Legislating Evidence-Based Policymaking

A look at state laws that support data-driven decision-making

Legislating Evidence-Based Policymaking

Under increasing pressure to demonstrate effectiveness and do more with less, many governments are expanding their use of evidence-based programs—those shown in rigorous evaluations to be effective. Committing to such proven programs can help governments strengthen efficiency and accountability and achieve better outcomes for residents.

Legislators across the country have enacted laws that promote the use of evidence-based programs and practices. To examine this trend, the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative reviewed more than 100 state statutes passed between 2004 and 2014 and identified five different approaches to promoting data-driven program choices:

  1. Require agencies to inventory and categorize funded programs by their evidence of effectiveness.
  2. Provide incentives for the use of evidence- and research-based programs.
  3. Restrict funding of programs shown to be ineffective.
  4. Require the use of evidence- or research-based programs.
  5. Dedicate funding to evidence- or research-based programs.

This brief examines several of these laws and looks at how state governments have used them to expand the use of evidence-based policymaking.

Read the full issue brief.