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Our History

The Institute for Representative Government (IRG) is a nonprofit, bipartisan, educational organization established by former Members of Congress in 1988 for the purpose of providing visiting legislators from developing democracies greater exposure to the American federal political system at the national and state levels. Originally, IRG's Board of Directors was comprised of six former Members of Congress, equally representing both the Democratic and Republican parties, but by 2015 the board has been expanded to a bipartisan group of 12 former Members of Congress. In its over 25 years of service, IRG has conducted almost 100 programs for nearly 1,000 foreign legislators and officials from all over the world. The Institute receives its funding through a competitive proposal process at the invitation of the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

In 2003, IRG entered into a strategic partnership with the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute to leverage the extensive worldwide presence and expertise of the two political party institutes. This partnership helps to ensure that IRG's study missions are carefully conceptualized, with a nuanced understanding of the local political context. Learn more about our partners here.

Our Mission

The purpose of the Institute for Representative Government is to promote democracy abroad through an understanding of the American political system and a peer-to-peer dialogue involving elected officials from emerging or newly established democracies with a bipartisan group of current and former Members of the U.S. Congress.  

In short, IRG’s mission is: Promoting Democratic Governance, Person to Person.

Our Values

Mutually-Beneficial Relationships

There is great value to personal relationships, and a peer-to-peer network of elected officials is an invaluable asset to public diplomacy. Newly emerging democracies can benefit greatly from seeing the theory and value of democracy put into practice, and current and former U.S. legislators can benefit greatly from meeting visiting legislators and learning from them about their parliamentary experience.


Respect — for all cultures, political beliefs, and systems of government — is essential to building relationships in the promotion of IRG’s mission.


Bipartisanship is an important and productive approach to achieving goals. Bipartisanship and consensus building should be held out as a productive approach to elected officials from emerging democracies so that the benefit of working with legislators from other parties becomes apparent.


As the recipient of a tax-payer-funded US State Department grant, all activities of IRG and its partners adhere to the highest ethical standards to ensure that all American citizens benefit from our work and their contribution.

Our Finances

As a § 501(c)(3) federally tax-exempt nonprofit organization, IRG is required to file annual returns (Form 990) with the Internal Revenue Service.