Evidence-Informed Policymaking Reading List | January 2018

What to Read this Month

“Delegating brokerage to specially designated individuals makes mobilization of knowledge into action highly contingent on their individual preferences, connections and skills.” 
Knowledge brokering is a multidimensional process that should be considered a core function of an organization and carried about by multiprofessional teams, including academics, policymakers, users, managers, and practitioners, rather than expert individuals or intermediary organizations.

“Better policy requires being both honest about our goals and clear-eyed about the evidence.”
To be evidence-based, health policies must 1) be well-specified, 2) be clear about which goals they are meant to achieve, 3) demonstrate empirical evidence of the magnitude of their effects in furthering those goals.

“Overall, leaders use data or analysis more to conduct retrospective assessments of past performance than inform future policy and programs.”
In a 2017 survey, 3500 public officials and development practitioners from 126 low- and middle-income countries tended to favor data that 1) reflected the local context, 2) drew upon data or analysis produced by the government, and 3) went beyond diagnosing problems to provide concrete policy recommendations.

“It is difficult to justify the resources, risks, and opportunity costs of PFS initiatives when an intervention has no evidence base or when existing evidence raises red flags about the impact of a program.”
The article stresses that Pay-for-Success – in which a government repays independent investors if the initiative they financed achieves pre-determined, socially desirable outcomes – will only be effective if used to finance interventions that meet 7 criteria, including a strong evidence base, cost savings for the public sector, clearly defined metrics, and a reasonable time frame.

“The evaluation findings reinforce the wider understanding that the demand forevidence varies substantially depending on individual policymaker attitudes, perceptions about the usefulness of evaluation evidence and credibility of the evaluator, awareness of evaluation benefits, technical skill in evaluation methods and the nature of the political system.”
Lessons learned from the Demand-Driven Evaluations for Decisions (3DE) pilot program in Uganda and Zambia note the program’s limited contribution to evidence-based policymaking capacity and behavior in both countries, and highlight the importance of strengthening capacity in evidence-based decision making within government and of considering the wider political economy in program design.

“Of course, every civil servant need not be a data scientist – but they should appreciate its potential to improve the lives of citizens, help services function more efficiently, and cut costs.”
A helpful compilation of examples and resources to learn more about data literacy, artificial intelligence, design thinking, and behavioral insights – and use them in government.

What We’re Working On

Results for All continues to work with government policymakers and partners to explore the role that a global evidence network could play in helping champion evidence use across public policies and sectors. We have completed our first phase of research and interviewed nearly 50 stakeholders to date – ranging from government policymakers, to NGOs leading evaluation activities, to existing networks where there may be opportunities to collaborate – and will summarize and share what we have learned in the coming months.
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