(Washington, D.C.)—Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded the Senate passage of the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016 that she wrote with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). Their bill would establish a 15-member commission to study how best to strengthen and expand the use of data to evaluate the effectiveness of federal programs and tax expenditures. The commission would also study how best to protect the privacy rights of individuals and ensure confidentiality. The bill is now headed to the House of Representatives.
“This is a common-sense bill to give Congress and the federal government more tools to make sure our government is working as well as possible for the people it serves, and I am very glad that we were able to pass it through the Senate today with such strong bipartisan support,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I am proud that Speaker Ryan and I were once again able to break through the gridlock and work together to take this step toward improving federal programs and our tax code. I look forward to this bill passing the House, getting signed into law, and getting to work for families in Washington state and across the country.”
“We won’t be able to expand opportunity in this country until we figure out which policies actually work. That’s why we need to make use of all the data we already collect, and that’s exactly what the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission would help us do. I want to commend Senator Patty Murray for getting this bill another step closer to the finish line,” said Speaker Paul Ryan.
Specifically, the commission would determine whether the federal government should establish a clearinghouse for program and survey data, what data should be included in the clearinghouse, and which qualified researchers from both the private and public sector could access the data to perform program evaluations and policy-relevant research. By coordinating data across federal programs and tax expenditures, and giving qualified researchers greater access to that data, with appropriate controls on the use of that data, federal agencies would gain a better grasp of how effective they are, and lawmakers would gain a better grasp of how to improve them.
The Senate passed the bill, along with an amendment incorporating several technical changes co-sponsored by Senator Murray and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), by unanimous consent. The bill passed through the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee by a voice vote on June 24, 2015, and originally passed the House of Representatives on July 27, 2015, but it now goes back to the House for a final vote on the Senate version.