The What Works Network: five years on

Public sector Policy Decision making Evidence-based policy United Kingdom
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This initiative aims to improve the way government and other organisations create, share and use (or ‘generate, transmit and adopt’) high quality evidence for decision-making. It supports more effective and efficient services across the public sector at national and local levels.

Read the What Works Network: Five Years On report, published in January 2018. An earlier report, What Works? Evidence for decision-makers, was published in November 2014

What Works is based on the principle that good decision-making should be informed by the best available evidence. If evidence is not available, decision-makers should use high quality methods to find out what works.

What Works is a world first: it’s the first time any government has taken a national approach to prioritising the use of evidence in decision-making.

The What Works Network

The network is made up of 7 independent What Works Centres and 2 affiliate members. Together these centres cover policy areas which receive public spending of more than £200 billion. What Works Centres are different from standard research centres. They enable policy makers, commissioners and practitioners to make decisions based upon strong evidence of what works and to provide cost-efficient, useful services.

The centres help to ensure that thorough, high quality, independently assessed evidence shapes decision-making at every level, by:

collating existing evidence on how effective policy programmes and practices are

producing high quality synthesis reports and systematic reviews in areas where they do not currently exist

assessing how effective policies and practices are against an agreed set of outcomes

sharing findings in an accessible way

encouraging practitioners, commissioners and policymakers to use these findings to inform their decisions

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