June 10, 2015Op-ed

The Huffington Post: Building on Today’s Progress for 2016 and Beyond

by Michele Jolin

Federal/ Economic/ 2015/

When it comes to so many of our nation’s great social challenges, progress is within our reach. We know more than ever before about what works to improve results for young people, their families and communities, and across the country there is growing bipartisan momentum behind shifting public funds toward evidence-based solutions.

For too long, governments spent money the same way every year and the results were disappointingly the same. Now, technological advances, research breakthroughs and the work of bold social entrepreneurs and visionary nonprofits are pointing the way to solutions that can make a real difference in the lives of our citizens. Governments at all levels are listening. Bold leaders from both parties are using data, evidence and evaluation to follow what works, eschew the status quo and get better outcomes.

Just consider the great progress made at the federal level alone. In March, Results for America released our 2015 Federal Invest in What Works Index which highlights the extent to which six federal departments and agencies — the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Agency for International Development, Administration for Children and Families (within HHS), Corporation for National and Community Service and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — are currently building the infrastructure to use data, evidence and evaluation in budget, policy and management decisions. The Index shows the innovative ways federal departments and agencies are investing in what works and scores their progress on a range of criteria. They include establishing an office or officer for evaluations and using a common evidence framework for informing funding decisions and communicating standards. The Index also looks at if departments and agencies keep updated, accessible and user-friendly data related to their core missions available. It builds on the research done into department and agency work in 2013 and 2014, and shows how far the federal government has come.