Citizens Research Council’s Ex-Research Director wins GRA’s Gruenberg Award for Contributions to Governmental Research
Former Citizens Research Council of Michigan Research Director Jim Williams was recognized by his peers for excellence in governmental research and contributions to the field at the 2016 Governmental Research Association (GRA) conference in Pittsburgh, PA on July 26.
A native of Texas, Jim came to Michigan to earn a Masters of Political Science from the University of Michigan. It was at this time he joined the Citizens Research Council. Jim worked in both the Research Council’s Lansing and Detroit offices.
Jim’s analysis of the state’s budget issues was key to state policy maker’s beginning to understand the state’s changing economy. In a way no other analyst previously had done, he described a sea change in the budget, which had moved from an annual growth rate of 7.1 percent to a 4.1 percent decrease in 1980-81. He followed this finding with an analysis that showed that, although Michigan had reported balanced budgets, cash outlays had exceeded cash receipts by $600 million over the preceding 14 years. The gap had been papered over by short-term borrowing.
During his time with the Citizens Research Council, Jim assumed leadership responsibility with the Governmental Research Association, serving for two years as the vice president, from 1989-91 as the president, and then starting a stretch of 21 years as secretary of the association. The Governmental Research Association (GRA), the national organization of individuals engaged in governmental research. Membership is largely comprised of organizations with missions similar to the Citizens Research Council’s aim to bring non-partisan, independent information to citizens and policy makers for the betterment of state and local government.
Jim left the Citizens Research Council in 1988 for Alabama where he helped to create the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA). Jim served as the President of PARCA from that time until his retirement in 2015.
The Gruenberg Award is given to individuals that devote their careers to governmental research and through their efforts help to improve the operations of the state and local governments that they research. Past Gruenberg Award winners from the Citizens Research Council include past presidents Robert Pickup, Robert Queller, and Earl Ryan.