Attention policy wonks: Want to know “what works” in government programs before making a decision about how to invest public dollars? A new tool will soon be at hand, thanks to the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative. The program, one of Pew’s many, will launch a “central portal” allowing policymakers to access available evidence on public programs in a single place, coming by the end of July.
“Several clearinghouses compile and conduct methodological reviews of the available evidence, but they operate independently, generally focus on a specific policy area or type of research, and use somewhat different nomenclature when reporting results,” the Pew-MacArthur press release states. “As a result, policymakers who want to rely on rigorous research to strengthen their decision-making must review multiple clearinghouses, interpret the ratings, and compare the findings. Understandably, few policymakers can undertake such a complicated process, especially as critical decisions are being made under time pressure during budget and appropriations negotiations.
Data and information from eight research clearinghouses have been pegged as the initial source for this “one-stop” portal, with evidence-based content in the areas of juvenile justice, education, substance abuse, mental health, child welfare, and adult criminal justice.
“This database will convert the clearinghouses’ disparate ratings into a common system, allowing users to quickly assess where each intervention falls on the spectrum of effectiveness and linking to clearinghouse program pages so that users can easily obtain additional information,” Pew explains
A second phase of the project will ultimately develop this database into a “more comprehensive” tool that will allow users robust search tools across clearinghouses to identify and compare evidence-based interventions.