2018 Federal Standard of Excellence


Did the agency have staff, policies, and processes in place that encouraged innovation to improve the impact of its programs in FY18? (Examples: Prizes and challenges; behavioral science trials; innovation labs/accelerators; performance partnership pilots; demonstration projects or waivers with strong evaluation requirements)

Administration for Children and Families (HHS)
  • ACF’s Behavioral Innovations to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project was the first major effort to apply a behavioral economics lens to programs that serve poor families in the U.S. The project conducted 15 rapid-cycle randomized tests of behavioral innovations in seven states with nearly 100,000 sample members. The results of these tests demonstrated the promise of applying insights from behavioral science to improve human services program outcomes.The Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency-Next Generation project (BIAS-NG) continues ACF’s exploration of the application of behavioral science to the programs and target populations of ACF. Additionally, the Behavioral Interventions Scholars grant program (BIS) supports dissertation research that applies a behavioral science lens to research questions relevant to social services programs and policies and other issues facing low-income families.
  • ACF is in the process of procuring a contract to build knowledge about the utility of human-centered design approaches in the context of delivery of human services. Key project tasks will include expert consultation, review of the knowledge base, a synthesis of the current state of the field, and a pilot study of the feasibility of implementation of human-centered design in ACF programs. This work builds on prior work done by ACF’s Office of Family Assistance testing the utility of design thinking as a creative problem solving approach for social service organizations.
  • ACF has actively participated in the HHS IDEA Lab, an entity within HHS launched in 2013 to invest in internal innovation, leverage external innovation, and build collaborative communities to tackle cross-cutting issues of strategic importance. Projects have included the ACF Administration for Native Americans’ Application Toolkit andDataQuest: Making ACF Native Data Visible and Useful, the ACF Office of Family Assistance’s Understanding Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Through Data Visualization, and the ACF Office of Head Start’s Partnership Alignment Information Response System.
  • Several ACF grant programs are demonstration projects or allow waivers with evaluation requirements. Examples are listed below:
    • The Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) program was authorized as a demonstration program with a mandated federal evaluation. OPRE is utilizing a multi-pronged evaluation strategy to document the operations and assess the success of the HPOG program. The evaluation strategy aims to provide information on program implementation, systems change, outcomes, and impacts.
    • ACF’s Office of Child Support Enforcement administers grant-funded demonstration projects and waivers with research components. Current examples include: the Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt demonstration project (PJAC), which will allow grantees to examine whether incorporating procedural justice principles into child support business practices increases reliable child support payments; the Behavioral Interventions for Child Support Services Demonstration Program (BICS), which is testing how behavioral economic strategies affect child support results; the National Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration Project (CSPED), which is testing the efficacy of child support-led employment programs; and Parenting Time Opportunities for Children in the Child Support Program (PTOC), which is testing approaches to safely develop parenting time orders at the time child support is established.
    • ACF’s Foster Care program ($5.3 billion in FY16) has approved over 30 jurisdictions to develop and implement child welfare waiver demonstration projects to improve outcomes for children in foster care or at risk for entry or re-entry into foster care. Through these demonstrations, ACF waives provisions of law to allow flexible use of funding normally limited to foster care for other child welfare services. Many participating jurisdictions are implementing evidence-based or evidence-informed interventions and all demonstration projects are required to have a rigorous evaluation conducted by a third-party evaluator. Although ACF does not currently have statutory authority to grant new waivers, current projects are expected to continue through September 30, 2019. General information on this program, including a fact sheet and summary of relevant legislation/policy, is available at the online Children’s Bureau portal.
Administration for Community Living
  • ACL has historically used innovation dollars provided under Title IV of OAA as a means of testing new approaches to service delivery and developing replicable models that could then be embedded into core programs. One example of how this approach has been used effectively is the Title III-D Preventive Health Services Program. Since 2003, ACL has tested evidence-based models for delivering health services in community-based settings across a variety of areas, including Chronic Disease Self-Management, Falls Prevention, Enhanced Fitness, and Medication Management. As these models proved more successful than traditional approaches, states increasingly shifted their funding to provide greater support to evidence-based approaches.
