2015 Spring Conference


How Policymakers Use APPAM Member Research

April 11, 2015

The University Club 
1135 16th St., NW
Washington, DC 20036


Thank you to our 2015 Spring Conference Sponsor:

The goal of the conference is to begin a dialogue among academic researchers; policymakers, who create policy; and practitioners, who implement policy. The conversation aims to advance the exchange of knowledge and information among these sectors, creating better informed policy deliberations. APPAM will use this conference to determine if the Association can play a role in this exchange, and if so, what that may entail.

The conference aims to consider the following questions:

  • What are the primary dissemination channels for policy research?
  • Who is responsible for disseminating research?  What role do researchers play in this dissemination?
  • Do policymakers and practitioners use the research, if so, how and under what circumstances?
  • Are there particular circumstances, settings, environments, or relationships that are essential to the success of developing an exchange, and to sustain that exchange?
  • What, if any, efforts do researchers make to ensure that their research is readily accessible to policymakers and practitioners?
  • What, if any role, should APPAM play in supporting this exchange?


Registration for the conference is now closed!

Hotel Information

Rooms at the Capitol Hilton have been sold out! Please also note that the APPAM Group Room Block at the Residence Inn is sold out! If you have not already made a hotel reservation you'll need to make your own accommodations. We encourage you to check Hotels.com or another travel site to find a room. Use the University Club address, 1135 16th Street NW, when searching to try to get close to the conference site. 

Agenda Information  

The Spring Conference is on Saturday, April 11th.  There are APPAM governance meetings and other meetings that will be held on Friday, April 10th, along with a Welcome Reception, for those arriving for the Saturday conference the night before.  All are welcome at the reception.


  • For registration questions, please contact Meghan Grenda, mgrenda@appam.org.
  • For session information or any other questions, please contact Tristanne Staudt, tstaudt@appam.org.


Friday, April 10

8:30 - 10:00 AM: Executive Committee Meeting
10:15 - 11:30 AM: Institutional Reps Meeting

11:45 AM - 2:00 PM: Dean’s Meeting
12:00 - 1:30 PM: Lunch
2:00 - 5:30 PM: Policy Council Meeting
5:45 - 6:45 PM:
Program Committee Meeting
6:45 - 8:00 PM: Welcome Reception

Saturday, April 11th

7:30 am - 9:00 am

Opening Plenary with Breakfast

Bridging the Gap Between Research, Policy and Practice
Room: Taft Dining Room

There are distinct stakeholders that play a part in policy deliberations; researchers, who contribute data and analysis about a policy issue; policymakers, who create policy; and practitioners who implement policy. APPAM aims to advance the exchange of knowledge and information among these sectors in the hope that this exchange results in better policy decisions.

We will hear from several individuals who are working to bridge the gap between research, policy and practice and expand the dialogue to help address the following questions: What are the dissemination channels for researchers? Who is responsible for dissemination? How is the research used? What is the best environment/circumstances/setting to ensure the research is used? How important are relationships in this exchange? Finally, what can APPAM do to help facilitate this process?

Moderator: Angela Evans, University of Texas, Austin and Past APPAM President


  • Jon Baron, Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy (present)/Laura and John Arnold Foundation (as of April 15th)
  • Melissa Kearney, The Hamilton Project
  • Brendan Kelly, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), Administration for Children and Families
  • Jim Sullivan, The Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO), University of Notre Dame
  • Don Wolfensberger, The Woodrow Wilson Center/The Bipartisan Policy Center
9:15 am - 10:15 am

Concurrent Sessions

  • Moving Behavioral Sciences into Policy
    Room: Morton/Eiserer

    Public policy research has traditionally been primarily based on economic principles, rooted in the belief that individuals are active and careful decision-makers. However, in recent years there has been a growing interest in the other behavioral sciences, and new policies are increasingly drawing upon psychology, sociology and behavioral economics. Experimental findings around behavioral concepts such as defaults and prizes are inspiring new and low-cost ways to increase 401k contributions and savings on a national level. Simplified application processes and timely reminders are enabling a rise in uptake and follow through with available social programming. Applying a behavioral perspective represents a new approach to policy creation and implementation, and enables us to achieve necessary improvements through simple, yet powerful changes. This panel will discuss how new researchers are engaging in the policy process, how policymakers are using this research, and recent legislation that has been inspired by behavioral findings. 

