A review of - The Fairy Godmother and Her Warts: Making the Dream of Evidence-Based Policy Come True

American Journal of Evaluation. March 2008. vol. 29. no. 1. pp 29-47.

According to Weiss et al. (2008), "A widespread assumption is that research and evaluation should influence the making of public policy" (p. 29). In an effort to help evaluation influence public policy, "government agencies have adopted an innovative strategy to impose the use of evaluation evidence on local policy makers and practitioners" (p.30) by mandating that applicants of federal program funds demonstrate that the programs they plan to implement are scientifically proven. This strategy of "imposed use" is what the authors refer to as the Fairy Godmother in that it makes the wish of evaluation or data influencing policy come true. As the authors state, "But now they [policymakers] have to pay attention or they do not receive federal funds" (p.34). In this article, Weiss et al. (2008) begin by reviewing the literature on obstacles between productive collaboration between researchers and policymakers. The authors also share the findings of their study of the influence of evaluation on school-based drug abuse prevention programs in the hopes of determining whether "imposed use" advances the cause of evidence in policymaking.