  • In FY18 ACL released a new grant opportunity from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) under the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR), Phase I. An estimated 10 grants will be awarded to small businesses. The purpose of the SBIR program is to stimulate technological innovation in the private sector, strengthen the role of small business in meeting federal research or research and development needs, and improve the return on investment from federally-funded research for economic and social benefits to the nation.
  • In FY16, ACL established the Elder Justice Innovation Grants program to increase knowledge about effective prevention and intervention of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults, native elders, adults with disabilities, people who self-neglect, and guardianship abuse. In FY18, ACL monitored the second year of two-year grants awarded to five non-profit organizations in FY17 totaling $2.2 million.
  • In 2015, ACL awarded a grant Advancing Person-Centered, Trauma-Informed Supportive Services for Holocaust Survivors to develop and implement person-centered, trauma-informed supportive services for Holocaust survivors living in the United States. In FY18, the program worked with one grantee and more than 50 community-based sub-grantees to develop innovative interventions that seek to minimize the risk of re-traumatization by receiving supportive services. To date, more than 40 new models of care have been developed.
  • In FY18, ACL will award grants under the Alzheimer’s Disease Programs to States and Communities (HHS-2018-ACL-AOA-ADPI-0307). The ACL’s Alzheimer’s Disease Programs Initiative (ADPI) is informed by the work and recommendations of National Alzheimer’s Project Act Advisory Committee. The ADPI is implemented with authority contained within Title IV of the Older Americans Act and is designed to pilot dementia-capable HCBS programs to states and communities, evaluate program outcomes and use program outcome data to garner support to sustain successful initiatives beyond the federal program period.
  • NIDILRR participates in the Small Business Innovation Research program to improve the lives of people with disabilities through research and development of innovative products generated by small businesses, and to increase the commercial application of NIDILRR-supported research results and development products.
  • ACL funds resource centers to promote innovation, such as the Center for Assistive Technology Act Data Assistance. The Innovations in Nutrition Programs and Services program tests innovative and promising practices that move members of the aging services network towards evidenced-based practices that enhance the quality and effectiveness of nutrition services programs.
Corporation for National and Community Service
  •  CNCS awarded four AmeriCorps Evidence-Based Planning grants (an investment of $237,183 in evaluation funds) in FY18 (see grant announcements here). These one-year planning grants were awarded to encourage the identification of a new evidence-based program or practice and develop a strategy for integrating national service into the effective model. In addition, awardees will develop an evaluation plan to assess the innovation should it be funded in future grant competitions. R&E staff is conducting a process evaluation of these grantees to systematically assess the successes and challenges of implementing the grants.
  • CNCS awarded seven AmeriCorps Evidence-Based Planning grants (an investment of $500,000 in evaluation funds) in FY17 (see pages 5 and 20 of the FY18 AmeriCorps State and National Grants notice of funding opportunity). Of the seven Evidence-Based Planning grantees in 2017, twoapplied for competitive 2018 implementation grants, and one applicant was awarded. One grantee is planning to apply for a 2019 implementation grant. In addition, two of the four commission subgrantees applied for 2018 formula funding, and both applications were awarded.
  • Lessons learned from Year 1 include the following: (1) Planning grants need a full year of planning time and R&E support. Currently they receive about three months of support before they must submit their application for the next implementation grant; and (2) the implicit expectation should be that a 2017 planning grantee will apply only for the 2019 funding cycle if a decision is made to implement and evaluate the intervention.
  • CNCS anticipates awarding continuation funds for Commission Investment Fund grants in FY18. Overall, a similar percentage of these grants (roughly one third) will focus on building the capacity of State Commissions and their grantees to collect and use performance and evaluation data. R&E staff are completing a process evaluation of these grantees that will identify the successes and challenges of implementing these grants.
