Masterclasses, Events, and Workshops

We host regular events, both virtually and in-person, on important state oversight topics. We bring together lawmakers, scholars, policy experts, activists, community organizers, journalists, and attorneys to discuss the conduct of oversight across a wide range of issues.

We also offer custom-designed oversight workshops for members of state legislatures and their staff seeking to strengthen their ability to conduct fact-based, bipartisan, high-quality investigations. Check our page below or get in touch for a proposal tailored to your legislature.

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Masterclasses

Learn the nuts and bolts of oversight, including legal authorities, types of oversight, avenues of oversight, where to find oversight topics, how to make an oversight plan, and more!

Watch on YouTube.

Download the Legislative Oversight Plan Worksheet

Summary/Important Links

Transcript

Past Events

The State Oversight Academy held its second annual symposium, “Legislators and Academics in Partnership,” on June 21, 2024. Four scholars presented their working papers for review by practitioners in the field, followed by a roundtable of legislators and academics, and recognition of our inaugural SOA Oversight Leader! Find the whole recap including the video and papers on the Symposium 2024 page.
On April 22, 2022, the Levin Center’s State Oversight Academy held a panel discussion on how states oversee the distribution of funds in the wake of a natural disaster. The panelists explained their investigations following hurricanes in North Carolina, flooding in West Virginia, and wildfires in Hawaii, as well as research into the distribution of these funds across the country. Panelists
  • John (JB) McCuskey, West Virginia State Auditor
  • Representative Nadine K. Nakamura, Hawaii House Majority Leader
  • Joe Coletti, North Carolina House Majority Oversight Staff Director
  • Colin Foard, The Pew Charitable Trusts Senior Manager (Managing Fiscals Risks Program)
Host Ben Eikey, State Training & Development Manager, Levin Center  
The State Oversight Academy’s symposium connected scholars who study state legislatures with practitioners who serve as elected state lawmakers or as legislative staff. Scholars submitted working papers on legislative oversight topics, which were read by a practitioner who gave in-depth feedback based on their professional experience. You can read more about the presenters and download the papers here.
On August 2, 2023, the Levin Center’s State Oversight Academy held an academic panel entitled “Citizen v. Legislature-Led Reapportionment: Current Research on Redistricting Legislative Boundaries.” The panel compared independent citizen commissions in Michigan, California, and throughout the country to redistricting done by state legislatures, and discussed whether the commissions make elections fairer, prevent gerrymandering, and improve representation for minority populations. Panelists
  • Marjorie Sarbaugh-Thompson, Professor of Political Science at Wayne State University and the State Oversight Academy’s Academic Director
  • Sara Sadhwani, Assistant Professor of Politics at Pomona College and member of the Citizens Redistricting Commission for the State of California
  • Christian Grose, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at University of Southern California and Academic Director of USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy.
Host Ben Eikey, State Training & Development Manager, Levin Center

On June 22, 2023, the Levin Center’s State Oversight Academy held an interactive masterclass for state legislators and their legislative staff entitled “Oversight of Prison Operations”. The class reviewed the multiple oversight avenues available to state lawmakers and applied these learnings in the interactive exercise. The class was joined by external experts to share their knowledge and experience in overseeing corrections operations:

  • Kade Minchey, Utah Legislative Auditor General
  • Keith Barber, Michigan Legislative Corrections Ombudsman
  • Amarik K. Singh, California Inspector General

Download Slides

What is the relationship between auditors and legislators, and how do each contribute to effective oversight? Watch the State Oversight Academy’s conversation with state auditors on how to maintain a relationship with the legislature while preserving political boundaries. The panel discusses how auditing contributes to the overall state oversight ecosystem – whether the auditor finds a problem during a routine investigation, or the committee requests an audit following a scandal, they need each other to bring positive, lasting change in their states.

