Panel Paper: The Lab @ DC: Innovating out of the Gate

Friday, November 9, 2018
Lincoln 3 - Exhibit Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

David Yokum, U.S. General Services Administration

The Lab @ DC is a team in Mayor Muriel Bowser's administration. The Lab is based in the Office of the City Administrator’s Office of Budget and Performance Management and work with a wide range of agencies. The Lab uses scientific insights and methods to test and improve policies and provide timely, relevant, and high-quality analysis to inform the District's most important decisions. The Lab is driven by the notion that DC residents deserve a government that asks questions, tests policies, and iteratively improves how it serves the community.

The Lab works with a wide range of agencies, universities, industry, non-profits, and other community groups. The team comes from diverse professional backgrounds – public sector, private sector, military, and academia – and areas of expertise – public policy, psychology, economics, political science, data science, public health and law to name a few. The common bond is the staff’s passion for public service and evidence. Collectively, the staff have decades of applied experience tackling important policy questions at the local, state, and federal level, and plan to earn decades more experience in DC.

The Lab @ DC collaborates with District agencies to: 1) design policy and program interventions that are tailored to the District, based on theory and evidence from academic and industrial research, as well as analyses of available administrative data; 2) conduct high-quality evaluations—including randomized evaluations and rapid, iterative experimentation—to learn how well things work and how to improve; and 3) foster a scientific community of practice, engaging and collaborating with experts and stakeholders across agencies, universities, and community groups.

This presentation will first detail the Lab’s variety of projects, from body cameras to improve policing, to flexible rent programs to address homelessness, to a Form-a-Palooza to systematically improve all government forms. It will then go into how, as a new organization, they quickly maximized buy-in from government and community partners.