Editor’s note: An enhanced version of the Results First Clearinghouse Database was launched in June 2018 and can be found here.
By using rigorous evidence to inform their decisions, policymakers can fund and operate public programs that have been proved to work and achieve substantially better results for citizens. Leveraging the power of evidence-based policymaking can help governments reduce wasteful spending, expand innovative programs, and strengthen accountability. The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative, a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is working with states and counties to implement an innovative cost-benefit model to help direct funding to programs that can achieve strong outcomes.
To assist policymakers at all levels of government in identifying such programs and making data-driven budget decisions, the project has created the Results First Clearinghouse Database. This one-stop online resource provides policymakers with an easy way to find information on the effectiveness of various interventions as rated by eight national research clearinghouses. The database is not intended, however, to serve as a comprehensive list of all interventions that are worthy of funding. Rather, it is provided to assist policymakers as they consider the multitude of factors that inform budget and policy choices.
The clearinghouses conduct literature reviews and rate interventions in a range of policy areas based on rigorous evaluations. This vital information has the potential to play a key role in promoting evidence-based policymaking, but it is underutilized largely because each clearinghouse operates independently, uses somewhat different nomenclature when reporting results (e.g., rating programs as model, promising, potentially positive, etc.), and has limited capacity to publicize its work. Therefore, to use the information to make better investment choices, policymakers need to be aware that the clearinghouses exist, choose which to consult, find programs of interest, interpret the different ratings, and compare and contrast the findings.
To address the challenges posed by the existence of multiple clearinghouses, the Results First Clearinghouse Database has compiled information from eight clearinghouses in one place, reconciled the different systems and vocabularies, and provided the data in a clear, accessible format.
The database contains information from eight national clearinghouses that conduct systematic research reviews to identify what works. While each uses slightly different procedures and criteria in its work, all use the same overall approach: They review and summarize research studies that assess the effectiveness of interventions.
*The Promising Practices Network was suspended in June 2014. Its website has been archived and will remain publicly available but will no longer be updated.