On September 15, the White House’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) celebrated its one-year anniversary. SBST, a group of behavioral scientists within the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), is chaired by the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). It also includes the participation of federal agencies, departments, and White House offices.
The 2016 Social and Behavioral Sciences Team Annual Report cites the progress made by the team in implementing President Obama’s Executive Order 13707, “Using Behavioral Science Insights to Better Serve the American People” (see Update, September 22, 2015). The 2016 report explains that over the last year the SBST’s portfolio has grown to include more than 40 collaborations throughout the federal government. The collaborations fall under three major themes: (1) undertaking significant policy challenges (e.g., affordable health insurance, expanding economic opportunities, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions); (2) leveraging strategies to enhance the effectiveness of programs, including addressing how programs are communicated, changing the ways programs are administered, “informing the design of policy;” and (3) using the best available evidence along with testing its impact to determine which programs to scale up and discern what needs improving.
Project areas addressed by SBST over the last year include promoting retirement security, advancing economic opportunity, improving college access and affordability, responding to climate change, supporting criminal justice reform, assisting job seekers, assisting families in obtaining health coverage and staying healthy, and improving government effectiveness and efficiency.