Repost from Regulatory Studies. The Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act

by Andrew Reamer. Original source: Regulatory Studies


On March 30, President Obama signed into law the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-140). The law establishes a 15-member commission to “conduct a comprehensive study of the data inventory, data infrastructure, database security, and statistical protocols related to Federal policymaking and the agencies responsible for maintaining that data…” (Emphasis added)

The law directs the commission study to focus on four topics:

  • Evaluation and research: “the optimal arrangement for which administrative data on Federal programs and tax expenditures, survey data, and related statistical data series may be integrated and made available to facilitate program evaluation, continuous improvement, policy-relevant research, and cost-benefit analyses by qualified researchers and institutions.”
  • Program design: “how best to incorporate outcomes measurement, institutionalize randomized controlled trials, and rigorous impact analysis into program design.”
  • Methods: “how data infrastructure, database security, and statistical protocols should be modified.”
  • Data clearinghouse: “whether a clearinghouse for program and survey data should be established and how to create such a clearinghouse” as well as determining the appropriate administrative and survey data content, approaches to linking records, business model, participation protocols, access protocols, and confidentiality protections.

Of the 15 commission members, three each are appointed by the President, the Speaker of the House, the House minority leader, the Senate majority leader, and the Senate minority leader. The President appoints the chair and the Speaker the co-chair. Nine members “shall be academic researchers, data experts, or have experience in administering programs” and five “shall be an expert in protecting personally identifiable information and data minimization.” Appointments are to be made by May 14, 2016. The commission’s report is due 15 months after the date a majority of the members of the commission are appointed, that is, July-August 2017. The law directs that the commission be located at, and administered by, the U.S. Census Bureau. Funding for the commission is set at $3 million, to be obtained through contributions of appropriated funds from the principal federal statistical agencies.

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