Two U.S. senators, one a Republican and one a Democrat, assessed how the decades-old movement toward using evidence in public policy is faring in the Trump administration in a session hosted by the Brookings Institution and based on the July 2018 volume of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
The volume, which offers an expansive overview of the movement toward evidence-based policy approaches, contains 17 papers by leading experts or policymakers, including Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, and Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware. The July 17 event began with comments by Young and Carper on how they use evidence in meeting their responsibilities as policymakers, and then featured a panel discussing their comments and the larger issues involved.
As issue guest editor and panel moderator Ron Haskins explained in the introduction to the volume:
For the past decade or two, both federal and state governments – and even several big cities – have been experiencing what might be called an evidence-based uprising that is helping them select or develop effective social and educational programs and then improve them. This volume of the Annals is designed to provide a survey of the field of evidence-based practices and policymaking in papers written by some of its most notable practitioners. All the authors and the editor are fans of evidence-based policy, but most of us are well aware that we have miles to go before we can argue that the field has been proven to consistently improve the nation’s policies and show clear progress in reducing the nation’s social problems, most of which are complex and resistant to amelioration.
The papers explore the history and significance of the evidence-based policy movement, its foundation in empirical research, and the vital role of program evaluation in that research. The papers also address the major elements of the movement, the contributions of government and non-governmental institutions to evidence-based policy, and the views of policymakers.