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Impact Evaluation Design Lab

Scrabble tiles spelling "evidence"

In recent years, there’s been a greater focus on evidence-based policymaking, which has helped to move public funds into programs that are proven to be effective. In fact, Results for America estimates through just their initiatives they have moved 2.6 billion dollars to government programs that have been proven, through rigorous evaluation, to be effective. But, there are several structural barriers that make it difficult for government officials and academic researchers to engage collaboratively in evidence-based policymaking, including: a lack of common language for discussing these programs, limited methodological strategies for establishing causation without randomized control trials (RCTs), and data-sharing restrictions. The Impact Evaluation Design Lab was created to find solutions to these barriers and increase collaboration between academia and governments. In order to achieve these goals, the Design Lab routinely brings together academics and government officials for multi-day workshops to discuss these issues and propose solutions.

The first of these workshops took place in Spring 2018. Since then, the Design Lab has made progress on a number of its initial goals. It has provided a space for government officials and academics to collaborate on the creation of various program evaluations, which not only meet the needs of the governments but also the standards for academic research. Government officials and academics have also generated a common language and understanding through the Design Lab workshops. These discussions led to the creation of a causal inference guide for practitioners of evidence-based policymaking called Causal Inference & Evaluation Methods for Evidence-Based Policymaking. The Design Lab has also brought together multiple governments with similar policy programs to create joint learning agendas. These learning agendas provide guidelines for the important questions addressed by each policy program and plans developed by government officials for answering these questions. Although participants in the Design Lab have made considerable progress, the Design Lab continues to be a space where government officials and academics develop practical and innovate ways to improve evidence-based policymaking.

The Design Lab is led by 2018-19 CASBS Fellow Jake Bowers, 2017-18 CASBS Fellow Carrie Cihak, and 2017-18 CASBS Fellow Graham Gottlieb with funding provided by the Knight Foundation and Sloan Foundation.

Learn more about past CASBS Impact Evaluation Design Labs here.

For more information, please contact CASBS program director Betsy Rajala (