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U.S. Behavioral Insights Team

Policy, Psychology, evidence, nudge

Research to Results: Strengthening Federal Capacity for Behavioral Insights

Overview:

A growing body of evidence suggests that insights from the social and behavioral sciences can be used to help design public policies that work better, cost less, and help people to achieve their goals. The practice of using behavioral insights to inform policy has seen success overseas. In 2010, UK Prime Minister David Cameron commissioned the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT, https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/behavioural-insights-team), which through a process of rapid, iterative experimentation (“Test, Learn, Adapt”), has successfully identified and tested interventions that will further advance priorities of the British government, while saving the government at least £1 billion within the next five years (see previous Annual Reports 2010-11 and 2011-12). The federal government is currently creating a new team that will help build federal capacity to experiment with these approaches, and to scale behavioral interventions that have been rigorously evaluated, using, where possible, randomized controlled trials. The team will be staffed by 4-5 experts in behavioral science and experimental design and evaluation. It is likely that selected individuals will serve on a temporary detail under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act before returning to their home organization, which can be a university, non-profit, or state and local government. Our preference is for individuals who are willing to serve full time but we will also consider people who are only in a position to serve part-time. Moreover, several agencies are looking to recruit expert academics to sit directly within their agencies and to help inspire, design, and execute on specific policy projects, and so it is possible to serve in this capacity as well.

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