November 4, 2021 Press Releases

Results for America: Federal Agencies Are Using Data and Evidence to Drive an Equitable Recovery

Newly Released 2021 Federal Invest in What Works Standard of Excellence Recognizes Nine Federal Agencies

WASHINGTON, DC – At an event today with senior White House, Congressional, and federal agency leaders, Results for America released the 2021 Invest in What Works Federal Standard of Excellence, which highlights the progress that nine leading federal agencies have made in implementing the Evidence Act and using evidence and data to improve the impact of federal investments.

At the event, Acting White Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young praised federal agencies for putting evidence and data at the center of their efforts to help drive an equitable recovery. “We have to have one set of facts—and that’s what data and evidence and science bring us,” Young said. “We need to bring that to the construct of government.”

The 2021 Invest in What Works Federal Standard of Excellence assesses how nine federal agencies – which oversaw more than $286 billion in federal funds this year – are building the infrastructure necessary to use evidence and data in their budget, policy, and management decisions. Based on a review of each agency’s progress, Results for America recognized:

  • Three agencies as Gold Certified: the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Department of Education;
  • Two agencies as Silver Certified: the Administration for Children and Families, and AmeriCorps;
  • Four agencies as Bronze Certified: the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Administration for Community Living, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“We are encouraged by these agencies’ efforts to use evidence and data to advance economic mobility and close racial gaps,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and Co-Founder of Results for America. “By building a culture of data-driven decision-making, they are accelerating the federal government’s ability to invest in what works and deliver better results for the American people.”

Highlights of Progress Across the Nine Agencies

  • Major strides in investing in what works: In 2013, the Federal Standard of Excellence recognized two federal agencies for prioritizing and defining evidence in five competitive and noncompetitive grant programs (which allocated $3.2 billion). This year we are recognizing nine federal agencies for prioritizing and defining evidence in 33 competitive and noncompetitive grant programs (which allocated $64.3 billion).
  • Leadership at all 9 agencies: All nine agencies designated Evidence Act leaders who are helping coordinate agency-wide data, evidence, and evaluation activities.
  • 4 agencies meeting the threshold for investing in evidence-building: In FY21, four of the nine agencies invested at least 1% of their budgets in research and evaluation activities; MCC’s FY21 investment exceeded 2%.
  • 2022 should see more progress: The Biden-Harris Administration has accelerated the evidence-driven efforts of federal agencies through executive actions, Evidence Act guidance, and American Rescue Plan Act guidance to help state and local governments maximize the impact of their recovery funds.

Highlights of Progress at Each Agency

Highlights of Areas Where More Progress Is Needed

  • Federal agencies should use their full authority to define and prioritize evidence in all of their competitive grant programs.
  • Congress, the White House, and federal agencies should work together to define and prioritize evidence in all of their non-competitive grant programs.
  • Congress, the White House, and federal agencies should work together to ensure that at least 1% of agency program funds are invested in evidence-building efforts.

WATCH: Acting White House OMB Director Shalanda Young, House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, and Senior Federal Agency Leaders Discuss the 2021 Federal Standard of Excellenc

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