Administrative Data: When Is It Useful for Estimating Impact?

In early October, we had the pleasure of participating in a meeting sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services entitled "The Promises and Challenges of Administrative Data in Social Policy Research." Consistent with the title of the meeting, the presentations emphasized both the promise of using administrative data for policy analysis and the real challenges of doing so: getting access to the data, understanding what it means, verifying that it is sufficient for the intended purpose.

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From Middle to Golden Age: What the Future of Evaluation Holds

I recently hit middle age: with that birthday, and given my projections, I have as many years behind me as I have ahead. In my professional life (I've spent the past 20 years as an evaluator of social welfare policies and programs), this landmark event has had me considering the future of our field. At the annual fall conferences of the American Evaluation Association (AEA; in Chicago, November 11-14) and of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM; in Miami, November 12-14), I recently had the opportunity to ask several scholars this question:  what does the future hold for the field of program evaluation?

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You're a What? A Program Evaluator?

From dinner parties to our children's career days in school, there's a question that invariably comes up when we're asked about our jobs: what do program evaluators do, exactly?

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Why Randomize? A Primer on Experimental Evaluations

Although Abt engages in a wide variety of research and evaluation activities, what is central to my work in particular are evaluations that use an experimental design. This blog post explains what experiments are and why we do them.

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