Today, the Biden-Harris Administration launched a “Year of Evidence for Action” at its first-ever White House Summit on Evidence for Action, co-hosted by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
During this Year of Evidence, the Administration will:
- Share leading practices from Federal Agencies to generate and use research-backed knowledge to advance better, more equitable outcomes for all of America;
- Strengthen and develop new strategies and structures to promote consistent evidence-based decision-making inside the Federal Government; and
- Increase connection and collaboration among researchers, knowledge producers and decision makers inside and outside of the Federal Government.
As one important step, the Administration will co-host a series of events over the course of the Year of Evidence with leading non-profits and academic organizations to co-develop concrete strategies for mobilizing research-based evidence that can make life healthier, safer, more equitable, and more prosperous for the American public. These organizations have demonstrated expertise in translating research evidence to practice and policy, and include: the Data Foundation; the Evidence-to-Impact Collaborative at the Pennsylvania State University; the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois-Chicago and the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability; Pew Charitable Trusts; the Policy Lab at Brown University; Results for America; and the Urban Institute.
For more resources and opportunities to engage, visit Evaluation.gov, a central hub for evaluation and evidence-building efforts that will showcase ongoing activities throughout the Year of Evidence, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since its first week in office, the Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized evidence-based decisions rooted in the best available science and data, starting with the Presidential Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking. This Memorandum called for expanding evidence building and evidence use across the Federal Government, so that policy and program decisions are informed by the best-available facts, data and research-backed information.
This approach is directly informed by leading practices in scientific integrity. Scientific integrity means ensuring that science is conducted, managed, communicated, and used in ways that preserve its accuracy and objectivity and protect it from suppression, manipulation, and inappropriate influence, including political interference. Many efforts are underway to safeguard the integrity of scientific evidence inside the Federal government, including building greater trust between scientists and communications professions, upholding diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility efforts in evidence creation, and engaging Scientific Integrity Officers and Chief Science Officers in Federal Agencies to develop and revise evidence-related policies, especially those regarding open science policies and practices.
Making policies based on the best-available research and data, with scientific integrity at the heart of an evidence-based approach, is critical to keeping the American public safe, healthy, informed, and economically prosperous. As many examples of evidence-based practice and policy pursued by Federal agencies show: people benefit when evidence informs U.S. Government decisions. Those marginalized in the housing market gain access to fairer, better housing options. People struggling in the wake of COVID-19 are able to enter effective programs like Registered Apprenticeships, which pave the way to fulfilling, high-paying jobs. And students have better academic outcomes when schools embrace evidence-based strategies for teaching and supporting their needs, no matter where they live, creating better, more equitable futures.
Federal agencies have already taken action to build and use evidence whenever possible to advance their missions and operations over the past year, upholding the Memorandum, the bipartisan Foundations for Evidence-Based Policy Act of 2018 and related OMB Guidance. Agencies have created various policy tools to support this effort, including Annual Evaluation Plans, Learning Agendas, and Evaluation Policies, while also appointing people to key roles—Evaluation Officers, Chief Data Officers, and Statistical Officials—who can help to make evidence-based policy and practice central to Federal Government activities.
The Federal Government’s approach to evidence also will uphold the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitments to equity. One way of doing so is to evaluate what works, for whom, and under what circumstances, so that we know that Federal policies are making good on their promises to the American public. This type of evaluation can and should include a wide array of scientific techniques, from formal evaluations and statistical analyses, to interview-based studies co-created with local communities, to research that includes Indigenous knowledge and perspectives, among many others. It also should ensure that communities, practitioners, civil servants, and policy leaders are working together throughout the evidence lifecycle.
Already, efforts related to evidence-based policymaking are leading to real impacts within the Federal Government and for all of America, as the initiatives described below illustrate.
But the Federal Government cannot do this work alone.
An essential goal of the Year of Evidence is to build closer connections between diverse knowledge producers and decision makers inside and outside of the Federal Government.
