The Path to an Efficient Government

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By Jon Wolper –

Review of Moneyball for Government, Second Edition

Several years ago, Results for America—an organization dedicated to “improving outcomes for young people, their families, and communities by shifting public resources toward practices, policies, and programs that use evidence and data to improve quality and get better results,” according to its website—released Moneyball for Government. This book of essays from politicians, government leaders, and others discussed the importance of the government using data to best inform its policy and funding decisions. Now, for its second edition, editors Jim Nussle and Peter Orszag have added a new essay to the mix: “Foreign Assistance and the Revolution of Rigor,” by Michael Gerson and Raj Shah.

Gerson, the assistant to the president for policy and strategic planning under President George W. Bush, and Shah, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development under President Barack Obama, provide a “nonpartisan road map of best practices that can continue to transform the way the United States provides foreign assistance.” That includes using new technology and innovation to provide positive outcomes, making sure that those in international development leadership roles believe that data and evidence are paramount, staying away from the urge to regress to old patterns that don’t use data and evidence to achieve results, and more.

The essay slots nicely into the book, which features a total of 13 pieces from outside contributors (not including the preface and introductory chapter, which explain how Moneyball—a concept that comes from the Oakland Athletics baseball team, which leveraged its modest means into a positive, instead of a hindrance—can be applied to government spending and policy). Together, the essays are meant to provide different voices and ideas for how large-scale progress can be made for kids and families by changing resource allocation, among other things, in government.

“That’s what this book is all about: dramatically expanding opportunity by making sure that policy and funding decisions by governments at all levels are informed by the best possible data and evidence about impact,” Michele Jolin, the founder and managing partner of Results for America, writes in the book’s preface.

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