1Pay for Success and Evidence Legislation

America Forward is supportive of legislation that both authorizes the general use of federal dollars in developing and scaling Pay for Success arrangements as well as helps to advance the overall focus on outcomes and evidence in how federal policy and budget decisions are made.

2Act on the Recommendations of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

Speaker Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Murray (D-WA) introduced legislation to establish a commission to study how best to expand the use of data to evaluate the effectiveness of federal programs and tax expenditures. Convened in 2016 after the successful passage of the legislation, the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking is actively engaged in making recommendations for how to use current administrative data and how to make additional administrative data available for evaluation by federal leaders and external researchers.

3Create a Community Solutions Tax Credit

In order to scale high-quality community-based organizations and leverage the power of innovative social entrepreneurial organizations, a Community Solutions Tax Credit authorized by Congress would incentivize investments from private sector funders across the country that have developed highly sophisticated systems for identifying promising solutions to community problems and for funding their expansions. The use of a tax credit rather than appropriated funding offers greater potential for scale and sustainability, creates less bureaucracy, and puts the decisions for investment in specific organizations in the hands of these funders instead of the government.

4Establish a Cross-Agency Research and Development Innovation Lab

Modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and created through legislative action, a Cross-Agency Research and Development Innovation Lab (CARD Lab) would engage across sectors to seed early-stage innovation, identify promising solutions, and rapidly test new social service approaches. The mission of the CARD Lab would be to serve as a nurturing environment for creativity to cultivate solutions needed to address challenges in child welfare, criminal justice, education, health care, homelessness, workforce and job training, etc. Using critical special statutory hiring authorities and alternative contracting vehicles, the CARD Lab could identify, recruit, and support individuals who are experts in their fields, whether issue area specific or related to data, evaluation and statistical analysis, to work for periods of time on specific problems of interest or importance. The focus would be placed on evaluation of the innovative solutions developed and ensuring a feedback loop to Congress and authorizing federal agencies to help inform and influence policy and programmatic decision-making.

5Promote the Use of Agency-Wide Waivers through Administrative Guidance and Support

Waivers enable federal agencies to demonstrate, replicate, and scale innovative interventions and can incorporate Pay for Success and other outcomes-based contracting approaches. We have suggested application of such waiver authorities in different major federal programs

6Improve Data Access and Use and Support Evaluations

Access to, standard definitions of, and resources to engage in measurement and evaluation of data are crucial to ensure social services are achieving impact and measurably improve people’s lives. Investments in and common practices around data and evaluation are needed to achieve this goal. Below are both Administrative actions and Congressional measures that would support this critical element of evidence-based policymaking.

7Use Federal Training and Technical Assistance Funding to Advance Focus on Outcomes

The Federal government spends billions on Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA) each year and in many cases the value and results are unclear.  Congress could amend relevant T/TA program authorities to require that a significant portion of these resources be used to support: (1) dissemination of evidence-based practices, (2) assistance to help service providers adopt such practices or develop evidence of long-standing programs, (3) assistance to service providers to access and use data to enhance targeting of service delivery and track outcomes and improve quality of service in real time, and (4) support for communities to explore how to sustain evidence-based practices via models like Pay for Success Contracting. In many cases, Administrative regulation and guidance to agencies on the use of their existing T/TA funds could accomplish the same purpose as many of the legislative ideas noted above.

8Continue and Expand Cross-Agency Demonstrations

Numerous federal programs aimed at similar goals and populations are poorly coordinated and, in some cases, work at cross-purposes.  Congress should continue the current authority, known as Performance Partnership Pilots (P3) provided to the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Justice, to establish additional pilots allowing States, localities, regions, or federally-recognized Tribes to propose pooling a portion of discretionary funds they receive under multiple federal streams as well as expand the authority to additional agencies and broaden the focus to populations of most need in local communities.  These pilots could allow States, localities, regions, and Tribes to test ways of improving outcomes for various populations by allowing communities to develop comprehensive strategies to achieve better results with federal investments through multiple programs. Allowing the use of Pay for Success Contracting would ensure that these pilots test not only the impact of overcoming statutory, regulatory, and administrative requirements that may impede effective program coordination but also highlight the potential financial impact of coordinated investments in order to influence more permanent policy and funding changes across agencies.

Pay for Success Task Force Members