For those reasons, we invite members of the public to participate in the Year of Evidence for Action in five practical ways:
- Pursue policy-relevant research related to Administration and Agency priorities, which can be found in President Biden’s letter to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), or in Federal agencies’ Learning Agendas and Annual Evaluation Plans, or to cross-cutting Administration priorities such as those found in the draft President’s Management Agenda Learning Agenda.
- Apply for contracts and grants that focus directly on evidence-building in support of the Federal Government, such as the new Analytics for Equity Initiative, co-developed by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), described in more detail below.
- Join the evidence infrastructure of the Federal Government by pursuing employment in Federal agencies as program evaluators, data scientists, or science and technology policy analysts.
- Consider taking a tour in public service through an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) assignment, which allows for short-term engagements on behalf of the Federal government. Some examples of an IPA assignment include Fellowships with the Office of Evaluation Sciences (OES) in the General Services Administration (GSA), the Evidence Team at OMB, or policy offices in the Executive Office of the President, among other opportunities.
- Help the Federal Government to build capacity by sending ideas, resources, guides, and other materials on evidence creation and use directly to email@example.com.*
The Administration kicks off the Year of Evidence for Action with many efforts already underway, providing a strong foundation on which to build. Here are some examples of those initiatives.
Initiatives that Cut Across the Federal Government:
- Building Evidence on Equitable Approaches to Implementing the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021. The ARP provided resources for over 200 programs and services designed to counteract the public health, economic, and other educational harms of the pandemic. Ensuring that ARP investments are distributed equitably and lead to better outcomes for all of America are focus areas for multi-year, multi-Agency projects.
- In addition to agencies’ own initiatives to evaluate ARP programming, the Office of Evaluation Sciences (OES) at the General Services Administration (GSA) is undertaking a portfolio of evaluations with agency partners to improve awareness, access, and allocation of ARP programs and resources, focusing on ARP programs with equity goals. Evidence-building activities are funded through GSA’s Federal Citizen Services Fund, which aims to make government services more accessible, efficient, and effective. Learn more by visiting https://oes.gsa.gov/american-rescue-plan/ or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Another strategy is a collaboration among the White House ARP Implementation Team, OMB Evidence Team, GSA, and agency partners to launch a multi-year National Evaluation of a cross-section of priority ARP-funded programs, using an independent third-party research firm. This first-of-its-kind effort will encompass multiple agencies, geographies, and programs, and seeks to answer questions about where and how ARP programs helped advance equity, while building evidence for future programs and policies.
- Connecting the Research Community to Evidence Priorities inside the Federal Government through a Novel Funding Pilot: The Analytics for Equity Pilot, a first-of-its-kind initiative led by NSF, OSTP, and OMB, will leverage NSF’s experience in funding research grants and connecting with academics. To do so, it will distribute targeted funding to external research teams that submit rigorous proposals to directly address Federal agencies’ priority learning questions that focus on equity. The Pilot aims to include participation from academics with a broad range of institutional affiliations and areas of expertise. Agency partners will help shape the Pilot’s focus on key thematic areas and will provide guidance on data resources and agency needs. In addition to NSF, agency partners for this Pilot include the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Chief Evaluation Office, and the Environmental Protection Agency. For more information, including details on the forthcoming Call for Proposals and relevant deadlines, by emailing NSF’s Evaluation and Assessment Capability Office at eac.nsf.gov.
- Mobilizing Social and Behavioral Research Evidence to Inform Policy: The OSTP-led National Science and Technology Council will re-charter the Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) Subcommittee of the Committee on Science. This Subcommittee was decommissioned in the previous Administration, and now will be reconstituted with the directive to carry out short-term, high-priority tasks regarding the use of social and behavioral science evidence in Federal practices and policies, and then will lay the groundwork for longer-term coordination of agency efforts related to these topics. The first short-term task will be to deliver whole-of-government Blueprint for the use of social and behavioral science research to advance evidence-based policymaking, due by April 30, 2023, per the SBS Subcommittee Charter.
- Elevating Government-wide Questions and Research-Informed Answers: A management-focused Learning Agenda will identify key Government-wide questions to answer in support of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA). This first-ever effort will improve how the Federal Government operates and performs. The PMA Learning Agenda will address critical evidence gaps and encourage research to close those gaps within, beyond, and in partnership with the Federal Government.
