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114th Congress    }                                       {     Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session      }                                       {    114-211

======================================================================



 
           EVIDENCE-BASED POLICYMAKING COMMISSION ACT OF 2015

                                _______
                                

 July 16, 2015.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Chaffetz, from the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 1831]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to whom 
was referred the bill (H.R. 1831) to establish the Commission 
on Evidence-Based Policymaking, and for other purposes, having 
considered the same, report favorably thereon with an amendment 
and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Committee Statement and Views....................................     4
Section-by-Section...............................................     5
Explanation of Amendments........................................     6
Committee Consideration..........................................     7
Roll Call Votes..................................................     7
Application of Law to the Legislative Branch.....................     7
Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the 
  Committee......................................................     7
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     7
Duplication of Federal Programs..................................     7
Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings..............................     7
Federal Advisory Committee Act...................................     7
Unfunded Mandate Statement.......................................     8
Earmark Identification...........................................     8
Committee Estimate...............................................     8
Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate...     8

    The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission 
Act of 2015''.

SEC. 2. ESTABLISHMENT.

  There is established in the executive branch a commission to be known 
as the ``Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking'' (in this Act 
referred to as the ``Commission'').

SEC. 3. MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION.

  (a) Number and Appointment.--The Commission shall be comprised of 15 
members as follows:
          (1) Three shall be appointed by the President, of whom--
                  (A) one shall be an academic researcher, data expert, 
                or have experience in administering programs;
                  (B) one shall have expertise in database management, 
                confidentiality, and privacy matters; and
                  (C) one shall be the Director of the Office of 
                Management and Budget (or the Director's designee).
          (2) Three shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of 
        Representatives, of whom--
                  (A) two shall be academic researchers, data experts, 
                or have experience in administering programs; and
                  (B) one shall have expertise in database management, 
                confidentiality, and privacy matters.
          (3) Three shall be appointed by the Minority Leader of the 
        House of Representatives, of whom--
                  (A) two shall be academic researchers, data experts, 
                or have experience in administering programs; and
                  (B) one shall have expertise in database management, 
                confidentiality, and privacy matters.
          (4) Three shall be appointed by the Majority Leader of the 
        Senate, of whom--
                  (A) two shall be academic researchers, data experts, 
                or have experience in administering programs; and
                  (B) one shall have expertise in database management, 
                confidentiality, and privacy matters.
          (5) Three shall be appointed by the Minority Leader of the 
        Senate, of whom--
                  (A) two shall be academic researchers, data experts, 
                or have experience in administering programs; and
                  (B) one shall have expertise in database management, 
                confidentiality, and privacy matters.
  (b) Expertise.--In making appointments under this section, 
consideration should be given to individuals with expertise in 
economics, statistics, program evaluation, data security, 
confidentiality, or database management.
  (c) Chairperson and Co-chairperson.--The President shall select the 
chairperson of the Commission and the Speaker of the House of 
Representatives shall select the co-chairperson.
  (d) Timing of Appointments.--Appointments to the Commission shall be 
made not later than 45 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
  (e) Terms; Vacancies.--Each member shall be appointed for the 
duration of the Commission. Any vacancy in the Commission shall not 
affect its powers, and shall be filled in the manner in which the 
original appointment was made.
  (f) Compensation.--Members of the Commission shall serve without pay.
  (g) Travel Expenses.--Each member of the Commission shall be allowed 
travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, at rates 
authorized for employees of agencies under subchapter I of chapter 57 
of title 5, United States Code, while away from their homes or regular 
places of business in the performance of services for the Commission.

SEC. 4. DUTIES OF THE COMMISSION.