Panelists

  • Kathy Patterson, Auditor @District of Columbia
  • Kade Minchey, Auditor General @Office of Utah Legislative Auditor General
  • John Geragosian, State Auditor @Connecticut
  • John Sylvia, Director, Performance Evaluation & Research Division @West Virginia Office of the Legislative Auditor

Host:

Ben Eikey – State Training & Development Manager, Levin Center

The Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy’s new State Oversight Academy hosted statehouse journalists to discuss 1) the role of the media in ensuring government transparency and accountability through oversight and 2) how media attention affects the behavior of politician who are supposed to be conducting or cooperating with oversight. Panelists:
  • Amelia Knisely – Freelance Journalist, West Virginia
  • Camryn Sanchez – Arizona Capitol Times
  • Jonathan Oosting – Bridge Michigan
Hosts:
  • Adam Zelizer – Assistant Professor of Political Science, Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago
  • Ben Eikey – State Training & Development Manager
 
This bipartisan conversation between two state elected officials discussed 1) the role of the legislator in conducting oversight and 2) how to do impactful oversight. Moderated by Levin Center’s Ben Eikey, this discussion examines why oversight matters and the difference it makes when done effectively! Panelists:

On January 23, 2023, Ben Eikey and Jim Townsend trained state legislators from across the country and political spectrum on how to build an oversight agenda for the upcoming legislative term. Following the presentation, attendees joined breakout rooms to create their own oversight agendas.

Instructors: 

  • Jim Townsend, Director, Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy
  • Ben Eikey, State Training and Communications Manager, Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy

Participants: 22 state legislators

Downloads:

State legislatures play a critical role in governing the United States. They serve as the workbenches of our “laboratories of democracy.” And one out of two members of Congress have previously held office as state legislators. Thus the craftways of representation, legislation, and oversight they learn–or fail to–in statehouses leave a profound imprint on our democracy. How do the best state legislators approach their responsibilities and build sustainable coalitions in our fractious political environment? How do they succeed in politics and policymaking? How do they lead and govern? Looking ahead, how are the challenges and prospects evolving for stellar leadership of the sort they provide–and should that give us hope or pause for the future? To explore these questions, “Success in the States” brings state lawmakers identified by independent observers as exceptional political leaders into conversation with each other. The lawmakers are joined by leaders of nonprofits dedicated to supporting better political leadership in the U.S. to reflect on the issues at stake for our democracy. The co-hosts for this lunchtime event include the Center for Effective Lawmaking, the Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy, Lyceum Labs, and the Millennial Action Project.
State audit recommendations can improve state government transparency, accountability, and effectiveness. Legislators often rely on audit recommendations to develop solutions for problems plaguing states. At the same time, poorly designed or inartfully worded audit recommendations can lead to missed opportunities to improve government performance. How can auditors better share their expertise through recommendations to help foster effective legislator responses to the concerns of the public? How can legislators work with auditors to develop and utilize audit recommendations to enhance their own legislative oversight? How should state legislators, state auditors, and their staffs interact to leverage their combined expertise to produce and implement useful audit recommendations? Watch our panel discussion co-sponsored by NASACT and the Levin Center on audit recommendations for a legislative audience, and how to improve the state oversight ecosystem by helping lawmakers see state auditors as an essential resource for expertise and oversight capacity.    

Properly administered election audits are one of the most important tools states can use to improve voter confidence and election security. In 2020, however, state legislatures in multiple states used audits for the opposite goal of undermining the public’s faith in elections and the electoral results themselves. Watch our panel discussion as representatives from the Brennan Center for Justice and the R Street Institute discuss the audits that followed the last election cycle and explore options to strengthen oversight of our elections going forward. This virtual panel discussion is hosted by Wayne Law’s Voting Rights and Election Law Society and the Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy.

Panelists:

  • Matt Germer, Resident Elections Fellow, Governance Program, R Street Institute.
  • Derek Tisler, Counsel, Democracy Program, Brennan Center for Justice.