Millennium Challenge Corporation
  • In September 2014, MCC’s Monitoring and Evaluation division launched the agency’s first Open Data Challenge. This challenge encourages Masters and PhD students working in economics, public policy, international development, or other related fields to leverage the MCC Evaluation Catalog to search publicly available, MCC-financed, primary data for policy-relevant analysis. The Open Data Challenge initiative is intended to facilitate broader use of MCC’s US-taxpayer funded data, encourage innovative ideas, and maximize the use of data that MCC finances for its independent evaluations.
  • In 2014, MCC developed an internal “Solutions Lab” that was designed to encourage innovation by engaging staff to come up with creative solutions to some of the biggest challenges MCC faces. MCC promotes agency-wide participation in its Solutions Lab through an internal intranet portal. To further encourage staff who pursue innovative ideas throughout the compact lifecycle, MCC launched the annual MCC Innovation Award as a part of the Agency’s Annual Awards Ceremony held each summer. The Innovation Award recognizes individuals who demonstrate “exemplary” leadership integrating innovation in project design, project implementation, and/or systems functionality and efficiency. Selections for the Innovation Award are based on a demonstrated ability to lead and implement innovative strategies from project conception that foster sustained learning and collaboration and add value to MCC and/or country partnerships.
  • MCC recently launched a Millennium Efficiency Challenge (MEC) to encourage innovation specifically in the compact and threshold program development phase. The challenge was designed to tap into the extensive knowledge of MCC’s staff to identify efficiencies and innovative solutions that can shorten the program development timeline while maintaining MCC’s rigorous quality standards and investment criteria. Winning ideas were selected and are being integrated into the compact development process starting in FY18. Senior management selected two MEC proposals around expedited diagnostics and agile management to build out their ideas and move forward in trial implementation.
  • DCLI, the MCC-PEPFAR partnership discussed in criterion five, also hosts an Innovation Challenge that identifies, supports, and involves country-based youth, developers, programmers, and solution providers through targeted competitions that address specific challenges with data. Since mid-2016, it has reached nearly 1,200 innovators, awarded almost 40 small scale grants in areas related to HIV/AIDS and health, economic empowerment of youth and women, and early childhood development challenges that increase risk and constrain economic potential. A number of these innovations are being considered for scale-up through public-private partnership funding. Another DCLI project, Data Zetu, uses innovative “listening” campaigns to engage over 300 citizens and local leaders in subnational areas to generate over 100,000 hyperlocal data points which can be used to plan development interventions, such as schools, health centers, and specific services. The data collected by this project, including community insights, were “opened” and shared in order to promote transparency and action.
  • MCC regularly engages in implementing test projects as part of its overall Compact programs. A few examples include: (1) in Morocco, an innovative pay for results mechanism to replicate or expand proven programs that provide integrated support including short-term (one to six months) job readiness skills training, technical training, job matching, follow-up to ensure longevity, and other services; (2) a “call-for-ideas” in Benin to interested companies and organizations from around the world to submit information regarding potential projects that would expand access to renewable off-grid electrical power in Benin; (3) a regulatory strengthening project in Sierra Leone that includes funding for a results-based financing system designed to strengthen the regulator’s role, incentivize performance by the utilities, and enhance accountability; and 4) an Innovation Grant Program in Zambia to encourage local innovation in pro-poor service delivery in the water sector through grants to community-based organizations, civil society, and/or private sector entities.
  • MCC has signed a five-year (2017-2022), $450 million grant with the Kingdom of Morocco, called the Morocco Employability and Land Compact. The focus of the Compact is on making improvements toward land productivity and employability to create new economic opportunities, improve workforce skills, and strengthen the business environment. The Labor Market Impact Evaluation Initiative is a key component of the compact aimed at improving labor market outcomes through the use of rigorous quantitative research. The Initiative will finance rigorous impact evaluations and other rigorous empirical studies, as well as policy-research engagements, to build the capacity of the Moroccan government to commission and generate such studies on its own. This is the first time MCC has pursued a country-led Initiative focused on impact evaluations and policy research.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • The SAMHSA Knowledge Network, a collection of technical assistance and training resources provided by the agency, provides behavioral health professionals with education and collaboration opportunities, and ample tools and technical assistance resources that promote innovation in practice and program improvement. Located within the Knowledge Network are groups such as the Center for Financing Reform and Innovation, which works with states and territories, local policy makers, providers, consumers, and other stakeholders to promote innovative financing and delivery system reforms.