    : Matthew Darling, ideas42, Will Tucker, ideas42, Amanda Hahnel, Doorways to Dreams Fund, Óscar Calvo-González, World Bank, Irma Perez-Johnson, Mathematica Policy Research
  • Using Evidence and Evaluation in Federal Budget Decisions
    Room: University D

    The annual exercise of formulating the Federal budget typically takes at least a year – or longer – to run its full course.  During that period of time, numerous actors and institutions within multiple branches of government consider and recommend funding levels for Federal programs.  This panel will discuss how and to what extent key institutions and their respective processes incorporate available evidence, research, and program evaluations in reaching funding levels to recommend for Federal programs.

    Participants: Nicholas Hart, Office of Management and Budget, Maria Williams,  Environmental Protection Agency, Emily Sharp, Senate Appropriations Committee
          Presentation Slides
  • Research Influence on Welfare Policy
    Room: Beck

    Several senior figures with extensive experience in welfare policy will reflect on when and how their work was influenced by research from outside the government. They will address the questions posed by the confluence about the channels that allow research to have influence and how scholars can gain access to these channels. Ron Haskins headed the Republican staff on the welfare subcommittee of Ways and Means, where Ryan Martin is now a senior staff member. Haskins later advised the White House on welfare. Robert Doar headed welfare in New York City and New York State. Haskins and Doar now have joined leading think tanks where they themselves seek access to government as researchers. So they have sat on both sides of the table that, ideally, should link research and government.

    Participants: Lawrence Mead, New York University, Ron Haskins, Brookings Institution, Angela Rachidi, New York City Welfare Department, Ryan Martin, Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee
10:30 am - 11:30 am

Concurrent Sessions

  • Making Public Policy Research Useful and Used: Lessons from Health Services Research and Beyond
    Room: Morton/Eiserer

    Like public policy research, health services research is intended to inform decision-making. The two fields share an audience in policymakers and the analysts who advise them, although health services research is also increasingly being used by to guide decisions by those who manage health care delivery organizations. In 2013, AcademyHealth launched its Translation and Dissemination Institute to better understand the needs of research users and to serve as an incubator for new and innovative approaches to moving evidence into action.  This panel will draw on the Institute’s experience to-date as well as issues it is addressing moving forward as the basis for a conversation about the relevance of this experience for public policy research more generally.    

    Participants: Michael E. Gluck, MPP, AcademyHealth, Erika Shugart, Erika Shugart Consulting, LLC, Marsha Gold, Mathematica Policy Research, Erin Holve,Academy Health, Sherry Glied, PhD, New York University, Michael Doonan, Massachusetts Health Policy Forum and Brandeis University


  • Research Clearinghouses and Systematic Evidence Reviews
    Room: Beck

    Translating Research for Policy and Program Decisions: The Federal government has created several research clearinghouses that review and summarize research evidence. One of the primary goals of these clearinghouses is to become trusted and accessible sources for research evidence to inform policy and programs. The panelists for this session, federal project officers from four different clearinghouses, will describe the purpose of each clearinghouse and discuss their approach to key challenges, including the following:   How does your clearinghouse decide what topics to include? How does your clearinghouse address the quality of the research evidence? What are the most useful products or features on your clearinghouse’s website? How do you seek and use input on your clearinghouses?

