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HKS Authors

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Director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government
Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Social Policy


This article argues that the evidence-based-policy movement needs to supplement its current emphasis on program evaluations with an approach that uses data at a much higher frequency to improve the administration and impact of government-funded social service programs. Doing so offers the best chance of making significant progress in ameliorating challenging social problems. I describe how an idealized government social service agency could use data and data analysis to improve its results, review the barriers that prevent agencies from operating in this way, and outline how targeted resources and technical assistance can help to overcome these barriers. Finally, I discuss strategies for moving beyond the effective administration of siloed service programs to the improvement of population-wide outcomes, especially among individuals and families who need multiple services.


Liebman, Jeffrey. "Using Data to More Rapidly Address Difficult U.S. Social Problems." The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 675.1 (January 2018): 166-181.