Super Session: 40 Years of Evidence for Action at APPAM and in the Field
(Methods and Tools of Analysis)

Thursday, November 8, 2018: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Lincoln 4 - Exhibit Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Moderators:  Matthew Stagner, Mathematica Policy Research
Speakers:  Kathleen Flanagan, Abt Associates, Inc., Avi Benus, IMPAQ International, LLC, Gordon Berlin, MDRC, Sarah Wartell, Urban Institute and Paul decker, Mathematica Policy Research

As institutional sponsors, several leading research organizations, including Abt Associates, Impaq International, Mathematica Policy Research, MDRC, and Urban Institute have partnered with APPAM to highlight innovative approaches to generating evidence and putting it into action. In this special super session, APPAM president-elect Matt Stagner will moderate a roundtable discussion with industry CEOs who are working to apply insights from our modern data revolution to social science questions and challenges that have spanned generations.  Abt Associates CEO Kathleen Flanagan, Impaq International CEO Avi Benus, Mathematica CEO Paul Decker, MDRC president Gordon Berlin, and Urban Institute President Sarah Rosen Wartell will share the most important lessons from their work to advance evidence-based policy, as well as the critical challenges and emerging trends in policy analysis and program improvement.  These industry leaders will answer questions such as:

  • This year marks the 40th anniversary of the APPAM Fall Research Conference, and several of the organizations represented on the panel have already, or are this year, celebrating their 50th anniversaries. How have your respective organizations changed over this time? What have been your major successes or challenges? How do they relate to the evolution of the field?
  • The nature of our field and our work has changed substantially, thanks to the proliferation of big data and the blending of data science with social science. How can policy research organizations better partner with policy schools, as well as with the private sector, to use data science to make recommendations for policy and program improvement?


  • Looking ahead to the next decade, what are the new questions that we will need to answer and what methodologies/approaches do we need to develop to answer them?


  • Research and analysis methods look far different today than they did 40 years ago, but do our researchers? What skills do our researchers need today that they may not have needed 40 years ago? What can we do to better promote diversity and inclusion in the industry?


  • The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking released its findings and recommendations just over a year ago. How can we work together to advance the cause of improving access to data, maintaining privacy and confidentiality protections, and increasing the capacity of government agencies to generate evidence?

Panelists will also answer questions from the audience – and each other – as the lively conversation highlights progress made and the opportunities ahead. Working together, united in our shared commitment to improving public well-being, APPAM and the policy research industry will continue to encourage innovation and improvement.

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