Advancing the Evidence Agenda in the Next Administration

By Robert Shea

Since the 1990s and earlier, the Federal Government has been on a quest to improve its achievement of results, refine its measurement of outcomes, increase the availability of evidence of effectiveness, and strengthen the integration of such information in management and budgeting.

In the last decade, a number of initiatives have been launched with these objectives in mind, including:

  • The Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act, which required, among other things, the establishment of Performance Improvement Officers in each agency and the adoption of a limited number of transparently reported priority goals
  • Cross-agency and priority goals that enhance the performance of important policy areas
  • Increasing investment by the Administration and Congress in more rigorous evaluations of government activity that build a body of evidence of what works across government
  • Pilot programs examining the benefits of enhanced collaboration and multi-agency funding in areas such as addressing the problem of disconnected youth

Yet, there is room for improvement across the board. A number of surveys of federal program managers conducted by the Government Accountability Office have shown greater availability of performance information but little increase in its use in decision-making. And though Congress has modestly increased investment in program evaluation, its use of performance information in the budgeting, authorization and oversight processes has been limited.

To build on the progress made to date and set the stage for greater success in the future, the National Academy of Public Administration has convened a Transition 2016 panel on Using Evidence Based Approaches to Improve Program Performance. The panel is made up of some of the nation’s greatest experts in performance management and program evaluation. They are leading voices in the journey toward more effective, performance-based government. Over the next several months, the group will consult important stakeholders and develop a set of agile, actionable recommendations the next Administration can adopt to make significant gains in evidence-based decision-making.

The panel of experts includes:

  • Jon Baron, the Arnold Foundation
  • Larry Cooley, Management Systems International
  • David Gottesman, Office of the Montgomery County Executive
  • Shelley Metzenbaum, the Volcker Alliance
  • Kathryn Newcomer, George Washington University
  • Demetra Nightingale, the U.S. Department of Labor
  • Nancy Potok, the Bureau of the Census
  • John Roberts, the State of Michigan
  • Helena Sims, the Association of Government Accountants
  • Kathy Stack, the Arnold Foundation
  • Hal Steinberg, the Association of Government Accountants
  • Charles Tansey, Charles D. Tansey
  • Greg Useem, the City of Alexandria
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