Political and Economic Research Council

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Not to be confused with the Property and Environment Research Center.
Motto Results and Solutions
Formation 2002
Type Public Policy Think Tank
Headquarters 302 East Pettigrew Street, The Venable Center Ste 130
President Dr. Michael Turner
Website www.perc.net

The Policy and Economic Research Council (PERC)[1] (formerly known as the Political and Economic Research Council) is a Durham, North Carolina based non-profit, non-partisan think tank that concentrates on market-based economic development, both in the United States and internationally. PERC is a primary innovator and leader in the field of alternative data,[2] and has spearheaded information-led development[3] as a means for effective community economic development. PERC's experts have published a number of reports, presented findings worldwide, and testified before the United States Congress on a variety of issues. PERC scholars also serve as expert witnesses in matters pertaining to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumer credit, credit reporting and credit scoring, and the value of information sharing in commercial varying contexts. PERC is a 501(c)3 non-profit centrist enterprise.


PERC was founded as the Information Policy Institute in 2002 in New York City.[4] It first entered national prominence through its involvement in the reauthorization of the Fair Credit Reporting Act in 2003. PERC produced Access, Efficiency, and Opportunity for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.[5] This report was the most cited document during the Congressional debate on credit that resulted in the adoption of all of PERC's policy prescriptions.[6] In 2004, PERC helped to rationalize the free credit provisions of the FACT Act. PERC's research assisted in the reopening of financial data sharing in Australia and led to a Parliamentary inquiry into credit reporting.[7] In August 2008, the Australian Law Reform Commission advocated that Australia follow many of PERC's recommendations.[8]

In 2006, PERC published Give Credit Where Credit Is Due with The Brookings Institution, helping to reignite interest in the idea of alternative data.[9] PERC remains very active in the field through its Alternative Data Initiative.[10][11] PERC also has a long-running interest in the economic recovery of the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. PERC has released a number of surveys and reports on small business recovery in the region.[12][13] PERC has released studies for the governments of South Africa, Brazil,[14] Japan,[15] and several Latin American markets as a whole.[16]

In September 2009, Dr. Michael Turner was selected to be a fellow at Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, which solidified Ashoka's support for PERC's Alternative Data Initiative.[17]


The organization relies on a staff of highly qualified individuals and staffs specific projects with the top talent in the field through its adjunct fellow program.

Advisory Board[edit]

PERC's board includes:


PERC's executive officers include: President and CEO Michael Turner, Ph.D., Director of International Operations and COO, Robin Varghese, Ph.D., Director of Research and CFO, Patrick Walker, and Director of Scientific Intelligence, Edward M. Roche, Ph.D.

PERC also employees the expertise of Senior and Adjunct fellows. Senior fellows include Joseph W. Duncan, Ph.D., Sukanya Chaudhuri, PhD., Michael G. Nathans, and Gabriel Davel. Adjunct fellows include Wedge Greene, Murilo Pereira, Walter Kitchenman, and Haydé Navarro Alvarez Tostado.

Dr. Michael Turner[edit]

Dr. Michael Turner, President and Senior Scholar of PERC, founded the Policy and Economic Research Council in 2002. He is a prominent expert on credit access, credit reporting and scoring, information policy, and economic development. He has testified before Congress and numerous state legislatures, and presented studies to a host of government agencies including the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the Council of Economic Advisors, and the White House.

Dr. Turner was appointed to the first Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee of the Department of Homeland Security by former Secretary Tom Ridge, and served on an Advisory Board at the Brookings Institution. He has advised senior government officials in more than 20 countries, and was a policy advisor to the Obama Campaign on urban policy.

The author or co-author of dozens of books, studies, and articles, Dr. Turner is widely cited in the mainstream and trade media. He is a highly sought after public speaker who has addressed audiences worldwide. Dr. Turner has served as expert witness for both plaintiff and defense in several federal cases (class action, anti-trust) involving information policy, consumer credit, credit reporting and financials services.

Dr. Turner has also served as Graduate Fellow at the Columbia Institute of Tele-Information at the Columbia Business School, Executive Director of the Information Services Executive Council, manager of government affairs for the North American Telecommunications Association, and staff assistant in the U.S. Senate. Dr. Turner received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in International Political Economy and his B.A. from Miami University in Economics. He was awarded a Yeck Fellowship from Harvard Business School, as well as the Ashoka Foundation Fellowship in 2009.


