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Former Government Statistical Agency Heads Call for Better Use of Data in Policymaking

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

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Washington, D.C.– The Bipartisan Policy Center today released a letter signed by 36 former leaders in the U.S. Federal Statistical System calling on Congress and the Trump administration to improve how data are used in policymaking, which will result in more effective federal programs for the American public.

Signatories to the letter include seven former Census Bureau directors, seven former Bureau of Labor Statistics commissioners, four former Energy Information Administration administrators, and two former chief statisticians of the United States.

The letter calls for action to implement the unanimous recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. The commission’s final report issued in September 2017 outlined a bipartisan strategy for strengthening privacy protections, improving secure access to data, and enhancing the capacity to generate evidence about government policies.

“Implementing the Commission’s recommendations with appropriate resources will begin to tear down the existing barriers to generating evidence in a productive way, enabling the statistical system to do what it does best – provide reliable and valid data and statistics to the American public,” the signatories wrote in the letter sent to President Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Implementing the Commission’s recommendations with appropriate resources will begin to tear down the existing barriers to generating evidence in a productive way.

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Evidence-Based Policymaking Initiative has been closely tracking efforts to implement the bipartisan recommendations of the commission. The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, co-sponsored by Speaker Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray and endorsed by the commission co-chairs, would begin implementation of some of the commission’s recommendations and is advancing through Congress.

“The commission’s recommendations offer the president and Congress a roadmap for finding bipartisan solutions to improve the performance and effectiveness of federal programs,” Nick Hart, director of BPC’s Evidence-Based Policymaking Initiative, said. “The Bipartisan Policy Center applauds the former leaders of the statistical system for publicly supporting the recommendations of the commission and calling for action to improve how our country generates evidence.”

The letter includes former Republican and Democratic political appointees to statistical agencies as well as career members of the Senior Executive Service. In addition to those mentioned above, the signatories include three former Bureau of Justice Statistics directors, three former Internal Revenue Service Statistics of Income directors, two former National Agricultural Statistics Service administrators, two former National Center for Education Statistics commissioners, two former Bureau of Economic Analysis directors, two former Economic Research Service administrators, and one former National Center for Health Statistics director, and one former National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics director.

KEYWORDS: PAUL RYAN, MITCH MCCONNELL, CHUCK SCHUMER, ENERGY INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION, NANCY PELOSI, BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS, 115TH CONGRESS, PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, COMMISSION ON EVIDENCE-BASED POLICYMAKING, NICK HART, EVIDENCE-BASED POLICYMAKING INITIATIVE