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PAR Wins National Awards at the Annual GRA Conference

Posted: 08/03/2015

This year PAR was honored with the top prize in two of GRA’s three award categories:

GRA’s award for Most Distinguished Research recognizes an outstanding research effort on a challenging subject matter that is ground breaking. PAR’s “Innovation in Louisiana” report makes the case for why innovation matters in Louisiana and focuses on two major elements: the intellectual infrastructure in our universities and the mechanisms for knowledge transfer into the economy. The judges for the award were unanimous in finding “the subject matter unique and important, the research deep and broad, the presentation engaging, and the recommendations specific and practical.”

The report examines the state of university research and development in Louisiana and makes a number of specific recommendations to state leaders, higher education officials and businesses to foster a better environment for innovation. This topic has long been a controversial one in Louisiana mainly because of the state’s poor metrics, bureaucratic resistance to change and spending priorities in this area. Support for this report was provided by the Kinsey Family Fund, Jennifer and Sean Reilly, the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation and PAR members.

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GRA’s Outstanding Policy Achievement award recognizes PAR’s work to promote improved public access to government documents and in particular better access to records of the governor’s office and state agencies. PAR’s work also focuses on the inappropriate use of the deliberative process privilege to deny the release of open records. At a forum held at PAR’s annual conference in April, the four candidates for governor pledged to advance the recommendations in PAR’s commentary released earlier in the day. In addition, PAR testified and provided information to the public and media about Senate Bill 190 by Sen. Dan Claitor. The bill, which addresses open records for the governor’s office, rode to success with unanimous votes in the Senate and House committees as well as unanimous votes in the Senate and House chambers. The bill takes effect in January 2016 when the next governor takes office.

“Many players and influences led to this change,” said PAR President Robert Travis Scott. “We are gratified that PAR’s role for analysis and education on this complex issue has been recognized by our national peers.”

Louisiana policy research groups swept all of the GRA’s national awards this year. A shared award for Most Outstanding Policy Achievement was given to the New Orleans-based Bureau of Governmental Research for a report on Reform of New Orleans’ Civil Service System. The Bureau also won the GRA’s education award for a report on Safeguarding Levee Board Reforms. PAR and Bureau staff frequently share information and perspectives on policy issues.

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