trillion since 2003, when Congress required agencies to begin reporting them....Potential savings from using data analytics and continuous oversight to monitor and prevent improper payments could exceed tens of billions per year.

I also submitted written testimony on strengthening technical expertise in Congress focused on report language requests to strengthen the institutional design of the STAA team at GAO. Dan and I have also had some very productive hill meetings around these issues.

Alexiaa Jordan compiled a comprehensive Wiki on GitHub on tech company actions responding to COVID-19 (let us know if you see something we missed).

Some highlights from the hopper: I'm working on a paper on the techlash with GMU, and an article on creating better incentives for Members of Congress. Dan Lips is wrapping up a paper on GAO's budgetary savings, and Sean Roberts is working on a technical white paper on vote-by-mail election systems. Alexiaa Jordan is working on an article on 5G, China, and national security. Dan and I are also submitting written testimony to Senate appropriators.

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On April 30th, we're hosting an online discussion with Eli Dourado, Mark Lutter, Marshall Kosloff, and Marci Harris on institutional failure and opportunities for reform after COVID-19. The discussion will start around Marc Andreessen's widely-discussed essay, "It's Time to Build." The event will also be live streamed on our Facebook page.

Alexiaa Jordan was featured in a privacy discussion hosted by Americans for Tax Reform: "GDPR: Two Years Later." Watch the full video here.

We teamed up with several groups to co-host a virtual mock hearing led by POPVOX's Marci Harris in order to test the viability of online congressional proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the full event here.

Final Thoughts

I hope this update was helpful in keeping you in the loop on our work. As always, suggestions or feedback on any of our writing or programming is welcome.


Zach Graves
Head of Policy, Lincoln Network

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