Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., introduced the bill.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., introduced the bill. Christopher Halloran /

Bipartisan Evidence-Based Policy Bill Passes House

Plan would create commission on using agency data to improve programs.

The House on Monday approved a bipartisan plan for a commission to expand use of agency data to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and tax expenditures.

The Evidence-Based Policy Commission Act, introduced in April by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., would establish a 15-member commission of experts in data and statistics to determine whether a central data clearinghouse would help with spending decisions without violating privacy rights.

“When we're making policy, we focus on inputs ..... on effort--like how much money we're spending, how many people we're serving, how many programs we're creating,” said Ryan during floor debate. “What we need to do is focus on outcomes .... on results, like how many people we're getting out of poverty. Creating this commission is the first step in a long-term effort.”

Federal agencies collect a large amount of data on existing programs, and they are also the beneficiaries of those programs, added Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., noting that the bill is supported by groups as philosophically diverse as the Heritage Foundation and the Urban Institute. “Too often, however, federal agencies do not share data with other agencies or with private researchers in a way that can help determine what is working and what is not.”

The Obama administration backed evidence-based policymaking in its fiscal 2016 budget and has been working with lawmakers on the bill.

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