The term evidence-based policy; is in wide use today, but there is a large gap between the empirical analysis that academic experts recommend and what is typically done in policymaking circles. Partly this reflects a lack of communication between scholars and practitioners about advances in methodologies. A major development in the social sciences in the past two decades has been the refinement and application of experimental and quasi-experimental techniques for empirical analysis. In particular, scholarly work has emphasized the value of randomised evaluations as a method for measuring the effects of policies and programs. The approach has been applied to study a diverse range of issues, including job training, policing of domestic violence, health insurance, school vouchers, immunisations, microfinance, and household savings.

Conference speakers included leading academic experts; visitors from Harvard and MIT and Australian scholars; who discussed the use of these new approaches and methodologies with Australian policymakers. Topics included: incorporating theory into design, analysis with existing program data, pilot testing alternative designs, randomized evaluations, the management of evaluations, and interpreting and sharing findings. Discussions covered applications in a range of policy areas and settings, including: job training and employment, education, health care, credit and savings, housing, law enforcement, community reconciliation, anti-discrimination, and immigration.

A US Studies Centre event held in association with Harvard University.