Mayor Bowser launches The Lab@DC to bring science into DC policy making

WASHINGTON, DC -- Wednesday, Mayor Muriel Bowser launched The Lab @ DC which is a  data collection effort that she says uses science to better inform decisions and policy making within the DC Government.

During the announcement Mayor Bowser said, “Our directors and our agencies will be the Lab’s clients… really focused on evidence based studies that will help us do our work better.”

The mayor's new scientific team is set up to work across agencies and forge partnerships with universities and community groups to figure out what policies work best for the District.

According to The Lab Director, David Yokum, the process is two-fold which includes developing the best ideas and understanding how well they work by applying the most rigorous evaluation methods.

 “This is the same method that we expect doctors to use when testing how well a medical drug works. That same rigor we demand in medicine, we should demand for learning about our public policy.”, said Director Yokum.

The Lab is made possible thanks to a $3.2 million grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and has projects across all entities.
One focused on education, collects data to help curb truancy in the District.

“If we send this type of notification to a parent does it make a student more likely to show up than this one. We’re working on a lot of projects in those types of areas in education with that same kind of thing of let’s try two different things or three different things to help students, help families in our education system over time.”, explained Sam Quinney, Applied Researcher for The Lab.

 Other projects in the works include a Body-Worn Camera Program Evaluation, a Shallow Rent Subsidy Pilot, and Rodent Abatement Predictive Analysis.

The Lab will also serve as a training ground for students interested in public policy and how government works.
This year, three American University students will study under faculty at The Lab.

“They’re extremely excited about that opportunity because it is a gateway in to understand how government works and how policy based initiatives work.”, says Vicki Wilkins, Interim Dean of the School of Public Affairs at American University.

And, this Saturday The Lab will host Form-a-palooza to simplify how DC residents fill out important documents for the city. For more information, visit http://www.thelab.dc.gov.