H.R.1831 has passed Congress. The bill, expected to be signed by President Obama, is an attempt to bring a more scientific process to the evaluation of future programs.
“Directs the Commission to conduct a comprehensive study of the data inventory, data infrastructure, and statistical protocols related to federal policymaking and the agencies responsible for maintaining that data to:
- determine the optimal arrangement for which administrative data on federal programs and tax expenditures, , survey data, and related statistical data series may be integrated and made available to facilitate program evaluation, continuous improvement, policy-relevant research, and cost-benefit analyses;
- make recommendations on how data infrastructure and statistical protocols should be modified to best fulfill those objectives; and
- make recommendations on how best to incorporate outcomes measurement, institutionalize randomized controlled trials, and rigorous impact analysis into program design.”
The bill also “requires the Commission to consider whether a clearinghouse for program and survey data should be established and how to create such clearinghouse.”
Several agencies would be initially directed to include these processes and resultant knowledge into their decision making:
- the Bureau of the Census;
- the Internal Revenue Service;
- the Social Security Administration;
- the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Education, and Justice;
- the Office of Management and Budget;
- the Bureau of Economic Analysis; and
- the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Although the processes themselves are open to political shenanigans, this seems like a step in the right direction toward more reality-based and secular governance.
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