Chad Rummel, M.Ed reports that “Building on the Social and Behavior Sciences Team’s (SBST) first year of results, on September 15th, 2015, President Obama issued an executive order directing Federal Government agencies to apply behavioral science insights to their programs to better serve the American people. Results from 2016 initiatives, highlighted in SBST’s second annual report, showcase the impact of this approach. SBST’s portfolio has included more than 40 different collaborations with agency partners and has tracked three major themes:
- Tackling some of the most important policy challenges facing the Nation, such as ensuring access to affordable health insurance for the millions of Americans who still lack coverage, expanding economic opportunity for workers and their families, and reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to help protect Earth’s climate.
- Leveraging a broader set of strategies to enhance program effectiveness, from changing how programs communicate with individuals, to modifying the way programs are administered, to informing the design of policy.
- Drawing on the best available evidence and rigorously testing impact to inform recommendations about what to scale and what to improve. In this spirit, SBST reports the results of all of its completed projects, including projects that did not yield statistically significant improvements.
Among other results, SBST pilots led to a 53 percent increase in workplace savings plan enrollment rates by military service members and resulted in more than 4,800 new enrollments and over $1 million dollars in additional savings in just one month; a 63 percent increase in the rate at which small family farmers obtained small-business loans; and a doubling in the rate at which student loan borrowers in default contacted default-resolution representatives”.