In DepthU.S. Policy

Panel urges steps to boost evidence-based policy

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Science  08 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6355, pp. 959
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6355.959

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A blue-ribbon panel has recommended creating a secure, digital portal for researchers who want to study the impact of federal investments on health care, education, housing, labor markets, and other sectors of the U.S. economy. A report out this week by the congressionally mandated Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking says the new mechanism would provide researchers with one-stop shopping while increasing privacy protection for everyone in the databases created to administer the federal programs. The portal, dubbed the National Secure Data Service, would help develop and implement new safeguards to keep information confidential. Each request for data would be thoroughly vetted, as would the researchers proposing the work. In addition, the data needed for an approved project would be assembled virtually, on a temporary basis, solely for that project. The commission also recommends beefing up the government's capacity to generate and use evidence on how its well programs work, including creating the position of chief evaluation officer, boosting training, and encouraging better coordination among the federal agencies that manage these administrative records.