Download the Election Audit Report referenced in the panel discussion

“Oversight, Infrastructure, and Federalism: Ensuring Transparency, Accountability, and Effectiveness of U.S. Infrastructure Investments”

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 is poised to send billions of taxpayer dollars from the nation’s capital through the states to local communities to improve our roads, bridges, dams, broadband networks, electric vehicle charging stations, mass transit systems, and more.  To ensure the success of these historic infrastructure investments, action must be taken to prevent waste, fraud and abuse, and ensure the law lives up to its promise.  On March 25, 2022, the Levin Center and Wayne State University Law Review held a  one-day online symposium focused on meeting our infrastructure investment challenges and opportunities.

(Visit our symposium webpage for full bios of moderators and panelists and additional resources on infrastructure oversight.)

Welcoming Comments: U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI)

Panel 1:Establishing Mechanisms for Oversight of Infrastructure

Moderator: Beth Osborne – Director,  Transportation for America

  • Shruti Shah – President & CEO, Coalition for Integrity
  • Lawrence (Larry) Goldenhersh – President, Center for Sustainable Energy
  • Alexander (Alex) Beckmann – Senior Policy Advisor on Transportation and Infrastructure Issues, Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL)

Panel 2: Exercising Oversight of Infrastructure Performance

Moderator: Portia Bamiduro –  Technical Adviser to Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs, Amazon

  • Elizabeth (Biza) Repko – Director for Physical Infrastructure, GAO
  • Andrew (Andy) Doctoroff – Michigan Lead, Gordie Howe International Bridge Project & Adjunct Professor, University of Michigan Law School
  • Joseph (Joe) Colaianne – General Counsel, Four Lakes Task Force
  • John Sylvia – Director Performance Evaluation & Research Division, West Virginia State Legislature

Recommendations:

Capacity Building

  • Build a culture of infrastructure oversight at the federal, state and local levels.
  • Establish a committee of inspectors general, either modeled after the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) or by expanding the PRAC mandate, to coordinate federal infrastructure oversight, data, and analysis.
  • Invest more in oversight capacity in the executive and legislative branches, at the federal and state levels, to enable more rigorous and timely investigations and reports.
  • Build into federal and state laws, regulations, and practices up-front risk assessments, continuous auditing, and fraud detection.

Public Involvement

  • Build a public website that tracks spending under the IIJA and enables public and private sector analysis of government and contractor spending and performance.
  • Expand up-front community involvement in infrastructure policy and projects, particularly in establishing project needs, scope, and design.
  • Educate national, state, and local media about the IIJA to assist in media oversight.

Design & Practice

  • Encourage states to be more specific about their infrastructure goals in planning documents and performance metric design. Encourage reviews of past state projections for congestion reduction, reliability, safety improvements, and repair to identify challenges and improve future projections.
  • Monitor and critique performance of infrastructure programs, including formula-based programs, using agreed upon goals and criteria, including repair and safety.
  • Enlist project owners, auditors, agencies, prime contractors, and lawmakers in executing different aspects of oversight of specific infrastructure projects.

Data & Measurement

  • Require more timely availability of data on infrastructure condition, safety, and performance management results. Measure the movement of people and the performance of non-car transportation systems.
  • For electric vehicle charging stations, create a national data warehouse, direct grantees and contractors to supply data on charger use, reliability, and performance, and ensure the data is collected and analyzed.
  • Leverage technology and best practices from industry regarding useful performance criteria and methods for gathering infrastructure performance data.

Contracting

  • Provide training for state and local government personnel on project planning and cost estimation to enable effective reviews of contractor bids and make informed selections.
  • Build oversight elements into infrastructure contracts requiring contractors to report performance data on a timely basis and cooperate with agency and auditor oversight.
  • Build oversight costs into each contract.
  • Provide state contracting officer and supervisor training on the collection and analysis of contract performance data (quality metrics, pay protocols tied to milestones, safety performance) and how to deal with subpar performance.
  • Encourage or require cost estimates to be updated every 3 years.

