A Road-Map To Transform The Secure And Accessible Use Of Data For High Impact Program Management, Policy Development, And Scholarship

Preface and Roadmap by Andrew Reamer and Julia Lane: “Throughout the United States, there is broadly emerging support to significantly enhance the nation’s capacity for evidence-based policymaking. This support is shared across the public and private sectors and all levels of geography. In recent years, efforts to enable evidence-based analysis have been authorized by the U.S. Congress, and funded by state and local governments, philanthropic foundations.

The potential exists for substantial change. There has been dramatic growth in technological capabilities to organize, link, and analyze massive volumes of data from multiple, disparate sources. A major resource is administrative data, which offer both advantages and challenges in comparison to data gathered through the surveys that have been the basis for much policymaking to date. To date, however, capability-building efforts have been largely “artisanal” in nature. As a result, the ecosystem of evidence-based policymaking capacity-building efforts is thin and weakly connected.

Each attempt to add a node to the system faces multiple barriers that require substantial time, effort, and luck to address. Those barriers are systemic. Too much attention is paid to the interests of researchers, rather than in the engagement of data producers. Individual projects serve focused needs and operate at a relative distance from one another Researchers, policymakers and funding agencies thus need exists to move from these artisanal efforts to new, generalized solutions that will catalyze the creation of a robust, large-scale data infrastructure for evidence-based policymaking.

This infrastructure will have be a “complex, adaptive ecosystem” that expands, regenerates, and replicates as needed while allowing customization and local control. To create a path for achieving this goal, the U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty commissioned 12 papers and then hosted a day-long gathering (January 23, 2017) of over 60 experts to discuss findings and implications for action. Funded by the Gates Foundation, the papers and workshop panels were organized around three topics: privacy and confidentiality, data providers, and comprehensive strategies.

This issue of the Annals showcases those 12 papers which jointly propose solutions for catalyzing the development of a data infrastructure for evidence-based policymaking.

This preface:

  • places current evidence-based policymaking efforts in historical context
  • briefly describes the nature of multiple current efforts,
  • provides a conceptual framework for catalyzing the growth of any large institutional ecosystem,
  • identifies the major dimensions of the data infrastructure ecosystem,
  • describes key barriers to the expansion of that ecosystem, and
  • suggests a roadmap for catalyzing that expansion….(More)

(All 12 papers can be accessed here).