Laboratories of Democracy
The Laboratories of Democracy is a resource that can provide expertise in policy evaluation to government officials, nonprofits, and other actors. They are a group of academic researchers from universities across the United States with extensive experience in designing and implementing experiments in real world settings. Experiments are the gold standard for policy evaluation and are widely used in many fields — such as medicine, campaigns, education, advertising, and international development — but are underutilized in studying governance. The researchers help public officials and other civic groups conduct rigorous analysis of their practices with an eye to improving program effectiveness and efficiency. They compile and distribute the results of their studies so that all interested governments and organizations can learn the lessons from the policies that have been evaluated. Their goal is to prevent the waste caused by ineffective (or, worse, harmful) policies and steer organizations towards established best practices.