July 29, 2015

Dear members of the United States Senate:
I write to encourage you to take up and quickly pass the Evidence-Based Policymaking
Commission Act of 2015 (S.991), a bill that would dramatically increase our ability to measure
what truly works in fighting poverty in America.
As the head of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA)’s government affairs and social policy efforts,
and a leader of Catholic Charities in Youngstown for over 20 years, I can speak with experience
to the importance of rigorous evaluation in measuring what works – and what does not – in
fighting poverty. Our agencies have been on the front lines of building relationships with
researchers to study the true impact of innovative programming, and want to know their
resources and efforts are being put towards models that have been shown to be effective. But in
many cases, there is much study left to be done.
We believe that debates around anti-poverty programs shouldn’t take place in a vacuum, but
should be well-informed by reliable data around what works, not just what has good intentions.
This bill would be an important step forward in improving our knowledge around what
approaches to ending poverty are sustainable, scalable, and successful.
It would appoint a 15-member commission to examine our country’s data collection and research
policies, ensuring that researchers have access to powerful administrative data in a way that
protects client privacy. This commission would help incorporate randomized control trials – the
gold standard of academic research – as well as other forms of appropriate qualitative and
quantitative research into government programs. This has the potential to give us far greater
insights into how programs can operate more efficiently and, more importantly, effectively in
helping those struggling in America make strides out of poverty.
We believe before you can invest in what works, you have to know what has been shown to
work. If you are interested in learning more about our network's commitment to evidence-based
practice and policymaking, please feel free to contact my staff and we would be happy to find
time to brief you about our efforts.
For hundreds of years, Catholic Charities agencies have been serving the needs of the most
vulnerable, and are committed to the belief that we can always do better in feeding the hungry,
clothing the naked, and sheltering the homeless. This bill will help our nation get closer to our
common goal of improving the lives of the least among us, and we encourage you to send it to
President Obama for his signature without delay.
Sincerely,
Brian R. Corbin
Exec. Vice President, External Relations
Catholic Charities USA

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