The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative, a joint effort of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, recently named Washington state a leader in evidence-based policymaking.
In a report issued just last month, the Results First Initiative singled out Washington (with Utah, Minnesota, Connecticut and Oregon rounding out the top five) as a state where evidence guides policy.
"Evidence-based policymaking" is defined as
the systematic use of findings from program evaluations and outcome analyses (“evidence”) to guide government policy and funding decisions. By focusing limited resources on public services and programs that have been shown to produce positive results, governments can expand their investments in more cost-effective options, consider reducing funding for ineffective programs, and improve the outcomes of services funded by taxpayer dollars.
Here's some of what the report said specifically about our state:
Washington state’s reputation as a leader in evidence-based policymaking stands on a foundation of clear legislative mandates and tools that help leaders creatively and routinely incorporate information on program effectiveness into funding and policy decisions. For example, in 1997, the Washington Legislature passed the Community Juvenile Accountability Act, which directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to establish standards to measure the effectiveness of juvenile justice programs. The institute has created a common set of definitions and a widely recognized process for reviewing national and international studies across multiple policy areas to identify what works. It has also developed a cutting-edge cost-benefit model that calculates the return on investment that the state could achieve through funding a wide range of evidence-based programs.
These analyses have enabled the legislature and agency leaders to target funding to programs that are shown to achieve high returns on investment in areas including criminal and juvenile justice, child welfare, and behavioral health. For example, the state’s Department of Social and Health Services has used the findings to increase the number of youth accessing evidence-based mental health services and to strengthen its accountability processes so that training, data systems, and monitoring promote programs’ fidelity to their original models.
You can read the full report here.