- Building Skills and Knowledge within the Federal Evidence Community: The OMB Evidence Team is partnering with HHS and agency evaluation experts to develop the Federal Evaluation Toolkit. This resource will help build evaluation skills among the Federal workforce broadly by addressing the value of evaluation, how to interpret and communicate results to Agency leaders, and how leaders can – and should – use results to support decision-making.
- Ensuring Learning about the Federal Government’s Own Community: The President’s Management Council (PMC), together with OMB, the Office of Personnel Management, and the GSA, has launched a pilot of the first-ever, Government-wide pulse survey of Federal employees. This pulse survey invited roughly 2 million civilian employees across the 24 agencies represented by the PMC to respond to three topics, focused on timely issues where it would be helpful for leadership to hear directly from employees: navigation of the ongoing pandemic and the safe, increased return of Federal employees to physical workplaces; equity and inclusion; and employee engagement and burnout. A second pulse survey has been administered, and a data dashboard with the results is available. The third pulse survey in the pilot recently launched.
- Collecting and Activating Evidence for Equity as Part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL):
- The new Swift Current initiative, made possible by President Biden’s BIL, allocates a total of $60 million to Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to quickly and fairly get mitigation grants to disaster survivors with repetitively flooded homes. These four states were some of the hardest hit by Hurricane Ida, one of the most intense storms to hit the United States in recent years. This new Swift Current initiative provides learning opportunities that will help FEMA prepare for a larger national rollout to substantially speed up the award of flood mitigation dollars to better align the program with the disaster survivor experience. An independent evaluation of these efforts across the four states will examine if individuals receive benefits in a timelier way and if this timeliness leads to improvements for socially vulnerable communities.
- The Department of Transportation (DOT) is now requiring that all grants administered by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology include a data collection provision. These data—many of which are associated with BIL—then will be curated, federated, and accessible for use by communities inside and outside of the Federal government. With this public data access requirement, new evidence will be created based on the existing data, perpetuating the positive cycle of learning and evidence. This effort takes the first step in creating a culture that is data-driven, outcomes-based, and focused on continuous learning and evidence building.
- Strengthening Evidence-based Pathways to Good Jobs through the President’s Budget:
- Because Registered Apprenticeship programs have been shown to improve employment outcomes, particularly for women and people of color, the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2023 invests $303 million in them – a $118 million increase above the 2021 enacted level.
- In addition, the President’s Budget includes $375 million for Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessments (RESEA). Beginning in FY 2023, 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 can use up to 10 percent of their annual RESEA funding to conduct evaluations of these interventions and strategies, and the Budget continues to make funding available for the DOL to support states in implementing evidence-based requirements, including through identification of strong evidence in the Clearinghouse for Labor Evaluation and Research website. These efforts will help to direct Federal funds towards state programs grounded in best-available evidence of high impact for local communities.
- Accelerating Data Innovation to Tackle the Climate Crisis: OSTP is co-leading an initiative with is co-leading an initiative with OMB and the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy on Energy Data and Analytics with participation from across the Federal government. The goals of this work are to accelerate innovation in energy data and analytics, ensure that the most up-to-date data about technology cost and availability is used to support analysis and decisions about the clean energy transition, and to support an equitable energy transition. This effort is part of the Climate Innovation Working Group and will complement ongoing initiatives to make climate information and decision tools more accessible, which drive data and analytical innovation to provide, communicate, and improve evidence in relation to climate.
- Activating Research on Housing Choice to Support Better-Quality Housing for Underserved Communities: Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Community Choice Demonstration (CCD) program, formerly known as the HCV Mobility Demonstration, builds upon recent research that shows growing up in neighborhoods with lower levels of poverty improves children’s academic achievement and long-term chances of success and reduces intergenerational poverty. The CCD supports selected public housing authorities (PHAs) in offering mobility-related services to increase the number of voucher families with children living in opportunity areas. Participating PHAs will work together to enable housing mobility, increase landlord participation, and reduce barriers for families to move across PHA jurisdictions. The CCD includes a rigorous, independent evaluation to determine what services are most effective at helping families move to opportunity areas. A total of $50 million is available to the 13 participating PHAs in California, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.
