NYC / Tuesday Dec 09,2014
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Angela Hawken

NYU Urban Seminar hosted by the Marron Institute, CUSP & Furman Center

ROOM 910
NEW YORK, NY 10012

Most of our public policies—how we educate our children, rehabilitate convicted offenders, or house the homeless—have one thing in common: they have never been rigorously tested. Conducting rigorous evaluations has traditionally involved professional researchers, extramural funders, and yards of red tape. As a result, many commonplace policies intended to make us smarter, safer, or healthier are based more on intuition than on data. The movement toward “evidence-based practices” was a step in the right direction, except that these practices often lack actual evidence. Another problem is that an evidence-based practice (even one based on good evidence) that works well in Place A might not in Place B.  BetaGov removes the barriers to conducting rigorous evaluations of policies and practices and seeks to make these assessments the norm rather than the exception—homegrown, practitioner-led trials.  The most rigorous test of an intervention—random assignment—is also the simplest to interpret; with the support provided at no cost by BetaGov, practitioners can carry out randomized controlled trials (RCTs) at minimal cost and contribute to a registry of evidence with greater scope, rigor, and practical value than anything produced by traditional academia. The private sector has long relied on simple, targeted RCTs to improve efficiency and performance. BetaGov promotes these same techniques to guide policy solutions for our most challenging social problems. Angela Hawken, founder of BetaGov, will discuss how it came about and some promising new directions, with a focus on criminal justice.


Angela Hawken
Angela Hawken
Program Director / Litmus
Professor of Public Policy /

Angela Hawken, Ph.D., is a Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management and director of the Litmus program. She is the founder and director of BetaGov, a resource center for practitioner-led trials that provides tools to develop and conduct experimental tests of practices and policies in order to increase the pace of innovation in criminal-justice and other policy areas. She is also the founder and director of Segregation Solutions, which supports stakeholder-led innovation and research in reducing the use of solitary confinement. Additionally, she is the principal investigator of several studies that test “Swift Certain Fair” (SCF) strategies to reduce recidivism and incarceration; she led the advisory teams to the Washington State Department of Corrections (WADOC) in its statewide rollout of Swift and Certain and to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) in its RESET parole-reform effort. She works with agencies in 14 states that are implementing and evaluating SCF in community corrections and in custody. Dr. Hawken completed a bachelor’s degree, an honors degree, and graduate coursework in economics at the University of the Witwatersrand, as well as a Ph.D. in policy analysis at the RAND Graduate School.