    Participants: Celeste Richie, Department of Labor, Emily Schmitt, Department of Health and Human Services, Joy Lesnick, Department of Education, Sarah Oberlander, Department of Health and Human Services


  • Data Visualization and Translation: 21st Century Tools for Effectively Communicating, Implementing, and Sharing Research
    Room: University D

    Over the last several decades, the call for evidence-based programs and policies has gotten louder and the technology available for collecting data on and analyzing such initiatives has grown more complex. Architects of public programs increasingly benefit from research insights into which elements matter for implementation and academics are relying, more than ever, on those at the front lines to collect data that enable more targeted future analyses. This session pulls together experts from a variety of fields to explore the process of translating research into both policy and practice and developing a common language among researchers, policymakers, and practitioners. While the focus of many of the examples given in this session will be on human and social services, the methods and techniques explored are applicable to a variety of disciplines.

    Participants: Sarah Sattelmeyer, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Jonathan Schwabish, The Urban Institute, Jennifer DeVallance, Mathematica Policy Research
11:45 am - 12:45 pm

Concurrent Sessions

  • Communicating the Value of Social Science to Policymakers
    Room: Beck

    This roundtable will be based in part on a recently released task force report of the American Political Science Association.  This report is entitled, Improving Public Perceptions of Political Science’s Value; it is the report of an almost two-year task force convened by the president of the American Political Science Association.  It describes the vital role of scholars and professional organizations can play in making political science’s research and findings more accessible, more relevant, and more valuable to policymakers and the citizenry.  Importantly, the task force argued that professional organizations are essential to the communication of the insights of political science to a wide range of diverse constituencies.  Moreover, a common theme emerges:  to convey valuable insights in increasingly competitive communication environments, political scientists must engage people in ways that can attract their interest and help them advance their aspirations.    The report offers concrete steps that political scientists can take to convince more members of the public, the media, policy makers, and other researchers that political science has knowledge of substantial social value. This does not mean that our goal is to substitute style for substance. The substance of political science is the strong foundation from which this report builds. The goal is to help the discipline convert that foundation into presentations that provide great insight to a larger set of audiences and policymakers in particular.  This effort requires political scientists to rethink their approach to research dissemination, academic publishing, outreach to policymakers and their willingness to participate in the larger public sphere.  This roundtable will be a discussion of the report and the participants will offer concrete recommendations for social scientists to be more effective in communicating their research findings to policymakers.

    Participants: Steven Rathgeb Smith, American Political Science Association, Beryl Radin, Georgetown University, Paul Posner, George Mason University, Elizabeth Boris, The Urban Institute, John Tambornino, Department of Health and Human Services


  • Simple Isn't Stupid: How to Maintain Rigor and Relevance in a Twitter and Sound Bite World
    Room: Morton/Eiserer

    Policymakers need reliable information and they want it quickly to inform their decision making, and policy researchers want to conduct rigorous, objective research that has an impact on policy. In theory these should go together like chocolate and peanut butter. In practice, it’s more like oil and water. This session will focus on how to bridge the divide between the needs and challenges policymakers and practitioners face in using research, with the needs and challenges researchers confront in delivering findings in a simple format that reflects the rigor, objectivity, and nuance of their work. Attendees will learn the importance of turning the traditional research format “upside down” by structuring policy documents around findings and policy questions, rather than research issues; the growing movement of “appendixitis,” or the shifting of more and more material into appendices; how graphics, video, and data visualization can both gain attention and tell a research story; and once you’ve created both the comprehensive study reports and simple products how to use different channels, from complex study reports to peer-reviewed journal articles to twitter, to reach the right audiences. The panel will include people who create, disseminate, and ultimately use research.

