About Evidence

Elevating state government’s capacity to use and generate evidence in decision making is a key component of the North Carolina Office of Strategic Partnerships’ (OSP) core work. OSP accomplishes this in partnership with state agencies and college and university partners in a myriad of ways. These include, but are not limited to, identifying and facilitating opportunities for government-research and government-philanthropy partnerships; providing technical assistance to state agencies; developing resources; and hosting educational events, forums, and trainings. This page provides information about these efforts.  

To learn more about how OSP can support agency research needs, how to generate and use evidence, and how to develop government-researcher connections, email partnerships@osbm.nc.gov.   

OSP Evidence Resources 

OSP develops resources related to evidence-based policy to help state agencies learn how to generate and use evidence in government. A selection of those resources is below. 

OSP Evidence Advisor

The Evidence Advisor role leads OSP’s core work of increasing and enhancing state government’s use of evidence by building internal capacity for evidence-based decision making. This involves working with state agencies to:

  1. Identify agency priority questions and develop agency research agendas (see example).
  2. Provide research and evaluation capacity by leading and supporting agency research and data analysis projects.  
  3. Conduct evidence reviews and research syntheses on the quality of available evidence to help determine which programs and interventions have demonstrated effectiveness to inform policy and budgetary decisions.
  4. Build state agency research and evaluation capacity to generate and use evidence through in-person and virtual trainings.  

The Evidence Advisor also provides research and evaluation assistance for state agencies that do not have dedicated resources or staff to conduct research.  

Click here for more information about the role of the North Carolina Evidence Advisor. 

North Carolina Project Portal: A Resource and Tool for Government-Research Partnerships

North Carolina state agencies are increasingly interested in collaborating with external partners to answer questions that inform decision making and improve policy and programmatic functions. The North Carolina Project Portal features opportunities for partnering with state agencies on their research needs and how to express interest in pursuing those opportunities. OSP launched the NC Project Portal to expand and enhance cross-sector collaboration and partnership between state agencies, researchers, philanthropy, and other potential partners.  

OSP tailors partnerships based on state agencies’ needs and priorities, interest from potential partners, available resources, and other considerations. OSP prioritizes partnerships that are scalable, sustainable, and yield open-source knowledge and resources. OSP has facilitated, launched, or carried out dozens of government-research and government-philanthropy partnerships, most of which are among the 40 projects on the Project Portal. 

OSP Learning Forums

OSP regularly convenes people (in-person and virtually) from across North Carolina and nationally to discuss and learn more about cross-sector partnerships. OSP Learning Forums are an opportunity to highlight cross-sector partnerships underway in North Carolina; share strategies for developing and enhancing partnerships among government, research, and philanthropy; discuss the importance of generating and using evidence to inform government decision making; and explore aspects of partnership development, launch, and execution. Agendas from past OSP Learning Forums are below.  

OSP Webinars and Trainings for State Agency Research and Evaluation Capacity Building 

OSP conducts virtual and in-person training for state agency staff and others to build research and evaluation capacity. A selection of past trainings and webinars is below. 

Supporting State Agencies with Program Evaluation

OSP and the SERVE Center at UNC Greensboro have hosted three Supporting State Agencies with Program Evaluations workshops. The first workshop (May 2022) was developed following OSP’s January 2022 Monthly Connect on conducting randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in state government. Participants expressed interest in additional sessions; OSP and the SERVE Center hosted the second in September 2022 and the third in March 2023.  

These recorded and publicly available workshops include an introduction to the purpose and value of considering impact evaluations. They also provide state agency staff and researchers the opportunity to discuss the design of potential evaluations for existing or new projects. 

How to Use Evidence Clearinghouses for State Agency Decision Making

This slide presentation provides an overview of different types of evidence, their quality, and their applicability to agency priority research questions. The presentation also shares guidance on how to use evidence clearinghouses to help inform decision making. OSP collaborated with NC Office of State Budget and Management (NCOSBM) to develop an accompanying guide that includes resources for finding existing research literature and sources for leveraging existing state data.  