PERC seeks to increase financial inclusion globally by more than any institution on Earth. Credit invisibility, which is the lack of lender access to predictive information about borrower risks or credit scores, denies millions the access to loans and modern financial services. By working with policymakers, credit bureaus, and industry leaders, PERC shows the financial benefits of using alternative data (rent, telecom, and/or utilities payment records) to judge credit. These benefits do not just extend to the Credit Invisible population, but to all individuals, and the credit bureaus themselves. By demonstrating the efficacy of alternative data and coordinating the responsible sharing and use of it between all parties involved, PERC drives global progress by bringing underserved and low-income individuals into the modern financial fold.

Areas of interest[edit]

Solutions development[edit]

PERC galvanizes markets by developing and implementing innovative information solutions to financial access problems. Working with leaders in both public and private sectors such as (information services firms, credit bureaus, IT companies, and government agencies), PERC delivers alternative data networks, manages the development of credit bureaus, helps expand credit services, and similar projects. Our work with these partners also helps PERC create alternative data scorecards and credit capacity assessment tools (income and employment verification). PERC also advises governments, credit bureaus, and lenders, as well as managing and implementing public policy and media relations efforts around specific policy outcomes. Through these extensive efforts, PERC expands alternative data reporting and, therefore, increases financial inclusion across the globe.

Economic impact analysis[edit]

PERC researchers design and implement a variety of economic impact analyses, measuring effects from the individual to the macro-economy level including:

  • Performance metrics (individual to macro)
  • Segmentation analysis (socio-demographic)
  • Financial vulnerability indices
  • Economic recovery dashboards

PERC researchers have carried out a variety of economic impact analyses. Specific expertise has been developed in understanding the social and economic impacts resulting from data expansions (e.g., the impact on national economies, consumers, and lenders when changing national credit reporting regimes) and data contractions (the impact upon the national health care system from prohibitions on the commercial use of prescriber identifiable data).

PERC's ground breaking study on alternative data, Give Credit Where Credit is Due, used advanced analytical tools to calculate the effects on consumers and lenders of including alternative data in credit files. PERC's research routinely involves the manipulation, cleaning, merging and analysis of large and complex data sets, consisting of millions of observations. PERC's impact analysis usually goes beyond basic estimates of economic outcomes and includes detailed breakdown of findings and segmentation analysis (socio-economic impact analysis).

PERC's reports can be customized for any type of reader, including policymakers, technocrats, the media, and a general audience. This makes PERC's findings accessible to all, allowing our key studies to gain traction in various spheres of influence so as to increase financial inclusion.

Public policy research[edit]

Since 2002, PERC has released dozens of quantitative policy studies that have had real impacts on national, state, and international policy outcomes. Most significantly, in 2003, PERC published a report quantifying the economic and social impacts of the 30 year-old FCRA national credit reporting regime. This report was the most cited document during the Congressional debate that resulted in the full adoption of all of PERC's policy prescriptions by Congress as embodied in the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act). PERC has worked for the South African government to produce a report to identify unused data sets that could be collected for small and medium enterprises risk-assessment and credit extension. PERC’s research has assisted credit reporting reform in Brazil, Australia, and Singapore, as well as aiding policy advocates and reformers across Latin America. PERC has conducted quantitative research on the impact of proposed changes to regulations covering the credit industry at the request of the Federal Reserve Board.

Advocacy and Outreach[edit]

Given the range of legitimate concerns about the collection, storage, use and resale of sensitive data—against a backdrop of technological advances making possible large scale and sophisticated data analytics solutions known as “Big Data”—ensuring that policy is appropriately calibrated is critical. PERC has a veteran team of experts who are adept at public speaking, delivering testimony, and crafting messages for key policymakers. PERC scholars have testified before the United States Congress, as well as having educated members of both parties in the United States Congress, state legislatures, and senior officials with dozens of governments spread across five continents.

PERC scholars have worked to educate all levels of government officials, effectively interact with the media, and convey critical information to the general public. PERC scholars have been interviewed by USA Today, The Economist, BusinessWeek, Time Magazine and The National Journal, among other publications, and by various radio and television programs, such as C-SPAN and SkyNews. Releases of PERC reports coincide with increased local interest, such as interviews on local radio stations and news channels. PERC’s Gulf Coast Economic Renewal reports have been met with such local interest that their roll-outs have been standing room only and their findings reported on the front page of USA Today’s business section.

