Murray and Ryan Propose Commission to Promote Evidence-Based Policymaking

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) announced the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2014. The bill would establish a 15-member commission to study how best to expand the use of data to evaluate the effectiveness of federal programs and tax expenditures. The commission would also study how best to protect the privacy rights of people who interact with federal agencies and ensure confidentiality.

Specifically, the commission would determine whether the federal government should establish a clearinghouse for program and survey data, which qualified researchers from both the private and public sector could access and use to perform program evaluations and policy-relevant research. By coordinating data across federal programs and tax expenditures, and giving researchers greater access to that data, federal agencies would gain a better grasp of how effective they are, and lawmakers would gain a better grasp of how to improve them.

“The families and communities we represent deserve a government that works for them and delivers results,” said Chairman Murray. “I’m proud to have partnered with Chairman Ryan on this legislation, which would take an important step towards strengthening our understanding of how government investments, from programs to spending in our tax code, can better serve all Americans.”

“We want to change the focus in Washington,” said Chairman Ryan. “Instead of putting the focus on effort, we want to put the focus on results. This commission will help us learn how to use data to make better policy, and I want to thank Chairman Murray for her hard work on this issue.”

Upon an affirmative vote of 75 percent of its members, the commission would submit a detailed report to the President and Congress on their findings along with their recommendations for legislation. The report would be due no later than 15 months after the majority of members are appointed. The President and congressional leaders would appoint the commission members from among the best practitioners in data analysis and privacy protection.

For more information, see below.

Legislative Text

 Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2014

  • The bill establishes a “Commission on Evidenced-based Policymaking.” The Commission is charged with reviewing the inventory, infrastructure, and protocols related to data from federal programs and tax expenditures while developing recommendations for increasing the availability and use of this data in support of rigorous program evaluation.
  • In the course of its review, the Commission is specifically required to evaluate the merits of and provide guidance for creating a “clearinghouse” for program and survey data. The clearinghouse would make available and facilitate the merging of datasets that are valuable in evaluating program effectiveness and informing domestic policymaking.
  • The Commission’s findings and recommendations are due to Congress 15 months after the Commission reaches 8 members—a simple majority.  The Commission ends 18 months after the date of enactment.
  • The bill requires several agencies to provide assistance to the Commission including OMB, Census, and the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Justice.
  • The Commission is comprised of 15 members representing an array of disciplines relevant to program evaluation and data management, including economics, statistics, and data security.  The Majority and Minority leaders in the Senate, and Speaker and Minority Leader in the House are authorized to appoint 3 members each, as is the President. 
  • The Commission would also study how best to protect the privacy rights of people who interact with federal agencies and ensure confidentiality.
  • The Commission is authorized to hire a Director (appointed by the Commission chair with the concurrence of the co-chair) and staff. The Director of the Census shall contract with the National Academy of Public Administration to administer the Commission.