Using Evidence to Inform State Agency Grant Seeking and Grantmaking

This slide presentation and recording captures a training OSP held with the NC State Grantmaking Group in January 2024 highlighting strategies for how state agency grant staff can use evidence to inform state agency grant seeking and grant making. The training covered resources that state agency staff can use to incorporate evidence into grant proposals and grant solicitations to ensure effective grant program outcomes.

Many of OSP's Monthly Connect sessions are relevant to government's use of evidence and data for decision making. (Examples follow and all sessions are available at Monthly Connect.)

  • Increasing the Use of Evidence in State Government: Perspectives from Government, Research, and Philanthropy 
    • OSP’s Evidence Advisor and partners from government, research, and philanthropy highlighted cross-sector projects underway; shared insights from these projects and other efforts to increase and improve the use of evidence for state agency decision making; and shared practical tips for how to generate and use evidence more and better. 
  • Using Randomized Controlled Trials in North Carolina to Build Evidence for Effective Policy and Practice 
    • Speakers shared specific examples of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) they have been involved with in North Carolina and the impact these trials have had on policy. The panelists also touched on how RCTs can fit into continuous improvement in government, discussed the ethics of conducting RCTs, and gave practical advice for getting started as a researcher or government agency. 
  • The Evidence Act and Agency Learning Agendas: What They Are, Why They Matter, and How to get Involved 
    • Panelists shared context for the federal Evidence Act and progress on implementation, including the development of agency learning agendas. They highlighted various ways that researchers, philanthropy, representatives from state and local government, and others can get involved in the process; described challenges and opportunities; and shared resources relevant to using research and evidence to inform government decision making. 
  • NC Government Data Analytics Center 
    • Featured the NC Government Data Analytics Center (NCGDAC), which leverages and integrates the state's data assets to solve problems, manage resources, and improve financial programs, budgets, and results. Panelists highlighted specific data efforts underway related to health care, longitudinal and performance, and enterprise entity resolution.  
  • Increasing and Enhancing Data Access, Sharing, and Use for Research Collaboration 
    • Panelists provided examples of data available from North Carolina state agencies; discussed why the data are important to universities, colleges, and other organizations; shared strategies for effective cross-sector communication about and collaboration around data access, requests, sharing, and use; and highlighted specific examples of successful data sharing within and between government and research partners.

List of Resources for Evidence-Based Policy

OSP developed this list of resources for evidence-based policy to accompany the "Becoming a Performance Management Champion," session of OSBM’s 2020 Performance Management Academy. This list includes resources based in and outside of North Carolina and in and outside of government. It is not comprehensive. This list may be useful to individuals and organizations across a wide range of budget, policy, research, and practice issues.  

Evidence Resources from Other North Carolina State Government Agencies 

  • Using Evidence to Drive Decisions | NC OSBM 
    • Describes how NCOSBM helps policymakers and program managers use data and theory to build the evidence needed to inform decisions.  
  • Evaluation Fund Grants | NC OSBM
    • The North Carolina Evaluation Fund supports research partnerships that inform policy and program decisions. In 2022, NCOSBM awarded eight Evaluation Fund grants totaling nearly $1 million. 
  • Performance Management Academy | NC OSBM 
    • NCOSBM offers an annual Performance Management Academy training series for state employees. The program helps agency performance management practitioners improve the efficiency and effectiveness of NC government programs.  
  • Governor's Advisory Committee on Performance Management | NC OSBM 
    • The Governor's Advisory Committee on Performance Management, created in May 2018, advises the Governor regarding the progress of the NC Results First Initiative; new performance management initiatives; proposed or pending state legislation; and rules or policies related to performance management and strategies for increasing evidence-based policy efforts. 
  • Open Data Resources (nc.gov) 
    • Compilation of Open Data Resources across NC state government agencies. This resource is dynamic and is not exhaustive. 
  • NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Data Sharing Guidebook 
    • NCDHHS regularly shares data across divisions and offices, as well as with other local, state, and federal level government agencies and research partners. This guidebook supports data sharing among NCDHHS Divisions and Offices as well as with potential partners.  
  • NC Government Data Analytics Center (NCGDAC) 
    • NCGDAC, housed in the NC Department of Information Technology, works with and across agencies to define analytic needs, determine access to required data sources, and scope the level of effort to support analytics development.