  (a) Study of Data.--The Commission shall conduct a comprehensive 
study of the data inventory, data infrastructure, and statistical 
protocols related to Federal policymaking and the agencies responsible 
for maintaining that data to--
          (1) determine the optimal arrangement for which 
        administrative data on Federal programs and tax expenditures 
        and related data series may be integrated and made available to 
        facilitate program evaluation, continuous improvement, policy-
        relevant research, and cost-benefit analyses by qualified 
        researchers and institutions;
          (2) make recommendations on how data infrastructure and 
        protocols should be modified to best fulfill the objectives 
        identified in paragraph (1); and
          (3) make recommendations on how best to incorporate outcomes 
        measurement, institutionalize randomized controlled trials, and 
        rigorous impact analysis into program design.
  (b) Clearinghouse.--In undertaking the study required by subsection 
(a), the Commission shall consider whether a clearinghouse for program 
and survey data should be established and how to create such a 
clearinghouse. The Commission shall evaluate--
          (1) what administrative data are relevant for program 
        evaluation and Federal policy-making and should be included in 
        a potential clearinghouse;
          (2) which survey data the administrative data identified in 
        paragraph (1) may be linked to, in addition to linkages across 
        administrative data series;
          (3) what are the legal and administrative barriers to 
        including or linking these data series;
          (4) what data-sharing infrastructure should be used to 
        facilitate data merging and access for research purposes;
          (5) how a clearinghouse could be self-funded;
          (6) which types of researchers, officials, and institutions 
        should have access to data and what their qualifications should 
        be;
          (7) what limitations should be placed on the use of data 
        provided;
          (8) how to protect information and ensure individual privacy 
        and confidentiality;
          (9) how data and results of research can be used to inform 
        program administrators and policymakers to improve program 
        design; and
          (10) what incentives may facilitate interagency sharing of 
        information to improve programmatic effectiveness and enhance 
        data accuracy and comprehensiveness.
  (c) Report.--Upon the affirmative vote of at least three-quarters of 
the members of the Commission, the Commission shall submit to the 
President and Congress a detailed statement of its findings and 
conclusions as a result of the activities required by subsections (a) 
and (b), together with its recommendations for such legislation or 
administrative actions as the Commission considers appropriate in light 
of the results of the study.
  (d) Deadline.--The report under subsection (c) shall be submitted not 
later than the date that is 15 months after the date a majority of the 
members of the Commission are appointed pursuant to section 3.
  (e) Definition.--In this section, the term ``administrative data'' 
means data--
          (1) held by an agency or a contractor or grantee of an agency 
        (including a State or unit of local government); and
          (2) collected for other than statistical purposes.

SEC. 5. OPERATION AND POWERS OF THE COMMISSION.

  (a) Executive Branch Assistance.--The heads of the following agencies 
shall advise and consult with the Commission on matters within their 
respective areas of responsibility:
          (1) The Bureau of the Census.
          (2) The Internal Revenue Service.
          (3) The Department of Health and Human Services.
          (4) The Department of Agriculture.
          (5) The Department of Housing and Urban Development.
          (6) The Social Security Administration.
          (7) The Department of Education.
          (8) The Department of Justice.
          (9) The Office of Management and Budget.
          (10) The Bureau of Economic Analysis.
          (11) The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
          (12) Any other agency, as determined by the Commission.
  (b) Meetings.--The Commission shall meet not later than 30 days after 
the date upon which a majority of its members have been appointed and 
at such times thereafter as the chairperson or co-chairperson shall 
determine.
  (c) Rules of Procedure.--The chairperson and co-chairperson shall, 
with the approval of a majority of the members of the Commission, 
establish written rules of procedure for the Commission, which shall 
include a quorum requirement to conduct the business of the Commission.
  (d) Hearings.--The Commission may, for the purpose of carrying out 
this Act, hold hearings, sit and act at times and places, take 
testimony, and receive evidence as the Commission considers 
appropriate.
  (e) Contracts.--The Commission may contract with and compensate 
government and private agencies or persons for any purpose necessary to 
enable it to carry out this Act.
  (f) Mails.--The Commission may use the United States mails in the 
same manner and under the same conditions as other agencies of the 
Federal Government.
  (g) Gifts.--The Commission may accept, use, and dispose of gifts or 
donations of services or property.

SEC. 6. FUNDING.

  Subject to the availability of appropriations--
          (1) at the request of the Director of the Census, the 
        agencies identified as ``Principal Statistical Agencies'' in 
        the report, published by the Office of Management and Budget, 
        entitled ``Statistical Programs of the United States 
        Government, Fiscal Year 2015'' shall provide funds, in a total 
        amount not to exceed $3,000,000, to the Director for purposes 
        of carrying out the activities of the Commission as provided in 
        this Act; and
          (2) the Bureau of the Census shall provide administrative 
        support to the Commission, which may include providing physical 
        space at, and access to, the headquarters of the Bureau of the 
        Census, located in Suitland, Maryland.

SEC. 7. PERSONNEL.

  (a) Director.--The Commission shall have a Director who shall be 
appointed by the chairperson with the concurrence of the co-
chairperson. The Director shall be paid at a rate of pay established by 
the chairperson and co-chairperson, not to exceed the annual rate of 
basic pay payable for level V of the Executive Schedule (section 5316 
of title 5, United States Code).
  (b) Staff.--The Director may appoint and fix the pay of additional 
staff as the Director considers appropriate.
  (c) Experts and Consultants.--The Commission may procure temporary 
and intermittent services under section 3109(b) of title 5, United 
States Code, at rates for individuals which do not to exceed the daily 
equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay for a comparable position 
paid under the General Schedule.

SEC. 8. TERMINATION.

  The Commission shall terminate not later than 18 months after the 
date of enactment of this Act.

