Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Roundtable: The Politics of Evidence-Based Policymaking: Stories from North Carolina and Beyond
(The Impacts of Politics on the Policy Process)

Thursday, November 12, 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
President's Room (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Roundtable Organizers:  John Hutchins, MDRC
Moderators:  John Hutchins, MDRC
Speakers:  Marilyn Avila1, Rick Glazier1, Jenni Owen2 and Kathy Stack3, (1)North Carolina House of Representatives(2)Duke University(3)Laura and John Arnold Foundation

The Politics of Evidence-Based Policymaking: Stories from North Carolina and Beyond The evidence-based policy movement is premised on the idea that the best policies are created in an environment in which credible evidence of the effectiveness of programs and policies is developed, valued, and used. But even the most die-hard “evidence-ista” would acknowledge that evidence rarely (if ever) drives the policymaking process, a process that is inherently political. This APPAM roundtable, the seventh in an annual series on evidence-based policymaking, will focus squarely on the intersection of politics, evidence, and policymaking — at both the state and federal levels. Two North Carolina state representatives — a Republican and a Democrat — and a policy analyst from Duke University will be joined by a former senior official at the federal Office of Management and Budget who was a prime architect of the federal government’s focus on evidence-building and evidence-based policymaking. Among the questions the roundtable will address: • What do we mean by the impact of politics on the use of evidence and why does it matter? When does it matter? • How does one measure the influence of politics on evidence-based policymaking? Or is it too pervasive to measure? • How do you fit a focus on evidence in the existing political policymaking process? • Is a focus on “evidence” a way to manage or sidestep politics — or is any claim about evidence bound to be politicized? • One could imagine a researcher believing: politics = bad & evidence = good. But can the panelists describe examples when politics and evidence work together? • North Carolina is beginning a collaboration with the Pew/MacArthur Results First initiative. Why now? What has changed to make it a potentially good time? • Are the proponents of evidence-based policymaking taking politics into enough account? Should more be done? What? By whom? This proposal stems from roundtables that Jenni Owen and John Hutchins have organized at each APPAM conference since 2009 on the major growth in attention to and use of evidence in education and social policymaking. We began in 2009 with a look at “evidence-based policymaking (EBP),” focusing on the new emphasis on EBP at the federal level and across the nation. In 2010, the panelists considered whether EBP was “for real” — as would likely be revealed by its staying power during tight budget times. The 2011 roundtable examined the hot topic of “scaling up” evidence-based programs as a critical challenge for sustaining evidence-based work in policy and practice. The focus in 2012 was on the future of EBP in a time of unprecedented fiscal constraints. In 2013 and 2014, we focused on challenges and successes of evidence-based policymaking in states and localities and on particularly successful policymaker-researcher collaborations at the state and local levels.