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Interview with Nick Hart: New Evidence-Based Policymaking Initiative

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What are your primary goals as you direct this new Evidence-Based Policymaking Initiative? Why is the Bipartisan Policy Center taking on a new role in evidence-based policymaking?

Policymakers need good information on which to base decisions in order to meet the demands of the American people for a government that operates effectively and tackles the problems that face the country. Whether developing regulations, agreeing to funding levels, or determining which policies to advance, policymakers constantly demand that evidence be generated and available to meet this need. Today, too little evidence is produced to satisfy this demand and that’s a real problem.

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Evidence-Based Policymaking Initiative is designed to continue and expand the work of the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, which outlined a vision that rigorous evidence can be created efficiently as a routine part of government operations. In turn, this evidence can be used to construct effective policy.

BPC is a natural home for the continuation of this work. In the past, BPC has taken on other important policy commissions—such as the 9/11 Commission and the Fiscal Commission—recognizing the need for continued work to transform the bipartisan recommendations into reality. When the Evidence Commission issued its final report – The Promise of Evidence-Based Policymaking – to Congress and the President on September 7, 2017, it did so with a set of unanimous recommendations supported by all of the commissioners.

We know that there is currently a lot of work to do to improve how evidence is built and used in the United States. The Commission’s recommendations represent the beginning of that discussion by outlining a strategy for generating more and better evidence. The Bipartisan Policy Center will continue this work by advocating and supporting implementation of each of the Commission’s 22 recommendations. Fortunately, the Commission’s co-chairs, Katharine G. Abraham and Ron Haskins, will continue to co-chair the BPC initiative providing steady bipartisan leadership on the issue moving forward.

Are there specific issues the BPC initiative will focus on?

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s new initiative will support implementation of all the Commission’s recommendations, including those for improving secure access to data, strengthening privacy protections, and encouraging greater capacity for generating evidence. In coming weeks and months, the “Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act” announced by Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray in September will be an inevitable priority. Then, supporting authorization and development of the National Secure Data Service recommended by the Commission will be a major area of attention moving forward. Passage of legislation that includes some of the Commission’s recommendations would be a great marker for success.