Strengthening the Federal Infrastructure for Evidence-based Policymaking

Posted November 6, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog strengtheningthefederalinfrastructure 2017

Fed­er­al pol­i­cy deci­sions make a big dif­fer­ence in the health and well-being of mil­lions of chil­dren and fam­i­lies. Sound deci­sions are based on qual­i­ty infor­ma­tion. That’s why a new report from the Forum for Youth Invest­ment — a grantee of the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion — offers a blue­print for build­ing a strong infra­struc­ture that sup­ports the use of evi­dence and research at every stage of the pol­i­cy­mak­ing process.

Man­ag­ing for Suc­cess is ground­ed in a sim­ple premise: The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment can use evi­dence to guide pol­i­cy deci­sions in the same way busi­ness­es use research and devel­op­ment to refine prod­ucts and process­es — with an eye toward improved results. In an evi­dence-based approach to pol­i­cy­mak­ing, data and research are pow­er­ful tools. They inform deci­sions rang­ing from how pro­grams are struc­tured and which pro­grams get fund­ed to how much mon­ey is bud­get­ed to sup­port them.

Learn about eight strate­gies for fund­ing the imple­men­ta­tion of evi­dence-based programs

Suc­cess­ful evi­dence-based pol­i­cy­mak­ing requires evi­dence to be ade­quate­ly fund­ed, rig­or­ous­ly and inde­pen­dent­ly devel­oped, and effec­tive­ly used, accord­ing to the report, which deliv­ers an in-depth analy­sis of the fed­er­al infra­struc­ture required to achieve these goals. In addi­tion to intro­duc­ing a work­ing mod­el of the infrastructure’s nec­es­sary build­ing blocks, the pub­li­ca­tion sum­ma­rizes the sta­tus of each build­ing block (as of Jan­u­ary 2017) and offers rec­om­men­da­tions aimed at strength­en­ing this full framework.

The report out­lines more than 20 rec­om­men­da­tions, includ­ing the following:

  • Fed­er­al agen­cies should inte­grate mul­ti­ple types of evi­dence into agency deci­sion-mak­ing process­es in ways that pro­tect inde­pen­dence, trans­paren­cy and rig­or. They should enhance chief eval­u­a­tion offices and invest at least 1% of pro­gram funds in evaluations.
  • With the Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get, Con­gress should craft poli­cies that pro­vide a clear­er vision for how dif­fer­ent types of evi­dence should be inte­grat­ed into deci­sion-mak­ing processes.
  • The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment should guide states and local­i­ties on how to broad­en the use of evi­dence with­in their exist­ing bud­gets and also cre­ate an eval​u​a​tion​.gov web­site that iden­ti­fies eval­u­a­tions con­duct­ed and fund­ed by the government.

Man­ag­ing for Suc­cess breaks down the com­plex fed­er­al net­work that sup­ports the use of evi­dence to make crit­i­cal pol­i­cy deci­sions, and it presents action­able — and fea­si­ble — mea­sures to strength­en that infra­struc­ture,” says Ilene Berman, a senior asso­ciate with Casey’s Evi­dence-Based Prac­tice Group. The report offers a path to more informed, more focused pol­i­cy­mak­ing and, ulti­mate­ly, to poli­cies that improve out­comes for chil­dren and fam­i­lies across the nation.”

The report was designed to com­ple­ment the work of the bipar­ti­san Com­mis­sion on Evi­dence-Based Pol­i­cy­mak­ing and was released on the same day as the commission’s final report, The Promise of Evi­dence-Based Pol­i­cy­mak­ing.

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