The Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) provides periodic updates regarding evaluation in government affairs. Updates are provided by task force members and were originally published in the AEA newsletter.
From Nick Hart, AEA Evaluation Policy Task Force
Beginning this fall, evaluators will have a new opportunity to engage on evaluation policy through a new federal advisory committee established by the Foundations for Evidence-based Policymaking Act (Evidence Act). The committee – called the Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building – specifically includes about 30 experts with a range of backgrounds and perspectives on government data uses. Read More
The advisory committee is expected to convene in mid-September 2020. The committee will serve as a mechanism for extending the implementation strategy of the recommendations from the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. The Evidence Commission’s recommendations were previously endorsed by the American Evaluation Association in 2017 and align with AEA’s own Roadmap for Effective Evaluation, reissued last year.
The advisory committee includes three federal evaluation officers and several other evaluation experts:
One area the committee is expected to specifically consider is how the federal government can create a data service that, among other purposes, meets the needs of the evaluation community in accessing and linking administrative records.
With strong representation for the evaluation community, AEA’s Evaluation Policy Task Force will continue to monitor progress on the advisory committee and its work plan to identify opportunities for AEA engagement. AEA members are also encouraged to participate and join public, open meetings of the advisory committee to ensure the priorities and needs of evaluators are well-represented in the next steps.
More information about the advisory committee is available at www.bea.gov/evidence.
From Stephanie Shipman, member of the Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF)
I am very pleased to share AEA’s recently updated Roadmap, An Evaluation Roadmap for a More Effective Government. Since the Roadmap’s publication nearly a decade ago, it has been widely used by federal agencies to help develop and sustain their evaluation capacity. I also found it extremely useful in consulting with other governments on how to organize effective evaluation offices. The Roadmap provides recommendations for how to institutionalize evaluation in government. AEA’s Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) revised the Roadmap over the past year to incorporate member feedback and reforms for federal evaluation, statistical, and data access policies enacted in the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018. AEA publicly applauded Congress’ passage of the Act, saying (I)t demonstrates that elected leaders agree that program evaluation is an essential activity for understanding how programs operate and for improving public policies. Read More
An Evaluation Roadmap for a More Effective Government.
(I)t demonstrates that elected leaders agree that program evaluation is an essential activity for understanding how programs operate and for improving public policies.
The revised Roadmap is designed to help federal agencies as they move forward to implement the Act’s requirements. Read more here about the framework and the revision process.
The Roadmap was originally produced in 2009, in response to then President Barack Obama's calls to increase the use of evidence in policymaking. The Roadmap provides a framework to help agencies develop an evaluation program to support organizational learning. It also recommends ways Congress can help institutionalize evaluation in government. Key principles of the framework include:
Since 2009, much has changed in the evaluation landscape. In 2010, Congress enacted major reforms to the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), aiming to increase use of evaluation evidence in policymaking. In 2017, the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking issued unanimous recommendations that suggested formalizing the role of evaluation in federal agencies with chief evaluation officers. The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 requires federal agencies to establish chief evaluation officers and to publish evaluation policies, annual evaluation plans, and multiyear “learning agendas.” In the same period, AEA has published statements on cultural competence in evaluation (2011) and evaluator competencies (2018), and updated its guiding principles (2018).
To ensure the Roadmap’s continued relevance to discussions of evaluation policy, the Task Force solicited input from AEA membership on the usefulness and relevance of the Roadmap through the AEA365 blog, EVALTALK, AEA Newsletter, and a listening session at the 2018 national conference. The revised Roadmap - retaining the same framework as the original, while incorporating updated AEA policies and the new federal evaluation requirements - was reviewed and approved by the board.
AEA leadership and the Task Force hope that members will find the paper useful in sustaining effective evaluation practice and in communicating to partners and stakeholders the importance of an independent evaluation function for informing effective management and public policy. Please send any comments or suggestions to the Task Force at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Nick Hart, chair of the Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF)
Big reforms for federal evaluation policy are coming over the next several years, thanks to a new law enacted in early 2019. The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act was finally passed by Congress with bipartisan support in late December, then signed by the president several weeks later.
The new law, championed by then-Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), represents a milestone moment for evidence-based policy in the country, setting the stage for improvements to privacy protections and data accessibility, but also for federal evaluation policy. Read More
Here’s what the new law means for evaluation policy:
While the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act will not address all of the capacity and implementation issues evaluators face in federal agencies, the new law will set in motion major reforms that recognize and increasingly institutionalize evaluation activities across the federal government. Effective implementation of this promising strategy will likely require participation from the evaluation community to hold agencies accountable moving forward
From Nick Hart, chair of the Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF)< /p>
AEA’s Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) announced during the fall conference, Evaluation 2018, that its members are exploring potential updates to AEA’s framework for helping agencies develop and sustain evaluation capacity. AEA’s Evaluation Roadmap for More Effective Government was originally produced in response to then President Barack Obama’s calls to increase the use of evidence in policymaking. Read More
Evaluation Roadmap for More Effective Government
Since its publication nearly a decade ago, the framework has been used by several U.S. federal agencies for informing the development of their written evaluation policies. While the framework has been useful in shaping numerous policies, much has also changed in the evaluation landscape.
