You tend to hear a lot of talk about cracking down on government waste. The governor's office in Colorado is getting a new research tool designed to help do that—or at least make government run more efficiently.
It's a science lab set up to work differently than others.
A lot of scientific research comes from within the scientific community: they publish a study-- and the government might or might not notice or consider making changes.
The new Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab, CEAL for short, would take its direction from the governor.
It could work on anything the governor wants: homelessness, healthcare, energy. You name it.
The idea is to focus new research on problems that the government is already trying to work on, in hopes that will drive more change.
“The governor has said this is what I really care about here’s what the state cares about understanding better,” said David Miller, who will house the research lab at the University of Denver’s Barton Institute. “The hope is by having the governor driving the agenda, it’ll be research that has practical applications.”
Governor Hickenlooper has until the September 30 to give the new lab his list of the first few subjects to work on. The next governor will be able to do the same
Miller says depending on the complexity of the issue being researched, the lab might turn around data and recommendations within months or a couple of years.
He says one of the labs its modeled after in Rhode Island looks for no-cost and low-cost changes that can help.
For example, they found that people on food stamps tended to spend most of their monthly benefit in the first couple of weeks of the month. Recipients bought less food and less healthy food in the last two weeks.
So the lab suggested simply splitting the food stamps into two payments a month.
It's a controversial idea, but now Rhode Island is testing it in a new pilot project to see if it helps.
This new lab is funded by a $4.5 million dollar grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.
If you're a researcher and you dig the idea-- they're hiring someone to run it. You can apply for the job here.