Giving Compass’ Take:
• This essay on Urban Institute explores how evidence-based decision making can apply to public service work, just as well as any other endeavor. The principles include testing innovations and improving data quality.
• Whether in the private or public sector, let’s examine how we gather information and base our actions on results. Where are the gaps in efficacy?
Career civil servants are the foundation of government. Within the public sector, rules and procedures ensure consistency and compliance with laws. But the large federal bureaucracy also creates unpleasantness that can lead to inefficiencies, such as an inordinately slow pace, complex levels of clearance, and procedures that rarely get changed. Using evidence to make decisions and manage programs helps civil servants and their agencies use best practices in management, improve performance and decision.
The current federal evidence-based policy agenda has gained traction in the US over the past two decades. The term “evidence” is used in many ways, but it fundamentally means using information produced through a systematic analysis of results. Evidence includes results from performance measurement and findings from formal program evaluations.
A few examples from my time as chief evaluation officer at the US Department of Labor show how evidence can improve government effectiveness:
- Learn from what works.
- Test innovations.
- Improve data quality.
- Maintain performance even when funding is limited.
Read the full article about evidence-based decisions in public service by Demetra Smith Nightingale at Urban Institute.
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