The U.S. Office of Management and Budget is about to get a little more serious in its quest to ensure that federal programs are backed by some solid evidence of success.
On Oct. 7, OMB Director Peter Orszag announced plans for a governmentwide initiative, starting with the budget process for the 2011 fiscal year, to strengthen evaluation of federal programs. He writes:
Although the federal government has long invested in evaluations, many important programs have never been formally evaluated... As a consequence, some programs have persisted year after year without adequate evidence that they work."
What the agency plans to do is: work with other federal agencies to post information online about existing and ongoing impact evaluations of federal programs; create an interagency working group to promote stronger evaluations across the government; and allocate some funds to agencies that volunteer to show how their own funding priorities are evidence-based or spend time analyzing their capacity to support rigorous program evaluation.
The department of education might be a good place to start.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.