Advancing the limited government principles of the U.S. Constitution by increasing transparency within Congress and the 50 state legislatures.
How We Accomplish It
Constructing scorecards for the leading liberty-minded organizations and bringing the movement together through our research and technology.
Our Government Today Versus the Government Our Founding Fathers Established in 1789
When our nation’s founding fathers ratified the U.S. Constitution on March 4, 1789, they championed a government that was accountable to the people with limited powers and duties. For that reason, they implemented a system of checks and balances in an attempt to restrain government growth and power to prevent the tyranny that plagued all previous institutions. Because of their commitment to protecting free markets, property rights, individual liberties and equal application of law – core tenants of limited government – America became the most powerful and prosperous nation in world history.
While the document they drafted 234 years ago may technically still exist, our nation’s adherence to the core tenants of limited government and the Constitution does not. Within recent years the size and scope of our government has exploded. Just this past year the federal government spent $6.27 trillion (over $19,000 per person) which does not include the over $3 trillion state and local governments spent. This drastic growth of government resulted in a $1.5 trillion budget deficit, and has further ballooned our national debt to $31 trillion, representing a 50% increase in just 5 years. Unfortunately, this unsustainable amount of debt represents only a small fraction of our country’s real fiscal time bomb – federal and state unfunded liabilities such as Social Security and Medicare – which coupled with state debt, exceed $200 trillion. This means that the average family of four must chip in $2.6 million dollars just to cover our existing debt and liabilities. Not only do we not need this level of government, we simply can’t afford it.
“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”
– Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The ILA’s Work
Returning our Country to the Limited Government our Founding Fathers Envisioned
Serving as the “Data Hub”
Building Scorecards for Advocates of Limited Government
“An informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.”
– Thomas Jefferson
The Research Process
A legislative scorecard is only as good as the bill evaluation, sampling and the research behind it. Fortunately, the ILA team has some of the foremost experts in state legislative policy, bill analysis and vote extraction, including multiple individuals who previously spent a decade at the ACU constructing the first and only comprehensive 50-state scorecard program.
The ILA’s research process consists of multiple steps to ensure every key bill, amendment and procedural vote is properly analyzed and rated. The ILA team reviews bill testimony, fiscal notes and text, shifts through hundreds of thousands of pages within legislative journals, monitors local media reporting, and consults with local policy experts that follow the legislatures. Additionally, all policy analysts are specially trained to navigate the unique legislative procedures of the 50 state capitols to select the correct votes and bill versions.
The work requires expertise within hundreds of different policy fields. Additionally, commercial platforms are limited in their ability to correctly extract every hidden procedural motion and amendment within a number of state legislatures, requiring specialized knowledge and vote extraction capabilities, which the ILA has developed and constantly updates.
Policy Summaries Produced
Limited Government Index (LGI)
The platform that allows liberty-minded organizations to construct their own scorecards for congress and all 50 state legislatures.
Meet the Team
Ryan McGowan, Chief Executive Officer
As CEO, Ryan McGowan leads the Institute for Legislative Analysis and oversees all financial and organizational operations. Prior to ILA, Ryan held the top finance position at the American Conservative Union where he served for over 6 years. Before joining the ACU, Ryan worked in the private and public accounting sectors, as well as management consulting where he assisted his clients in the areas of IPO readiness, mergers and acquisitions, revenue recognition, and audit readiness. He holds a B.S. in Accounting and Finance and a Master of Accountancy degree from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Fred McGrath, President
Fred McGrath serves as ILA’s President, overseeing the organization’s policy, research and scorecard operations. He previously served as the Director of the Center for Legislative Accountability at the American Conservative Union (CPAC), where he spent a decade leading the creation of the nation’s first and only legislative scorecard program covering all 8,000 federal and state lawmakers. In addition to his work at the ACU, he served as an Economic Advisor to the Ben Carson campaign, and was a Koch Associate and Fellow at the Charles Koch Institute. Prior to ACU, Fred worked as a research assistant at George Mason University’s Department of Economics and at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Fred holds Bachelor’s degrees in both Economics and Communication from George Mason University.
Francis Finnegan, Vice President & Database Manager
Francis Finnegan directs the ILA’s data and analytics operations. During his decade of service at the American Conservative Union he served in multiple capacities including Data Director, Python Developer and Legislative Analyst. An expert in SQL and Python programming, he constructed ACU’s database of 16,000 lawmaker profiles, 19,000 bills and 1.7 million votes – the largest conservative policy database in existence. He holds multiple master’s degrees: (1) a M.A. in Philosophy and Social Policy from American University and (2) a M.S. in Database Management and Business Intelligence from Boston University. He also has two B.A.s from the University of Portland: one in Philosophy, one in Drama.
Zoe Reese, Director of Legislative Research
Zoe Reese serves as the ILA’s Director of Legislative Research and directs the research processes for ILA’s congressional and 50 state scorecards. She is responsible for managing the organization’s review of the over 105,000 bills introduced across the nation annually. She holds a Bachelors degree in Political Science and Government from Southern Virginia University and previously served at the ACU for over two and a half years.
Bryan Axler, Director of Policy Analysis
Bryan Axler serves as the ILA’s Director of Policy Analysis where he plays a critical role in managing the review of policy and legislative procedure across the scorecard creation process. He holds a J.D. from Penn State Law and earned his Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Kennesaw State University and previously served at the ACU for nearly two years.
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Institute for Legislative Analysis
300 Independence Ave, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003