U.S. Evidence-based Policy: The role of agricultural and applied economists

Thursday August 31, 2017

The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP) was established by the bipartisan Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-140). The law established a 15-member commission that would examine improving federal data used in evaluating spending and tax programs, while protecting the privacy rights of the public from which basic data comes. The members of the commission represent "disciplines relevant to program evaluation and data management, including economics, statistics and data security". The law aims to use existing data to improve how government programs operate.

The commission brings together leading researchers and social scientists to conduct an inventory of the data the government collects and to determine the best methods for policymakers to make use of that information. 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. This event will review the work of the commission, key contextual topics, and the profession's role in the topic moving forward.

Improving the Evidence Base for Government Decisions

Kenneth Troske, Commissioner, U.S. Commission on Evidence Based Policy

Dr. Kenneth R. Troske is the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Outreach and Richard H. and Janis W. Furst Endowed Chair in Economics in the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky as well as a Research Fellow with the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Bonn, Germany. Dr. Troske served as a member of the Congressional Oversight Panel whose task was to assess the existing condition of America's financial markets and the regulatory system as well as to closely monitor the actions of the Treasury Department and financial institutions to determine if their actions are in the best interest of the American economy. He is currently serving on the Commission of Evidence Based Policy, whose task is to try and increase access to administrative data in an effort to increase the influence of policy relevant research on public policy in the U.S.

Census Bureau-Food and Nutrition Service-Economic Research Service Next-Generation Data Platform for USDA Food Assistance Program Research

Dr. Mark Prell, Senior Economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service 

Dr. Mark Prell is a senior economist at the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he studies economic and policy issues involving USDA food assistance programs. His work addresses issues involving food program targeting and delivery, program dynamics and administration, and dietary and nutritional outcomes. His recent research has focused on expanding the statistical and research applications of administrative records, the interactions between the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Unemployment Insurance, and the effect of expanded SNAP benefits on food insecurity. He has taught at the Johns Hopkins University, UCLA, and the University of Southern California, and served on details at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. He received a Ph.D. in economics from MIT.

This is one step of a long-term conversation about how the profession can contribute.