by Marissa Reuther, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Economics Graduate Student
This Super Session focused on evidence building of federal agencies and how these agencies are working to ensure all stakeholders have a say in building and using evidence. Attendees received great insight from the session’s four speakers: Rashida Dorsey of HHS, Sean Grant of Indiana University, Mary Hyde of the Corporation for National and Community Service, and Matthew Soldner of DoED.
While introducing themselves, the speakers discussed their organizations' roles in building and collecting evidence. Dorsey, Hyde, and Soldner spoke to the specific steps their federal agencies are taking. Grant, the only member of the panel not affiliated with a federal agency, gave a unique perspective and a great discussion on the important role of open science in the evidence building process. I thought that he provided great insights from the view of a researcher who develops tools and uses evidence that the other panelists are working to make accessible. Some specifics Grant touched on include how the increased use of registration studies, archiving data and coded materials, and open access publication can all increase the credibility and accessibility of evidence.
After introductions, the remainder of the session was devoted to discussing the steps that the represented organizations are taking to incorporate stakeholder input in early stages of planning, the barriers that stakeholders may face in gathering resources and evidence, the role of academics in generating evidence, the importance of transparency, the role of qualitative evidence, and how to improve the dissemination of evidence and materials. A key takeaway I took from this conversation is the importance of federal agencies finding the right partners to ensure their resources reach the right hands. In particular, this issue was discussed by Soldner and Hyde. Both their agencies have acted in recent years to generate new formats for evidence and materials that are easily accessible including infographics, 1-page executive summaries, and innovative webpages. However, both panelists emphasized the point that even if an agency releases the best type of evidence from a stakeholder perspective, the key step of the agency is to ensure they partner with the right messengers to share their evidence.
Overall, the speakers did an excellent job discussing the importance of incorporating all relevant stakeholders in the evidence building process and highlighted the important steps their organizations are taking to increase accessibility of evidence.