"Our nation's social programs, especially ones for children and families, do not work," so said Ron Haskins in a talk today at the Brookings Institution. In his talk, Haskins noted a fact that few people seem to know regarding government programs: that "80-90% of programs are not working." He added, "Experience shows that most social programs produce modest or no impacts that last."
Ron Haskins is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, which just published his new book called Show Me the Evidence: Obama's Fight for Rigor and Results in Social Policy. In his book (written with colleague Greg Margolis), Haskins writes about strategies that could turn the dismal reality of ineffective government policies and programs around. Their book focuses on the Obama Administration's emphasis on increasing the reliance on research and evidence in the development, testing, and refinement of social policy.
I have known Ron Haskins for a long time. He is as fine of a thinker in family policy circles as I have ever known. He was one of the architects of the 1996 welfare reform law--a Republican who demonstrates that it is possible to work across parties and ideology to improve how things are done.
If you are interested in such things, I can recommend this book and also the presentation today from Brookings. Following Haskins talk, there is a panel discussion featuring notables Peter Orszag, Jason DeParle, Melody Barnes and numerous others. The presentation is available at the Brookings site.