On the advantages of a well-constructed lobbying system: toward a more democratic, modern lobbying process


The American lobbying information processing system is woefully outdated. The mechanisms by which citizen, interest group, and business concerns are incorporated into the policymaking process have largely not been updated in over 200 years. Lobbyists set up meetings with staffers and members of Congress and share position papers with them about their arguments on a given policy issue. There is no central location where staffers can find out who is lobbying on a given bill and what they are arguing. In this paper, we make the case for a new information processing system that would provide Congress with a more efficient and effective way to manage the information flooding the Hill, and which would ensure more transparency about who is lobbying on any given bill and what they are saying. If used effectively by Congress, watchdog groups, and journalists, this system could result in better representation for a more diverse group of citizens.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Private conversation with Molly Nagappala, Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.

  2. 2.

    A common goodness-of-fit measure that measure the actual distribution pattern to a hypothetical distribution that was completely random with no relationship at all.

  3. 3.

    In the following excerpts, only the 15 terms with the highest χ 2 value are marked in bold. Further terms related to these clusters are not highlighted.

  4. 4.

    Data downloaded from http://lobby.la.psu.edu.

  5. 5.

    Interview quote from: http://lobby.la.psu.edu/_107th/115_Derivatives/frameset_derivatives.html.


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Correspondence to Lee Drutman.

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Drutman, L., Mahoney, C. On the advantages of a well-constructed lobbying system: toward a more democratic, modern lobbying process. Int Groups Adv 6, 290–310 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41309-017-0020-2

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  • Lobbying reform
  • Transparency
  • Corporate lobbying
  • Money in politics
  • Congressional capacity