Impact & Successes

Investing in what works

The Opportunity

We know more than ever before about what works to improve lives. Evidence and data point the way to solutions. Real progress on our most pressing problems is within reach.

The Solution

Government leaders must have the will to seek out evidence and data on what works – and what doesn’t – and the courage to use what they learn. If governments invest in what works, we can dramatically improve the impact of public dollars and increase opportunities for all.



Shifting Government Funds

RFA and our coalition have helped shift more than $22 billion in government dollars to evidence-based programs and policies since 2013.


Cities & Counties

Implementing Local Solutions

RFA has supported over 275 cities and counties in using evidence and data to address local challenges.



Growing Bipartisan Coalition

RFA has recruited and is mobilizing local, state and national leaders and organizations in support of our "What Works" agenda.



Supporting Federal Policymakers

RFA is helping policymakers in 9 federal agencies meet the data and evidence standards in our federal Invest in What Works Standard of Excellence.



Strengthening Public Education

RFA helped develop the evidence provisions in the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act which could help states and district shift up to $2 billion annually toward evidence-based solutions in FYs 2017-2020.



Building Global Momentum

RFA partnered with the Alliance for Useful Evidence in the UK to bring together government leaders from 40 countries to advance the practice of evidence-informed policymaking.

Our Successes

Building credibility. Increasing demand. Supporting the implementation of what works.

Increasing Awareness and Demand for Evidence-Based Policymaking

Results for America has promoted evidence-based policymaking through a national best-selling...

Building Credibility for Evidence-Based Policymaking

Results for America has built a strong, bipartisan Invest in What Works Coalition comprised of...

Publishing the National Bestselling Book “Moneyball for Government”

Results for America published the national best-selling book, "Moneyball for Government,"...

What people are saying

"We've got to make sure that we're out there showing what works. We've got to put our own time and energy and effort and money into the effort. We have to be rigorous in measuring what works. We can't hang onto programs just because they've been around a long time. We can't be protective of programs that have not produced results for young people, even if they've produced some jobs for some folks running them. And we have to make sure that we're casting a wide net so that we're not just cherry-picking some kids who probably have so much drive they'd make it anyway."

President Barack Obama

"So over these last eight years... we've applied data and evidence to social policy to find out what works -- scale up when it works, stop funding things that don't, thereby fostering a new era of social innovation."

President Barack Obama

“This (Evidence-based Policymaking Commission) is not just another commission. It is part of a sea change in how we solve problems. You always hear people in Washington talk about how much money was spent on a program, but you rarely hear whether it actually worked. That has to change. This panel will give us the tools to make better decisions and achieve better results. I’m very pleased that the commission is getting to work, and look forward to its findings.”

Former U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)

“Ensuring policymakers have the tools to make the best possible decisions shouldn’t be a partisan issue, it should be about doing the right things for families and communities we represent. Whether you think we need more government, or less government – you should agree that we should at least have better government. And with this (Evidence-based Policymaking) Commission, we see an opportunity to take a step in this direction – and fundamentally reassess and improve the quality and availability of data and information to researchers, stakeholders, and decision-makers at all levels of government.”

U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)

“Especially in a time of fiscal challenges, we must determine how best to spend existing funds to improve student outcomes and be better stewards of taxpayer dollars. Too often, public education dollars are spent on programs that fail to achieve what they are designed to do. That must stop. By focusing our collective efforts on evidence about what works and — even more importantly — using that data to make better-informed decisions, we can help our children succeed in the classroom.”

U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO)

“We can—and should—use evidence and data about what works to improve the lives of young people and their families. With so much at stake—measured not just in dollars but also in the well-being of Americans—it’s not enough to keep groping in the dark for solutions. We have to demand more. We need to kick the status quo to the curb and elevate evidence in our country to create real change. That means revamping our approach toward policy making and budget decisions, ensuring that the right information gets into the right decision makers’ hands at the right time. This is not about passing one bill or signing a few executive orders; it’s about transforming the process by which we make decisions.”

Former U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)

“The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking begins its work in the midst of an unprecedented movement toward evidence-based policymaking. This movement has been growing for more than a decade at the federal and state levels, and reflects a continued desire from the American public and policymakers that credible information be available to inform decisions about government programs and activities.”

Katharine G. Abraham, former Member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (President Obama) and Ron Haskins, former Senior Advisor to the President for Welfare Policy (President George W. Bush)

“At its heart, Moneyball is about crunching numbers and relying on hard evidence—not emotion or tradition— to drive decisions about how to allocate scarce resources…In fact, astonishingly, based on our estimate, less than one dollar out of every hundred dollars the federal government spends is backed by even the most basic evidence. We might know a program is popular. We might even see data that suggest the program is performing efficiently. But it is the relatively rare case when we actually have the evidence to tell us a program is working as intended and it’s the most effective way to achieve the outcome we desire.”

