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Connecting decision-makers with evidence

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Jun 22,2017
Brookings Institution, Washington, DC.
On June 22, 2017, Prof. Prajapati Trivedi was invited to participate in an event entitled: Connecting decision-makers with evidence: A roundtable to share insights among practitioners.” at Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.
The meeting at Brookings, Washington, DC, started with a discussion by Dr. Howard White from Campbell Collaboration on the various subtle distinctions between types of evidences and approaches that can be bought to bear on decision making. 
Dr. Howard White, Chief Executive Officer of the Campbell Collaboration, and the founding Executive Director of the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), emphasized the following points: 
  • Use the right evidence to answer the right question
  • Context matters for transferring evidence
Similarly, the other lead presenter Ms. Olga Nottmeyer, Managing Editor, World of Labor, presented an absolutely amazing portal for evidence-based research for policy makers. This organization provides policymakers and society with 'relevant and succinct information based on sound empirical evidence to help in formulating good policies and best practices.' 
The quality and richness of these two presentations were enough to justify participation in this meeting. But the high quality of discussion that followed on how to connect evidence-based research to policy makers was equally engaging and insightful. I will send the presentation when I get them.
There is no doubt that evidence matters. The real question is how does one balance the supply and demand for evidence based research. While evidence based research is being supplied in ever greater quantity, is there adequate demand for it. This is what the group focused on. In, particular discussions focused on following issues:
  1. By requiring policy makers to rely on evidence-based research are we constraining them too much? Sometimes there may not be any evidence but decision makers know it is the right thing to do. The so called experience-based policy making.
  2. Will too much emphasis on evidenced-based policy making constrain innovation? Innovations by definition break new ground.
  3. Can we have a law that says that before any policy is firmed up, policy-makers need to summarize existing evidence, if any. Like there is a requirement in many countries to keep the policy in public domain for comments.
  4. Can we give a score, on a scale of 1-5, to all policy proposals from Congress on the degree to which these proposals use evidence? Where 1 would mean no evidence exists or was relied upon. 5 would imply strong evidence to back policy proposals.  
  5. Perhaps, evidence suppliers (researchers) could work with decision/policy makers to identify areas of concerns that are on the minds on policy makers. This is done very successfully by the IBM Center for the Business of Government.