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World Statistics Day

The Importance of Evidence-Based Policy Making

What is evidence-based policy?

Evidence-based policy helps people to make well-informed decisions about policies, programmes and projects, by placing the best available evidence from research at the heart of policy development and implementation. Evidence-based policy also makes explicit what is known through scientific evidence and importantly, what is not known.

In contrast to opinion based policy, evidence-based policyneeds an evidence base at all stages in the policy cycle to:

  • shape agendas
  • define issues
  • identify options
  • make choices of action
  • deliver them and
  • monitor their impact and outcomes.

The pre-requisite for evidence-based policy and for managing for results is that the data must be trustworthy and depends upon the quality of the data and the quality of the professional statisticians.

Quality of data

It is not enough that the data are trustworthy - they must also be trusted, otherwise they won't be used. Credible statistics are important for:

  • good government and the delivery of public services
  • decision making in all sectors of society
  • empowerment of the general public
  • managing developing and ensuring that policies reflect the needs of the people
  • democracy, providing Parliament and the public with a window on society and the economy, and on the work and performance of government 

To counteract lack of trust in official data:

  • there must be no political interference with the data and no perception that there is
  • issues as to who has access to data prior to its release are critical
  • those who have prior access are identified
  • the length of time of prior access must be limited
  • data should be released by statisticians and separated from the political spin
  • leakages should be actively investigated
See also: Public Policy-related studies at King's.
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