In 2017, the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking issued its unanimous recommendations in 2017 that suggested formalizing the role of evaluation in federal agencies with chief evaluation officers. AEA publicly applauded the commission’s approach and the recommendations about evaluation capacity. In 2018, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget announced a government reform proposal that would encourage greater evaluation capacity, with senior evaluation leaders across government. AEA leaders similarly embraced the promising approach as welcome efforts to strengthen government’s evidence-building and evaluation capacity.
welcome efforts to strengthen government’s evidence-building and evaluation capacity.
Given the changing landscape, AEA’s EPTF is considering updates to the Roadmap to ensure its continued relevance to current discussion of evaluation policy. While the task force received direct input during a session at the conference in Cleveland, we encourage all members to provide input to the process.
The Task Force welcomes input from AEA members through January 31, 2019, on the 17 recommendations in the Roadmap that address scope and coverage, management, quality and independence, and transparency issues relevant for developing evaluation capacity in agencies. AEA members are encouraged to offer suggestions for improving the recommendations, including those that might be prioritized, added, modified or removed, along with supporting rationale. Comments can be provided directly to email@example.com.
The last year has been a very active one for evaluation policy in the United States. During the fall conference, Evaluation 2018, AEA’s Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) is sponsoring several opportunities for members to learn about major activities and opportunities to provide feedback. Here are a few of the highlights for the conference: Read More
Future opportunities will also be available to learn more about the EPTF and opportunities for feedback. AEA members can also always submit suggestions through AEA’s Issues and Ideas Portal.
From Nick Hart, Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) Chair
The next decennial census in the United States is right around the corner. April 1, 2020, is Census Day and marks the point at which the constitutionally-required count of the U.S. population officially occurs. Every census is closely watched and scrutinized because the flow of federal funding and allocation of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are based on its count of people. But for evaluators and social scientists, there are other reasons to closely watch the 2020 activities. Read More
The census is essential for many evaluations, which is why AEA recently affirmed the importance of integrity and accuracy in the census count. Estimates provided from the U.S. Census Bureau provide the basis for many household surveys conducted by federal and state agencies, local organizations, and evaluators. Thus, an unreliable count can introduce bias for every household survey that occurs over the subsequent decade.
In March 2018, the Commerce Department announced a new question would be added to the decennial census form for 2020 to collect information about individuals’ citizenship status, including whether born in the U.S., born in a U.S. territory, born abroad to U.S. citizens, a citizen by naturalization, or not a US citizen. The Commerce Department described the intent of adding the question was to enforce the Voting Rights Act.
enforce the Voting Rights Act.
While under federal law the use of these data for such purposes cannot be conducted at the individual level, there have been considerable concerns voiced by immigrant communities about how those data could be used. Several states and municipalities have also raised concerns that a question about immigration status could depress response rates, which would subsequently affect federal funding they receive.
Recognizing the potential challenges for data quality, reduced response rates, lower accuracy of responses, and the lack of evaluation about the potential impacts that a citizenship question could pose in the contemporaneous environment, in August 2018, AEA joined 25 other professional organizations in suggesting that the citizenship question be removed from the 2020 census.
“The Census is a once-a-decade undertaking; if we allow the integrity of the data to be jeopardized by an untested, unresearched citizenship question, we will be living with the harmful consequences for years,” AEA and the other organizations said. “We have no way of knowing what future insights will be lost if this data is compromised.”
The comments were submitted in response to a required notice and public comment period for the 2020 census forms. The Commerce Department and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget will now have to decide whether to include or modify the citizenship question based on the comments received.
A final administrative decision is expected in fall 2018. In addition to the administrative proceedings, several legal proceedings are underway that could also have implications on the final decision about whether a citizenship question can be included.
Read the full comments submitted by AEA and other science organizations here.
From Nick Hart, Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) Chair
AEA's Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) has been closely monitoring key pieces of federal legislation with implications on evaluation practice. Several major policy reforms encouraging evaluation practices in federal government programs have been enacted into law in 2018, and more changes may be likely in the near future. Read More
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, referred to in Washington, D.C., as the 2018 budget deal, included four key evaluation policies that relate to specific programs and activities in the federal government.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which became law on February 9, 2018, provides funding for government through March 23, 2018, and also includes several provisions that encourage evaluation in targeted policy areas:
These major changes to law that affect federal evaluation policy have already been enacted, and will alter the government’s efforts to both support the generation of evaluation and the eventual use by intended audiences. The EPTF will continue to monitor and provide assistance for efforts to implement these provisions in coming months and years.
Evaluation policy updates are published in the AEA monthly newsletter. This newsletter is exclusively sent to members. Learn more about AEA member benefits.