The President’s Budget for fiscal year 2023 and Administration actions demonstrate a strong and enduring commitment to building evidence capacity across the Federal Government and engaging in high-quality evaluations to learn and improve. The Budget supports Federal Agencies in using evidence to advance their missions and operations and in building evidence where it is lacking.
The Presidential Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking (January 2021) affirmed that “[s]cientific and technological information, data, and evidence are central to the development and iterative improvement of sound policies, and to the delivery of equitable programs, across every area of Government.” Subsequent guidance in OMB Memorandum M-21- 27, Evidence-Based Policymaking: Learning Agendas and Annual Evaluation Plans (June 2021) provided further details for Agencies to execute on this commitment, and the Administration has relied on evidence as it tackles some of our nation’s biggest challenges, including its response to the COVID-19 public health emergency and advancing racial equity.
Agencies have made significant progress implementing the requirements of the Evidence Act Title I, including its focus on program evaluation as a core agency function. Alongside the Budget, agencies are publishing their Learning Agendas, FY 2023 Annual Evaluation Plans, and Capacity Assessments. The Budget advances the Administration’s commitment to evidence-based policymaking by further investing in agency capacity and activities to build and use evidence. Specifically, the President’s Budget will:
Invest in Evidence-Building at Agencies to Support Administration Priorities
- Advance cross-governmental evaluations to maximize learning. The Budget invests in cross-Agency evaluations to be led by SBA, OPM, DOL, and EPA in alignment with Administration priorities. SBA will lead a cross-Agency evaluation to improve equity in procurement, aligned with the Administration’s commitment to increasing opportunities and removing barriers in Federal procurement. OPM, in coordination with GSA and other agencies, will lead a series of pilot tests focused on the return to Federal facilities, hybrid work environments, and other innovations Agencies may consider as part of the future of work. DOL will lead a rigorous interagency evaluation of strategies aimed at improving Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, and Accessibility within the Federal workforce, in close collaboration with OPM and other Agencies, to drive long-term, meaningful changes for the Federal workforce. EPA will lead and coordinate a cross-Agency evaluation of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Public Law 117-58, “IIJA”) investments, to further ensure that IIJA investments are evidence-based and that Agencies build evidence about the outcomes of these investments.
- Address persistent challenges for underserved populations in achieving career readiness and post-secondary education. The Budget includes $200 million for the Department of Education (ED)’s career and technical education (CTE) Innovation and Modernization Fund to build evidence of successful post-secondary models to address persistent challenges to career readiness and post-secondary attainment, especially among underserved students.
- Deploy body-worn cameras in ways that effectively advance criminal justice reform. At the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Budget includes a significant investment to support the deployment of body-worn cameras to the Department’s law enforcement officers. Part of this investment will be set aside for evaluation to assess the role of body-worn cameras in advancing criminal justice reform.
Advance Evidence-Based Programs
- Invest in evidence-based housing programs for disadvantaged populations. The Budget includes $445 million in the Housing Choice Voucher program for mobility-related supportive services to provide low-income families who live in areas of concentrated poverty with greater options to move to higher-opportunity neighborhoods. The Budget includes $330 million for grants to mitigate lead-based paint hazards in HUD-assisted and other low-income homes, reflecting clear evidence that ensuring children grow up in healthy, lead-safe homes provides a lifetime of benefits for both children and society.
- Use evidence to improve housing and accessibility to stable housing. The Budget includes $85 million for investments in HUD’s Healthy Homes grants and contracts, supporting comprehensive household hazard mitigation practices that have been shown to significantly reduce the costs of environmental diseases in children. The Budget includes $455 million for HUD’s Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program, based on evidence that housing interventions improve stability and connection to care for people with HIV/AIDS and that lack of stable housing is one of the most significant factors limiting the use of antiretrovirals.
- Prioritize evidence-based strategies to end homelessness. The Budget includes $3.3 billion for the Continuum of Care program, which prioritizes grantees who commit to using a Housing First approach, that has proven to be highly effective for ending homelessness, particularly for people experiencing chronic homelessness who have higher service needs.
- Expand investments in evidence-based training and reemployment strategies. At DOL, the Budget invests $303 million in Registered Apprenticeship programs that have been shown to improve employment outcomes, with a particular focus on providing greater opportunities for women and people of color to enter Registered Apprenticeships. In addition, the Budget includes $375 million for Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessments (RESEA) of which states will be required to use no less than 25 percent of RESEA funds for interventions or service delivery strategies with strong causal evidence showing a demonstrated capacity to improve employment and earnings outcomes for program participants. States have the flexibility to use up to ten percent of their annual RESEA funding to conduct evaluations of these interventions and strategies, and the Budget funds DOL to support states in implementing the evidence-based requirements of RESEA, including through identification of strong evidence in the Clearinghouse for Labor Evaluation and Research (CLEAR) website.