    Participants: Barbara Devaney, Mathematica Policy Research, Adam Coyne, Mathematica Policy Research, Naomi Goldstein, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, Niall Brennan, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Ruth Neild, Department of Education


  • Education Policy Research Partnerships: Models from Massachusetts
    Room: University D

    Massachusetts leads the nation in student achievement outcomes. Perhaps not coincidentally, Massachusetts also uses and commissions research to guide its education policy agenda. This session will begin by discussing how the state has approached developing research partnerships and the conditions under which partnerships are likely to be most successful. It will then feature three different models of research partnerships on Massachusetts education policy issue. The session will conclude with examples of effective communications between researchers and policymakers (such as short policy briefs summarizing key findings and their implications for practitioners) and final thoughts on how the state has used findings from each of these models to modify its policy and programming.

    Participants: Carrie Conaway, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Joshua Goodman, Harvard University, Roneeta Guha, SRI International, Jon Fullerton, Harvard University
12:45 pm - 2:00 pm

Lunch Plenary

Making Informed Policy Decisions
Room: Taft Dining Room

Join us for lunch and hear from two seasoned United States Senate staffers on how public policy researchers, the producers of research and research reviews can help policy makers create better informed policy decisions.

Bryce McKibben from the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and Becky Shipp from the Senate Finance Committee will lead this lively discussion.

Moderator: Ron Haskins, Brookings Institution and APPAM President-elect

2:15 pm - 3:15 pm

Concurrent Sessions

  • When and How Do Policymakers and Practitioners Use Research? Insights from Education and Training Initiatives for Low-Income Youth and Adults
    Room: Morton/Eiserer

    In this conversational roundtable, state agency staff, local practitioners, and a national foundation will discuss how they have used research to shape policy and practice; what sources they tap for finding relevant research; why they choose to participate in or conduct research; and, what kinds of research moves policymakers or practitioners to change. The moderator will also probe what questions panelists are hoping to answer with the research they are currently engaged in.    The panelists bring diverse perspectives geographically and institutionally, representing workforce development, community colleges, community-based organizations, and philanthropy. They also have deep knowledge of education, training, and employment services for low-income individuals and can speak to how that field has evolved over time in response to research, such as the movement toward career pathway, sectoral training, and work-based learning approaches. For this discussion panelists will draw on first-hand experience with local, state, and federal welfare-to-work, youth employment, career pathway, and basic skills initiatives, including current national projects such as the Health Professions Opportunity Grants and Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education.

    Participants: Julie Strawn, Abt Associates, Josh B. McGee, The Arnold Foundation, Shauna King-Simms, Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Ricardo Estrada ¬Instituto Del Progreso Latino, David Prince, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges


  • The Two-Way Street:  A Conversation Among Policymakers and Researchers about Strategies for Successful Researcher-Policymaker Interaction
    Room: Beck

    This interactive roundtable session will examine the importance of maintaining an ongoing relationship between policymakers and researchers. It will touch on the all- important question of “Who is responsible for disseminating research?”       
    Panelists Leigh Bordley, Durham School Board Member will highlight how existing relationships have improved her experience of using research in her role as a policymaker. Tom Brock, Commissioner of the National Center for Education Research, will focus on NCER’s commitment to using research to inform policy and practice, some strategies it has adopted to encourage broader dissemination, and the response from the education research community.  Jenni Owen of Duke University will revisit the importance of relationships while considering the differing contexts for researchers and policymakers. Matt Stagner of Mathematica will moderate, paying particular attention to the importance of the level and type of policymaker involved when determining strategies for disseminating research.  

    Participants: Jenni Owen, Duke University, Leigh Bordley, Durham Public Schools, Tom Brock, National Center for Education Research, Matt Stagner – Mathematica Policy Research
  • Getting Research into Policy: Pathways, Gaps, and Opportunities
    Room: University D

    While there is widespread consensus on why it is important to use scientific evidence in policymaking, there is little consensus on how to effectively incorporate evidence into public policy, and further, what types of use are impactful.  Also problematic, little attention has been given to understanding and improving the ways in which researchers get scientific evidence considered as part of the public policy process. The following panelists will discuss getting research to the policy table with a particular focus on pathways, gaps, and opportunities.

    Participants: Jennifer Otten, University of Washington, Miron Straf, Virginia Tech, Sheila Fleischhacker, National Institutes of Health, Deborah Young-Hyman, National Institutes of Health
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Concurrent Sessions

  • Public and Nonprofit Sector Perspectives: Using Research to Inform Decision Making in Policy, Planning, and Evaluation
    Room: University D

    The proposed session is a roundtable of representatives from public and nonprofit organizations that actively use research in their policy, planning, and evaluation deliberations and to inform decision making. Participants will talk about how research is incorporated into their work developing and implementing policy, as well as how research informs analysis, strategic planning and analysis of emerging and long-range issues. While each organization has unique requirements, the roundtable will identify key takeaways and broad lessons learned applicable across sectors. Participants will focus on the specific settings, environments, and relationships that are essential to successful exchanges around research. This discussion will also include potential pitfalls or barriers to watch out for when developing these exchanges. Lastly, participants will discuss current and future research opportunities, with recommendations for how APPAM and its members can play a role in supporting the sustained exchange of knowledge and ideas.

    Participants: Raun Lazier, Department of Veterans Affairs, Ted Horan, Social Security Administration, Jamila Kennedy,  Government Accountability Office, Sharaelle Grzesiak, Department of Veterans Affairs, Connie Neal, New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, John Hutchins, MDRC
  • Ensuring Policy Research is Credible and Unbiased: Recent Work has Uncovered a Troubling Pattern in Social Science Research
    Room: Morton/Eiserer

    Statistically significant results are often neither reproducible nor robust to minor specification changes, but instead are likely the product of selective reporting of results within studies.  This phenomenon has created a credibility crisis in empirical social research and has recently been the subject of high-profile debates in medicine, psychology, economics, and political science.  Perversely, this crisis has been most prevalent in “gold standard” randomized control trials, which are assumed to yield valid causal inference.  If this lack of credibility plagues policy research, then the information social scientists provide to the policy community is invalid.  As the disciplines have grappled with this threat, certain practices and norms have emerged as potential solutions, including pre-registration of randomized control trials, open access to data and statistical software code, and various journal editorial policies that encourage reproducible, transparent work.  This panel presents work on the problem of false positives in policy research as well as practices that applied and scholarly researchers might adopt to avoid this problem and ensure that their evidence is credible.  The participants represent a diverse group of researchers with experience in domestic and international policy research and scholarly publication. 

    Participants: Sean Tanner, University of California, Berkeley, Maureen Pirog, Indiana University, Rebecca Maynard, University of Pennsylvania, Arif Mamun, Mathematica Policy Research
  • CUNY’s Practitioner-Academic Partnership Supported Policy Changes for Undocumented Immigrant College Students:
    Room: Beck

    Our roundtable will focus on CUNY’s collaboration with academics to produce policy-relevant research on undocumented immigrant students, their academic opportunities, progress, and success. This partnership has supported policy changes and initiatives at the state and local government levels as well as new programming at private foundations . Researchers from CUNY’s Office of Policy Research worked with Prof. Conger to produce policy briefs, working papers and academic articles, and descriptive tables that were disseminated directly to key policymakers. Offices under CUNY’s Senior University Dean for Academic Affairs played an integral role in disseminating this information directly to policymakers: NYS Comptroller, NYS Assembly, New York City Council Higher Education committee, and the Robin Hood Foundation and TheDream.US.    This session will provide an overview of these research dissemination channels with special attention paid to the development of a scholarship for undocumented students by Robin Hood Foundation and TheDream.US.  This research collaboration added to CUNY’s research capacity, increasing its impact beyond what otherwise would have been possible with internal resources alone, while providing academics with important publishing opportunities with policy impact. CUNY hopes to reproduce this model of collaboration in other policy areas. This roundtable is intended to foster those sorts of partnerships.

    Participants Colin Chellman, CUNY Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, Rachel Stephenson, City University of New York
4:30 pm - 4:45 pm Conference Wrap Up


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