Evidence-based research in policy design

The use of evidence-based research methods is imperative for the future success of policy design and implementation. Although much care and effort are put into the design and implementation of various policies, far too often are they implemented because they appeal to our more altruistic side, or because they are based on archaic political framework and nepotism. This can be easily identified in the way the city of Chicago conducts business. Whether it is the Mayor trying to update and improve the way trash collection is handled in order to reduce cost and improve service, or if it is the way building permits are issued and enforced. Basing these policies on evidence-based research will greatly improve the effectiveness of these policies.

With government agencies utilizing “big data” solutions through the open data movement, policy researchers are now able to secure and develop responses to traditional policy issues using sound analytic approaches. In doing so, benchmarks and best practices can be identified across the broad spectrum of industries and the most successful solutions can be implemented in the public sector. Additionally the analytic approaches that are used to develop the policy can be further utilized in conducting program evaluation. This can ensure that when more variables and data becomes available, any changes in trends or outcomes can be monitored and the processes can be adjusted to ensure that the best outcomes are achieved and inefficient and wasteful processes can be discontinued, further improving best practices.

A final aspect to utilizing evidence-based research methods in policy design is that it can greatly lower the ancillary costs of a policy. Much like the improvements associated to old light bulbs and high-flow toilets, improving design and increasing efficiency greatly reduces waste.  This can be identified with savings in time, cost, and the return value of a policy. Additionally, by using evidence-based research, decisions makers will like be more inclined to make data driven decisions rather than basing them on opinion or speculation, all of which should be considered a big win for the public who these policies affect.

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