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OMB has issued a 28-page memo laying out how each federal agency is to build and use evidence in policy-making and annual budget requests. This guidance has implications for federal economic policies and programs of interest to AEA members.  

M-21-27 Evidence-Based Policymaking: Learning Agendas and Annual Evaluation Plans: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/M-21-27.pdf

Opening section:   

Governing Based on Evidence

OMB expects agencies to use evidence whenever possible to further both mission and operations, and to commit to build evidence where it is lacking. A culture of evidence is not a new idea, and there are already leading examples of this culture throughout government. Nonetheless, we cannot achieve our nation’s great promise unless these pockets of excellence are expanded to become the core of how the Federal Government operates. This Memorandum affirms the Federal Government’s commitment to the Evidence Act and to building and nurturing a culture of evidence and the infrastructure needed to support it. This includes strengthening the Federal workforce to ensure that staff with the right skills and capabilities are positioned across the Federal Government.

Therefore, heads of agencies, including Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries, and other senior leaders, should engage in creating a culture of evidence in their agencies and support their staff in undertaking this work. This effort demands a comprehensive approach, and implementing this vision will require resources and prioritization from leaders. At the same time, this commitment to an evidence-based government cannot happen solely at the top or in isolated analytical offices, but rather must be embedded throughout each agency, in program offices and management offices, and adopted by the hardworking civil servants who serve on behalf of the American people.

Building on previous Evidence Act guidance, this document reinforces the central function that evidence-building broadly, and evaluation in particular, play in realizing the goal of evidence-based policymaking. The Evidence Act establishes critical leadership positions and activities to facilitate a culture of evidence. Fundamental to this task are effective processes to strategically plan for evidence building, using the Evidence-Building Plans (i.e., Learning Agendas) and Annual Evaluation Plans as tools. The Presidential Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking requires OMB to “issue guidance to improve agencies’ evidence-building plans and annual evaluation plans . . . and consider whether such plans . . . shall include a broad set of methodological approaches for the evidence-based and iterative development and the equitable delivery of policies, programs, and agency operations.” 6 OMB conducted stakeholder engagement to draft this guidance in response to the Presidential Memorandum, and the importance of stakeholder engagement is highlighted throughout the requirements described here.

This guidance applies to all agencies; CFO Act agencies have a statutory requirement as described in Title I of the Evidence Act,7 and developing Learning Agendas and Annual Evaluation Plans benefits all agencies at both the agency and sub-agency levels. It is only through this shift to a culture of evidence, supported and demanded by agency leaders and brought to bear across agency functions, that we will build and maintain trust in government and ensure that decisions best serve the American people.  
 
Federal News Network: OMB memo tells agencies to back up future budget requests with evidence (6/30) https://federalnewsnetwork.com/agency-oversight/2021/06/omb-memo-tells-agencies-to-back-up-future-budget-requests-with-evidence/

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