While there were important moves in the last Parliament to promote both the better use of evidence and justification of policy decisions (e.g. the creation of what works centres and the establishment of the Office for Budget Responsibility), none of these developments have resulted in a transparent, systematic method for assessing the use of evidence across the full range of government policymaking.
In partnership with practitioners from a number of research organisations and Parliament, we have produced a framework that offers a rapid assessment tool to rate government departments on how transparent they are in the use of evidence in policy decisions.
This framework is intended to assist those responsible for, or interested in, holding policymakers to account. It is also intended as a resource for policymakers – helping the Civil Service demonstrate the extent to which it is making progress on its commitment in the Civil Service Reform Plan: One Year On to “publish more of the evidence base that supports policy making” and meeting its commitments on transparency in the Open Government Action Plan. Over the next 12 months, in partnership with Sense About Science and the Alliance for Useful Evidence, we plan to run an initial benchmarking exercise to see how government is faring on evidence transparency.
Update November 2016: Sense about Science has taken the lead in testing and refining this framework, in collaboration with the Institute for Government and the Alliance for Useful Evidence. They have published the results of this testing in Transparency of Evidence: An assessment of government policy proposals, May 2015 to May 2016. In 2017, the three organisations intend to proceed with a full departmental ranking exercise.