Social Impact Bonds – Challenges of Measurement, Impact and Policy Innovation
(Public and Non-Profit Management and Finance)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
The aim of this panel is to bring together international experience to explore what can be learned from this early set of SIBs in the UK and US through an evaluation framework that covers three phases of analysis. The first paper from the UK questions the motivations behind SIB design: what is the purpose of SIBs? How do they work? And is there evidence that they can deliver on their claims? The second paper, also from the UK, analyses SIBs as an innovative evidence-based intervention that can encourage policy making and policy change. The third paper, based on US case studies, considers the empirical justification and impact of SIBs as levers of public investment: do they broaden or narrow the scope of public support for investment in social programs?
These perspectives are important because they consider the lifespan of a SIB transaction, from its rationale and theoretical purpose, to its place as a new tool for evidence-based policy, to its tangible results in terms of increased investment in and access to social services. This panel triangulates the question of “what works” in social service delivery, evidence generation, and return on investment: what is the evidence to support Pay for Success? With many new transactions in the pipeline, a nuanced approach will be critical to future development. These authors will discuss the implications of SIBs and the challenges in their design and implementation. Concerns remain over public participation in the design process, voices of clients, high transaction costs, data transparency and accountability, and efficacy of SIBs in achieving strategic objectives, such as financial returns, broader social impact, or a new investment market.