Ideas. Action. Results.

Katharine G. Abraham & Ron Haskins: Realizing the Vision of Evidence-Based Policymaking

Roll Call

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Recently, amid the political turmoil over tax reform and other controversial issues, Congress set aside partisan differences to convey an important message to the American public: Better use of evidence in our policymaking process is necessary and possible.

Regardless of their politics, the American people want a government that operates effectively and transparently. The federal government spends billions on programs, yet often lacks the evidence needed to determine whether these programs are working as intended or how they could be improved. Evidence-based policymaking  — making better use of data and rigorous program evaluation to inform government decision-making —holds the key to driving government programs to be more effective.

Our shared goal for evidence-based policymaking is bipartisan, and the commission’s recommendations were endorsed unanimously by all 15 politically appointed commissioners.

This is why House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray’s introduction of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act— and the quick action by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to report their bill out of committee — are so important. In advancing this legislation, Speaker Ryan and Sen. Murray are fulfilling a commitment to move quickly to implement the recommendations of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, which we co-chaired and now continue to champion as the co-chairs of the new Evidence-Based Policymaking Initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Congress asked the commission to develop recommendations to ensure that evidence is actually used in policymaking. In response, we laid out a clear plan for evidence to be created efficiently as a routine part of government operations and used to construct effective public policy. When implemented, the commission’s recommendations will strengthen privacy protections for the data government collects, improve secure access to those data for evidence-building purposes, and enhance the capacity of government to engage in evidence building.

Our shared goal for evidence-based policymaking is bipartisan, and the commission’s recommendations were endorsed unanimously by all 15 politically appointed commissioners.

Katharine G. Abraham and Ron Haskins are co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Evidence-Based Policymaking Initiative.