Representatives Ben McAdams (D-UT) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) launched a new, bipartisan Congressional What Works Caucus to help ensure that federal taxpayer dollars are invested as effectively and efficiently as possible to improve outcomes for children, families and communities nationwide.
The caucus will include Members of Congress from across the political spectrum to develop and promote federal evidence-based legislation that addresses our nation’s biggest challenges. It will also spotlight data-driven local, state, and federal efforts that are helping improve results for residents in Utah, Indiana and around the country.
“As mayor of Salt Lake County, I launched a number of pay-for-success projects that required rigorous evaluation and data to show the program worked. Taxpayers deserve to have precious tax dollars used effectively. Beyond that, there is a human cost when individuals are served in an ineffective program, rather than one proven to get results,” said McAdams.
“One thing both parties can agree on is the need for commonsense solutions that make a real difference in peoples’ lives,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “That means looking at state, local and federal efforts, figuring out what works and what doesn’t and using data-driven policies to get results. The bipartisan What Works Caucus will be an important forum for both parties to work together to find innovative and evidence-based ways to address the challenges hardworking Americans face.”
Seventy bipartisan local, state and federal leaders and organizations signed a letter expressing their strong support for the new caucus and praising the co-chairs for their “bipartisan work to promote this ‘What Works’ approach to governing, especially during this very divided time in our nation’s history.
A growing number of results-driven policymakers have been using evidence and data to improve outcomes and make government programs more effective and efficient over the last several years. Since 2015, Congress has passed landmark bipartisan legislation that is helping identify and invest in what works in K-12 education (the Every Student Succeeds Act), foster care (the Family First Prevention Services Act), juvenile justice (the Juvenile Justice Reform Act), opioid prevention, treatment, and care (SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act), and federal agency operations (the Foundations of Evidence-based Policymaking Act). In addition, the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act (SIPPRA), which was signed into law on February 9, 2019, established a $100 million federal pay-for-success fund to help incentivize social service programs based on data and evidence and rigorous evaluation.
A 2019 poll conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago found that about 9 out of 10 Americans think policymakers should seek the best evidence when making decisions. However, only 8 percent believe that evidence currently drives policymakers’ decisions.
Government leaders, as well as leaders across the private, public and nonprofit sectors are increasingly seeking to align funding with the pursuit of measurable goals that will strengthen communities and accelerate opportunity. The caucus could focus on priorities such as 1) setting standards for rigorous evidence-based policy by promoting accessible, transparent administrative data and measurement of impact outcomes; and 2) pursuing innovative ways to align public and private incentives with impact. The caucus could also create a task force to explore ways to forge public-private partnerships that strengthen communities and improve outcomes for children and families.
James Sorenson, President of Sorenson Impact Foundation and an Advisory Board Member of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance said, “Impact investors have a track record of investing in what works – innovative projects and strategies that can scale into sustainable solutions to our shared social, economic and environmental challenges. The successes of these innovative partnerships provide an evidence base that policymakers can and should draw on. Billions of dollars of private capital are deployed as impact investments every year. Congress should do everything in its power to leverage this burgeoning movement and I’m excited to carry the conversation forward through this revitalized caucus.”
Michele Jolin, CEO and Co-founder of Results for America, said, “We commend Representatives McAdams and Walorski for creating the bipartisan Congressional What Works Caucus to help maximize the impact of federal investments and to help federal, state and local leaders accelerate progress on our nation’s most urgent challenges. Results for America is proud to stand with the dozens of federal, state and local leaders who strongly support this bipartisan Congressional What Works Caucus, which will help ensure that federal funds are invested in evidence-based, results-driven solutions.”
Deborah Smolover, Executive Director of America Forward, said, “The federal government allocates over $1.5 trillion for social services each year, yet we are only able to accurately assess the impact of a small fraction of those dollars. Our coalition of social entrepreneurs works hard in communities across America to provide services that measurably expand opportunity, increase equity and improve lives. We should expect the same rigorous attention to outcomes from Washington. We commend Representatives McAdams and Walorski for their leadership and commitment to testing, funding and scaling what works.”