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Strengthen evidence-based policymaking

To foster a culture of evidence-based policymaking requires a critical mass of participants. Enabling different groups to engage in evidence-based debate requires resources as well as an ability to produce, evaluate and use evidence. Strengthening the role of nationally based academics, communities of practice, networks, think tanks, research institutes, civil society, national statistical offices, in-depth journalism and government administration is important.
 
Governance assessments are more likely to become part of policymaking if a degree of political contestation exists. The basic idea is this: While it is possible for a decision maker to base decisions on evidence because of his or her own volition, s/he is more likely to do so if held accountable, based on evidence, by people who evaluate those decisions. A culture of evidence-based policymaking therefore will normally require a multiplicity of actors who interpret, analyze and engage in policy debate and processes based on evidence.
 
On the supply side of governance evidence, non-official as well as official data should be acknowledged -- provided the methodology is sufficiently robust. However, it is not enough to strengthen the supply side of governance evidence without strengthening the demand side, and this requires strengthening the ability of groups that strategically benefit from using governance evidence. It also may include raising basic statistical literacy, raising understanding of issues, making information accessible and allowing for genuine participation in decision making. 
 
A culture of evidence-based policymaking does not remove the need for political contestation, reduce the importance of values, diminish the role of interest groups or remove political questions from the realm of the public and place them in the hands of technocrats. It is therefore critical that the interests of the poor, women and vulnerable are taken into account in the collection and presentation of governance evidence, as well as in its use, to secure appropriate representation.