Evidence-based policymaking is on the rise. Policymakers are learning that they can reduce wasteful spending, expand cost-effective programs, and strengthen accountability to produce results by using evidence to inform budget and policy choices.
The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative now works with 22 states and four counties to provide policymakers with tools to make the most informed decisions on how to spend limited taxpayer dollars. Since 2010, Results First states have directed $152.1 million to evidence-based programs, with an estimated $521.3 million in return on investment. In light of this progress and growing demand from decision-makers, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation committed an additional $18 million earlier this year to continue this important work, bringing the shared investment in Results First to more than $30 million.
Using a four-step process, Results First partners learn to create an inventory of currently funded programs; review which programs work; conduct cost-benefit analysis to identify programs’ return on investment; and use evidence to inform spending and policy decisions. This rigorous approach to policymaking can help ensure that lawmakers and taxpayers alike are receiving the best possible outcomes for each public dollar spent.
Results First continues to add features and resources for its partners. The model’s sophisticated, cloud-based technology provides an intuitive and user-friendly experience. The initiative provides state and county delegations with opportunities to share lessons learned from implementing Results First as well as strategies for advancing evidence-based policymaking. An online forum promotes collaborative problem-solving and innovation among partner states. Several case studies demonstrate how various jurisdictions have worked with the initiative to achieve better outcomes from their programs and to yield greater returns. Results First also produced a Clearinghouse Database, where state policymakers can find information on the effectiveness of various public service programs.
With the renewed support of Pew and MacArthur, the project has set ambitious goals to spread evidence-based policymaking and help governments shift millions more dollars toward programs that deliver the best outcomes. Together with its state partners, Results First will continue its mission to fundamentally change the way states approach budgeting.