Roundtable: A Roadmap for Policy Change: A New Approach for Cities to Take Evidence from Research to Action
(Politics, Media, and the Policy Process)

Thursday, November 8, 2018: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Taft - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Moderators:  Katherine J. Klosek, Johns Hopkins University
Speakers:  Tamar Mendelson, Johns Hopkins University and Victoria Carreon, City of Las Vegas

Local governments are increasingly on the front lines of addressing large scale problems with global implications, such as climate change, immigration, and economic inequality. While researchers are validating diagnostic models and evidence-based interventions to help solve those problems, local government staff have limited time and capacity to find and implement research-based solutions. As a result, cities continue to work the way they always have -- making incremental improvements to programs but not always creating change at a system-level. 

In collaboration with faculty from Johns Hopkins University, representatives from cities, and other key external partners, GovEx facilitated the creation of a Roadmap for Policy Change. The purpose of the Roadmap is to offer city leaders a process to use in implementing effective evidence-based policies to solve salient problems.  

During the formative stage of the Roadmap, GovEx conducted interviews with city staff, which revealed a number of barriers to using evidence in problem solving: a lack of staff time to look for, evaluate and implement new practices; limited available evidence; a vacuum in leadership to galvanize actors and consistently dedicate resources; and imbalances of power among multiple stakeholders. These conversations, together with implementation science research, reveal that simply increasing the availability of evidence is not enough to encourage evidence-based policy making in cities. Rather, policy change should be examined in a wider context of “debate, coalition forming, and persuasion” (Cairney, Oliver, Wellstead 2016).

Governments at the local level often respond to outside assistance from universities or other partners to evaluate programs or implement a specific practice. But how can these relationships continue once a project is complete? The Roadmap shifts these relationships by giving city leaders the tools to create demand for evidence, and build long-term partnerships with researchers and other subject matter experts. Using the guidance and tools included in the Roadmap, local policy makers examine the policy making environment; form their own coalitions with researchers, program leaders, and people with lived experience; and identify opportunities to bring validated research into their decision-making process.

This roundtable will bring together practitioners and researchers to discuss their experience developing and piloting the Roadmap approach. Our conversation will address the challenges that city leaders and staff face in using evidence-based policy; the use of tools to address different aspects of policy change, including design-thinking tools; and opportunities for policy makers and researchers to collaborate with one another. Attendees will gain an understanding of a broader definition of evidence; tools to incorporate evidence into a problem-solving context; and tips for successful city/researcher collaboration.

Additional information can be found here.