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Brookings Now

If You Want the Money, Show Me the Evidence

Fred Dews

“If you want the money, show me the evidence,” is how Senior Fellow Ron Haskins explained the Obama administration’s evidence-based approach to distributing federal funds to states for social programs. The remarks came during an event today to launch Haskins’ new book, co-authored with Greg Margolis, Show Me the Evidence: Obama’s Fight for Rigor and Results in Social Policy (Brookings Institution Press, 2014). Haskins, the Cabot Family Chair and co-director of both the Center on Children and Families and the Budgeting for National Priorities project, offered his view of the road ahead for this new model of federal funding and evaluation:

Haskins was joined by Peter Orszag, a senior executive at Citigroup, former OMB director (2008-10), and a former Brookings expert (2001-07). Orszag, described by Haskins as “one of the primary early movers in the [Obama] administration’s evidence-based strategy,” remarked on his experience with evidence-based policymaking and offered his thoughts on the book. Watch as he explains why today’s political climate makes an evidence-based strategy “particularly important today”:

A panel discussion followed their remarks. Jason DeParle, senior writer at The New York Times, moderated a discussion among: Jon Baron, president of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy; Melody Barnes, chair of the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions and former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council (2009-12); Robert Gordon, assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy at the Department of Education and former executive associate director of OMB; Robert Shea, a principal at Grant Thornton and former associate director for administration and government performance at OMB; and Greg Margolis, University of Michigan Law student and co-author of the book.

“This I think is the best chance we have,” Haskins said, “to base our policy on evidence … to actually improve our programs and to have an impact on the problems—especially problems having to do with economic opportunity and poverty—that we should be able to solve with the amount of money we spend and with the ingenuity that we have in this nation.”

Visit the book’s page to learn more, and visit the event’s page to get full audio and video.

Also read Haskins’s blog post about the book.

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