  • In addition, SAMHSA participates in collaborations with other HHS agencies to promote innovative uses of data, technology and innovation across HHS to create a more effective government and improve the health of the nation, via the HHS IDEA Lab. SAMHSA has co-developed and submitted several innovative data utilization project proposals to the Ignite Accelerator of the HHS IDEA Lab, such as Rapid Opioid Alert and Response (ROAR), a project to monitor and prevent opioid overdoses by linking heroin users to resources and information.
  • The agency is currently exploring the use of tiered-evidence frameworks in its award decision-making to actively encourage innovation at the grantee/program level. In addition, pursuant to the 21st Century Cures Act, SAMHSA is establishing the National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Laboratory (Policy Lab) (Sec. 7001, p.501), by restructuring the current Office of Policy, Planning, and Innovation (OPPI). The new Policy Lab will review programs and activities operated by the agency to identify programs and activities that are duplicative, identify programs and activities that are not evidence-based or effective, and formulate recommendations for coordinating, elimination, or improving such programs (Sec 7001, pp.502-503).
  • To further promote innovation, per the Cures Act, SAMHSA’s Assistant Secretary may coordinate with the Policy Lab to award grants to states, local governments, tribes and tribal organizations, and other eligible organizations to develop evidence-based interventions. These grants can help support the evaluation of models and interventions that show promise, or the expansion, replication, or scaling up of interventions that have been established as evidence-based (Sec. 7001, pp. 503-504).
U.S. Agency for International Development
  • USAID established the U.S. Global Development Lab (the Lab) in 2014 to increase the application of science, technology, innovation, and partnerships to extend the agency’s development impact in helping to end extreme poverty. In FY17, the Lab’s budget was $72 Million, and there were 106 direct hire staff (civil service and Foreign Service personnel) on board. TheLab is comprised of a diverse and specialized staff of scientists, engineers, technology and partnership experts, former venture capitalists, and program and administrative whowork closely with colleagues across the agency and by bringing together a diverse set of partners to discover, test, and scale breakthrough innovations to solve development challenges faster, cheaper and more sustainably. The Lab is the home for the Development Innovations Ventures, the agency Grand Challenges for Development, the Higher Education Solutions Network; the Innovation Design and Advisory Team; the Applied Innovation Team; and the Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Innovations program (MERLIN) to source, co-design, implement and test solutions that innovate on traditional approaches to monitoring, evaluation, research and learning. Two relevant innovations being tested are Developmental Evaluation, which aims to provide ongoing feedback to managers on implementation through an embedded evaluator, and Rapid Feedback, which allows implementers to test various methods to reach certain targeted results (more quickly than through traditional midterm or final evaluations).
  • In the past six years, through the Global Development Lab, USAID, and its partners have launched ten Grand Challenges for Development (GCD): Saving Lives at Birth (2011), All Children Reading (2011), Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development (2012), Making All Voices Count (2012), Securing Water for Food (2013), Fighting Ebola (2015), Combating Zika and Future Threats (2016), Scaling Off-Grid Energy (2016), Ensuring Effective Health Supply Chains (2017), and Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge (2018). GCDs are robust partnerships that leverage each partner’s strengths to engage new solvers through incentive prizes, challenge grant funding, and crowdsourcing to capture learnings, accelerate support services, and generate awareness to identify the most promising solutions, test them, and scale those that are proven to work. Across the Grand Challenges for Development portfolio, partners have jointly committed over $508 million ($140 million from USAID) in grants and technical assistance for over 450 innovators in 70 countries. To date, more than $154 million in follow-on funding has been catalyzed from external sources, a key measure of success.
