House lawmakers introduce bipartisan evidence and data-based policymaking bill

The bill seeks to better incorporate federal government data and evidence-based policymaking throughout the legislative process.
Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., delivers the keynote address at an event on millennials’ opinion on climate change, cohosted by The Brookings Institution and the Millennial Action Project. (Image credit: Brookings Institution)

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., introduced bipartsian legislation Thursday that would create a commission on “evidence-based policymaking” within Congress to ensure policymaking is based more on federal data and facts rather than opinions.

Kilmer, who is the ranking member of the new House Administration Subcommittee on Modernization and the former chair of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress for the past four years, has introduced the new legislation with lawmakers Joe Morelle, D-NY, Dean Phillips, D-MN, and William Timmons, R-SC.

The bill, which FedScoop first reported on in March, would establish a commission and convene experts to review, analyze, and make recommendations to Congress in an effort to better incorporate federal data and evidence-based policymaking throughout the legislative process.

“To tackle some of our nation’s largest problems, we must engage in evidence-based policymaking in a collaborative manner from a position of mutual respect,” Rep. Timmons, a Republican from South Carolina said in a statement. “To achieve this, we need the best available data for evidence-based policymaking.


The legislation’s proposed commission will consider suggestions pertaining to evidence-based policymaking, including: incorporating outcomes measurement and implementation-aligned language into the lawmaking process; enhancing Congress’s ability to access and use real-time, structured, and machine-readable data; pushing for a congressional chief data officer; boosting data expertise in Congress through the inclusion of technologists, data scientists, and engineers; and encouraging federal agencies to generate evidence on the effectiveness of major new programs.

“We’ve got to get government working better for the folks I represent,” Rep. Kilmer said in a statement. “Sound evidence and data are needed to better design policies, measure their impacts, and ultimately improve outcomes for the American people. I am excited to see the impact that the Congressional Evidence-Based Policymaking Resolution can have to make government work better and to restore public trust.”

The Congressional Evidence-Based Policymaking Resolution is endorsed by multiple civic society and data advocacy groups including the Bipartisan Policy Center, Data Foundation/Coalition, Demand Progress, Foundation for American Innovation, Mathematica, Results for America, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), and USAFacts.

Kilmer’s new bill comes after Congress in 2018 passed the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, which similar to this new measure required federal agencies to base new policy on data and created chief data officer roles responsible for cultivating agency data strategies.

Public opinion trends in the U.S. over the last three decades suggest an overwhelming lack of trust in government, regardless of which political party is in control, according to Gallup polls.


Kilmer’s bill, which is expected to be accompanied by a companion bill in the Senate, aims to take a stab at the problem of one-sided opinions in Congress by focusing the process of policymaking on facts and evidence through a non-partisan lens.

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