Massachusetts Institute of Technology

For Impact Evaluations Of Programs To Improve Governance In Developing Countries

A grant to the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology would support the rollout of J-PAL's Governance Initiative to sponsor randomized impact evaluations of governance programs, including those designed to reduce the leakage of public funds in service delivery. A core grantee for the Global Development Program, J-PAL teaches researchers and policymakers how to conduct rigorous evaluations of the effectiveness of specific development interventions and how to use the findings to set the direction of program design and funding. The Initiative will complement J-PAL's broader research agenda, which produces evidence to improve the delivery of public services such as education and health. By addressing the governance challenges that can undermine the achievement of any development goals, the Initiative will help ensure that resources are used more effectively and sustainably. J-PAL anticipates generating initial findings from approximately ten new studies during this three-year start-up phase. By reporting its findings to policymakers and providing support for the expansion and replication of successful governance programs, the Initiative will help translate this evidence into changes in policy.
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Grants to this Grantee
for support of a new university center on economy and society  
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will use this grant to create a new center that will foster research and curriculum development, as well as work with other university centers being established to cultivate a network that will develop new thinking around political economy, economy, and society.
for research and recommendations on election administration practices  
Unlike in many western democracies, in the United States the mechanisms through which elections are run (collectively referred to as election administration) are generally managed at the state and local rather than the national level - by 50 state laws across 4,600 jurisdictions and overseen by 13,000 administrators. This variation in oversight and practice, alongside technological and other challenges, contribute to a myriad of problems that impact citizens' ability to vote and to have their vote counted. These problems include the long lines referenced in President Obama's 2012 election night victory speech, which served as the impetus for the creation of the Federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in 2013. The EAC has a broad mandate to explore possibilities ranging from improving poll worker recruitment and training to the management of voter rolls, but only a six month window in which to assess the problem and devise recommendations. This relatively narrow window and the political prominence of the effort creates both a challenge and an opportunity to advance research and identify promising reforms that otherwise would take years to develop. This grant would support America's top political scientists in election administration to assemble the best research available and to communicate that research to both the EAC and the public in the development of the EAC's finding and recommendations.
for general support of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT  
The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is dedicated to fighting global poverty by ensuring that policy decisions are based on scientific evidence. To broaden and deepen the evidence base, J-PAL trains evaluators and policymakers in the design and use of randomized evaluations, and conducts outreach to encourage the expansion and replication of effective programs. Recognized as the premier institution in this field, and having established five affiliate offices around the world, including the Hewlett-supported branch in South Africa, J-PAL is well on its way to improving the lives of over 100 million people across the globe.

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