- Expanding Community-Engaged Research to Benefit African American Children: The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families at HHS recently announced the launch of the new National African American Child and Family Research Center at the Morehouse School of Medicine. This Center, funded by a five-year grant from OPRE, will provide national leadership and excellence in community-engaged research to better serve African American children and families. The Center will focus on a range of topics, including child development, child assistance, social and economic mobility, and healthy relationships. The Center’s goals include advancing a community-engaged and high-caliber research program focused on African American children and families, as well as building research capacity and infrastructure to conduct research relevant to ACF program and policy goals.
- Building and Using Evidence to Support the Success of All Students, from Kindergarten to Career:
- The Department of Education is leading efforts to support young students’ success in reading and math in the wake of the pandemic, which has led to substantial unfinished learning in math and English language arts. Given the importance of foundational skill mastery in students’ subsequent success in school and in life, there are important debates among educators and policymakers about how to address both. The Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences has launched two evaluations, its Impact Evaluation of Training in Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for Reading in Early Elementary School and its Study of Strategies to Address Unfinished Learning in Math, which are designed to build evidence about instructional policies and practices that can support struggling students and ensure all students are able to achieve their full potential.
- The Department of Education also is supporting students’ academic, social, emotional, and physical well-being through building evidence on full-service community schools. Children living in underserved communities face significant academic, social, and health challenges, many of which have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The Full-Service Community Schools program aims to address these challenges by funding coordination and expansion of a comprehensive set of educational and developmental services for students, their families, and the broader community. The Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences ongoing program Evaluation of Full-Service Community Schools is designed to build evidence that will support the effective implementation of community schools’ key pillars and will, if possible, rigorously assess the program’s impact.
- As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to center community colleges in workforce development, the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), DOL is launching its second round of the Strengthening Community Colleges (SCC2) Training Grants program. The grants aim to build the capacity of community colleges to address identified equity gaps and meet the skill development needs of employers in in-demand industries and career pathways leading to quality jobs. Each grant recipient is required to undertake a rigorous evaluation to examine the strategies that address identified equity gaps to increase full access to educational and economic opportunity, particularly for individuals from underrepresented and marginalized populations and communities. All applicants being considered must justify, with evidence, why the proposed strategies are likely to lead to the proposed outcomes. Additional funding beyond the standard grant award range is also available to support a rigorous outcome, impact, or behavioral interventions study that assesses the effectiveness of the interventions, including whether the service delivery advances equity or other outcomes.
- Building Collaborations to Ensure High Job Quality for All: The DOL has established a new collaboration with a team of researchers, workforce practitioners, and data experts organized by the Families and Worker Fund to advance the Federal Government’s understanding of the data available to measure job quality. The collaboration will focus on better understanding the existing landscape of job quality measures and data sources across the Federal Government, state and local governments, private sector firms, academic research, and policy organizations.
- Using Evidence to Improve Healthcare for our Nation’s Veterans: The Veterans Affairs (VA) Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) is a unique entity in Government, within the VA medical and prosthetic research portfolio, dedicated to improving healthcare for our Nation’s veterans by accelerating evidence into healthcare practice and policy. QUERI’s three-fold approach focuses on implementation of effective practices, rigorous evaluation to optimize programs and policies, and dissemination and sustainment to drive a culture of learning and knowledge translation across VA. QUERI funds more than 40 centers across the United States and has built a network of 200+ investigators, all committed to the goal of improving the quality of care to veterans. Its Partnered Evidence-based Policy Resource Center (PEPReC), for instance, coordinates and supports the design of randomized program evaluations that have strong potential to improve the quality of VA healthcare, and works directly with partners to ensure that the work is relevant to practitioners. Current PEPReC projects include studies to understand various components of MISSION Act implementation, opioid use, and suicide prevention – all high-priority issues for this Administration.
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