Momentum for evidence-based policymaking is building at all levels of government, from federal legislation funding rigorous evaluations to the bipartisan Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking to counties looking to make funding decisions based on results.
Increasingly, government agencies, policy stakeholders, and program administrators want to know how well their programs work and how they can be improved. They’re also looking across the country for the most effective and efficient ideas that can be scaled up and tested in new geographic contexts.
In New Mexico, state policy leaders, informed by evidence-driven cost-benefit analyses, are pursuing programs that are estimated to reduce the occurrence of child maltreatment by over 25 percent while generating millions in predicted benefits to taxpayers.
In Massachusetts, former governor Deval Patrick worked with private partners to launch a criminal justice pay for success project geared toward using data and evidence to reduce recidivism among at-risk youth.
In New York City, data-driven experimentation through the Center for Economic Opportunity, a focus on results, and a commitment to learn from both failures and successes decreased poverty from 2000 to 2013, while poverty rates in other cities were rising.
Similar innovative efforts are taking place around the country and in the federal government. Most importantly, the increasing momentum for evidence-based policymaking cuts across both sides of the aisle. Both Republican and Democratic leadership agree that this should be a priority to inform future public policy.
That is why we are excited to announce the launch of the Evidence-Based Policymaking Collaborative. Funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the collaborative brings together researchers from the Urban Institute, Brookings Institution, American Enterprise Institute, and the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative to create tools to inform evidence-based policymaking at all levels of government:
- Principles of Evidence-Based Policymaking: An outline of the core principles that apply to policymaking at every level of government.
- Evidence-Based Policymaking Toolkit: Actionable strategies to advance an evidence-based policymaking agenda, including both existing approaches that can be implemented in new areas and fresh ideas applicable to multiple policy contexts. Initial tool pieces are focused on tiered-evidence grantmaking, pay for success, PerformanceStat, and cost-benefit analysis.
- Policy briefs: Practical policy proposals that demonstrate where evidence-based strategies can be applied in different areas of social policy or to specific issues.
The collaborative will also host roundtables and briefings to share our resources and discuss how best to apply the principles and tools to all levels of policymaking.
Evidence-based policymaking has significant room for growth, and we will seek out new ideas by awarding an Innovation Prize in 2017 for practical and unique evidence-based proposals. We will search for ideas from outside the Beltway that contribute a new perspective to the evidence-based policymaking field and award prizes to thought leaders to help them further develop the most promising ideas.
Recognizing the efforts of organizations that have promoted evidence for the past decade, we will also work closely with an advisory group that will share its expertise in promoting evidence and help us translate our work from ideas to action.
Evidence-based policymaking can change how government operates. We are excited for the opportunity to build on growing momentum and elevate the use of research and evidence in government work across the country.