Peter Orszag, former White House OMB Director (President Obama) and Jim Nussle, former White House OMB Director (President George W. Bush), former U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman, former Member, U.S. House of Representatives (R-IA)

“We have government programs that don’t work very well but take up precious resources. We have others that work effectively but are dangerously underfunded. And we have many more for which we just don’t know whether they are generating good outcomes. … Our goal can’t just be to do more things better, especially if they are the wrong things. We need to do the right things well.... We don’t even have to wait for the current, toxic political environment to shift. Instead, we can take a number of relatively modest steps that will dramatically improve the data and evidence that policy makers and elected officials have access to in order to make better decisions.”

Melody Barnes, former White House Domestic Policy Council Director (President Obama) and John Bridgeland, former White House Domestic Policy Council Director (President George W. Bush)

“I don’t care if the ideas are Democrat or Republican. I do care that they work. I do care that they are subject to evaluation, and we can see if they are using tax dollars in a certain way…. And the second thing is they’re holding themselves accountable by delivering measurable results. We don’t fund things, we don’t start projects just for the sake of starting them. They’ve got to work. If they don’t we should try something else. And sometimes those of us who care deeply about advancing opportunity aren’t willing to subject some of these programs to that test: Do they work?”

President Barack Obama

“And at a time of budget austerity… we’ve got to be sure that every dollar is spent in the most efficient, effective way possible.”

U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)

“Congress ought to be looking for ways to build on what works and stop funding what doesn’t.”

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)

“Too often, Washington focuses on inputs instead of outcomes. We spend too much time talking about how much or how little to spend on social safety net programs, and not enough time talking about whether or not we’re improving lives…It’s time we shift the focus to achieving desired outcomes, evaluating our social programs more carefully, and only paying for what works.”

U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN)

“This bipartisan legislation harnesses the power of the private sector to improve government services while saving taxpayer dollars. Best of all, it moves our government to be more evidence-focused, so we can pay for achieving desired outcomes rather than paying for services regardless of the outcome. This is a true win-win for our constituents and for our taxpayers.”

U.S. Representative John Delaney (D-MD)

“Simply adding more people to these systems (with some exceptions) would do little to transform them. To be effectively run, they must be made runnable. Some of this effort should involve the injection of greater rigor into existing and future programs — what has been called "Moneyball for Government." Instead of spending money, say, on youth development according to the hunches and enthusiasms of politicians, why not require serious evaluation and hold programs accountable for results?”

Michael Gerson, former White House Assistant to the President for Policy and Strategic Planning (President George W. Bush)

“Cities like the ones featured in this report are innovating their way into the future, creating models that can be adapted across the nation. If smarter use of data and evidence to improve lives makes us geek cities, then all I can say is: Join us! Because what we need is more geek cities in every corner of the country.”

Julian Castro, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (President Obama) and former Mayor of San Antonio

“Given the opportunity gaps in our society, the millions of vulnerable children and families in our country, and the progress that we are seeing in areas where clear goals are set, plans of action are developed, and evidence-based reforms are marshaled, the time could not be better to put evidence at the center of policymaking.”

John Bridgeland, former White House Domestic Policy Council Director (President George W. Bush)

“We can get past this seemingly endless cycle of budget stalemates if we use evidence and data to make better decisions about how to allocate limited public resources and to get better results. Through rigorous evaluations and the use of credible data, policymakers at all levels of government can use ‘what works’ to invest in the kind of programs that can deliver life-changing results for young people and their families.”

Austan Goolsbee, former Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (President Obama)

“The key to improving the performance of social programs is to better understand what works and what doesn’t. In other fields of endeavor, from medicine to economics, we’ve improved our understanding by applying scientific methods. Thankfully, we are increasingly doing the same when it comes to social programs.”

Glenn Hubbard, former Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (President George W. Bush)

“Evidence is transforming our approach to tackling some of the nation’s greatest challenges. It is enabling our success in overcoming them and it is helping the federal government more effectively deliver on its promises to the American people.”

Shaun Donovan, former White House OMB Director (President Obama)

“I just wish that congress in addition to tax reform, would look at how the money is spent, not just how much is spent, and work on getting better results for the money. You know, Moneyball, using those principles of how money gets spent in a much more effective way.”

Jim Nussle, former White House OMB Director (President George W. Bush), former U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman, former Member, U.S. House of Representatives (R-IA)

“And when I say, by the way, building on what works, it means looking at the actual evidence of what works. There are a lot of programs out there that sound good, are well-intentioned, well-inspired, but they’re not actual lying having an impact. We don’t have enough money or time or resources to invest in things that don’t work, so we’ve got to be pretty hard-headed about saying if something is working, let’s stop doing it. Let’s do things that work. And we shouldn’t care whether it was a Democratic program or a Republican program or a faith based program or — if it works, we should support it. If it doesn’t, we shouldn’t.”