 

Links and materials shared during symposium:

Watch Panel 1

Watch Panel 2

This webinar for state legislators and staff features Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) and Levin Center experts covering state pandemic response and oversight. PRAC shared information on state auditor reports, data available on federal relief funds, and pandemic response issues across the country. The Levin Center discussed oversight in response to state audit and other monitoring tools, and state oversight best practices for state legislators seeking to enhance their pandemic response oversight. Presented during Sunshine Week in contribution to the pursuit of greater government transparency. Speakers:
  • Ben Eikey – State Training and Communications Manager, Levin Center
  • Rehana Mohammed, Associate Director for Transparency, PRAC
  • Lisa Reijula,  Associate Director for Communications and Outreach, PRAC
Resource links shared in the session:

Emergencies require a rapid government response, often with little time to screen vendors or review contracts. This sometimes leads to overpriced or mismanaged state contracts. How can state legislatures fulfill their oversight duties to scrutinize state contracts and protect taxpayers in an emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic? Listen to state legislators from across the country discussing legislative oversight of contracts signed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The panel heard from three leading elected officials across the country, including

  • State Senator Dan Johnson from Idaho,
  • State Assemblymember David Chiu from California, and
  • State Senator Machaela Cavanaugh from Nebraska.

This panel discussion was recorded on May 4, 2021 sponsored by the Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy. It follows the Levin Center’s recent

On April 9th, 2021 the Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy and the Wayne State University Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice jointly hosed a virtual panel discussion entitled “Corrections and Re-Entry: Legislative and Community Efforts for a Successful Transition after Prison“.  The panel addressed questions of re-entry from prison to society, featuring legislative, academic, and community perspectives. How can a prisoner’s re-entry to the community better serve the interests and needs of both? be done successfully? What factors hinder or foster successful re-entry? What oversight efforts do state legislatures and agencies need to engage in to ensure re-entry programs fulfill their promises?

The panel heard from

  • Michigan’s Legislative Corrections Ombudsman Keith Barber,
  • Former Representative Joe Haveman from Hope Network, and
  • Darryl Woods Sr., activist and returning citizen.
In 1812, cartoonist Elkanah Tisdale altered the political vocabulary of the United States forever when he rendered the voting districts of the state of Massachusetts, then under the leadership of Governor Elbridge Gerry, in the image of the “Gerry-mander,” an animal somewhere between a vulture and a salamander.  Gerrymandering has figured heavily in the history of U.S. elections and has recently made headlines again as communities around the nation face questions about the constitutionality of using independent commissions to redraw district lines, the effects of counting prison inmates as constituents in the counties in which the prisons reside, and how partisan gerrymandering disproportionately affects communities of color and voters who have been “packed, stacked, and cracked” in order to provide an advantage for one political party or the other.

Symposium Overview

On Friday, March 22, 2019, the Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy, together with The Journal of Law in Society, held a symposium entitled “Gerrymandering: The Power of Boundaries” with to foster civil discourse on this matter of rapidly evolving public policy. Leading scholars from around the U.S. joined experts from Wayne State University to discuss partisan gerrymandering and race-based redistricting in a full-day event.  Michigan’s newly elected Secretary of State and former Wayne Law Dean Jocelyn Benson provided keynote remarks.

Agenda

8:45 a.m. Opening remarks

  • Former U.S. Sen. chair, Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy; distinguished legislator in residence, Wayne Law
  • Emad Hamadeh, editor-in-chief, The Journal of Law in Society

9:00 a.m. Keynote speaker

9:45 a.m. Gerrymandering: Past, Present, and Future

  • , associate professor and faculty associate at the Center for Political Studies, University of Michigan
  • James Lancaster, chief counsel, Voters Not Politicians
  • , president, Citizens Research Council of Michigan
  • Moderator: , associate professor, Wayne Law

