Bridging the Gap between Public Policy and Evidence to Improve Social Outcomes

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By Sara Peters, Farhana Hossain and Mary Bissell

While America’s political divide remains stark across key policy domains, the concept of “evidence-based” policymaking – the notion that decisions about design, implementation, and funding of policies and social programs should be based on scientific evidence of effectiveness – continues to garner support among policymakers from both sides of the aisle. However, despite important advances in the development and use of evidence to improve government effectiveness (including the work of the bipartisan Commission on Evidence - Based Policymaking), critical gaps between the integration of research and public policy persist. Chiefly among them: 1) the current supply of evidence-based practices and programs that provide meaningful solutions for communities is thin; and 2) most providers of education, health care, and social services lack the capacity, resources, and data they need to rigorously measure the impact of their work and to influence public policies that affect their communities.

One key to the future success of evidence based policy is partnerships between government and nonprofit agencies to build programs that
are well implemented, rigorously evaluated,
and continually improved.
— Robert Gordon, Senior Fellow at Results for America, and Ron Haskins, The Hill