The Move Towards Rigorous Evaluation

The July 2014 New York Times article, “The Quiet Movement to Make Government Fail Less Often” emphasizes the importance of rigorous evaluation of government programs as the key to a more successful government. Recently, several evaluations have emerged, largely due to the growing availability of data. The article notes that the private sector has utilized this method of evaluation for some time now. While the public sector is just catching on, the upside is that the incredible growth of available data has made performing these evaluations cheaper and easier than ever before. For example, the phenomenon known as “pay for success” – social impact bonds (SIBs) – links funding to program effectiveness. The article also notes that the White House is keen to pursue randomized controlled trials – the “gold standard” of evaluation – as a way to measure federal programs. Jon Baron, president of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, an AISP partner organization, emphasizes the significance of measuring government program efficiency. The bottom line: rigorous evaluation is needed for a more effective government.

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