Bipartisan House Bill Will Use Data to Judge Effectiveness of Government Programs

A new bill from Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., would seek to make government programs more efficient through the use of data in determining their effectiveness. Ryan, who chairs the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the House, has spoken at length on the need for government programs to focus on outcomes (i.e. how many people are actually lifted out of poverty) rather than inputs (how much government money is spent). 

From Government Executive:

The Evidence-Based Policy Commission Act, introduced in April …, would establish a 15-member commission of experts in data and statistics to determine whether a central data clearinghouse would help with spending decisions without violating privacy rights.

“When we’re making policy, we focus on inputs ….. on effort–like how much money we’re spending, how many people we’re serving, how many programs we’re creating,” said Ryan during floor debate. “What we need to do is focus on outcomes …. on results, like how many people we’re getting out of poverty. Creating this commission is the first step in a long-term effort.”

Federal agencies collect a large amount of data on existing programs, and they are also the beneficiaries of those programs, added Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., noting that the bill is supported by groups as philosophically diverse as the Heritage Foundation and the Urban Institute. “Too often, however, federal agencies do not share data with other agencies or with private researchers in a way that can help determine what is working and what is not.”

Read more at Government Executive.