Evidence Capacity in Organizations: A Literature-Informed Framework
This brief describes a framework for evidence capacity. The brief introduces the framework’s five dimensions and the components that comprise each dimension. The dimensions are evidence culture, evidence infrastructure, engagement, human capital, and leadership.
The framework is organized by individual, interpersonal, and organizational levels. A graphic with three concentric circles depicts these levels and identifies the relevant components by dimension. Most components pertain to evidence capacity at the organizational level, with a few components at the interpersonal level and one component at the individual level. This suggests that much of evidence capacity is driven by organizational efforts and cannot be sustained by a few trained individuals in a silo.
Federal agencies often have experience with building and using evidence to design, manage, and improve their work on behalf of the public. All agencies, regardless of their experience level, can benefit from assessing their capacity to build and apply evidence in their work. The brief presents an evidence capacity framework that draws on research literature supplemented with interviews and focus groups with federal staff. Federal agencies could use this framework to inform their evidence capacity assessments required under the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (the Evidence Act). Specifically, agencies could use this framework to lead qualitative self-assessment and reflection about their current capacity and to begin strategic conversations about ways to strengthen capacity within their agency. The framework can help agencies develop a shared understanding of the capacities they are trying to develop and the opportunities they could unlock by developing those capacities. Likewise, state and local government agencies, as well as private-sector human services organizations, can use the framework to assess their capacity to build and use evidence about their own work and contribute evidence as requested by federal agencies.