OMB Announces Major Evidence-Based Initiative

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently issued a memorandum calling for expanded capacity and use of evaluation and evidence in government decision-making.

The document can be found here.

From the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy ( ):

“In a potential breakthrough for evidence-based policy, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has launched a major new push for the development and use of rigorous evidence in budget, management, and policy decisions across the federal government – see OMB memo Use of Evidence and Evaluation in the 2014 Budget to the Heads of the Executive Departments and Agencies.

The initiative incorporates many of the core evidence-based concepts we have promoted through our work with OMB, Congress, and the agencies and – because it is led by OMB and tied to the President’s FY 2014 budget request – is likely to have far-reaching effects on federal agencies and programs.

Of particular note, the OMB guidance:

States that “Agencies should demonstrate the use of evidence throughout their FY 2014 budget submissions. Budget submissions should also include a separate section on agencies’ most innovative uses of evidence and evaluation, addressing some or all of the issues [outlined in the memo].”

Describes concrete actions that agencies might include in their submissions, such as:

(i)   Sponsor low-cost, rigorous evaluations that use administrative data to measure outcomes…;

(ii)  Use agencies’ authority to “waive” certain legal/regulatory provisions, in order to rigorously test variations in ongoing programs;

(iii)  Use rigorous evidence on programs’ cost-effectiveness to guide agency funding investments;

(iv) Incentivize evidence-based practices in agency grant-making programs (e.g., through a competitive preference priority in the grant selection criteria).

Clearly emphasizes evaluations and evidence that meet scientifically rigorous standards (e.g., through use of random assignment).”

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