Advancing Oversight, Strengthening Democracy

As the U.S. Supreme Court wrote seventy years ago, when lawmakers engage in oversight, they serve as the “eyes and voice” of their constituents. Never has it been more important for legislators in every state to use their unique fact-finding power to get to the heart of important issues and solve problems. The State Oversight Academy’s goal is to offer knowledge, tools, and networks to help lawmakers ensure that government keeps its promises to the people.
Jim Townsend
Director, Levin Center for Oversight & Democracy

What is the State Oversight Academy?

The State Oversight Academy is the first and only national institution dedicated to promoting effective bipartisan fact-finding and oversight by state legislatures as essential to good governance and democracy.

SOA will build a national community of practitioners, scholars and other experts, good government advocates, and the public interested in advancing transparent and accountable government and mitigating disinformation that can foster extremism and stymy dialogue across the political divide. By advancing the theory and practice of bipartisan, fact-based legislative oversight, SOA will become a leader in advancing democratic renewal and civic discourse across the United States.


1. Improving the practice of oversight in state legislatures across the country via trainings and events with lawmakers and staff

2. Fostering academic research and scholarship on state legislative oversight

3. Translating scholarship into actionable best practices to be shared among states

4. Increasing the visibility of legislative oversight as an essential legislative function

A health care scandal in your state’s prison system has been brought to your attention. What do you do? As a legislator, what resources are at your disposal to gather information and address this problem? The Levin Center’s State Oversight Academy is hosting a virtual, interactive masterclass on June 22nd to give you the tools you need to successfully navigate a corrections oversight investigation, featuring experts in the field to help you craft your response. More information is available here!

State legislatures conduct oversight through committees and with help from partner agencies. The State Oversight Academy has this information in an easy-to-use Wiki which includes links to legislature and committee websites, recent agency reports, and state fiscal data, as well as a mechanism for legislators, department officials, and staff to submit their own updates and corrections. See how your state oversight stacks up!

State Oversight Matters Blog

The State Oversight Academy’s new blog, State Oversight Matters, will publish it’s inaugural post on Tuesday! The blog will offer expert advice on conducting oversight investigations in your state legislature, oversight news from statehouses across the country, and other important topics in the field.


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FAST Classes

Our FAST (Federal and State Tutorials) Classes are a short podcast with an expert that provides a brief introduction 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. You can also listen online here.


Checks and Balances in Action - Legislative Oversight across the States

The Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy commissioned a study of each state legislature’s capacity to conduct oversight and the extent to which each state uses that capacity. Find out more about your state’s oversight performance in this unique resource.

Oversight Overview

What happened this month in the world of oversight? The SOA’s monthly newsletter will include updates from state legislatures across the country, an overview of SOA’s activities, and announcements for the upcoming month! 

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State Oversight Events & Workshops

We hold regular panels, classes, and presentations about important topics in state legislative oversight, as well as 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. 

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State Oversight Resources

We are a knowledge hub and resource center for state legislatures. Browse our state legislative oversight directories, articles, and Levin Center testimony here. 


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State Oversight Academy Newsletter

What happened this month in the world of oversight? The SOA’s monthly newsletter will include updates from state legislatures across the country, an overview of SOA’s activities, and announcements for the upcoming month!

SOA in the News

“Having the Levin Center teach legislators and legislatures on the importance of oversight -- and the skill and the art of oversight -- is critical. 26 years ago, I worked on Capitol Hill and observed grizzled senators conduct real, old-fashioned oversight and hold agency heads and cabinet secretaries' feet to the fire. What we see on C-SPAN is generally missing in many state legislatures, and I think we can all do a better job.”


Download our workshop sheet to see what we can offer your legislature!

Contact us to arrange a presentation or workshop in your state!