President Barack Obama

“It is the responsibility of the federal government to use tax dollars wisely, and to do so it must have hard evidence about what works — rigorous evaluations of programs. To get there, Congress and the president will have to work together to support the use of evidence and performance in the budget process, compel agencies to demonstrate evidence and ultimately spend taxpayer dollars in the most responsible way. In Washington, nothing motivates the bureaucracy greater than the prospect of losing funding.”

Robert Shea, former White House OMB Associate Director (President George W. Bush) and current President of the National Association of Public Administration

“Investing in What Works” is not a partisan issue. This practice dates back to Presidents Clinton and Bush and continues today with President Obama. Many of you have heard me speak about my disdain for these austere budget times and how we are forced to look at every available avenue to do more with less. Conducting program evaluations and investing in what works can help improve outcomes for children, families and communities across this nation.”

U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)

“The reason for that rigorous research is simple — we want curriculum and instructional materials to be based on compelling evidence and the findings of cognitive science where possible, rather than on fancy marketing fads or popularity.”

Arne Duncan, former U.S. Secretary of Education (President Obama)

“There are several key elements to a constructive approach at the federal level in my view. Those would certainly include using the best research available and insisting on evidence based programs. Best practices, taking what works around the country and spreading those practices to all communities. Outcome analysis, simply put, making sure that we are measuring performance and that it is required to report on that performance measurement. We know these tools work, but we are not using them in an effective way to help those most vulnerable communities, the most vulnerable neighborhoods.”

U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)

“As our nation continues to deal with shrinking budgets and growing demand for services, we have a major task ahead of us to find ways to invest scarce federal resources more efficiently and more effectively in evidence-based, results-driven solutions.”

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)

“Our goal should be to increase cost-effectiveness and return-on-investment across government programs by harnessing data and evidence to improve results and efficiency.”

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, former U.S. Secretary Health and Human Services and former White House OMB Director (President Obama)

“The commitment to evidence is paying off. We're beginning to learn what works, now the challenge ahead is learning what works at scale and ensuring the federal funds are spent on the evidence-based programs found to work...The bipartisan commitment to building evidence heralds better programs, more effective policies, more responsible use of taxpayer dollars.”

Gordon Berlin, President of MDRC

“You want to know that you’re investing dollars where there’s evidence that it works… increasingly we’re trying to move dollars away from promises and prayers and more into proven performance…. I see it as an umbrella of accountability across programs.”

Linda Gibbs, former Deputy Mayor of New York City

“I am fully committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help improve outcomes for young people and their families through the development and implementation of an agenda that invests in what works.”

Former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

“We hold ourselves accountable through constant use of evaluation and a rigorous focus on data. By using evidence and data to make sure we are improving our work and getting real results, we can drive long-lasting positive change in communities across the country.”

Stacey D. Stewart, President, March of Dimes

“We need to make it easier and cheaper to build and use evidence both within the federal government and outside of it. Just because the federal government owns certain data, doesn’t mean that we have all of the answers for how to use it effectively…we need to be doing more to share evidence across the government to know in many different spheres how programs are impacting the people in the communities that we serve.”

Shaun Donovan, former White House OMB Director (President Obama)

“Yet, to have any real success, we have to know where, and how, to spend our limited resources. We believe fully in evaluating our work, focusing on results and using data and evidence to guide our investments toward programs that are proven successes.”

Michael Brown, CEO and Co-Founder of City Year

“What you call the Moneyball approach to us was a simple belief in the power of data and evidence to drive improved decision making and outcomes. From the beginning of our work, we’ve recognized the need for new and bold solutions as well as the need to do a much better job taking what works to scale. You need to create a continuum of evidence.”

Jim Shelton, President of Education, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education (President Obama)

“The economic and fiscal need for more evidence-based policy making is strong. But more directly, we are simply not doing well enough in developing solutions to social problems…. To rectify this, we need to reform the way the government does social spending so that we produce more experimentation, perform more rigorous evaluation of innovative ideas, and pay more attention to performance in funding decisions.”

Jeff Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard Kennedy School

“We increasingly have first-rate research — randomized controlled trials, testing anti poverty programs as rigorously as if they were pharmaceutics — that give us solid evidence of what works or doesn’t.”

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times Columnist

“We’re going to be doing a lot of deficit cutting over the next several years. The country’s future greatness will be shaped by whether we cut wisely or stupidly…. This period of austerity will be a blessing if it spurs an effectiveness revolution. It will be a disaster if the cutting is done politically or mindlessly.”

David Brooks, New York Times Columnist

“The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.”

President Barack Obama

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