Building Demand for Evidence in the “Post-Fact” Political Environment

Saturday, February 18, 2017: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room 202 (Hynes Convention Center)
Karen Anderson, Results for America, Washington, DC
Traditionally, evidence has not been a factor in most policy and funding decisions in the United States, or in many governments around the world. Instead, policymakers have based their decisions on a range of factors, including special interest pressures, gut-instinct, constituent needs, and political ideology. A threshold barrier to increasing the use of evidence is policymakers’ lack of will, often coupled with a lack of skills, technical expertise and time to effectively gather and use reliable evidence.

In the United States, the political environment has been slowly shifting. Today, policymakers face pressure to improve how they deliver public services, and allocate and spend resources with mounting demands for transparency and accountability from increasingly engaged citizens. The result has been a growing interest in evidence-informed policymaking at all levels of government.

The landscape is changing, however, and the “post-fact” environment following the 2016 elections in the United States requires new and more aggressive approaches to building demand and incentives to promote the use of data and evidence in policymaking. This includes expanding work to build capacity for evidence-informed policymaking – including knowledge and skill building, peer-to-peer learning and technical support – and enhancing the networks of evidence stakeholders who can influence policymakers at all levels of government.