Grant Thornton is a leader in helping public organizations use evidence-based policymaking strategies to strengthen their results, increase their return on investment from spending, and tackle their most important challenges.
Our services have helped support the growing movement in government over the past several decades — spanning federal, state and local government — to build and use evidence about what works in order to improve existing programs and better allocate spending. It is a movement that harnesses evidence in many forms, from high-quality data to rigorous program evaluation to other forms of credible evidence. The broader goal is to increase the return on investment from taxpayer dollars and achieve better outcomes for the American people.
The most visible advance in this evidence movement at the federal level was the enactment in 2019 of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. The Act implements some of the key recommendations of the bipartisan Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking.
From our support of the development of toolkits designed to help federal agencies implement the Evidence Act to assisting a large agency in launching an evaluation office, to developing the path-breaking Program and Portfolio Assessment Tool, to designing workshops to help senior leaders strengthen their evidence-based policymaking skills — to name just a few recent projects — we are passionate about helping organizations and jurisdictions build a culture of continuous learning and improvement.
Our team includes former executives from the federal, state and local levels, including a member of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, a former senior leader at OMB who oversaw performance and evidence issues, a former member of the OMB evidence team, and a former special advisor for evidence-based policy at a federal agency.
Implementation support for the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. The Act is a unique opportunity to drive improved results and cost-effectiveness within federal agencies. It has several new agency requirements related to evidence and data. We can assist agencies in implementing those requirements in ways that are customized, practical and impactful. This includes establishing an evaluation office and policies; establishing a chief data officer; creating learning agendas; and other data-related provisions, such as creating data inventories and improving public information about what data agencies currently hold.
Rapid experimentation, including the use of behavioral insights. Rapid experimentation, aka A/B testing, is used by leading tech firms and government agencies to try out (and rigorously test) improvements, including experiments that use insights from behavioral economics to improve customer service. This approach is particularly useful to program managers in government because it can create evidence at the speed of policymaking. We help agencies to identify their priority challenges and then find ways to use rapid experimentation to address those challenges.
Evidence-based strategic planning
Evidence-based strategic planning is an approach developed by Grant Thornton as the next generation of strategic planning. It combines the traditional approach with strategies to build and use evidence about what works, such as developing learning agendas and logic models. The goal is to catalyze an organizational culture that builds evidence about what’s working and what’s not, and then uses that evidence, with built-in feedback loops, to refine initiatives and strategies over time.
Using innovative, outcome-focused grant-making, including strategies that draw on principles from venture capital. Because a significant share of federal dollars flows to states and localities in the form of grants, if you want to make government more outcomes-focused, you need to make grants more outcomes-focused. We can help agencies use tiered-evidence grant programs (also called innovation funds) as well as other strategies to integrate evidence into the grant-making process.
Adopting next-generation PerformanceStat initiatives (such as CitiStat in Baltimore or HUDStat and FEMAStat within in the federal government) that identify and address program or agency challenges and — the next generation approach — integrates research evidence into the process. PerformanceStat is a leadership approach that uses ongoing, data-driven meetings with staff to identify key challenges, diagnose problems, devise solutions, and track results. It can be used by public agencies at the federal, state, and local level and by jurisdictions at the state and city level. We can help your agency or jurisdiction design and implement a PerformanceStat initiative that is customized to your organization’s needs and capacity.
Program and Portfolio Assessment Tool
Creating a comprehensive assessment of agency programs through our Program and Portfolio Assessment Tool (PPAT). To what degree are the programs in your agency evidence-based and focused on results? Also, could related programs in your agency — with overlapping missions — be better aligned and integrated? These two questions are at the heart of Grant Thornton's PPAT. It is a diagnostic tool designed for agency leaders who want a broad, enterprise-wide view of their agencies' focus on results, coupled with a deep, detailed assessment of whether their programs have the key elements necessary for high performance.