2022 Virtual Research Symposium: Assessing Capacity for Using Data to Build Actionable Evidence


Across government agencies, public officials are engaging in activities to facilitate building and using evidence to inform decision-making for improving business decisions, program outcomes, and day-to-day operations that affect the American people. The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (Evidence Act) set expectations for government agencies to improve their capacity to engage in data-driven and evidence-informed decision- making. A core feature of the Evidence Act is establishing the leadership positions for data, evaluation, and statistical officials, staffing infrastructure, and processes that enable government agencies to increasingly construct and use evidence to inform policy decisions. The first three years of Evidence Act implementation were focused on developing multi-year learning agendas with key learning priorities, the establishment of senior-level officials like chief data officers and evaluation officers, and conducting capacity assessments, to understand the agency’s infrastructure and its ability to produce and use evidence for decision making.

The Data Foundation’s 2022 Virtual Research Symposium, in partnership with George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School for Public Policy and Public Administration, provides the opportunity for researchers, data analysts, evaluators, program managers, and other experts from across the data and evidence community to share knowledge and innovative practices. The Research Symposium will spotlight strategies that increase the use of data and evidence for decision-making and a better-informed society. In 2022, the Symposium’s theme centers on assessing capacity for using data to build actionable evidence, aligning with the new publication of assessments federal agencies will publish in Spring 2022 about their own capacity for engaging in evidence-building activities and other major initiatives of Evidence Act implementation underway in government today.

The Data Foundation invited members of the data and evidence community—including those in academia, non-profits, industry, and government—to submit proposals that align with the conference theme, with preference given to those that focus on the following topics:

  1. Analysis of agency capacity assessments: Research and analyses on agency evidence capacity assessments produced under the Evidence Act and published in Spring 2022. These could include quantitative and qualitative assessments, reviews, or other synopses to identify core themes, strengths, and gaps in agency capacity for evidence-informed policymaking.

  2. Reviews of Agency Evidence-Building Plans and Learning Agendas: Research, analysis, and examples that review agency processes, questions, and plans—including implementation—to identify innovative or promising practices. These can include stakeholder engagement, participation among key constituencies and vulnerable populations, and processes that adequately communicate data and evidence needs from government agencies. Consideration may also be given to lessons learned from how agencies produced and are using initial plans and agendas in practice

  3. Workforce for evidence-building activities: Examples of challenges in and solutions for supporting the growing need for a data literate workforce in public sector organizations. The Data Foundation’s surveys of chief data officers and evaluation officials separately suggest major gaps in workforce capacity. Are there examples of training programs in public sector organizations that have increased data literacy? Are there examples of agency data that could support research in addressing gaps, what research is available, and what policy improvements can be built from this research?

  4. Novel uses of data for decision and policymaking: Examples of unique, highly-salient use cases where quantitative data or qualitative data (e.g., descriptive data from ethnographies, interviews, or observation) were used or linked to administrative data for research, policymaking, or decision-making. Examples should draw on successful use cases, unsuccessful use cases and the lessons learned, or promising practices. Examples should highlight any methodological issues and describe how they were (or could have been) overcome with an eye toward informing capacity assessments in government agencies.

The virtual symposium will be held on June 22 and 23, 2022, from 9:30a.m. to 5:00p.m. EDT.


The submissions have ended. Selected proposals will be notified no later than May 23, 2022.

Review and Selection

Proposals will be reviewed by a subcommittee of Data Foundation board members, assessed for their alignment to the goals of the Research Symposium, the theme, the quality of the submitted proposal, and alignment to the mission of the Data Foundation. Selected proposals will be notified no later than May 23, 2022.

A full speaker list and agenda will be posted once presenters have been selected.




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