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November 29, 2021

In the Spotlight – Christina Yancey, Chief Evaluation Officer, Department of Labor

By The Evidence Team, OMB

Christina Yancey headshot

In one sentence, how would others describe your role?
In her role as the Department of Labor’s Chief Evaluation Officer, Christina champions the development and use of credible, scientific information for policy, program, and operational continuous improvement.

What is one thing that makes you excited to come to work every day?
I am truly excited every day – to work with my fellow research colleagues in the DOL Chief Evaluation Office and beyond, as we share in the passion of discovering and sharing new knowledge. While scientific methods may not yield perfect information, they do emphatically improve how government impacts all of our lives. It’s really powerful and inspiring!

How did you get started in Federal evaluation?
With a background in evaluation outside of the Federal government, I was immediately drawn to the Department of Labor’s Chief Evaluation Office and its compelling positioning of a scientifically-principled practice so close to executive branch decision-makers. It is of no surprise to me that years later, this model has been embraced across the Federal government in the Evidence Act.

Describe one evaluation that you worked on that provided useful and timely information to shape a critical program or policy?
While impact evaluations are often cited as the most influential types of studies, I am particularly proud of a formative evaluation related to a program to support veterans at-risk for homelessness with employment readiness supports. The formative evaluation revealed a number of insights both small and large, to help the Department with oversight on the program, to help share promising practices across grantees administering the program, and to improve how data were collected in the program. If you’re interested to read more, here it is: Formative Evaluation of the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.

What do you wish more people in government understood about evaluation?
I wish that people understood that evaluation is a journey, not a destination. Conditions in the world are constantly changing, and we are continuously learning what is working in new and different contexts.

What’s a myth about evaluation in the government or more generally that you’d like to bust?
There’s a myth that evaluation in government is slower than outside government. The reality is that many of the outcomes that we study in an evaluation take time to be realized. We evaluators are waiting to observe real-time change, whether that’s observed from inside or outside of government.

What advice do you have for new Federal evaluators (or staff who are new to evaluation work)?
I would tell a new Federal evaluator to seek out fellow innovative, curious thinkers. We exist within government and buoy our community of passionate public servants.

Where can readers find more information about your office?
You are welcome to visit our website!

About the Series: In the Spotlight serves to introduce you to the people and offices across the Federal Government who are doing the hard work of undertaking program evaluation and shine a light on their many notable accomplishments and activities. Through this series, you will get to know the individuals who are leading and conducting the critical evaluation, research, and analytic work happening throughout the government. You’ll also discover the many offices where this work takes place, especially those that may fly under the radar. In the Spotlight will highlight how evaluation and related activities, and the staff that undertake them, are critical to inform policies, program design, decision-making, and advance evidence-based policymaking.


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