White House OSTP Hosts Summit on Evidence in Action

April 2022

On April 7, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) held a Virtual Summit on Evidence in Action. The summit highlighted ongoing initiatives that OSTP is leading with federal agencies to implement the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act by leveraging data and research to inform policy. In her opening remarks, Christina Ciocca Eller, assistant director for evidence and policy at OSTP, noted the Biden administration’s commitment to the use of evidence, in particular regarding equity.

The administration highlighted several key announcements of actions as part of a Year of Evidence for Action including the reestablishment of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) committee on social and behavioral science. This committee was established during the Obama administration and produced several reports highlighting key findings from federally funded research in the social and behavioral sciences, but the committee positions were not filled during the Trump administration. The National Science Foundation (NSF) also will be launching the Equity for Analysis Initiative, which would provide pilot funding for research to address priority learning questions.

Several federal agency leaders described their advances toward the use of evidence and data for policymaking. Alondra Nelson, acting director for OSTP as well as deputy director for science and society, noted examples where OSTP has infused the ongoing work around evidence use, including on indoor air quality and future pandemic preparedness, scientific integrity, and technology use. K. Sabeel Rahman, senior counselor at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, provided an update on ways to modernize the regulatory review process. Robert Santos, director of the Census Bureau, highlighted how federal data can contribute to evidence building and work that the Census Bureau is undertaking to make data more relevant to stakeholders. Naomi Goldstein, who recently served as deputy assistant secretary for planning, research, and evaluation and chief evaluation officer for the Administration for Children and Families, noted the need to revamp the Paperwork Reduction Act to allow for more timely data collection.

In addition to this high-profile panel, several chief evaluation officers provided updates in their work to advance learning agendas and evaluation priorities. Matthew Soldner, who serves as the Department of Education’s chief evaluation officer and commissioner of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance at the Institute of Education Sciences, outlined the importance of partnerships between communities and researchers, and previewed key areas that the learning agenda will address, such as education retention and well-being. Clemencia Cosentino, NSF’s chief evaluation officer, also detailed the importance of partnerships and of considering data capabilities and building a culture around evidence use. Christina Yancey, chief evaluation officer with the Department of Labor, also focused on the importance of administrative data and their use for building knowledge on key questions about employment and training.

The summit also featured conversations on advancing evidence for equity through the American Rescue Plan, and key work from the Creating Moves to Opportunity research partnership with Raj Chetty, Harvard University; Stefanie DeLuca, Johns Hopkins University; and Andria Lazaga, Seattle Housing Authority.