Financial infrastructure advisory services[edit]

PER has worked with governments in developed and developing nations to reform their national credit information networks and payment systems. Whether building a credit information sharing system from scratch, or simply fine tuning an existing network, PERC can customize a team of experts with the necessary experience

Expert witness services[edit]

PERC scholars have testified as expert witness in several major cases, including a federal anti-trust case, two federal cases involving first amendment issues and the health information industry, and cases in lower courts involving consumer credit issues.

Areas of expertise include:

  • Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
  • Consumer and commercial credit reporting
  • Consumer or retail credit
  • Economic and social impacts from data expansions/restrictions
  • Data privacy and data security
  • Information policy and the economic value of information flows

Event programing[edit]

PERC has hosted a number of successful international conferences. In 2008, PERC, along with Peking University, hosted a blue-ribbon conference in Beijing on credit reporting reform in China. Scholars from five continents were invited to speak. Bankers, academics, and government policy makers in China heavily attended. PERC has also hosted a number of conferences for its Alternative Data Initiative that bring together representatives from the credit reporting agencies, utilities and telecoms, government regulators, consumer advocates, and analytic firms.

Application development[edit]

PERC has a proven track record of developing economic "dashboards" for monitoring both long- and short-term changes in the economic well being of families, communities, and small businesses exposed to exogenous shocks (e.g. hurricane, plant closing). Developing financial vulnerability indices to help communities adjust business portfolio to minimize losses from exogenous shock. PERC's disaster recovery dashboard has already been adopted by the World Bank for use in emerging markets. Developing and testing community economic development program metrics that rely upon granular data sets and that provide near real-time measures of program efficacy. This enables development agencies to identify unmet needs, assess the relative efficacy of varying programs, and more efficiently allocate scarce resources across competing program needs. This also increases transparency and accountability for funders.


Besides previous work in data privacy and information policy, PERC has a number of currently active projects:

Alternative data initiative[edit]

Up to 54 million Americans have insufficient credit information to qualify for mainstream credit.[18] PERC has been promoting the full reporting of customer payment data—both positive and negative data—by energy utility and telecom firms to credit rating agencies as a way of helping millions of Americans quickly build a positive credit history and enable them to access affordable credit. PERC has published three major reports on the issue: Giving Underserved Consumers Better Access to the Credit System, Give Credit Where Credit is Due (with the Brookings Institution), and You Score, You Win. PERC also conducts extensive outreach, including testimony in front of Congress.[19] PERC works with the three major credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax, as well as consumer groups, asset building organizations including the Corporation for Enterprise Development CFED, state and federal legislators, and regulators as part of its Alternative Data Initiative.

In the Fall of 2009, owing to the promise of the Alternative Data Initiative, the Ashoka Foundation named PERC founder Dr. Michael Turner a United States Ashoka Fellow. This is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a social entrepreneur, and is indicative of the great potential PERC's ADI holds to dramatically increase financial inclusion in the US and globally.

Information-led development[edit]

PERC also conducts research in international economic development. PERC scholars have conducted research and outreach in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, China, India, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Costa Rica, South Africa, Russia, and Singapore. PERC founded the Asia-Pacific Credit Coalition to promote regional credit reporting standards.[20] In March 2008, it hosted an international experts conference on credit reporting in China with Peking University.[21] PERC has been retained by the National Credit Regulator of South Africa to conduct research on SMEs, the Inter-American Development Bank to assess credit information sharing in Mexico, and the Kenyan Credit Information Sharing Initiative of the Kenyan Bankers Association and the Central Bank of Kenya to assess a first-ever credit information sharing pilot in Kenya.

In addition to their policy work, PERC, through its double bottom line for-profit Credit Risk Management International (CRMI), has been actively developing market solutions to credit access challenges in emerging markets, including Kenya and China. PERC is partnering with SinoCred, an intermediary organization in China, to facilitate the rapid build out of a credit information sharing system and the proliferation of value added services that will dramatically expand credit access in China.