11:15 a.m. Race-Based Redistricting

  • , Edward and Ellen Schwarzman professor of law and director, Duke Law Center on Law, Race, and Politics, Duke University School of Law
  • , attorney and legal director, Prison Policy Initiative
  • , assistant professor, New York University School of Law
  • Moderator: Rhonda Haidar, symposium editor, Journal of Law in Society

1:30 p.m. Political Gerrymandering and the U.S. Constitution

  • , Charles W. Ebersold and Florence Whitcomb Ebersold chair in constitutional law and director of Election Law @ Moritz, Moritz College of Law at Ohio State
  • , professor and Herbert and Marjorie Fried research scholar, University of Chicago Law School
  • , Charles W. Ebersold and Florence Whitcomb Ebersold professor of constitutional law, Moritz College of Law at Ohio State
  • , Walter S. Gibbs distinguished professor of constitutional law, Wayne Law
  • Moderator: Jonathan Weinberg, associate dean for research and faculty development, Wayne Law

3:00 p.m. Closing Remarks

  • Rhonda Haidar, symposium editor, The Journal of Law in Society

Group photo of members at the D.C. Council Training

SOA Workshops

To achieve its mission of promoting and supporting fact-based, bipartisan, in-depth oversight, the Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy offers workshops for state legislatures on how to conduct oversight investigations.  The workshops are available in a variety of formats from one-hour introductions to full-day boot camps, and can be virtual or in-person.  All sessions seek to combine investigators from the Democratic, Republican, and independent parties as well as both chambers of the legislature to produce a bipartisan or nonpartisan oversight experience.  

Workshop contents can include a wide range of topics depending on your legislature’s particular interest, such as how to improve hearing questions, how to build successful investigations, how to handle press and media releases following oversight reports and many more.

Featured Workshop

Asking Better Oversight Hearing Questions

October 7, 2021

Watch our state oversight workshop about how to prepare the most effective questions for your oversight hearing.

Trainings, Workshops, Conferences, and Testimonies

On June 18, Ben Eikey virtually testified before the North Dakota Juvenile Justice Committee about performing oversight on this difficult issue. Watch the presentation on the ND Legislature’s website (9:53:44) and download the slides here.

Testifier: 

  • Ben Eikey, Manager, State Training and Development

Participants: 10 legislators

 

On May 30 and 31, 2024, Jim Townsend and Ben Eikey visited the Oregon House of Representatives for a series of oversight workshops:

  • Legislative Oversight, Accountability, and Effectiveness Workgroup meeting: 4 Representatives, 2 staff
  • State legislature staff oversight workshop: 30 staff in-person, 6 on Zoom
  • House Interim Committee on Rules oversight presentation: 9 Representatives

Instructors: 

  • Jim Townsend, Director, Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy
  • Ben Eikey, Manager, State Training and Development

 

On May 15, Ben Eikey virtually presented to the Texas House Democratic Caucus about juvenile justice oversight. Download the slides here.

Instructors: 

  • Ben Eikey, Manager, State Training and Development

Participants: 15 legislators

Ben Eikey joined The Institutes Griffith Foundation for the session, “Examining the Impact of Fraud on the Insurance Ecosystem & the Important Role of Public Policymakers in Anti-Fraud Efforts.”

View this non-advocative, on-demand session exploring: the impact of insurance fraud on the insurance ecosystem; efforts underway to combat fraud; and opportunities for state lawmakers to bolster fraud prevention on the Griffith Foundation’s Youtube page.

Jim Townsend and Ben Eikey virtually presented to the Future Caucus’ Strengthening Democracy Fellows for their monthly meeting on the topic of oversight. You can watch the video below or on the Future Caucus YouTube channel. Instructors: 
  • Jim Townsend, Director, Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy
  • Ben Eikey, Manager, State Training and Development

The State Oversight Academy virtually presented to the Missouri House Democratic Caucus. 10 legislators were in attendance and the content focused on the basics of state legislative oversight. Examples from across the country were shared in addition to specific recommendations for Missouri. Feedback was positive and focused on how to use oversight in the criminal justice space, and how to encourage bipartisanship in the oversight pursued by the legislature.

