Bipartisan Duo to Reintroduce Bill on Evidence-Based Policymaking

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., announced Friday he will offer the bill again, along with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., announced Friday he will offer the bill again, along with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are renewing efforts to advance legislation that would create a commission on using program performance data to sharpen agency policymaking.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., will soon reintroduce the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act, according to Ryan.

“We’re very excited about this excellent chance for bipartisanship,” Ryan said at a Friday press conference. “What we have now is based on inputs, not measuring outcomes.”

A previous version of the bill was placed in the hopper in November, when both Ryan and Murray were chairing their chambers’ budget committees. It would establish a 15-member body to study “how best to expand the use of data to evaluate the effectiveness of federal programs and tax expenditures.”

The panel would also study “how best to protect the privacy rights of people who interact with federal agencies and ensure confidentiality,” stated the press release issued just before the 113th Congress ended.

Members of the commission would represent an array of disciplines related to program evaluation and data management, such as economics, statistics and data security. They would be selected by the majority and minority leaders in the House and Senate and the president, with each choosing three. Assistance would come from the Office of Management and Budget; Census Bureau; and Health and Human Services, Education and Justice departments.

The commission would work under a 15-month deadline, and decide whether the government should appoint a central clearinghouse for program and survey data to inform domestic policymaking. It would be authorized to hire a director appointed by the commission chair. The Census director would administer the commission under a contract with the nonprofit National Academy of Public Administration.

The bill comes amid efforts to expand evidence-based policymaking. President Obama's fiscal 2016 budget released Feb. 2 also called for "scaling up" use of evidence-based evaluation.

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