- Build more evidence of strategies that improve employment outcomes for current prisoners. The Budget also continues to support the use and building of evidence related to implementation of the First Step Act, a high priority Administration initiative. The Budget supports a workforce development initiative for current prisoners in Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities or those that have been recently transferred to community placements. Administered by DOL in partnership with BOP in DOJ, the initiative will use a variety of evidence-informed models and practices including case management, support services, Registered Apprenticeship, occupational skills training, and transitional employment. The initiative also includes funds for robust rigorous evaluation to assess prisoner outcomes (e.g., recidivism, labor market outcomes, etc.) and consider the relationship between these outcomes and the type, intensity, and duration of services provided.
- Scale evidence-based models to address state and local Education staffing shortages, including for STEM. At the Department of Education, the Budget provides $514 million for the Education Innovation and Research program, through which $350 million will support identifying and scaling evidence-based models that improve recruitment and retention of staff in education, in particular in the critical shortage of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, CTE, special education, and multilingual education.
Build and Sustain Evaluation Capacity to Achieve an Evidence-Based Government
- Sustain resources for high capacity evaluation capabilities at Federal agencies. In addition to investments aimed at strengthening evaluation capacity across the Federal Government, the Budget sustains or enhances funding for evaluation offices or units that pre-date the Evidence Act, including for evaluation activities at ED’s Institute for Education Sciences (IES); several parts of HHS, including the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), and the Centers for Disease Control; the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Policy Development and Research; the Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service; DOL’s Chief Evaluation Office; GSA’s Office of Evaluation Sciences (OES); the Millennium Challenge Corporation; and AmeriCorps.
- Invest in agencies’ capacity to execute their Learning Agenda and evaluation plans. Agencies’ capacity to build and use evidence varies widely, and achieving the goal of an evidence-based government requires further investments to develop that capacity. The Budget makes a number of investments to allow Agencies to build the systems, personnel, and processes that they need. For example, the EPA will invest in building a broader and higher quality portfolio of evidence. The Budget ensures that EPA will have the personnel and resources to engage in more robust foundational fact finding, more durable improvements in data access and sharing, and stronger engagement of – and collaboration with – external stakeholders, academics, and other researchers. It will support EPA’s use of more rigorous and labor-intensive methodologies and increase the number of program evaluations and other empirical studies that support EPA’s Learning Agenda. Similarly, the Budget supports an expanded $4 million independent evaluation fund at the Department of the Interior. This will allow the Agency to conduct new studies and build evidence in areas on its Learning Agenda that are not otherwise funded.
- Expand evidence-building capabilities and support high quality evaluation for Homeland Security priorities, including FEMA. The Budget includes several foundational investments to support evidence-building at DHS. For example, $500,000 is included for funding evaluation-skilled personnel and evaluation activities to support DHS’s Evaluation Officer, including coordination and execution of the Learning Agenda and Annual Evaluation Plan. The Budget also includes funding for two highly skilled evaluators to strengthen the capacity and capabilities for FEMA to plan and execute high quality program evaluation and other evidence-building activities that inform learning and improvement across the breadth of FEMA programs and with regard to Administration priorities, including climate resilience for FEMA hazard mitigation grant priorities and equity.
- Build evaluation capacity to improve services to veterans. At the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), the Budget requests funding to support two evaluation analysts to help build capacity that will allow VBA to promote greater equity in service delivery by measuring inequities among veterans who have historically been disadvantaged based on their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity; identify opportunities to address those inequities; and use data to systematically build evidence to understand whether changes have the intended effect of reducing inequities in service delivery.
- Invest in data infrastructure and capacity to support evidence-building. The Budget continues to invest around $33.5 million to support states, school systems, and other partners to design and implement Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS), a program of the National Center for Education Statistics at IES, which supports early childhood through workforce data to make data-informed decisions and to conduct research to identify strategies to improve student outcomes. Similarly, a $6 million investment in DOL’s Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI) will support states in developing, connecting, and enhancing their longitudinal data systems that integrate education and workforce data to provides students and job seekers with information to select the education and training programs that best suit their needs. SLDS and WDQI enable the support of evaluation and research on the effectiveness of workforce and education programs and thus are integral to supporting evidence-building at the State and Federal level.
- Continue and expand essential authorities for evaluating and improving Federal programs. The Budget also includes measures to further support evaluation offices, such as giving the ability to use evaluation funds over a greater period of time to DOL’s Chief Evaluation Office and Bureau of Labor Statistics and HHS’s ASPE and OPRE.
Evidence can and should be brought to bear as we seek to understand our Nation’s challenges, develop and implement solutions, and measure progress. This Budget demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to making evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data in order to improve Government programs, policies, and operations. The Budget promotes a culture of evidence by developing and strengthening Agency capacity, using evidence to inform proposals, building evidence where it is lacking, and supporting the rigorous evaluation of priority initiatives is central to these efforts.