Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) has named Senior Fellow Ron Haskins, co-director of the Center on Children and Families at Brookings, as co-chair of the new Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. The commission was established in bi-partisan legislation enacted in March. The “Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016,” introduced by Speaker Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), establishes the 15-member commission to analyze how federal data is being used and how it can be better used to improve the effectiveness of federal programs. Among other aims, the commission is authorized to “make recommendations on how best to incorporate outcomes measurement, institutionalize randomized controlled trials, and rigorous impact analysis into program design.”
In his recent speech accepting the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize from the American Academy of Political and Social Science (which he shared with Brookings Senior Fellow Isabel Sawhill), Haskins spoke to the power of evidence-based policy:
One of the prime motivating factors of the current evidence-based movement is the understanding, now widespread, that most social programs either have not been well evaluated or they don’t work. Perhaps the most important social function of social science is to find and test programs that will reduce the nation’s social problems. The exploding movement of evidence-based policy and the many roots the movement is now planting, offer the best chance of fulfilling this vital mission of social science, of achieving, in other words, exactly the outcomes Moynihan had hoped for.
Haskins, who has long been a proponent of evidence-based policymaking, is the co-author (with Greg Margolis) of the 2014 book “Show Me the Evidence: Obama’s Fight for Rigor and Results in Social Policy” (Brookings Institution Press). The other chairperson, appointed by the White House, is Katharine Abraham, commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Speaker Ryan’s other two appointees are Bruce Meyer, a University of Chicago professor, and Robert Hahn, an Oxford economics professor and a Brookings nonresident senior fellow.
A final report to the White House is due 15 months after the panel’s 15-member majority is in place.