Jen Gold at What Works Blog: “There’s a small but growing band of government teams around the world dedicated to making experiments happen. The Cabinet Office’s What Works Team, set up in 2013, was the first of its kind. But you’ll now find them in Canada, the US, Finland, Australia, Colombia, and the UAE.
All of these teams work across government to champion the testing and evaluation of new approaches to public service delivery. This blog takes a look at the many ways in which we’re striving to make experimentation the norm in our governments.
Unsurprisingly we’re all operating in very different contexts. Some teams were set up in response to central requirements for greater experimentation. Take Canada, for instance. In 2016 the Treasury Board directed departments and agencies to devote a fixed proportion of programme funds to “experimenting with new approaches” (building on Prime Minister Trudeau’s earlier instruction to Ministers). An Innovation and Experimentation Team was then set up in the Treasury Board to provide some central support.
Finland’s Experimentation Office, based in the Prime Minister’s Office, is in a similar position. The team supports the delivery of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s 2016 national action plan that calls for “a culture of experimentation” in public services and a series of flagship policy experiments.
Others, like the US Office of Evaluation Sciences (OES) and the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA), grew out of political interest in using behavioural science experiments in public policy. But these teams now run experiments in a much broader set of areas.
What unites us is a focus on helping public servants generate and use new evidence in policy decisions and service delivery