                     Committee Statement and Views


                          PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    H.R. 1831, the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act 
of 2015, establishes a 15-member commission to study how best 
to expand the use of data to evaluate the effectiveness of 
federal programs and tax expenditures. The commission would 
study data inventories, data infrastructure, and statistical 
protocols across the federal government, and make 
recommendations on how to incorporate outcomes measurements, 
randomized controlled trials, and rigorous impact analyses into 
program design. The commission would consider whether a data 
clearinghouse should be established to ensure federal data is 
available to policymakers, and also study how best to protect 
the privacy rights of individuals who interact with federal 
agencies. The commission's authority would terminate 18 months 
after enactment of the bill.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    The erosion of American leadership in empirical research 
reinforces concerns about the effectiveness of government.\1\ 
The federal government administers more than 1,500 different 
programs\2\ and is on track to spend more than $4 trillion 
annually by 2017.\3\ Annual federal spending is estimated to 
grow by another trillion dollars less than five years later.\4\ 
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Act, only 37 
percent of program managers said that an evaluation of their 
programs had been completed in the last five years.\5\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Expanding Opportunity by Funding What Works: Using Evidence to 
Help Low-Income Individuals and Families Get Ahead: Hearing Before the 
H. Comm. on Ways and Means Subcomm. on Human Resources, 114th Cong. 
(Mar. 17, 2015) (statement of David B. Muhlhausen, Research Fellow in 
Empirical Policy Analysis, Heritage Foundation)
    \2\U.S. Gov't Accountability Office, GAO-15-83, Government 
Efficiency and Effectiveness: Inconsistent Definitions and Information 
Limit the Usefulness of Federal Program Inventories (2014), available 
at: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-83.
    \3\ Cong. Budget Office, An Update to the Budget and Economic 
Outlook: 2014 to 2024, available at: https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/
files/45653-OutlookUpdate_2014_Aug.pdf. 
    \4\Id. 
    \5\ U.S. Gov't Accountability Office, GAO-13-570, Program 
Evaluation: Strategies to Facilitate Agencies' Use of Evaluation in 
Program Management and Policymaking (2013), available at: http://
www.gao.gov/assets/660/655518.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Without evidence, the federal government is an ineffective 
fiduciary on behalf of the taxpayer. Unfortunately, in many 
instances, federal decision-makers do not have access to the 
data necessary to best inform decisions. In such instances, 
agencies are unable to show the benefits or impacts of the 
programs they administer and cannot determine what, if any, 
unintended consequences are created by programs, or whether 
programs can be improved.
    Ensuring policymakers have access to high quality 
administrative data is essential for evidence-based 
policymaking. Administrative data already exists and tested 
protocols are in place to facilitate merging of information and 
ensure confidentiality, yet agencies fail to share data with 
each other in ways that might improve program outcomes. 
Further,
    Statutory restrictions often prevent agencies from sharing 
data with researchers who may be in a position to help the 
federal government identify needed solutions.
    The first step in creating a culture of evidence-based 
policymaking is to determine what data is available and how to 
best get the data to policymakers. The Evidence-Based Policy 
Commission Act of 2015 will bring together leading researchers, 
program administrators, and experts to conduct a thorough study 
of existing infrastructure and statistical protocols. These 
individuals will consider various methods of ensuring that 
policymakers have the access they need while balancing personal 
privacy and data integrity interests, and make recommendations 
on how to best approach the issue of federal data access.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    H.R. 1831, the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act 
of 2015, was introduced on April 16, 2015 by Congressman Paul 
Ryan (R-WI) and referred to the Committee on Oversight and 
Government Reform. On May 19, 2015, the Committee ordered H.R. 
1831 favorably reported, as amended. S. 991, the Senate 
companion bill, was introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) 
on April 16, 2015 and referred to the Senate Committee on 
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
    In the 113th Congress, similar legislation, H.R. 5754, the 
Evidence Based-Policymaking Commission Act of 2014, was 
introduced in the House on November 20, 2015 and referred to 
the Committee. S. 2952, the Senate companion bill, was 
introduced in the Senate.

                           Section-by-Section


Section 1. Short title

    Designates the short title of the bill as the ``Evidence-
Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2015.''

Section 2. Establishment

    Establishes the new Commission on Evidence-Based 
Policymaking within the Executive Branch.

Section 3. Members of the Commission

    Requires the President and Congressional leaders to appoint 
a total of 15 members within 45 days, who will serve without 
pay for the duration of the Commission.
    Requires the President to designate the Chairperson and the 
Speaker of the House of Representatives to designate the co-
chairperson.