Instructor: 

  • Ben Eikey, Manager, State Training and Development

Participants: 10 legislators

On January 26, 2024, Jim Townsend and Ben Eikey visited the Utah State Legislature for an oversight workshop. The training focused on legislative audits and oversight. They were joined about about 20 members for hands-on oversight exercises.

Instructors: 

  • Jim Townsend, Director, Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy
  • Ben Eikey, Manager, State Training and Development

Participants: 20 members

On January 17, 2024, Jim Townsend and Ian McKnight visited the Pennsylvania House Government Oversight Committee for an oversight workshop. The training covered all the highlights of a meaningful investigation: planning, conducting hearings, preparing a written product, and following up to make real change. They also participated in practice exercises surrounding a simulated scandal of a software failure at public hospitals.

Instructors: 

  • Jim Townsend, Director, Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy
  • Ian McKnight, Manager, State Training and Development

Participants: 10 members

On January 12, 2024, Jim Townsend and Elise Bean trained 37 staff from committees and member offices of the Washington, D.C. council on the importance and the techniques of fact-based, bipartisan oversight in a 4-hour in-person workshop.  They covered topics including setting oversight priorities, designing open-ended factual questions to guide an investigation, overcoming agency resistance to producing information, building factual consensus, managing the media, asking better hearing questions, and effecting change through follow-up. 

Instructors: 

  • Jim Townsend, Director, Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy
  • Elise Bean, Director, Levin Center Washington, D.C. Office

Participants: 37 members of the D.C. Council staff

Ben Eikey presented at CSG Midwest’s webinar, Medicaid Policy in 2024: A Look at the Year Ahead, and the Ongoing Role of Legislative Oversight, with Robin Rudowitz, director of the Program on Medicaid and the Uninsured. They discussed recent developments in the program and challenges that state legislators will face in the coming year. Ben presented legislators with tools they can use to perform effective oversight of Medicaid.

Watch Recording (Ben’s presentation at 39:19)

Download Slides

On December 12, 2023, SOA’s Ian McKnight and Ben Eikey joined the Delaware Joint Legislative Oversight and Sunset Committee for an oversight workshop. The training featured sessions by Delaware’s oversight partners (including State Auditor Lydia York), followed by a two-hour presentations and interactive exercises on a fictional disaster response scenario.

Instructors: 

  • Ben Eikey, Manager, State Training and Development
  • Ian McKnight, Manager, State Training and Development

Participants: 29 legislators and staff

CSG West’s Public Safety Committee hosted a discussion on “Enhancing Reforms in Public Safety: Juvenile Justice.” The session examined:

  • Reducing juvenile incarceration rates
  • Increasing diversion from the juvenile justice system
  • Reducing recidivism
  • Addressing mental and behavioral health issues
  • Increasing data sharing

Ben Eikey from the Levin Center’s State Oversight Academy provided a historic background and legislative oversight perspective on the issue of juvenile justice.

Read CSG West Summary

Download Ben Eikey’s presentation slides

In November, the State Oversight Academy attended and presented at the CSG West Annual Meeting in Los Angeles. Ben Eikey presented in the Legislative Oversight Working Group session titled “Trends in Government Accountability, Transparency, and Oversight” and in the Public Safety Committee session, “Enhancing Reforms in Public Safety: Juvenile Justice and the Opioid Crisis.” The oversight session was a “nuts and bolts” conversation on how to conduct bipartisan, fact-based oversight and was presented alongside former California Assemblymember Ken Cooley. The public safety session was a presentation on juvenile justice and featured the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Policy and Oversight Committee’s Juvenile Justice Equity Dashboard. Presenting in both sessions offered an opportunity for the State Oversight Academy to discuss oversight capacities across the country, as well as within the public safety policy context.

