News & Publications



Spotlight: IMPAQ


With offices in Columbia, Maryland, and Washington, DC, IMPAQ International is a policy research, evaluation and technical assistance firm committed to bringing rigor and innovation to its analytic work. IMPAQ provides clients with impact evaluation studies, applied research, policy analysis, quantitative and qualitative data analysis, and technical assistance.


Founded by Dr. Jacob and Sharon Benus in 2001, IMPAQ has seen significant growth over the last decade. Today, they employ more than 200 people between their Columbia and DC offices, and have established themselves as an internationally recognized social science research firm.

Yet, despite their growth, they have never lost sight of the fact that their work ties back to a world in which there is much opportunity to improve lives through well-designed and effectively managed policies and programs.

IMPAQ is a company that is driven by the potential that their work can transform the lives of real people. One example is reflected by an incident that occurred early in the organization’s history. To install telephone and computer wires in their new Columbia office, IMPAQ hired a small electrical contractor. He asked one of the staff “What does IMPAQ do?” Since IMPAQ was brand-new at the time, the staff member described a project Dr. Benus had previously conducted before starting IMPAQ, the UI Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) demonstration. SEA was an innovative program introduced by the Department of Labor to answer the question, “Is it possible to train those who are unemployed to become entrepreneurs?”

The contractor—who still works with IMPAQ, and whose business has grown alongside them—interrupted. “Wait!” he said. “I was trained by SEA; they helped me to start my business!”

It’s an anecdote that describes what IMPAQ is about: achieving impact in the real world—real people and real improvements in their lives—through the design, implementation and evaluation of policy and program innovations. 


Areas of Research and Impact

IMPAQ currently works in five primary areas: health, education, labor, human services, and international development. In addition, they have a full service survey center that both supports their work and provides surveys (data collection, aggregation, and analysis services) as a free-standing service. IMPAQ also works in the “white space” between their core areas, as there are many challenges in labor that require an understanding of health and healthcare, as well as challenges in health that may require an understanding of schools and/or level of educational attainment.

IMPAQ works to measure and evaluate the impact of client policies and programs on the lives of millions of Americans. In 2008 IMPAQ began working with the Department of Labor (DOL) to evaluate the Reemployment Eligibility Assessment (REA) Initiative. REA was designed to enhance the rapid reemployment of unemployed workers, identify and eliminate potential overpayments, and realize cost savings for Unemployment Insurance (UI)trust funds. With the passage of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, more than 4 million jobseekers are expected to participate in REA services. IMPAQ’s timely study has had an important role in the increased funding and expansion of the REA Initiative.

Similarly, IMPAQ worked on evaluating DOL’s Project GATE (Growing America Through Entrepreneurship), an experimental program designed to help emerging entrepreneurs in rural and urban communities start their own businesses.  Among other things, IMPAQ’s findings revealed that participants in the program had a significantly higher likelihood of owning a business than non-participants. 

Because of the success of the original Project GATE, IMPAQ is now continuing its evaluation of GATE II, a series of grants awarded to states to implement the GATE model of entrepreneurship training.More recently,Drs. Jacob Benus, IMPAQ’s Executive Vice President and Director of Research, and Marios Michaelides, a Senior Research Associate at IMPAQ, published a paper in the Journal of the European Association of Labor Economists in April 2012 that drew on evidence from Project Gate to determine whether self-employment training programs were effective.

IMPAQ has also contributed additional policy insights in the area of unemployment benefits. Dr. Benus testified at a hearing on unemployment compensation on the effect of benefits on recipients' return to work before the House Committee on Ways and Means’ Subcommittee on Human Resources.

The organization has contributed significantly on the healthcare policy front as the elements of the Affordable Care Act are implemented. IMPAQ collaborates with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on the Medicare Data Sharing for Performance Measurement program. Through this program, CMS makes Medicare fee-for-service and Part D Prescription Drug Event claims data available, under strict privacy requirements, to organizations qualified to handle Medicare data and maintain patient privacy protection.

These organizations, or Qualified Entities, willcombine Medicare and other sources of healthcare claims to create reports on provider performance that individuals, consumer groups, employers and providers can use to make informed decisions regarding quality of healthcare. IMPAQ is the lead organization assisting CMS in evaluating the abilities of various entities to manage these very large data sets, in a way that assures the security of sensitive patient information, and in developing a formal certification process to qualify entities for participation.


Core Mission and Goals

IMPAQ’s mission is to bring together exceptional people to develop rigorous and innovative solutions that will improve the lives of people across the globe. IMPAQ conducts policy research and evaluation and is about real world impact.

The organization has grown from just a couple of people to more than two hundred within a decade of its founding. IMPAQ’s goal for the next five to ten years is to continue to expand services to the federal government, and offer similar services to clients in state and local governments and in the private sector. At the same time, they look to maintain a culture that is entrepreneurial and nimble,  a place that continues to be rated by staff as among the best places to work—not only in the region but in the United States. 

To learn about IMPAQ International visit or follow on Twitter .

Back to news