Presidential Evidence Initiatives: Lessons from the Bush and Obama Administrations’ Efforts to Improve Government Performance

  • Description

Calls for assessing how well government programs work have been around for decades. The George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations both espoused support for the generation and use of evidence to guide and improve government management. The two presidents brought very different professional experiences, political views, and policy advisors to the job as chief executive of the federal bureaucracy, yet their "President's Management Agendas" established similar expectations about the use of evaluation and performance information.

This paper provides an overview of each administration's approach, then highlights four key lessons for improving frameworks for government performance and better enabling evidence-based policymaking in practice.