The Center for Effective Government has announced that after thirty-three years it is shutting its doors.
Founded in 1983 by Gary Bass as OMB Watch, the left-leaning advocacy group initially focused its efforts on the federal government's secretive Office of Management and Budget, while pushing back against the increasingly popular anti-regulatory agenda championed by conservatives and business interests. In 2010, Bass left the organization to lead the Bauman Foundation, which awards between $5 million and $6 million in grants annually to open government, environmental, and public health advocacy projects.
In making the announcement, the center said it would be moving most of its current work and initiatives to the Project On Government Oversight, a leading nonpartisan watchdog group that champions good-government reforms. As part of its efforts to carry on CEG's legacy, POGO will create a section on its website called "Effective Government" to serve as a repository for existing and future work in that area and will take on a new role in the area of government regulatory authority and independence as CEG transfers the support it provided as co-chair of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards to the other co-chair, Public Citizen.
According to Greenwire, the center's staff of experts on regulatory policy, taxes, and open government have been taking on new roles at nonprofits around Washington, D.C., for several weeks. "We made the decision at the beginning of the year, after looking at the landscape and everything, [that] it would be best for us to wind the organization down," Brian Gumm, CEG senior writer and policy analyst, told Greenwire. Gumm added that the decision was largely based on the organization's funding situation.
"In the heyday of OMB Watch and other good government groups, there was a much more dynamic political environment and a much greater openness to creative policy ideas," Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, told Greenwire. "Much, if not all, of that dynamism has gone away and has been replaced by party line polarization. What that means in practice is much less appetite or even tolerance for creative policy solutions. Instead, there's just a stubborn tug of war over which side is going to emerge victorious."