Cover: An Exploratory Analysis of Trends in Text Data from Congressional Oversight Hearings

An Exploratory Analysis of Trends in Text Data from Congressional Oversight Hearings

Published Dec 8, 2021

by Marek N. Posard, Hilary Reininger, Christian Johnson

Download Free Electronic Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.2 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

The U.S. Congress exercises oversight over federal agencies (including the U.S. Department of Defense) through various committees. Trends in what is said in these committees could signal the emergence of salient issues for policymakers. For example, if members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees (HASC and SASC, respectively) talk about diversity in the military over several years, then it might suggest that diversity-related issues are becoming more salient. This trend could be a signal for policymakers at various levels within the Pentagon to prepare for questions from Congress about these issues.

To this end, RAND researchers developed a workflow that draws on various tools for acquiring and organizing large volumes of data from HASC and SASC. In this Perspective, they describe a proof of concept for how to acquire and begin analyzing text data for policy analysis. One could use this workflow to develop a more sophisticated toolkit for analyzing congressional text data.

This Perspective was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

This commentary is part of the RAND expert insight series. RAND Expert Insights present perspectives on timely policy issues. All RAND Expert Insights undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.