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OMB Releases First Set of Evidence Act Guidance

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued the first set of guidance related to implementing the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (or Evidence Act), legislation that builds on the recommendations of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking to formalize the use of data and evidence in informing the everyday work of federal agencies. The guidance provides detailed information for federal agencies on developing Learning Agendas, which identify the agency’s priority questions to be informed by evidence; sets out the requirements and responsibilities for the senior roles mandated by the legislation—Chief Data Officer, Evaluation Officer, and Statistical Official; and provides direction on creating evaluation plans, undertaking capacity assessments, and identifying data needs. The full guidance is available online. OMB will release additional Evidence Act guidance covering open data access and management, data access for statistical purposes, and program evaluation in the coming months.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 23), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Comments Sought on Federal Data Strategy Action Plan

The White House is seeking public comment on its Draft 2019-2020 Federal Data Strategy Action Plan. The Federal Data Strategy, which is being coordinated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is a “ten-year vision for how the Federal government will accelerate the use of data to support the foundations of democracy, deliver on mission, serve the public, and steward resources while protecting security, privacy and confidentiality.” The Strategy consists of 10 principles, and 40 best practices to guide federal agencies on how to leverage the value of their data. The next phase in the Strategy’s implementation is the development of a first-year Action Plan, which details concrete steps to align existing efforts and establish a firm basis of tools, processes, and capacities to leverage data as a strategic asset. The action plan also incorporates several mandated actions from the recently-passed Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018.

The proposed actions are:

Shared Actions: Government-wide Data Services

  • Action 1: Create an OMB Data Council
  • Action 2: Develop a Curated Data Science Training and Credentialing Catalog
  • Action 3: Develop a Data Ethics Framework
  • Action 4: Develop a Data Protection Toolkit
  • Action 5: Develop a Repository of Federal Data Strategy Resources and Tools
  • Action 6: Pilot a One-stop Standard Research Application
  • Action 7: Pilot an Automated Inventory Tool for Data.gov
  • Action 8: Pilot Standard Data Catalogs for Data.gov

Community Actions: Cross-Agency Collaboration

  • Action 9: Improve Data Resources for AI Research and Development
  • Action 10: Improve Financial Management Data Standards
  • Action 11: Improve Geospatial Data Standards

Agency-Specific Actions: Agency Activities

  • Action 12: Constitute a Diverse Data Governance Body
  • Action 13: Assess Data and Related Infrastructure Maturity
  • Action 14: Identify Opportunities to Increase Staff Data Skills
  • Action 15: Identify Data Needs to Answer Key Agency Questions
  • Action 16: Identify Priority Datasets for Agency Open Data Plans

Comments are sought on whether the proposed actions accurately describe the needed activities, if any actions should be added or removed, and on what resources would be needed to implement the actions. Comments should be submitted by July 5, 2019. Full details are available on the Federal Data Strategy Website.

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 11), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

COSSA to Honor Leaders in Evidence-Based Policymaking with 2019 Awards

COSSA will recognize two sets of champions of the evidence-based policymaking movement with its 2019 awards (read the full press release). COSSA’s 2019 Distinguished Service Award will be presented to Katharine Abraham and Ron Haskins, whose leadership of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking helped catalyze efforts across federal agencies to integrate science- and evidence-based decision-making into the everyday work of government. COSSA will also present its first-ever Public Impact Award to The Lab @ DC, a team of social scientists working within the District of Columbia government to use scientific methods and insights to test and improve District policies and programs. Members of the COSSA community are invited to attend the presentation of the awards at COSSA’s annual Celebration of Social Science Reception on April 30, 2019, which is part of COSSA’s 2019 Social Science Advocacy Day festivities. RSVP for the reception here.

