Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act Signed into Law
 
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May 2016

At the end of March, President Barack Obama signed into law the Evidence-Based Policy Commission Act. The House of Representatives initially passed the bill in 2015, and the Senate advanced the bill under unanimous consent in March. AERA has been very supportive of this Commission.

“This is an important opportunity to take a comprehensive look at the federal data inventory, data infrastructure, and statistical protocols that deeply affect policy-relevant research and program evaluation,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “For education researchers, the timing is particularly fortunate given the increased focus on evidence-based decision making in the Every Student Succeeds Act.”

As reported in the October 2015 issue of AERA Highlights, the law establishes a 15-member commission to study how best to expand and coordinate the use of federal administrative data to evaluate the effectiveness of federal programs. The law designates President Barack Obama, House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to appoint three commissioners apiece.

Four people have been appointed thus far to serve on the commission.

Obama has chosen Katharine G. Abraham, Professor of Economics and Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland, to serve as chairperson of the commission. Abraham is a former commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (1993–2001) and member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (2011–2013). Senator Reid selected Robert Groves, Provost of Georgetown University and a previous director of the Census Bureau; Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University; and Kim Wallin, former Nevada State Controller.

Once the appointment process is complete, the commission will conduct a 15-month comprehensive study of the data inventory, data infrastructure, database security, and statistical protocols related to federal policymaking and the agencies responsible for maintaining that data. The commission will also develop a report highlighting its findings and conclusions from the study, as well as recommendations for legislation and regulation.

 
 
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