Congress May Enact Evidence Commission Bill in Lame Duck Session

The chairs of the House and Senate Budget Committees, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), introduced bipartisan legislation November 20 that would create a new Commission on Evidenced-based Policymaking. If enacted, the commission would submit a report to the president and Congress making recommendations on how to expand access to and promote the use of data to evaluate federal programs and federal tax expenditures.

As senior members of their respective parties, Ryan and Murray are well positioned to attach their legislation to any bill that moves during the last few weeks of the current session of Congress, including a must-pass bill that would fund federal agencies beyond December 11. Staff from the White House Office of Management and Budget reportedly met with Ryan’s staff on related issues over the summer. Murray’s sponsorship suggests that the bill has the support of the administration. (Editor’s Note: For an update, see Evidence Commission Will Wait Until Next Year).

The proposed commission would make recommendations to the president and Congress on increasing the availability of data for use in evaluating existing federal programs, including “how best to incorporate outcomes measurement, institutionalize randomized controlled trials, and [incorporate] rigorous impact analysis into program design.”

The commission would be asked to recommend whether (and how) to create a new, centralized clearinghouse for program and survey data, with access provided to qualified researchers from the private and public sectors. The commission would also recommend how to protect the privacy of individuals enrolled in the programs being evaluated.

Under the proposed bill, the National Academy of Public Administration would be tasked with administering the commission. Additional assistance would be provided by the White House Office of Management and Budget and various federal agencies, including the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Justice.

The 15-member commission would include 3 appointees from the president and 3 each from the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate respectively (12 total). The report, which would require the support of at least three-quarters of the commission’s members, would be due within 15 months of its appointment.


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