Each year, the federal government spends trillions of dollars to deliver goods and services to its citizens and address various national issues. For example, Congress appropriated $2.6 trillion in 2020 to help people, businesses, the health care system, and state and local governments respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evidence—which includes data and information, such as statistics and rigorous studies known as program evaluations—can provide important insights that could improve the federal government’s performance.
However, variation exists across federal agencies in the extent to which they (1) have relevant evidence, (2) use it to inform decisions, and (3) have sufficient capacity (e.g., staff and tools) to develop and use evidence. There still ways that federal agencies could improve their ability to build and use evidence in decision-making. For example, collaboration within an agency can help ensure that evidence-building efforts are effective.
Federal leaders and staff can follow 13 key practices to effectively build and use evidence to manage the performance of federal efforts.
The Office of Management and Budget should prioritize efforts to identify and share among agencies proven practices for increasing, and challenges that hamper, the use of performance information in decision-making.