Governments are facing growing pressures to deliver public services to citizens in a complex, fragmented and unpredictable environment. Evidence-informed policy-making can play a crucial role in designing, implementing and delivering better public policies. However, effectively connecting evidence and policy- making remains a challenge. Institutional gaps, insufficient skills and capacity, and a lack of an effective knowledge-brokering function are common barriers to the use of evidence in policy-making. A failure to act on evidence about which polices work, which do not, and why, is an inefficient use of resources. Therefore, increasing government’s capacity for an evidence-informed approach to policy-making is an essential part of good public governance.

The report focuses on the skills and capacities governments need to strengthen evidence-informed policy-making, including issues of staff capability, in terms of psychological and physical capacity, knowledge and skills, motivation and opportunity in terms of the external factors that prompt an individual to make use of evidence. The report identifies tools, strategies and possible interventions governments can use at the individual, organisational and institutional level. In terms of the individual skills, the report identifies the skills to understand, obtain, interrogate and assess, use and apply evidence; as well as the capacity to engage with stakeholders and evaluate the success of evidence-informed policy-making.

Beyond individual skills, the report also analyses the capacity for uptake of evidence-informed decision making at the organisational level, in terms of the institutional, strategic and human resource management aspects. Finally, the report considers the wider capacity of the public sector to facilitate an evidence-driven management and decision-making culture. On all these dimensions, the report offers concrete examples and highlights the role of institutions, organisations and leadership.

This work was undertaken in the context of the OECD work on fostering evidence-informed policy-making as part of the activities of the Public Governance Committee for 2019-20 and benefited from collaboration with the European Union Joint Research Centre.

Strengthening capacity for use and demand of evidence remains a work in progress in many jurisdictions. But it is also an essential element for maintaining citizens’ trust in decision-making processes across public institutions.

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