  • USAID is at the forefront of distilling the steps needed to execute open innovation competitions such as challenges and prizes that pay for results. USAID’s process is captured in a series Tools for Innovation Programming (only available internally), which serve as the backbone of the GSA Challenges and Prizes Toolkit, as well as the Pay for Results in Development: A Primer for Practitioners, which released its third edition in November 2017.
  • Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) is USAID’s tiered, evidence-driven open innovation program. DIV awards grants for innovative solutions to any development challenge, on the basis of rigorous evidence of impact, cost-effectiveness, and a pathway to scale via the public and/or private sectors. DIV awards funding across three stages, ranging from under $200,000 for testing early-stage innovations to up to $15 million for scaling evidence-backed innovations.The DIV model is designed to source breakthrough solutions, to minimize risk, and maximize impact by funding according to outcomes and milestones, to rigorously evaluate impact and cost-effectiveness, and to scale proven solutions. Since 2010, DIV has supported over 185 innovations in 45 countries with approximately $104 million. In addition to mobilizing external financing of $589 million, DIV grantees have directly impacted over 30 million beneficiaries with measurable outcomes, such as fewer infant deaths, higher literacy rates, and more households with affordable and reliable energy. Ongoing DIV grants continue to accelerate breakthrough innovation for transformative impact, with a refreshed emphasis on advancing local innovation and entrepreneurship in partnership with USAID Missions and the rest of the Agency. USAID opened a call for new DIV applications in September 2018.
  • USAID also supports innovation through the external Global Innovation Fund (GIF), a private fund co-founded by USAID and based on the DIV model. Like DIV, GIF invests in social innovations to improve the lives of millions of people in the developing world, but, as a private fund, GIF is also able to provide debt and equity financing.
  • USAID partners with the Australian Department of Foreign Assistance and Trade (Australian Aid), the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund and promote the Global Innovation Exchange (the Exchange), a free, online platform that connects social entrepreneurs with the funding and other resources they need to be impactful. As of June 2018, the Exchange has 28,143 registered users; 7,320 innovations; 2,673 deals; and over $270 million cumulative funding opportunities. USAID’s investment in the Exchange has provided a key platform not only for USAID’s business intelligence around innovation investment but the entire global industry. With the Exchange, USAID and others in development can see in one place all of the development innovations, where they are being tested, and the maturity curves, allowing USAID to make smarter innovation investments in the future. This platform has also tracked what has been funded where and what monies are accessible to domestic and global innovators, more rapidly connecting the right people, resources, and information at the right time. This platform won the 2017 ACT IAC Government Impact Innovation of the year.
  • The Innovation Design and Advisory Team (iDesign) helps advance USAID’s culture of innovation and intrapreneurship through testing, application, and mainstreaming of innovative design and problem-solving processes. USAID’s Applied Innovation team works with programs and implementing partners, including contractors and grantees, to capture learning and accelerate innovations supported by USAID. The Applied Innovation team is working to expand innovation adoption across USAID’s programming, and test the theory that innovations can enhance development impact, save time and resources, and improve programmatic efficiencies.
  • USAID’s Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) program is a partnership with seven competitively awarded universities working with partners worldwide. Leveraging nearly equal investments from each institution, the universities have established eight Development Labs that have built a global research network of 1,100 partners from 82 countries. Through HESN, USAID has been able to harness the ingenuity of students and faculty to create or test over 500 innovations, which have helped USAID missions reach their development goals and benefitted an estimated 16.7 million individuals in developing countries.
  • Feed the Future Innovation Labs are led by U.S. Title XII universities and are collaborative research programs between U.S. universities and host-country universities or national research institutions. The Feed the Future Innovation Labs are an integral component of USAID’s implementation of the U.S. Government Global Food Security Research Strategy through their leadership and implementation of research and capacity building.
  • LER’sResearch and Development (R&D) Hub for Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) helps agency staff determine best fit for emerging M&E approaches to specific contexts and programs and plays the role of connector by linking champions and conducting research on and documenting emerging M&E approaches that have been helpful in various circumstances. Approaches include working with complexity-aware M&E, context monitoring, monitoring without indicators, and M&E for adaptive management.
