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Two Bush School Capstone Teams Win James W. McGrew Research Award

July 02, 2018

Two capstone research teams from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University have received the James W. McGrew Research Award for outstanding research from the Central Texas Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration. The award recognizes undergraduate and graduate students in public administration or public policy programs who have conducted outstanding research as an individual or as a team in the field of public administration and/or public policy.

This year, students at the Bush School took part in twenty different capstone projects, something each student must complete before graduation. These research projects are a key element in the overall curriculum and encourage teamwork and the demonstration of knowledge students have acquired during their time at the School.

One capstone from each department was recognized. In the Department of International Affairs (IA), a project that assessed the value of US Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) “‘shaping’ lines of effort to promote regional security and stability” received the award. The award winning project from the Department of Public Service and Administration (PSA) looked at the question of lobbying by former executive government officials. The IA team was led by Dr. Don MacWillie and included students Travis Askew, Matthew Faucett, Lauren Galyen, Jonathan McPhilamy, and Lucas Reddig. The PSA team was led by Dr. Deborah Kerr and included Lela Akiashvili, Humna Butt, Kirbie Ferrell, Morgan Gray, Alexandra Gonzalez, Peiquan Lin, Megi Llubani, Elba Morales, and Dylan Woods.

PSA student Morgan Gray said she and her team spent two semesters developing a database for the Congressional Research Service (CRS) comprised of former officials who served within the executive branch between the years 2000 and 2016. CRS wanted a better understanding of the career paths of former executive branch officials and whether or not such individuals lobby before or after entering the executive branch.

“CRS will now use our database to construct an official report for Congress on the prevalence of lobbying among former executive branch officials,” Gray said. “Overall, our team acquired experience in providing a high-quality product to our client, while working to maintain a relationship with our client built upon professionalism, timeliness, and high-quality product delivery.”

The winning IA team was tasked with measuring the effectiveness of SOUTHCOM’s Security Cooperation or Building Partner Capacity (BPC) activities. Team member Travis Askew explained that he and his team developed a model to measure the effectiveness of SOUTHCOM’S BPC activities.

The teams were honored at a banquet in Austin on May 21, 2018.

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