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United States

Using Evidence and Concrete Data to Improve Public Service Delivery (US0062)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: United States Action Plan 2015-2017

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: The general Services Administration

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Capacity Building

IRM Review

IRM Report: United States End-of-Term IRM Report 2015-2017, United States Mid-Term Report 2015-2017

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: No

Relevant to OGP Values: Not Relevant

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Using evidence and concrete data to evaluate government programs and policies can improve public service delivery at all levels of government. In July 2015, the Administration launched an interagency evidence-based policymaking group to promote more effective government service delivery and better results for families and communities in need. The group will work with agencies to build capacity to make better use of evidence and to make more transparent decisions about service delivery programs. The group will catalyze specific actions across Federal agencies that are designed to advance the use of evidence in decision-making and strengthen the use of data and evidence to develop and implement more impactful service delivery programs.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 10. Evidence-Based Policy for Service Delivery

Commitment Text:

Promote Evidence-Based Policy for More Effective Service Delivery

Using evidence and concrete data to evaluate government programs and policies can improve public service delivery at all levels of government. In July 2015, the Administration launched an interagency evidence-based policymaking group to promote more effective government service delivery and better results for families and communities in need. The group will work with agencies to build capacity to make better use of evidence and to make more transparent decisions about service delivery programs. The group will catalyze specific actions across Federal agencies that are designed to advance the use of evidence in decision-making and strengthen the use of data and evidence to develop and implement more impactful service delivery programs.

Responsible Institutions: White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC), Office of Management and Budget, Office of Science and Technology Policy

Supporting Institutions: Federal departments and agencies

Start Date: Not Specified ....... End Date: Not Specified

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to make public service delivery more effective through data-driven evaluations of government policies, specifically for families and communities in need. The government expected work on this commitment to be carried out by an interagency, evidence-based policymaking group. The group would build capacity to use evidence to evaluate policies and advance the use of evidence-based policymaking across the federal government.

Status

Midterm: Limited

At the midterm, the government had made limited progress on this commitment. In December 2015, the White House organized an event that convened government officials from nine agencies to share their work on evidence-based policymaking. Besides this, the government took no verifiable action toward meeting this commitment. [121] The government’s midterm self-assessment report [122] indicated that 22 government agencies proposed 75 actions linked to evidence-based decision making. These efforts align with the commitment under the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. However, the IRM researcher found no information to corroborate this assertion by the close of the midterm reporting period.

End of Term: Limited

A page on the website of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation references the 22 government agencies working on actions with evidence-based components. [123] This page was posted during the second year of implementation. In a general description, the page notes that these actions include the following:

  • Building the capacity of staff to develop logic models, identify performance measures, and conduct rigorous evaluations;
  • Offering training, technical assistance, and clearinghouses to disseminate evidence of what works;
  • Expanding tiered-evidence grant-making and pay for success activity;
  • Using behavioral sciences, rapid cycle testing, and rigorous evaluation methods to improve and assess program and policy impact; and
  • Using administrative and program data to assess impact and adjust as needed.

However, the page does not provide more specific information on the 75 actions being carried out or their implementation status. The Office of Management and Budget indicated that the US government made notable progress on the actions as of January 2017. [124] However, the agency did not provide evidence of the types of actions taken, nor evidence of concrete results. At the close of the end-of-term reporting period, the IRM researcher was unable to locate any additional information on these activities. Completion, therefore, remains limited at the end of term.

Did It Open Government?

Access to information: Did not change

Civic participation: Did not change

Public accountability: Did not change

This commitment had unclear relevance for the OGP values of open government because it lacked a public-facing element. As a result, it did not contribute to greater access to information, civic participation, or public accountability.

Carried Forward?

At the time of writing, the US government had not published its fourth national action plan, so it is unclear if this commitment will be carried forward. The team responsible for coordinating evidence-based policymaking across the federal government is now the Evidence Team in the Economic Policy Division of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This small team supports other OMB offices and agencies to improve capacity to build and use evidence. If this commitment is included in a future action plan, it is essential that this team clearly specify the intended goals and activities. In addition, for the commitment to achieve greater openness in government, the improvement of public service delivery should directly involve the public. This can be accomplished by allowing users to evaluate the services they receive. The government could also publish the results of the evaluations and/or improve channels for the public to call for recourse or consequences as necessary.

[121] “Remarks of Acting OPM Director Beth Cobert,” US Office of Personnel Management, 8 March 2016, http://bit.ly/2rvG22u, consulted 2 October 2017.

[122] United States of America, Midterm Self-Assessment Report for the Open Government Partnership: Third Open Government National Action Plan, 2015-2017, September 2016, 12, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/USA_NAP3_self-assessment-report_20160916.pdf, consulted 2 October 2017.

[123] “Find What Works,” Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/administration/eop/sicp/initiatives/find-what-works, consulted 10 September 2017.

[124] The IRM received this information in a comment submitted by the US government during the pre-publication review of this report. The comment was received via e-mail on 30 April 2018.


Commitments

Open Government Partnership