Today was a big day for evaluation, for evidence, and for science. Today, thousands of ordinary people took to the streets in Washington, DC – and in cities across the country – to proclaim support for the idea that science can and should play an important role in our society.
As I walked through the streets of Washington this afternoon, I was impressed to see people from all walks of life, the young and old, Republicans and Democrats, and representatives of the many disciplines of the scientific community marching alongside each other, in spite of pouring rain. This great diversity of resilient marchers reflects the continued belief that science is not a partisan or ideological endeavor; instead, it is an enterprise that can be used to develop better policies.
Earlier this week the American Evaluation Association's Board and the Evaluation Policy Task Force recognized evaluation as an important part of the scientific community by endorsing the goals and mission of today's March for Science. In doing so, AEA reminded us that
"Evaluation is an essential function of government. It can enhance oversight and accountability of federal programs, improve the effectiveness and efficiency of services, assess which programs or policies are working and which are not, and provide critical information needed for making difficult decisions about them."
Indeed, AEA's timeless statement captures the sentiment I encourage all members of Washington Evaluators to promote this year: evaluation matters. Evaluation doesn't just matter because it's our profession, evaluation matters because it is a tool to enhance people's lives and ultimately improve our society, and those are goals we can all agree on.
NICK HART, PH.D. is the President of Washington Evaluators in 2017 and a member of the American Evaluation Association's Evaluation Policy Task Force. The views presented here are those of the author and do not represent the official position of the U.S. Government, including the Office of Management Budget and the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking.