The Promise of Evidence-Based Policymaking

Final Report by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking: “…There are many barriers to the efective use of government data to generate evidence. Better access to these data holds the potential for substantial gains for society. The Commission’s recommendations recognize that the country’s laws and practices are not currently optimized to support the use of data for evidence building, nor in a manner that best protects privacy. To correct these problems, the Commission makes the following recommendations:

  • Establish a National Secure Data Service to facilitate access to data for evidence building while ensuring privacy and transparency in how those data are used. As a state-of-the-art resource for improving government’s capacity to use the data it already collects, the National Secure Data Service will be able to temporarily link existing data and provide secure access to those data for exclusively statistical purposes in connection with approved projects. The National Secure Data Service will do this without creating a data clearinghouse or warehouse.
  • Require stringent privacy qualifcations for acquiring and combining data for statistical purposes at the National Secure Data Service to ensure that data continue to be efectively protected while improving the government’s ability to understand the impacts of programs on a wider range of outcomes. At the same time, consider additional statutory changes to enable ongoing statistical production that, under the same stringent privacy qualifcations, may make use of combined data.
  • Review and, where needed, revise laws authorizing Federal data collection and use to ensure that limited access to administrative and survey data is possible to return benefts to the public through improved programs and policies, but only under strict privacy controls.
  • Ensure state-collected quarterly earnings data are available for statistical purposes, including to support the many evidence-building activities for which earnings are an important outcome.
  • Make additional state-collected data about Federal programs available for evidence building. Where appropriate, states that administer programs with substantial Federal investment should in return provide the data necessary for evidence building.
  • Develop a uniform process for external researchers to apply and qualify for secure access to confdential government data for evidence-building purposes while protecting privacy by carefully restricting data access to qualifed and approved researchers…(More)”