May 10, 2016
Michael Nutter, the ever-busy former mayor of Philadelphia, believes more local and state programs funded by federal dollars should provide hard evidence they're effective, according to a recent op-ed.
Nutter wrote in favor of the Social Impact Partnership Act, the merits of which will be debated in the U.S. Senate Finance Committee Tuesday.
The legislation — co-sponsored by a bipartisan group that includes New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker — would require the Treasury Department to accept applications for funds to create programs that "produce a measurable, clearly defined outcome."
Under the law, state and local governments would have to conduct feasibility studies, the results of which would determine whether programs continue receiving money.
In Nutter's op-ed, published on The Hill, he says the bill would help solve a recurring problem in government:
For too long, government has been investing in programs that could be working or feel like they are working, without any rigorous evidence to prove they are working. As a result, we continue to see poor outcomes: stubbornly high poverty rates and rising income inequality, to name a few.
With evidence-based policy, we can raise the bar for government effectiveness and efficiency. Taxpayer resources will be invested wisely in the nation’s wellbeing. And residents will no longer waste time on programs that are not working. Instead, more often, they will receive services that we know work to help them get back on their feet.
Nutter cites a pilot program conducted under his administration that found areas of the city under increased police foot patrols saw a reduction in violent crime.
Two of the bill's primary sponsors, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, echoed similar sentiments about government accountability when they introduced the legislation in April 2015.
"This bill will keep control in hands of local leaders, reduce the federal bureaucracy, and help improve outcomes for those who use the services and the taxpayers that pay for them," Hatch said in a press release.