Office of Evaluation Sciences

November 16, 2018

The federal government has an interesting group called the Office of Evaluation Sciences that works on conducting randomized controlled experiments around interventions to improve the public welfare. I first became aware of this methodology when I worked in politics. Sasha Issenberg chronicles the use of this method in his book The Victory Lab and many of the techniques used by Democratic campaigns have been influenced by an organization called the Analyst Institute. I believe this sort of rigorous evaluation is important for deciding what is worth doing as an organization.

The exciting part about the studies posted by the Office of Evaluation Sciences is they include the flops and failures in addition to the successes. When I worked in politics I mostly learned about the successes or the idea that a direct mail piece would only move the needle a small amount. Doing a randomized controlled trial and concluding that there was no impact can free folks to stop spending resources on things that are not effective so they can try new things. I wish there was more of this.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.