Researchers at Brown University will begin a collaboration with the Office of the Governor of Rhode Island this summer to help state agencies design evidence-based policies to better serve Rhode Island families.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A new collaboration beginning this summer between Brown University researchers and the Office of the Governor of Rhode Island will aim to help state agencies design evidence-based policies to better serve Rhode Island families.

Justine Hastings, associate professor of economics at Brown, will be the lead researcher in developing the Rhode Island Innovative Policy Lab (RIIPL) at Brown University. The RIIPL will be available to work with policymakers to design new policy initiatives find better solutions to improve the lives of residents.

“The goal is to improve the quality of life of Rhode Islanders, from increasing jobs and economic opportunity to improving household savings,” Hastings said. “We’re very excited for these opportunities to be able to make decisions using the best resources and tools to benefit Rhode Island.”

An expert in the economics of smart policy design, Hastings is assembling a team of researchers that will use state-of-the-art econometric and economic analysis techniques, as well as techniques in machine learning and data-mining, to provide support for evidence-based “smart policy.”

“We all need to work together to jumpstart our economy and provide more opportunities for our families,” Rhode Island Gov. Gina M. Raimondo said. “This effort will help inform our future policy decisions as we look for ways to move our state forward. This collaboration is only just beginning and is a great example of how we can better partner with our state’s research institutions.”

The selected RIIPL executive researchers all will be leaders in work in public policy and research methodologies. RIIPL will integrate policy with teaching — facilitating internships in the field of smart policy with state government and students in the master’s degree of public administration program at Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies.

“We’re going to engage students in internships to find ways to strengthen Rhode Island’s economy and create opportunities for families,” Hastings said. “This is a new effort, and the research methodologies and formation of the lab are still in development, but we look forward to sharing our results in the months ahead.”

RIIPL is funded by Brown University and a nearly $3 million grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF).

“This unique partnership between the state of Rhode Island and researchers at Brown University will allow the state to identify opportunities to produce meaningful improvements in people’s lives,” said Josh McGee, LJAF vice president of public accountability. “It will develop the infrastructure that policymakers need to incorporate data and evidence into the government decision-making process.”