  • LER’s Global Learning for Adaptive Management (GLAM) project aims to enable adaptive management through access to, use of, and learning from better and more timely monitoring and evaluation evidence. GLAM, which was awarded in early 2018, is co-funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and USAID. GLAM will work with USAID and DFID field offices and partners to identify, facilitate, and support innovative monitoring and evaluation methods and tools for more adaptive programs, while conducting action research to advance learning on adaptive management.
  • USAID’s Acquisition and Assistance Lab (A&A) is an interconnected network of A&A staff advancing the agency’s mission through workforce development and the testing and scaling of innovations in acquisition and assistance. The A&A Lab was developed as a result of feedback from staff, senior leadership, and the partner community on the need to empower and enhance the A&A workforce, and to find innovative ways to do business. Since 2016, USAID has established five A&A Labs throughout the world, which have proven to be effective at fostering new ideas, sharing solutions, identifying workforce challenges, and advancing new approaches to traditional acquisition and assistance practices.
U.S. Department of Education
  • The Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program is ED’s primary innovation program for K–12 public education. EIR grants are focused on validating and scaling evidence-based practices, and encouraging innovative approaches to persistent challenges. The EIR program incorporates a tiered-evidence framework that supports larger awards for projects with the strongest evidence base as well as promising earlier-stage projects that are willing to undergo rigorous evaluation. Funds may be used for: (1) early-phase grants for the development, implementation, and feasibility testing of an intervention or innovation which prior research suggests has promise, in order to determine whether the intervention can improve student academic outcomes; (2) mid-phase grants for implementation and rigorous evaluation of interventions that have been successfully implemented under early-phase grants or have met similar criteria for documenting program effectiveness; and (3) expansion and replication of interventions or innovations that have been found to produce a sizable impact under a mid-phase grant or have met similar criteria for documenting program effectiveness. All grantees must carry out a rigorous independent evaluation of the effectiveness of their project.
  • ED is participating in the Performance Partnership Pilots for Disconnected Youth initiative. These pilots give state, local, and tribal governments an opportunity to test innovative new strategies to improve outcomes for low-income disconnected youth ages 14 to 24, including youth who are in foster care, homeless, young parents, involved in the justice system, unemployed, or who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out of school.
  • ED is continuing to promote the use of data in innovative ways by engaging with developers. This includes launching a new Developer Hub and GitHub platform, which provides developers with needed information and resources, and the creation of new APIs. Additionally, ED continues to be an active participant in the Opportunity Project, which encourages the use of federal data for social good by providing a process for developers, data enthusiasts, policy leaders, and communities to co-create innovative tech solutions that expand opportunity.
  • ED is currently implementing the Experimental Sites Initiative to assess the effects of statutory and regulatory flexibility for participating institutions disbursing Title IV student aid.
  • The IES Research Grants Program supports the development and iterative testing of new, innovative approaches to improving education outcomes. IES makes research grants with a goal structure. “Goal 2: Development and Innovation” supports the development of new education curricula; instructional approaches; professional development; technology; and practices, programs, and policies that are implemented at the student-, classroom-, school-, district-, state-, or federal-level to improve student education outcomes.
  • On behalf of ED, IES also administers the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which competes funding to small business that propose developing commercially viable education technology projects that are designed to support classroom teaching and student learning. Projects must go through an iterative development process and conduct research to determine promise of effectiveness.
  • ED has funded a number of tools to support innovation and rigorous evaluation in the field, including the following:
    • RCT-YES is a free software tool that uses cutting-edge statistical methods to help users easily analyze data and report results from experimental and quasi-experimental impact studies of education programs.
    • Downloadable programs help users build logic models and create ongoing plans for monitoring, measuring, and tracking outcomes over time to measure program effectiveness.
    • A guide for researchers on how to conduct descriptive analysis in education to help identify and describe trends in populations, create new measures, or describe samples in studies aimed at identifying causal effects.
