Board Approves Sup. Fletcher, Lawson-Remer Plan for New Office of Evaluation, Performance and Analytics
Today the County Board of Supervisors approved a plan by Chair Nathan Fletcher and Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer to prioritize evidence and data in decision-making, and ensure major policies are evaluated to ensure they are living up to their promises.
The board approved a new Office of Evaluation, Performance, and Analytics to oversee this new focus on “evidence-based policy” – an approach that prioritizes high-quality research and continuous improvement in policymaking instead of anecdotes, ideology, and inertia toward the status quo.
“Data is vital to decision-making for behavioral health and homeless services,” said Chair Fletcher. “This new office will support improved data-sharing between the County and its state, federal and non-profit partners; with this information, we can ensure vulnerable populations receive patient-centered, care-coordination.”
The new office will help County departments improve outcomes for residents and be responsible stewards of public funds by bringing effective policies to scale and identifying policies that are not achieving the desired results.
“We need policies based on evidence and facts, not on politics. This is a major shift in the County’s culture and attitude,” said Supervisor Lawson-Remer, whose previous career was as an academic working with the United Nations, World Bank, and U.S. Treasury Department to implement evidence-based policymaking. “We face urgent challenges right now in public health, racial justice, and economic inequality, so every action we take needs to do more than sound good – it needs to do good. Requiring evidence in policymaking can highlight what is working and what isn’t so we can put our resources behind programs that get the job done.”
The vote is part of a growing national movement toward evidence-based policy. The Biden Administration recently issued a memo titled “Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking” that directs all federal agencies to put scientific integrity and evidence at the center of federal decision-making.
Research from the PEW Charitable Trust and Urban Institute has linked evidence-based policymaking with many benefits, including better outcomes for residents, strengthening accountability and transparency, sound stewardship of public resources, and promoting a culture of learning and innovation that can adapt to new situations.
The office will provide support to the entire County organization and report directly to the chief administration officer. Rather than evaluating every action taken by the County, the office will strategically focus on programs that align with County priorities and have the greatest potential to influence major policy decisions.
The approach is rooted in proven practices developed by national and international experts in policy and good governance, including the World Bank, Brookings Institute, U.S. Agency for International Development, and more.
Following today’s vote, the County will conduct a national search for a chief evaluation officer to head the office and build out its staff.
The County will also establish an evaluation advisory committee that will review, analyze, and make recommendations on the office’s annual strategic research plan. The committee will provide ongoing advice on data collection methodologies, data sources, and more. The group will be composed of highly experienced experts drawing from academic institutions, think tanks, and independent researchers with deep subject matter expertise.
Staff will provide regular updates to the Board of Supervisors on its progress in creating the office, and report back by March 1, 2022, with a detailed implementation plan.