The Foundations for Evidence-based Policymaking Act of 2018 (also referred to as the Evidence Act) was established to advance evidence-building in the federal government by improving access to data and expanding evaluation capacity. The Evidence Act requires changes to how the federal government manages and uses the information it collects, emphasizing strong agency coordination for the strategic use of data.
The Evidence Act consists of the following four titles:
Title I: Federal Evidence-Building Activities
- Requires agency Evidence-Building Plans, Evaluation Plans, and Capacity Assessments
- Requires that agencies designate an Evaluation Officer and Statistical Official for the coordination of evaluation and statistical activities, policies, and techniques, respectively
- Requires that OMB establish an Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building
Title II: OPEN Government Data Act
- Requires agency Open Data Plans to make Federal data publicly available by default,
- Requires agency comprehensive searchable data inventories of all agency data assets
- Requires that agencies designate a Chief Data Officer for the coordination of Title II activities and policies
- Requires that OMB establish a Chief Data Officer Council
Title III: Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA) of 2018
- Requires that OMB establish a process to recognize new statistical agencies or units
- Codifies Statistical Policy Directive No. 1, the “Trust Directive” for the responsibilities of statistical agencies or units
- Presumes accessibility for statistical agencies and units to obtain data from federal agencies upon request for evidence-building
- Expands secure access to CIPSEA data assets
- Establishes a standard data application process for researchers
- Requires that OMB coordinate and oversee confidentiality and disclosure policies for executive or organizational units identified or designated by the Director of OMB, as statistical agencies or units
Title IV: General Provisions
- Outlines restrictions on disclosure of data
- Requires agencies, to the extent practicable, use existing procedures and resources to carry out agency requirements
Note: for more information, visit: Foundations for Evidence-based Policymaking Act of 2018
As mentioned above, each Department must identify a Chief Data Officer, Evaluation Officer, and Statistical Official to coordinate, oversee, and advise different elements of evaluation, data, and statistical policy issues required under the Act. The following three officials have been designated to lead HHS implementation and support efforts through improved data governance, transparency, evaluation, and innovation.
HHS Chief Data Officer
HHS Evaluation Officer
HHS Statistical Official
What is ASPE’s role?
ASPE contributes to various activities under Titles I, II, and III. Through the Evaluation Officer and/or the Officer’s designee, ASPE leads coordination of Evaluation and Evidence-Building Activities required under Title I. These activities include the development of a 1) Agency Evaluation Policy, 2) Agency Evidence-Building Plan, 3) Agency Evaluation Plan, and 4) Agency Capacity Assessment. These implementation activities follow the statute and OMB guidance below:
Agency Evaluation Policy: The Evidence Act requires each agency to develop an agency-wide evaluation policy to guide its evaluation activities. Specifically, the policy should “affirm the agency’s commitment to conducting rigorous, relevant, evaluations and to using evidence from evaluations to inform policy and practice. The policy will provide the agency's stakeholders with a clear understanding of the expectations related to key principles, such as evaluation rigor, relevance, transparency, independence, and ethics” (M-19-23).
Agency Evidence-Building Plan (also referred to as the Learning Agenda): Four-year plans outlining evidence-building priorities for the next four years, including priority questions as well as the methods and data required to answer them. Agencies should develop plans in consultation with appropriate stakeholders. To be submitted in conjunction with the 4-year Strategic Plan.
Status: In development
Agency Evaluation Plan: Annual plans that outline evaluations and analyses agencies will aim to undertake to answer the questions outlined in the Evidence-Building Plans. This plan should include priority questions, data needs, methods, anticipated challenges, and plans for dissemination and use of results. To be submitted in conjunction with the Annual Performance Plan.
Agency Capacity Assessment: Assessment of the agency evaluation and evidence-building capacity and functions, to be conducted every four years. Specifically, this should be “an assessment of the coverage, quality, methods, effectiveness, objectivity, scientific integrity, and balance of the portfolio of evaluations, policy research, and ongoing evaluation activities of the agency, in consultation with other methodologists, such as the Statistical Official, when appropriate” (M-19-23).
Status: In development
In addition, Title II and Title III coordination and collaboration activities with the Office of the Chief Data Officer (CDO). ASPE participates in the HHS Data Governance Body, chaired by the HHS CDO, which establishes priorities for managing data as a strategic asset. As ASPE holds the designated position of the Evaluation Officer, there is substantial collaboration and consultation with the other designated officials and senior leaders who play important roles in evidence-building activities and implementation of the requirements of the three titles.
HHS Evaluation Policy
ASPE convened a group of agency representatives from across HHS operating and staff divisions to develop the HHS Evaluation Policy. The policy is designed to allow appropriate flexibility for each HHS Operating and Staff Division to determine specific practices suited for their context and activity. The standards provide guidance on (1) rigor, (2) relevance and utility, (3) independence and objectivity, (4) transparency, and (5) ethics.
HHS FY 2022 Evaluation Plan
As part of the Evidence Act, HHS is required to submit “an evaluation plan describing activities the agency plans to conduct pursuant to [its evidence-building plan].” Nine operating divisions within HHS and one staff division developed evaluation plans and included information on priority questions being examined by the agencies as well as data, methods, and challenges to addressing those questions.
Noteworthy Resources and Reports
- M-19-23 Phase 1 Implementation of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018: Learning Agendas, Personnel, and Planning Guidance
- M-20-12 Phase 4 Implementation of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018: Program Evaluation Standards and Practices (March 2020)
- The Office of Management and Budget Evidence and Evaluation landing page
- Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018
- Advisory Committee for Data on Evidence Building
- Standard Application for Restricted Data