In this report published by the Rockfeller Foundation, Peter York, Michael Bamberger and Veronica OlazabaI take an in-depth look at how new information technologies will dramatically impact how we track progress and assess impact of programs and policies.
With the rapid expansion of big data and analytics, it is time for the two fields of program evaluation and data science to come together in order to more rapidly and cost-effectively learn what works, improve social solutions, and scale positive impact as never before. Data science makes it possible to collect a vastly increased range and volume of data more easily, quickly, and economically. This makes it possible to avoid many kinds of selection bias and enables disaggregation of samples to cover many different sub-samples and categories. The technologies and now-affordable infrastructure of big data mean that evaluation studies can be conducted more rapidly and cheaply while advancing our understanding of the complexity of social problems.