Dozens of federal social programs continue to operate without any useful measure of their effectiveness, Heritage Foundation expert David Muhlhausen told members of a House subcommittee last week.
At the moment, “Congress has no credible information on the performance of the overwhelming majority of federal social programs,” Muhlhausen testified.
Many social programs, he explained, are evaluated only in small-scale pilot programs before being rolled out—and real-life outcomes often differ dramatically from carefully-controlled pilots.
To solve this problem, lawmakers should use continuous, rigorous scientific experiments to determine whether programs are working, said Muhlhausen, author of the book Do Federal Social Programs Work? Lawmakers should also recognize that popular programs can have negative consequences.
Where else can government use a dose of rigorous evaluation?