On July 24, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) hosted an event entitled “How States Use Data and Evidence for Policymaking: Current Trends and Future Opportunities.” The event began with a fireside chat between Nick Hart, Director of the Evidence-Based Policymaking Initiative at BPC, and Sara Dube, Director of the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative at the Pew Research Center, who defined evidence-based policymaking (EBP) as “the systematic use of findings from program evaluations and outcome analyses to guide government policy and funding decisions.” Much of the conversation revolved around a report from Pew, “How States Engage in Evidence-Based Policymaking.” The report found that successful EBP efforts include four characteristics: (1) engaging decision makers, (2) building champions for evidence-building, (3) developing staff capacity, and (4) creating mechanisms for effective and continued use.
A panel moderated by Kira Fatherree, Senior Policy Analyst at BPC, highlighted several examples of state- and city-level evidence-based policymaking and discussed the challenges of implementing it. Jessica Corvinus, Research and Evidence-Based Policy Manager at the Colorado Office of State Planning and Budgeting, went over the work the Colorado Governor’s Office has been doing to increase the use of EBP since 2014. Eric W. Trupin, Director of the Division of Public Behavioral Health and Justice Policy at the University of Washington, discussed his work on incorporating evidence in the field of juvenile detention and youth recidivism. David Yokum, Director of The Lab @ DC, explained that a big hurdle in implementing evidence-based policymaking is that most states and cities don’t have the means to collect survey data themselves, and the data that is available to them is often not in a format that is easily used. Overall, the speakers agreed that the best way to normalize and increase use of evidence-based policymaking is to build a culture where it is expected and where policy that isn’t evidence-based is not accepted.
This article was contributed by COSSA’s summer intern, Catherine Cox of the University of Michigan.