Instructors:

  • Ben Eikey, State Training & Development Manager
  • Ken Cooley, former California Assemblymember and SOA Advisory Board member

Download Slides:

On September 19, 2023, the State Oversight Academy was invited by the Council of State Government’s Medicaid Policy Academy to lead a two-and-a-half hour in-person exercise for an audience of several dozen state lawmakers and state Medicaid administrators. After a presentation on the basics of oversight and their application to Medicaid issues, small groups were invited to develop their own oversight plan for a Medicaid-related issue of their choosing. After developing their plan with the help of instructors and a worksheet, participants presented their plans to the group. Using oversight tools discussed in the presentation, participants explored topics including Medicaid unwinding, maternal care outcomes, and access to specialists for Medicaid participants.

Instructors:

  • Ben Eikey, State Training & Development Manager
  • Ian McKnight, State Training & Development Manager

Downloads:

Workshop Presentation

Workshop Handout

Our Director, Jim Townsend, testified to the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee on September 13, 2023. Jim Townsend outlined the various avenues and oversight tools available to state legislators, how to determine an oversight agenda and plan, and shared the values of fact-finding and bipartisanship that the Levin Center embodies.

Watch Recording

Download Slides

On May 18, 2023, Levin Center Director Jim Townsend testified before the Michigan House of Representatives Ethics and Oversight Committee. His presentation highlighted the legislative oversight resources available at the Levin Center and provided expertise on the phases of an investigation and  recommended best practices.

Download Presentation Slides

Watch Testimony Recording

On March 16th, the Levin Center conducted a workshop on oversight for the North Carolina General Assembly. A bipartisan mix of elected officials and staff came together for an all-day workshop covering the basics of legislative oversight, the four phases of an investigation, developing and keeping an oversight plan, and an interactive exercise involving disaster response.

Instructors:

Jim Townsend – Levin Center Director

Ben Eikey – State Training & Development Manager

Attendees:

20 Participants

Downloads:

Presentation Slides

On January 18, 2023, Jim Townsend and Elise Bean trained all members of the Washington, D.C. council on the importance and the techniques of fact-based, bipartisan oversight in a 4-hour in-person workshop. 

Instructors: 

  • Jim Townsend, Director, Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy
  • Elise Bean, Director, Levin Center Washington, D.C. Office

Participants: 12 members of the D.C. Council

On November 28 and 29, 2022, Elise Bean and Linda Gustitus of the Levin Center’s Washington, D.C. Office trained three members of the Washington, D.C. Council in a hands-on, interactive oversight Boot Camp exercise. Council members learned about creating a hearing plan, the variety of oversight techniques,  developing the final report, and planning a successful communication strategy to share important oversight findings. 

Instructors:

  • Elise Bean, Director, Levin Center Washington, D.C. Office
  • Linda Gustitus, Levin Center Senior Advisor

Attendees: 3 D.C. Council Members

In partnership with the Council of State Governments (CSG) West, the Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy hosted a virtual legislative exchange focused on oversight of infrastructure investments. This session offered policymakers and legislative staff an opportunity to gain insights from our recent infrastructure oversight symposium and the recommendations made to ensure transparency, accountability, and efficiency of U.S. infrastructure investments. 

Location: Virtual

Attendees: 15 lawmakers from CSG West

Presenter: Jim Townsend, Levin Center Director

Download Presentation Slides

Ben Eikey and Elise Bean joined the California State Legislature on February 8, 2022 for a virtual oversight workshop. Organized by State Assemblyman Ken Cooley, the workshop focused on California’s oversight capacity, gave recommendations to strengthen legislative oversight in the state, and provided attendees with a practical exercise to develop a mock investigative plan. 

