BUILDING A BETTER FEEDBACK LOOP: LABOR TO ESTABLISH AN EVALUATOR GENERAL
A Shorten Labor Government will deliver better government programs by creating an Evaluator General.
The office of the Evaluator General, to be based within Treasury, will work with other departments to conduct high-quality evaluations, preferably randomised trials, of government programs.
Increasingly, policymakers in other nations are testing programs through randomised trials, with the same kind of control group used to evaluate new pharmaceuticals in clinical drug trials.
When Australian policymakers develop programs in early childhood, health, crime and employment, we often look to those overseas randomised trials.
But while there have been a handful of local randomised policy trials - such as Victoria’s Journey to Social Inclusion experiment and the Early Years Education Program – relatively few Australian policies are subjected to rigorous evaluation.
The Auditor-General, the Productivity Commission, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the former COAG Reform Council and the Grattan Institute have all called for better evaluation of Australian government programs. The test-learn-adapt approach is vital to making progress on major challenges such as wage inequality, social mobility and Closing the Gap.
Last year, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Tax called for the tax office to:
… make greater use of behavioural insights techniques, such as randomised controlled trials, before full implementation of new initiatives to determine if such changes are indeed better than current practices, and if so, which changes are the most effective.
Many of the world’s most successful companies use randomised trials to boost productivity. In development economics, donors such as the World Bank and the Gates Foundation use randomised trials to identify the programs that are most effective at alleviating poverty.
The Evaluator General will collaborate with existing evaluation bodies, in addition to working with the Evidence Institute for Schools, a body Labor has pledged to create within the Department of Education and Training.
The Evaluator General will be funded with $5 million per year, starting in 2019-20.
Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.