Commission on Evidence Based Policymaking

On March 30, the President signed the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016, a bill law creating the bipartisan Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. The 15-member Commission is charged with examining all aspects of how to increase the availability and use of government data to build evidence and inform program design, while protecting privacy and confidentiality of those data. Specifically, the Commission is charged with:

  • determining how to integrate administrative and survey data and to make those data available to facilitate research, evaluation, analysis, and continuous improvement while protecting privacy and confidentiality;
  • recommending how data infrastructure, database security, and statistical protocols should be modified to best fulfill the integration and increased availability of data as described above; • recommending how best to incorporate rigorous evaluation into program design; and
  • considering whether a Federal clearinghouse should be created for government survey and administrative data.

The Commission’s work will focus on developing recommendations related to issues while also ensuring that high standards of confidentiality and privacy are met. Staff from OMB, with assistance from staff at other Federal agencies, prepared the below set of white papers that are intended to provide the Commission with background on topics relevant to its work.

  • Overview of Federal Evidence-Building Efforts. Describes the evidence-building functions carried out by the U.S. Government and the primary organizing structures and capacities that are most relevant to the Commission, including principal statistical agencies, Federal evaluation offices, and Federal evidence-building offices that perform multiple evidence-building functions.
  • Using Administrative and Survey Data to Build Evidence. Describes the role of different types of data and how they relate to different types of evidence. It also includes a series of short case studies that illustrate the many ways administrative and survey data can be used to generate a portfolio of evidence and how that portfolio informs the policymaking process.
  • Barriers to Using Administrative Data for Evidence - Building. Discusses many of the barriers to using administrative data for evidence-building, including the complications created by these barriers, and how resource and capacity concerns can constrain the functional access and use of data even when legal and policy issues are resolved. The paper also provides a case study on how these barriers interact with access to various sources of wage data for evidence-building purposes.
  • Privacy and Confidentiality in the Use of Administrative and Survey Data. Reviews some of the most relevant U.S. privacy laws and discusses how they provide a strong legal framework that informs governs Federal agencies, using the Census Bureau’s Data Stewardship program as a case study. The paper then considers a range of protocols used by different agencies to provide researcher access to restricted data. As an example of such access, it the paper examines how the National Center for Education Statistics has implemented a data licensing program.
  • Comprehensive Data Inventory . Reviews Federal information management requirements that may assist the Commission in conducting "a comprehensive study of the [Federal] data inventory..." As supplemental material, we provide Commissioners with a comprehensive list of Federal agency public data listings as of February 2016.