Evidence is a powerful tool to inform government practices and policies – and advancing its use in the Federal government is an important goal for OMB and OSTP.
We launched the Year of Evidence for Action on April 7, 2022, with a White House Summit attended by nearly 600 leaders across the Federal Government, non-profit sector, and academia. The Year of Evidence for Action advances three goals: to highlight leading practices from agencies to use research-backed evidence to advance better, more equitable outcomes; to institutionalize evidence-based policymaking; and to increase connections and collaboration among knowledge producers and users inside and outside the Federal Government.
To support this third goal, the team at OSTP and OMB invited Summit participants to share how evidence can inform practices and policies. To date, over 15 different organizations have shared their stories with us. Below are examples from organizations that participated in the Summit. By sharing1, we hope to inspire continued action to build the evidence ecosystem through collaborations between evidence communities inside and outside the Federal Government.
Evidence-to-Action in Practice
A variety of organizations shared examples of evidence in action that operate at the state or local level. These are important parts of the evidence ecosystem, and we hope that efforts at the Federal level can incorporate successful practices at the state and local level and vice versa.
The Centers for Communities that Care (CTC), an organization within the Social Development Research Group of the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, uses local survey and archival data to help communities identify and prioritize their needs, and then choose and implement evidence-based programs that have been shown to be effective in addressing those needs, establishing a prevention coalition in the community. An efficacy trial of the CTC approach found that young adults who grew up in communities using CTC had greater lifetime abstinence from substance use, violence, and other antisocial behaviors 12 years after first being exposed to the community-wide intervention.
Bottom Line is a comprehensive advising program designed to help students from low-income backgrounds get into and graduate from college. A randomized controlled trial supported by Arnold Ventures found that program participation increased the likelihood of bachelor’s degree attainment by eight percentage points. This evidence of effectiveness can lay the foundation for the expansion of similar programming to improve low-income students’ college experiences and outcomes at an even larger scale.
The Priority Hire Program in King County, Washington is a workforce and economic development strategy providing training and family wage employment opportunities in the construction industry on King County public works construction projects. A 2016 economic study that found large underrepresentation of women and people of color in the construction industry informed priority zip codes for the Priority Hire Program. From the most recent data available (2018-2021), the Priority Hire Program has exceeded its goals for the proportion of labor hours from workers in targeted zip codes: nearly one third of the labor hours were performed by participants who reside in Priority Hire communities. The program expands its reach each year and is increasing entry and diversity in the building trades, reporting a greater proportion of workers of color and women, as compared to the county and nation respectively, in 2021.
Other submissions shared stories of successful collaborations with the Federal Government, which we hope to expand throughout the Year of Evidence:
COMPASS, an organization that champions, connects, and supports diverse science leaders to improve the well-being of people and nature, let us know about their work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). COMPASS and EPA co-designed an evidence-based risk communication curriculum to support EPA staff in becoming confident, empathetic risk communicators. The curriculum highlights the importance of working directly with outside experts/audience members in a learning environment and the value of bringing the latest research into the design of training programs and already has reached more than 370 EPA staff.
The William T. Grant Foundation (“WT Grant”), a private philanthropic organization that invests in high-quality research focused on reducing inequality in youth outcomes and improving the use of research evidence in decisions that affect young people in the United States, highlighted their recent collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF). Specifically, WT Grant and NSF are planning to jointly fund research on “Increasing the Use, Usefulness, and Impact of Research about Youth,” helping the public and private sector increase quality of life for America’s youth through the use of fundamental research.
One example described efforts to support evidence-based lawmaking in Congress:
- The Governance Lab (GovLab) is an organization dedicated to strengthening the ability of institutions and people to work more openly, collaboratively, effectively, and legitimately to make better decisions and solve public problems. In 2021, GovLab brought together 53 experts from around the world to propose strategies for the Federal Government’s future work around evidence-based policymaking. Proposals were distilled into concrete, specific, and implementable recommendations shared during two online advisory sessions to inform the U.S. House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress’ process of developing recommendations on evidence-based lawmaking.
Share Your Story!
As the Year of Evidence for Action unfolds, we encourage other organizations to share their success stories and leading practices. We will continue to gather and share out these examples throughout the year. Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org and watch this space for future opportunities to engage with us.
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