Making Federal Agencies Evidence-Based: The Key Role of Learning Agendas

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Making Federal Agencies Evidence-Based: The Key Role of Learning Agendas

The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 includes a requirement that each agency develop an evidence-building plan to guide its research and evaluation efforts. This plan is often referred to as a “learning agenda.”

The Office of Management and Budget is requiring agencies to develop their learning agendas now, in conjunction with updates to their quadrennial agency strategy plan, and make them available to Congress in early 2022.

A new report from the IBM Center for The Business of Government describes emerging practices for successfully developing learning agencies that meaningfully engage agency leaders, managers, and key stakeholders. The authors offer a used-centered design sprint approach for developing a learning agenda that attempts to bridge the gap between research users, such as policymakers, and the producers of evidence so that the resulting agenda is relevant and meaningful to decision makers.

The authors conclude with recommendations to agency evaluation officers, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Congress to ensure the upcoming first wave of federal agency learning agendas will be seen as useful and actionable.