The COSSA Distinguished Service Award recognizes leaders who have gone above and beyond to promote, protect, and advance the social and behavioral science research enterprise. The newly established COSSA Public Impact Award seeks to celebrate ways individuals or organizations are using social and behavioral science research to achieve notable improvements in communities. Awardees are chosen by the COSSA Board of Directors, which represents COSSA’s governing member associations. More information about the awards is available on COSSA’s website.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 16), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

NIH Seeks Input on the Need for an Administrative Data Enclave

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) on the potential development of a secure data enclave within the NIH using existing funds. This enclave would allow approved research organizations to access sensitive non-public NIH information such as information on peer review outcomes, grant progress reports, and demographic information of NIH grant applicants. NIH approval would be required for researchers to access the data. The NIH is seeking information about this proposed data enclave including examples of research that is currently not pursuable without such access, whether the benefits of a data enclave are worth the opportunity cost of the necessary NIH funds, preferences about accessing a data enclave virtually or in a designated physical location, quantity of “seats” of researchers given access to the data enclave, examples of high level data protection procedures, and examples of potential research outputs from a data enclave. NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research Mike Lauer published a blog post discussing the RFI in greater detail. Responses can be submitted here by May 30, 2019.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 5), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

The Research-to-Policy Collaboration Answers “Why Social Science?”

why-social-scienceThe latest Why Social Science? guest post comes from Taylor Scott and Max Crowley of the Research-to-Policy Collaboration (RPC), who write about how the RPC is connecting social scientists and government officials to enhance the use of research in policymaking. Read it here and subscribe.

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February’s Headlines Webchat to Feature a Deep Dive on Evidence-Based Policymaking

headlines bannerCOSSA members are encouraged to sign up for the monthly Headlines webchat on February 14 at 2:00 pm Eastern, in which COSSA staff will recap the most important social and behavioral science news from the past month and answer participants’ questions. The February chat will feature a deep dive discussion on the recently-passed Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 with special guest Nick Hart, Director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Evidence Project. Individuals employed by or affiliated with a COSSA member organization or university can register for the webchat here.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 5), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act Becomes Law

On January 14, President Trump signed the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 into law. Championed by former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the legislation represents a bipartisan recognition of the importance of science and data in helping to design and improve policies (see COSSA’s previous coverage for more details on the legislation). After the bill was signed, COSSA released a statement applauding the legislation. We will continue to report on details of the bill’s implementation as they become available.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 22), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Evidence-Based Policymaking Bill Awaiting President’s Signature

After languishing in the Senate for over a year, the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (H.R. 4174) was passed by both chambers in the last days of 2018 and is currently awaiting the President’s signature. The President has until January 14 to sign the bill into law. The legislation, which is intended to be a “down-payment” enacting some of the less complicated (and less controversial) recommendations of the report from the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (see COSSA’s coverage and statement), contains some minor changes from the version passed by the House in November 2017 but generally conforms to the recommendations of the Commission. It contains four titles: (I) enhancing federal evidence-building activities; (II) enacting the OPEN Government Data Act introduced by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI); (III) reauthorizing and enhancing the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA); and (IV) general provisions to ensure that the directions in the bill comport with existing laws and requirements. The Bipartisan Policy Center has published a summary of the Act and a crosswalk between its provisions and the recommendations of the Commission.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 8), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

White House Seeks Input on New Government Effectiveness Research Center

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently issued a request for information (RFI) to inform the establishment of a new Government Effectiveness and Advanced Research (GEAR) Center. The GEAR Center was proposed in the White House’s plan to reorganize the federal government, Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century, released in June (see COSSA’s analysis for details). The Center was described as a public-private partnership that would “engage researchers, academics, non-profits, and private industry from disciplines ranging from behavioral economics, to computer science, to design thinking to use creative, data-driven, and interdisciplinary approaches to re-imagine and realize new possibilities in how citizens and Government interact.”

The RFI is seeking recommendations and models to emulate related to the mission, structure, funding, and early focus areas for the new center, as well as information on how existing federal data resources can be used to support its work. A full list of questions is available here. Responses are requested by September 15, 2018.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 4), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Event Highlights State Evidence-Based Policymaking

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.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 7), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

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