The study defines evidence-based policymaking as the use of “findings from program evaluations and outcome analyses,” or ‘evidence,’ to guide government policy and funding decisions by focusing their limited resources on public services and programs that show positive results. Therefore, this allows governments to expand their investments in more cost-effective ways, reduce funding for ineffective programs and improve the outcomes of services funded by taxpayer dollars.
Connecticut has been successful in evidence-based policymaking as their leaders have access to information about the programs that the state operates and the outcomes they expect.
Starting in 2005, Connecticut instituted a budgeting technique called Results-Based Accountability, which helps policymakers use data on program outcomes to make funding decisions. Through a series of structured communication tools like formal presentations and regular scorecards, policymakers learn which programs are most effective at achieving desired outcomes and can use this information to make decisions about how to best invest taxpayer dollars.
Many agencies now also maintain an inventory of the programs they offer. For example, the Department of Correction has an advanced inventory that classifies programs operated in each state correctional facility by their evidence base.
The state has also institutionalized evidence-based policymaking by incorporating important actions into legislation. In June 2015, the Legislature passed a law, which requires several elements of an effective evidence-based system, including creating tiers of evidence for programs in select agencies and requiring an inventory and cost-benefit analysis of programs in adult and juvenile corrections.
Along with Connecticut, the study states that Washington, Utah, Minnesota, and Oregon are also leading in evidence-based policymaking by developing processes and tools that use evidence to inform policy and budget decisions across the areas examined.