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Policy Analysts

History

Since the earliest days of government, policy analysts have helped appointed and elected officials make major decisions about everything from education funding to national defense. Private organizations were also founded to provide information and advice to public and government officials.

In the Western world, “think tanks”—organizations that perform research on and advocate for “big issue” topics such as protecting the environment and health care reform—were first founded in the 19th century in Europe. The Royal United Services Institute, which was founded by the Duke of Wellington in Great Britain in 1831, still conducts research on defense and security issues to this day. The Fabian Society was founded in 1884. It bills itself as Britain’s oldest political think tank, developing liberal-focused political ideas and public policy.

The industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the first think tank in the United States in 1910. He urged its trustees to use the fund to “hasten the abolition of international war, the foulest blot upon our civilization.” The Institute for Government Research (which is now known as the Brookings Institution) was founded in 1916 by the businessman and philanthropist Robert S. Brookings. According to its Web site, it was “the first private organization devoted to bettering the practices and performance of government with recommendations generated by outside experts.” Its first research project focused on helping the Bureau of Internal Revenue improve the reporting of tax statistics. Today there are more than 6,800 think tanks in the world. 

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