Section 4. Duties of the Commission

    Requires the Commission to study data related to federal 
policy making and the agencies responsible for maintaining data 
to determine the optimal arrangement of federal data, make 
recommendations on necessary changes to data infrastructure and 
protocols, and make recommendations on how to best incorporate 
performance measures, controlled trials, and impact analysis 
into program design.
    Requires the Commission to consider whether and how to 
establish a federal data clearinghouse.
    Requires the Commission to submit to the President and to 
Congress a detailed statement of its findings and conclusion as 
a result of the study and consideration of the clearinghouse.

Section 5. Operation and powers of the Commission

    Provides for Federal agencies to advise and consult with 
the Commission.
    Requires the Commission to meet within 30 days of the 
appointment of a majority of the members and to establish 
written rules of procedure.
    Provides the Commission with the authority to hold 
hearings, take testimony, and receive evidence.
    Provides the Commission with the authority to contract, use 
the mail, and accept gifts.

Section 6. Funding

    Requires statistical agencies to provide funds at the 
request of the Director of the Census for purposes of the 
carrying out the activities of the Commission and requires the 
Bureau of the Census to provide administrative support.

Section 7. Personnel

    Provides a director, appointed by the chairperson with the 
concurrence of the co-chairperson, who may appoint staff and 
retain experts and consultants.

Section 8. Termination

    Ends the Commission 18 months after enactment of the Act.

                       Explanation of Amendments

    Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) offered an amendment in the 
nature of a substitute to the bill. The amendment was adopted 
by voice vote. The bill, as amended, was then adopted and 
favorably reported to the House by voice vote.

                        Committee Consideration

    On May 19, 2015 the Committee met in open session and 
ordered reported favorably the bill, H.R. 1831, as amended, by 
voice vote, a quorum being present.

                            Roll Call Votes

    There were no recorded votes during Full Committee 
consideration of H.R. 1831.

              Application of Law to the Legislative Branch

    Section 102(b)(3) of Public Law 104-1 requires a 
description of the application of this bill to the legislative 
branch where the bill relates to the terms and conditions of 
employment or access to public services and accommodations. 
This bill establishes the Commission on Evidence-Based 
Policymaking. As such this bill does not relate to employment 
or access to public services and accommodations.

  Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the Committee

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of 
this report.

         Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives

    In accordance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee's performance 
goal or objective of this bill is to establish the Commission 
on Evidence-Based Policymaking.

                    Duplication of Federal Programs

    No provision of this bill establishes or reauthorizes a 
program of the Federal Government known to be duplicative of 
another Federal program, a program that was included in any 
report from the Government Accountability Office to Congress 
pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program 
related to a program identified in the most recent Catalog of 
Federal Domestic Assistance.

                  Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings

    The Committee estimates that enacting this bill does not 
direct the completion of any specific rule makings within the 
meaning of 5 U.S.C. 551.

                     Federal Advisory Committee Act

    The Committee finds that the legislation does establish or 
authorize the establishment of an advisory committee within the 
definition of 5 U.S.C. App., Section 5(b).

                       Unfunded Mandate Statement

    Section 423 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment 
Control Act (as amended by Section 101(a)(2) of the Unfunded 
Mandate Reform Act, P.L. 104-4) requires a statement as to 
whether the provisions of the reported include unfunded 
mandates. In compliance with this requirement the Committee has 
received a letter from the Congressional Budget Office included 
herein.

                         Earmark Identification

    This bill does not include any congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9 of rule XXI.

                           Committee Estimate

    Clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires an estimate and a comparison by the 
Committee of the costs that would be incurred in carrying out 
this bill. However, clause 3(d)(2)(B) of that rule provides 
that this requirement does not apply when the Committee has 
included in its report a timely submitted cost estimate of the 
bill prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974.

     Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 
308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and with respect 
to requirements of clause (3)(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives and section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has received 
the following cost estimate for this bill from the Director of 
Congressional Budget Office:

H.R. 1831--Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2015

    H.R. 1831 would establish the Commission on Evidence-Based 
Policymaking (commission) to study the inventory and 
infrastructure of data related to federal programs. The 15-
member commission would be directed to determine the best 
structure for information that is collected and maintained by 
federal agencies to effectively analyze and evaluate federal 
programs. In addition, the commission would consider whether to 
establish a clearinghouse for information collected by federal 
agencies. Finally, the bill would require the commission to 
report to the President and the Congress, no later than 15 
months after a majority of members have ben appointed, a 
statement of its findings along with recommendations for 
legislation or administrative actions it considers appropriate. 
The commission's authority would terminate 18 months after 
enactment of the bill.
    CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 1831 would cost $3 
million over the 2016-2020 period, assuming appropriation of 
the necessary amounts. The bill would authorize several federal 
agencies to contribute up to $3 million from appropriated funds 
to carry out the duties of the commission. Enacting H.R. 1831 
would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-
as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    H.R. 1831 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Susan Willie. 
The estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                                  [all]