What is the Pennsylvania Policy Database?
The Pennsylvania Policy Database Project at Temple University is a free, online resource that provides access to more than 200,000 state and news media records and enables users to trace and analyze with a few mouse clicks the history of public policy in the Commonwealth since 1979. Designed for easy use by educators, students, researchers, policy makers, news reporters, and the general public, it is the first comprehensive state policy database of its kind.
To access the database, please use the Data Analysis Tool. Faculty-supervised students built the project at Temple University with the support and cooperation of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Also participating were students and faculty members at Pennsylvania State University, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania State University Harrisburg, and the University of Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania project follows the methodological approach of the national Policy Agendas database, which allows users to track and analyze federal policy since 1946. Created by political scientists Frank R. Baumgartner and Bryan D. Jones and funded initially by the National Science Foundation, the University of Texas houses the national project. Similar databases are under construction in a dozen foreign countries as a part of the Comparative Agendas Project.
As of 2020, the Policy Database is no longer being actively maintained. An archive of the database will be available soon.
National Policy Agendas Project
The Policy Agendas Project collects and organizes data from various archived sources to trace changes in the national policy agenda and public policy outcomes since the Second World War.
“The Pennsylvania Public Policy Database provides a single source for information across numerous policy areas in Pennsylvania politics. I particularly recommend the database as a data source for both my upper level undergraduate students and our graduate students in our Master of Public Administration program. Without this database, we would need to search across numerous platforms to find news articles, legislative initiatives and budgetary trends in the Commonwealth. The Public Policy Database is an invaluable classroom, teaching and research tool.” - Paula A. Holoviak, PhD - Professor, Political Science and Public Administration Kutztown University
“I used the PA Policy Projects data for my most recent book, The Myth of Mob Rule: Violent Crime and Democratic Politics (Oxford University Press, 2016). The book compared crime as a policy issue across the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands, and as part of my US analysis, I used the PA Policy Projects data to illustrate how crime rose (and fell) as a salient political issue in Pennsylvania politics between the 1970s to the 2000s. There is no alternative for my purposes. The PA project is fantastic and I wish every state had the same! What is so valuable about the dataset, for me, is that it contains ALL policy issues so one can look at a single issue, such as crime, to see how and when it becomes part of the political agenda (as well as the spending). This would be a huge undertaking for one scholar!” - Lisa L. Miller, Professor, Department of Political Science Rutgers University
“I used the Pennsylvania Public Policy Database as the basis of a journal article I published in Research & Politics. The intent of the article was to demonstrate how state-level agendas projects like the PA project can help agenda setting and public policy process scholars replicate and extend the research on punctuated equilibrium. It was meant to provide a baseline for comparison as other projects are developed. To my knowledge, Florida is the only such other state in development. I have not used the database much for research since, but I regularly talk to students about the database in my research methods and public policy courses. It is a rich source of information on Pennsylvania politics and there is no other way to obtain that level of information, in a systematic way, without it.” - Daniel J. Mallinson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Administration Penn State Harrisburg
“I used the database’s codebook to bridge the National Policy agendas project to the state level for Pennsylvania. I have also used the PA state legislative bills. I have used the data for my dissertation and an article I published in American Politics Research. I use the Open States project extensively. The advantage of that database is that it has 50 state coverage. The PA Policy Agendas Project is superior in the level of detail it goes to in Pennsylvania and how far back it goes. I search the database fairly often, I will be using it extensively this spring for an assignment I will be giving TCNJ students for their research seminars. I have no idea what to do if the database did not exist, especially for the bill coding that goes back a number of years. The PA Policy Agendas Project is an unparalleled resource at the state level. It would be a boon to the state political science subfield if there were more projects like it.” - Alex Garlick, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at The College of New Jersey