Editors’ note: A list of Good Governance Papers updates published to date is included at the bottom of the page. A list of the original Papers is also available here, at the bottom of the page announcing the original series in Fall 2020.
In October 2020, Just Security, in partnership with the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, launched the Good Governance Papers, “a series of concise essays exploring actionable legislative and administrative proposals to restore and promote non-partisan principles of good government, public integrity, and the rule of law.” Authored by a bipartisan slate of leading thinkers on national security, law, and government, the Papers illustrated the broad consensus that existed for repairing good governance norms in the United States. They also provided specific recommendations that U.S. policymakers could implement in the areas of national security, oversight, ethics and public integrity, human rights and racial justice, and more.
A year and a half on, at the one-year mark of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, we invited authors of the Good Governance Papers to provide brief “report card” updates, assessing any progress the Biden administration and/or the 117th Congress (as relevant to the reforms they put forward) have made and, where applicable, providing additional recommendations.
Over the coming weeks, Just Security will publish updates from most of the original authors of the series (some authors are currently unavailable to participate, predominantly because they are now serving in government themselves). The updates, together with the original Papers, will be available here.
As we noted in the original series, the project arose as a response to the worrisome erosion of good governance norms. Although this erosion may have accelerated during recent years, many of the problems predate the current era of extreme political polarization and have their roots in long-standing legal and regulatory gaps. The proposed norm-restoring reforms are largely non-partisan and, as a number of authors have noted, can be addressed through measures upon which most proponents of government integrity can agree.
The United States’ good governance challenges are years in the making, and solving them will be an ongoing project. But given the non-partisan nature of the proposed reforms and the benefit of repairing norms for other goals of government – including, as many authors have identified, defending national security – good governance reforms are one area where policymakers might be able to reach consensus. Just as we offered the original series as a roadmap for reform prior to the start of 2021, we hope that these updates will provide guidance for policymakers navigating the political realities of 2022.