In today’s fiscal environment, policymakers face tough budget and policy choices that affect the outcomes they can deliver for citizens. By using rigorous evidence to inform these decisions, policymakers can achieve substantially better results by funding and operating public programs that are proven to work.

Evidence-based Policymaking: A Guide for Effective Government – a 2014 report by the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative – outlines the first comprehensive framework that policymakers can follow to build a system of evidence-based governing. By leveraging the power of this approach, governments can reduce wasteful spending, expand innovative programs, and strengthen accountability.

The report presents five key components to implementing evidence-based policymaking:

  • Program Assessment
    Systematically reviewing available evidence on the effectiveness of public programs.
  • Budget Development
    Incorporating evidence of program effectiveness into budget and policy decisions, giving funding priority to programs that deliver a high return on investment of public funds.
  • Implementation Oversight
    Ensuring that programs are effectively delivered and are faithful to their intended design.
  • Outcome Monitoring
    Routinely measuring and reporting outcome data to determine whether interventions are achieving desired results.
  • Targeted Evaluation 
    Conducting rigorous evaluations of new and untested programs to ensure that they warrant continued funding.

Evidence-based policymaking is a growing national trend aimed at making government work more effectively. This guide provides the details, tips, and strategies that policymakers can use to instill evidence in decision-making at all levels of government.

The Results First initiative, a project supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, authored this publication.

Key Information

Publication Date
November 13, 2014

Read Time
1 min

Program Assessment

Resource Type

Results First Resources

Evidence-Based Policymaking Resource Center

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