Journal article Open Access

Building Momentum for Evidence-Based Policymaking in State and Local Governments

Myers, Hannah; Naimpally, Rohit


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    <subfield code="a">&lt;p&gt;What if policymakers allocated government funding based on scientific evidence of what works, instead of anecdote, status quo, or political belief? In most major policy debates, compelling&amp;mdash;but theoretical&amp;mdash; arguments can be made on both sides. But despite increasing pressure to &amp;ldquo;use big data&amp;rdquo; to inform decisions especially when resources are scarce, it&amp;rsquo;s often challenging for policymakers to disaggregate the impacts of a specific program from broader economic and societal conditions&amp;mdash;and to separate good research from bad. By using data they already collect and applying the same scientific tool that transformed modern medicine&amp;mdash;randomized evaluations&amp;mdash;to social policy, researchers and policymakers can work together to cut through opinion and build an arsenal of rigorous evidence in its place. &amp;nbsp;&lt;br&gt;
&amp;nbsp;&lt;br&gt;
Despite the hyperpartisan climate of politics in many areas of the world today, the evidence-based policymaking movement is gaining traction. In the United States, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, Democratic Senator Patty Murray and President Obama came together last year to enact legislation creating a federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, which aims to develop a strategy for increasing the availability and use of data to build evidence about government programs. State and local governments&amp;mdash;who are collectively responsible for spending $2.5 trillion each year (about 40 percent of the total government spending)&amp;mdash;are also joining in. In Washington State, for example, state human services departments track and report the percentage of funding allocated for evidence-based and/or research-based programs. &amp;nbsp;&lt;br&gt;
&amp;nbsp;&lt;br&gt;
Reorienting government decision-making to identify and fund programs that work can be slow and challenging, but can make a real difference in people&amp;rsquo;s lives. We offer five concrete steps state and local policymakers can take to use data effectively and ensure the greatest return on taxpayer dollars&lt;/p&gt;</subfield>
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