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April 20 -- The Social Security Administration seeks public input by May 20, 2021 to help identify priority questions to guide its evidence-building activities--as required by the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (Evidence Act) and Executive Branch guidance to develop an evidence-building plan, referred to as a Learning Agenda. FR notice: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/04/20/2021-08115/request-for-information-on-the-foundations-for-evidence-based-policymaking-act-of-2018-learning
The Evidence Act requires Federal agencies to develop “a systematic plan for identifying and addressing policy questions relevant to the programs, policies, and regulations of the agency.” This plan, referred to as a Learning Agenda, offers the opportunity for us to use data in order to address the key questions we want to answer to improve our operational and programmatic outcomes and to establish strategies to develop evidence to answer important short-and long-term strategic and operational questions. We seek public comments to inform the development of our Learning Agenda.
In fiscal year (FY) 2021, our programs will provide a combined total of about $1.2 trillion in benefit payments to an average of over 70 million beneficiaries. The major programs we administer—the Old-Age Survivors and Disability Insurance program and the Supplemental Security Income program—provide an important source of economic security for millions of Americans. Our fundamental mission is to deliver quality Social Security services to the public.

We conduct evidence-building activities that include pilot projects, demonstration projects, quantitative studies, qualitative studies, and mixed methods studies that inform important priorities, such as delivering services effectively, improving the way we conduct business, updating policies and regulations, and ensuring effective stewardship. For example, we have conducted evidence-building activities to inform our efforts to modernize the Social Security Statement. This aligns with our FYs 2018-2022 Agency Strategic Plan, which includes modernizing the Social Security Statement to increase the public's understanding of our programs as a strategy.

We have also conducted extramural research, demonstration projects, and outreach under Sections 234, 1110, and 1144 of the Social Security Act (Act). Sections 234 and 1110 of the Act provide us with authority to conduct extramural research and demonstration projects, while section 1144 of the Act addresses outreach activities to inform and assist Medicare beneficiaries with low income who may be eligible for Medicare cost sharing or subsidized prescription drug coverage. We currently fund a range of projects designed to:

Help us keep pace with advancements in medicine and technology;
Modernize our vocational rules;
Test models that promote labor force participation;
Analyze program trends, gaps, and inconsistencies; and
Measure the public's understanding of our programs, as well as the impact of program changes.
Through this RFI, we are asking interested persons, including stakeholders across public and private sectors who may be familiar with or interested in the work of our agency, for input on evidence-building activities that inform important priorities for our agency, including those that are related to the President's broader priorities that are available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/​priorities/. We also seek input on future projects that will advance our mission.

We invite suggestions in various forms—as key questions to be answered, hypotheses to be tested, or problems to be investigated—that are focused on any area of our mission, including service delivery, operations, programs, policies, regulations, communication, and stewardship. The responses to this RFI that interested persons submit to us will inform our ongoing development of a set of priorities that will guide evidence-building activities. We will analyze information collected from this RFI to inform the development of our Learning Agenda. This RFI is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on our part. We will not respond to the comments we received in response to this RFI, but will use the input to develop our Learning Agenda.

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