Location: virtual

Participants: 28 members of staff

Instructors: Ben Eikey, Elise Bean

Download presentation slides

State Senator Sara Gelser from Oregon, Carmen Simon, and Ben Eikey from the Levin Center gathered in Scottsdale, Arizona for the NCOIL Annual Meeting. Together they lead two 90-minute legislative oversight workshops, detailing the steps in any effective legislative investigation.

Location: Scottsdale, AZ

Participants: 10 lawmakers

Instructors: Ben Eikey, Carmen Simon, Oregon State Senator Sara Gelser

Downloads:

Presentation Slides

Opening Remarks: Machaela Cavanaugh (Nebraska State Senator), Tom Bergquist (Finance Office), Martha Carter (Performance Audit), Julie Rogers (Ombudsman’s Office)

Instructors: Ben Eikey (Levin Center)

Participants: 30 Legislators

Location: Lincoln, NE

Downloads:

Instructors: Ben Eikey (Levin Center), Jim Townsend (Levin Center), Kim Schofield (Georgia State Representative)

Participants: 45 lawmakers and members of CSG West

Location: Colorado Springs, CO

Downloads:

Oversight Workshop Agenda

Instructors: Ben Eikey and Jim Townsend (Levin Center) 

Participants: 25 North Carolina lawmakers and staffers

Location: online using Zoom platform

Downloads:

Workshop slides

Moderator: Ken Cooley (California State Assemblymember)

Panelists: Ben Eikey (Levin Center), John Sylvia (West Virginia, Director Performance Evaluation & Research Division), Ed McBroom (Michigan State Senator)

Participants: 70 members of NCOIL

Location: Boston, MA

View Recording (start at 2:40 hours)

Remarks and presentations: Elaine Howle (California State Auditor); Gabe Petek (Head of the Legislative Analyst’s Office); Cara Jenkins (Assembly’s Legislative Counsel)

Levin Center Instructors: Ben Eikey and Elise Bean

Participants: 30 California State Lawmakers

Location: online using Zoom platform

Downloads:

Workshop slides

The Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy was invited to speak at the Council of State Government’s National Conference 2020. The session entitled “Strengthening the Role of Legislative Oversight” was hosted by the CSG West Oversight Working Group. The Levin Center presentation was followed by a panel discussion hearing from three different lawmakers in different states. The session was moderated by Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-CA).

Levin Center presentation:

  • Jim Townsend, Levin Center Director
  • Elise Bean, Levin Center Washington Office Director
  • Ben Eikey, State Training and Communications Manager

Panel discussion:

  • Assemblymember Dan Quart, New York State Assembly, Chair, Commission on Administrative Regulations Review
  • Senator Sarah Elfreth, Maryland State Senate, Chair, Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive & Legislative Review
  • Senator Dan Johnson, Idaho State Senate

 (no-cost registration required to view the recording)

Instructors: Elise Bean, Ray Shepherd, Andrew Wright

Workshop participants: 40 state legislative staffers from both parties and a variety of committees

Location: Pennsylvania State Capitol, Harrisburg, PA

Instructors: Elise Bean, Andrew Wright, South Carolina Representative Weston Newton, House Legislative Oversight Committee chair

Workshop participants:  9 committee members and 11 staffers

Location: Pennsylvania State Capitol, Harrisburg, PA

August 8, 2016

Instructors: Elise Bean, Justin Rood

Workshop participants:  40 staffers from various state legislatures

Location: NCSL Legislative Summit, Chicago, IL

SOA Monthly Content

  • Oversight Overview is a video series that explores how state legislatures across the nation are performing oversight of a particular issue, such as Medicare, corrections, and child welfare.
  • FAST (Federal and State Tutorials) Classes are short podcasts with experts that provide brief introductions to new oversight tools, concepts, or topics. This quick listen is full of tips to get your oversight investigation off the ground!  Available in the podcast feed of the Levin Center’s Oversight Matters on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

  • State Oversight Matters, the State Oversight Academy’s blog, offers expert advice on conducting oversight investigations in your state legislature, oversight news from statehouses across the country, and other important topics in the field.