Gulf Coast economic renewal[edit]

PERC President Michael Turner co-authored an op-ed piece on credit impacts of Hurricane Katrina.[22] Interest from this piece led PERC to partner with The Brookings Institution to do a study on the economic effects of disaster on communities. PERC has authored two surveys of small business owners, Recovery, Renewal, and Resiliency' and Recovering But Not Recovered. Research conducted jointly with The World Bank represents the first time in its history that the World Bank has engaged in research focusing upon the United States. They released a report on the credit impacts of disaster,[23] and are working to provide a recovery monitoring dashboard.

Asia Pacific Credit Coalition[edit]

Asia Pacific Credit Coalition (APCC)[24] is a PERC-managed coalition of organizations that work together to promote a regional standard for full-file, comprehensive consumer credit reporting to private credit bureaus within the twenty-one Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member states. For the past 7 years, PERC and the APCC has generated cutting-edge research to promote reform within member states and elevated awareness of the significance of credit information sharing. THE APCC has also implemented regional stands for credit information sharing while driving credit reform in member economies. The Asia-Pacific Credit Coalition was acknowledged for its influence on the current credit reporting reforms in New Zealand.[25]

The APCC members believe that credit reporting should be based on the following general principles:

1. Both positive and negative credit and payment data should be reported to consumer reporting agencies;

2. Recognizing that the individual is owner of their own credit information,consumer rights and protections are paramount. As such, the OECD Fair Information Principles, including notice, access, choice, correction, and redress, should be judiciously applied and shall serve as the foundation of any regional consumer credit reporting standard.

3. A private credit bureau and a public credit registry are complementary to one another and each play distinct and vital roles in a vital financial services system;

4. Reporting of credit and payment data should be done on a voluntary and not mandatory basis;

5. Access to credit and payment data should be universal to all those with a permissible purpose regardless of whether they report the type of firm.[24]

Economic Development Metrics[edit]

The Economic Development Metrics (EDM) Project is a project developed to better measure the impacts of community development programs enacted by non-profit organizations like the United Way of America. Since community development groups have been slow to adopt the latest information technology advances, they usually use prevailing “outcomes based” measures. These measures often lack full quantitative rigor; therefore, they inhibit better monitoring, benchmarking and impact analysis. By offering better measuring techniques, PERC is able to produce the transparent and measurable results donors and government sponsors are looking for.

Global footprint[edit]

PERC has engaged in projects in the following nations:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong (China)
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Suriname
  • St. Kitts and Neves
  • Taiwan (China)
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States


Usaid logo.jpg

PERC receives funding and support from the following foundations, corporations, and governmental organizations.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Policy and Economic Research Council". 
  2. ^ Business Week, The Credit Rating in Your Shoebox
  3. ^ "PERC- Information Led Development". 
  4. ^ www.infopolicy.org, About Us
  5. ^ The Fair Credit Reporting Act: Access, Efficiency & Opportunity, Information Policy Institute, June 2003
  6. ^ Bureau of National Affairs, "Financial Institutions--White House Said Planning FCRA Strategy; Johnson Says Business Community Divided"
  7. ^ Financial Review, No clear case for deposit insurance
  8. ^ Dun & Bradstreet, Law Reform Commission calls for reform of credit reporting laws
  9. ^ The Brookings Institution, Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
  10. ^ "PERC's Alternative Data Initiative". 
  11. ^ "PERC's Alternative Data Initiative Project". 
  12. ^ USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/money/smallbusiness/2007-08-28-katrina-finances_N.htm
  13. ^ "Gulf Coast Economic Renewal". 
  14. ^ Valor Econômico, PIB pode avançar mais de 1% com cadastro positivo
  15. ^ PERC, On the Impact of Credit Payment Reporting on the Financial Sector and Overall Economic Performance in Japan
  16. ^ PERC, Economic Impacts of Payment Reporting Participation in Latin America
  17. ^ "Ashoka-Dr. Michael Turner". 
  18. ^ Boston Globe, Verizon's 'free gift' to customers: Giving payment data to credit bureaus
  19. ^ C-SPAN, Credit Scoring System and Credit Scores - Panel 1
  20. ^ www.apeccredit.org
  21. ^ PERC/PAFIRC Call for Papers
  22. ^ National Business Review, "Making a Better Life: Preparing for the Post-Katrina Personal Finance Crisis"
  23. ^ PERC, The Financial Impacts of Disaster
  24. ^ a b "Asia Pacific Credit Coalition". 
  25. ^ "APCC-News Release". 

External links[edit]