March 2007

Grant Results

SUMMARY

In 2003, the Council for Excellence in Government's Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy and the U.S. Department of Justice launched an initiative to promote the development and use of substance abuse and violence prevention programs that have been demonstrated to be effective in scientifically rigorous studies.

As part of the initiative, the coalition issued a report, Bringing Evidence-Driven Progress to Crime and Substance-Abuse Policy: A Recommended Federal Strategy.

Key Recommendations

  • Federal agencies should develop a uniform set of principles on what constitutes "rigorous evidence" of an intervention's effectiveness.
  • Federal agencies — both individually and together — should launch a major strategy to build the knowledge base of evidence-backed crime and substance abuse interventions.
  • Each agency should focus its discretionary funds for research and evaluation, to the maximum extent practicable, on strategies to build the knowledge base of evidence-backed interventions.

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided $49,419 to fund the coalition's work.

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THE PROBLEM

Public policies incorporating evidence-based approaches in the field of medicine have resulted in advances in human health over the past 50 years. Social and economic programs, however, are often implemented without regard for rigorous evidence as to their effectiveness.

For example, DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), a middle and high school curriculum aimed at substance abuse prevention, receives $200 million annually in public support; however, studies published in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency in 1998 and the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 1999 found that the program had little or no effect on drug use by participants. (In 2001, DARE announced changes in its curriculum in response to these studies; RWJF is proving major support to the research effort to develop a new evidence-based curriculum for DARE.)

Most crime and substance abuse interventions have never been rigorously evaluated, and the federal government only rarely supports randomized trials in these areas. While the United States has made progress in reducing violent crime and drug abuse, randomized studies suggest that evidence-based interventions could yield even greater reductions.

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RWJF STRATEGY

RWJF has a track record of significant support for substance abuse education and prevention efforts. Another of its efforts to develop an evidence-based approach to substance abuse prevention is its funding of a five-year multisite prospective study of an enhanced version of the DARE middle and high school curriculum aimed at substance abuse prevention. The evaluation, which began in 1999, is being conducted by evaluators at the University of Akron (ID#s 037809, 039223, 040371 and 041658).

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THE PROJECT

Working with a group of officials from various federal agencies (see Appendix 1), coalition members explored how the federal government can effectively use its resources to advance the utilization of rigorous evidence on what works in crime and substance abuse policy.

The coalition produced a consensus report, Bringing Evidence-Driven Progress to Crime and Substance-Abuse Policy: A Recommended Federal Strategy, setting out recommendations for advancing a major federal strategy regarding evidence-based approaches to crime and substance abuse interventions.

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RECOMMENDATIONS

The report, Bringing Evidence-Driven Progress to Crime and Substance-Abuse Policy: A Recommended Federal Strategy, makes the following recommendations:

  • Federal agencies develop a uniform set of principles on what constitutes "rigorous evidence" of an intervention's effectiveness.
  • Federal agencies — both individually and together — launch a major strategy to build the knowledge base of evidence-backed crime and substance abuse interventions.
  • Each agency focus its discretionary funds for research and evaluation, to the maximum extent practicable, on strategies to build the knowledge base of evidence-backed interventions.
  • Federal agencies establish or contribute to "what works" Web sites that provide authoritative, user-friendly information to practitioners on evidence-based interventions.
  • Federal crime and substance abuse programs require applicants, when appropriate, to provide concrete strategies for implementing interventions supported by strong evidence.
  • Federal agencies undertake a major effort to educate the policy and grantee communities on the value of evidence-based reforms and to provide technical assistance to facilitate their implementation.

Communications

The Council for Excellence in Government published its report, Bringing Evidence-Driven Progress to Crime and Substance-Abuse Policy: A Recommended Federal Strategy, in December 2003. A PDF version of the Executive Summary or the whole report can be downloaded from the Council's Web site. Project staff presented a briefing on a draft version of the report to senior officials from the President's Domestic Policy Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the White House Task Force on Disadvantaged Youth, the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies at a White House forum in July 2003. See the Bibliography for details.

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AFTER THE GRANT

With $25,000 renewal grants from RWJF (ID# 049641) and the Jerry Lee Foundation, the coalition has worked with the Office of Management and Budget to develop guidelines for what constitutes rigorous evidence of a program's effectiveness. This work has resulted in key reforms in the Office of Management and Budget's process for assessing the performance of federal programs government-wide. In addition, the coalition and the Department of Justice co-sponsored a June 2004 national forum for policy-makers to discuss the coalition's proposed strategy for funding and using scientifically rigorous studies to reduce crime and substance abuse. The coalition is also advising the Department of Justice on a "What Works" Web site, which is under development.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Forum to Advance an Evidence-Based Approach to Youth Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention

Grantee

Council for Excellence in Government (Washington,  DC)

  • Amount: $ 49,419
    Dates: August 2002 to July 2003
    ID#:  045762

Contact

Jon Baron
(202) 530-3279
jbaron@excelgov.org

Web Site

http://www.excelgov.org

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APPENDICES


Appendix 1

(Current as of the time of the grant; provided by the grantee organization; not verified by RWJF.)

Initiative Principals

Deborah Daniels
Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C.

Andrea Barthwell, M.D.
Deputy Director for Demand Reduction
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
Washington, D.C.

Wilson Compton, M.D.
Director
Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Bethesda, Md.

Charles Curie, M.S., A.C.S.W.
Administrator
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Washington, D.C.

Wade Horn, Ph.D.
Assistant Secretary for the Administration of Children and Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Washington, D.C.

Thomas Insel, M.D.
Director
National Institute of Mental Health
Bethesda, Md.

William Modzeleski
Associate Deputy Under Secretary
Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools
U.S. Department of Education
Washington, D.C.

Nora Volkow, M.D.
Director
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Bethesda, Md.

Russ Whitehurst, Ph.D.
Director
Institute of Education Sciences
U.S. Department of Education
Washington, D.C.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

Reports

Bringing Evidence-Driven Progress to Crime and Substance-Abuse Policy: A Recommended Federal Strategy. Washington: Council for Excellence in Government, December 2003. A PDF version of the Executive Summary or the whole report can be downloaded from the Council's Web site.

Sponsored Conferences

"Bringing Evidence-Driven Progress to Crime and Substance-Abuse Policy: A Recommended Federal Strategy," July 15, 2003, Washington. Some 25 senior federal policy-makers in the areas of crime and substance abuse prevention attended this briefing and discussion. Organizations represented included the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health and the Office of Management and Budget. Three presentations.

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Report prepared by: Scott Edwards
Reviewed by: Robert Narus
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: James R. Knickman

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