    • The Ed Tech Rapid Cycle Evaluation Coach, a free online tool that helps users plan, conduct, and report findings from experimental and quasi-experimental impact studies of education technology products. The tool is optimized for non-technical users and employs unique statistical methods that allow findings to be presented.
    • CostOut, a software tool that helps users assess the cost and cost effectiveness of education interventions.
  • ED is implementing a number of Pay for Success projects:
    • Career and Technical Education (CTE): $2 million to support the development of PFS projects to implement new or scale up existing high-quality CTE opportunities.
    • English Language Acquisition: $293,000 to conduct a feasibility study that will identify at least two promising school sites that are using evidence-based interventions for early learning dual language models where a PFS project could take shape to help scale the interventions to reach more students those who need them.
    • Early Learning: $3 million for Preschool Pay for Success feasibility pilots to support innovative funding strategies to expand preschool and improve educational outcomes for 3- and 4- year-olds. These grants are allowing states, school districts, and other local government agencies to explore whether Pay for Success is a viable financing mechanism for expanding and improving preschool in their communities.
    • Technical Assistance: The Office of Special Education Programs is collaborating with early childhood technical assistance centers to educate and build capacity among state coordinators in IDEA Part C and Part B to explore using PFS to expand or improve special education services for young children.
    • In addition, ED has conducted a Pay for Success webinar series for the Comprehensive Centers.
  • The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21stCentury Act, passed by Congress in July 2018, authorizes a new innovation fund to “create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale evidence-based, field-initiated innovations” in career and technical education. The fund is authorized as part of National Activities under Section 114. The Secretary may use up to 20 percent of the funds authorized for national activities for innovation fund activities; the authorized level for national activities is $7.6 million in FY19 and gradually increases to $8.2 million by FY24.
U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development
  • HUD’s FY19 budget request (p. 48-4) seeks to establish an Office of Innovation that will focus on testing and validating solutions to state, local, and federal housing and community development problems, modeled on the Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship, Action (IDEA) Lab at HHS. The Office of Innovation will comprise three main components: a Building Technology component that addresses the need for resilient housing in disaster prone areas and affordable housing nationwide by identifying, evaluating, and incentivizing the adoption of resilient and affordable housing construction methods and materials; an Internal Innovation component that will facilitate innovation workshops for small HUD teams to improve the way their program or office works; and an Open Innovation Component that will engage the expertise, methods and tools of the private sector such as open data, crowdsourcing, challenges and prizes, and entrepreneurs in residence.
  • PD&R is conducting numerous random-assignment program demonstrations to test new, innovative program models, as described in PD&R’s biennial report and online: the Family Self-Sufficiency Demonstration, First-Time Homebuyer Education and Counseling Demonstration, Pre-Purchase Homeownership Counseling Demonstration, Support and Services at Home (SASH) Demonstration for elderly households, Supportive Services Demonstration for health services in elderly housing, Rent Reform Demonstration, Rental Assistance Demonstration, and the Small Area Fair Market Rent Demonstration. The evaluation reports for such demonstrations frequently include baseline, interim, final, and long-term follow-up reports to keep policymakers apprised of emerging evidence. HUD’s largest program, Housing Choice Vouchers, grew out of  the landmark Housing Allowance Demonstration of the 1970s and is shaped by the Moving to Opportunity demonstration.
  • PD&R houses the Office of International and Philanthropic Innovation, and administers five types of Secretary’s Awards to encourage excellence: Public-Philanthropic Partnerships, Opportunity and Empowerment, Healthy Homes, Historic Preservation, and Housing and Community Design. The competitions are judged by juries of professionals and bring visibility to the nation’s most compelling, innovative solutions for addressing housing and community development challenges.
  • PD&R sponsors an Innovation in Affordable Housing Competition to engage multidisciplinary teams of graduate students in addressing a specific housing problem developed by an actual public housing agency. The competition increases the nation’s future human capacity to address the affordable housing crisis by exposing future designers, administrators, and policymakers to real-world challenges of a specific legal and community context, with their proposals to be evaluated by an expert jury.
  • HUD’s Office of Strategic Planning and Management completed a Data Vision Initiative to identify opportunities for HUD to collect more data about impacts. The initiative resulted in recommendations for specific metrics that HUD programs could begin to collect (such as reasons tenants exit HUD-assisted housing).
U.S. Department of Labor
  • DOL is participating in the Performance Partnership Pilots (P3) for innovative service delivery for disconnected youth which includes not only waivers and blending and braiding of federal funds, but gives bonus points in application reviews for proposing “high tier” evaluations. DOL is the lead agency for the evaluation of P3. An interim report is expected in 2018.
  • DOL recently awarded a contract to undertake a number of new behavioral insights studies and is conducting knowledge development and feasibility analyses to explore potential trials under that project. Additionally, DOL is completing a behavioral science evaluation that tested tailored outreach methods and modes targeted to women to increase their awareness of, and participation in, non-traditional occupations. The study was implemented in select sites of the American Apprenticeship grants. DOL recently completed a number of behavioral science evaluations—three in unemployment insurance, two in OSHA, one in OFCCP, and one in EBSA for pension contributions (see the CEO website for more information).
  • DOL is using Job Corps’ demonstration authority to test and evaluate innovative and promising models that could improve outcomes for youth. In 2016 DOL awarded a contract for a Job Corps pilot program, the Cascades Job Corps College and Career Academy. The pilot will test alternative strategies for the operation of Job Corps for younger participants (ages 16 and 21). Past research on the program showed that while Job Corps increased the education and earnings of program participants, it was more beneficial for youth over age 20 than for its younger participants. This pilot uses DOL’s demonstration authority to test innovative and promising strategies (which include using a career pathway program approach of integrated academic and technical training, workforce preparation skills, and support services) to better meet the needs of this population. CEO is sponsoring a rigorous impact evaluation to examine the effectiveness of the pilot. Seethe study overview here.
  • DOL has two pilot projects that tested the use of a Pay for Success (PFS) financing model in pilot projects from 2013-2017. In these pilots, private for-profit and philanthropic investors paid the up-front costs of delivering an intervention designed to achieve specific outcomes within a given timeframe, knowing they would only receive a return if the project met its specific outcome targets. Both pilots employed a random assignment methodology to measure results. DOL is sponsoring a process study to document project implementation and provide information on the PFS approach for policymakers and program administrators. The first report from this study was released in 2016, documenting the development of pilots and first year of implementation. A second report will document the pilots’ longer-term operational experiences, including the extent to which the pilots achieved their performance milestones, and is expected in 2018. DOL also sits on the Supporting Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results interagency council and is informing implementation of the Pay for Success provisions of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (PL 115-119), based on its experience with the pilots.
  • DOL has invested more than $90 million through the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative — a national campaign bringing together a broad range of stakeholders, including employers, labor, states, and education and workforce partners, to expand and diversify Registered Apprenticeship in the United States. This includes more than $60 million for state-led strategies to grow and diversify apprenticeship, and State Accelerator Grants to help integrate apprenticeship into education and workforce systems; engage industry and other partners to expand apprenticeship to new sectors and new populations at scale; conduct outreach and work with employers to start new programs; promote greater inclusion and diversity in apprenticeship; and develop statewide and regional strategies aimed at building state capacity to support new apprenticeship programs. All of these grants include funding for data collection; additionally, ETA and CEO are conducting an evaluation of the American Apprenticeship Initiative.
  • In 2018 DOL intends to invest significantly in the Retaining Employment and Talent after Injury/Illness (RETAIN) Demonstration Project, which will test the impact of early intervention projects on stay-at-work/return-to-work outcomes. This demonstration project includes strong evaluation requirements. Grantees will be required to participate in an evaluation, which will be designed in Phase 1 and conducted during Phase 2 by an external, independent contractor.
  • CEO received grant making authority in 2016. In January of 2017, CEO awarded nine research grants aimed at supporting university-based research of workforce policies and programs. The goal is to build capacity and drive innovation among academic researchers to answer questions that will provide insight into labor policies and programs.
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