Evidence-Based Budgeting

Tennessee is placing a greater focus on ensuring it invests in what works to best serve citizens across the state. Part of this effort, known as evidence-based budgeting, began in the spring of 2019 within the budget division of the Department of Finance and Administration. 

Evidence-based budgeting facilitates the use of research and evidence to inform programmatic funding decisions in a way that improves outcomes for Tennessee citizens. To this end, in the annual budgeting process, agencies asking for new dollars submit request forms that align with the Tennessee Evidence Framework. Influenced by the Results First Initiative, the framework allows agencies to share data and evidence that support proposed and existing programs during the budgeting process. OEI's Evidence-Based Budgeting in Tennessee document provides additional information on budgeting, qualifying evaluations, and the evidence framework.

The Tennessee Evidence Framework is designed to standardize the language that is used enterprise-wide to classify programs in Tennessee based on the level of available evidence supporting the program.

In this model, five evidence steps build from left to right. Every program has a logic model, or a theory of action, that guides its operation. Outputs are process measures, while outcomes communicate impact on participants or systems over time. The evidence and strong evidence steps indicate that the program is supported by at least one rigorous evaluation. Various factors can prevent a program from being rigorously evaluated, so ultimately the expectation is that all Tennessee programs are at least measuring outcomes.

Tennessee Evidence Framework

Evidence is a rigorous body of research that demonstrates the effectiveness of existing programs or proposed pilots in Tennessee.

To meet criteria for the Evidence and Strong Evidence steps in the Tennessee Evidence Framework, evaluations must be rigorous. “Rigorous” evaluations are impact evaluations that use comparison groups—where a group that receives the program or service, and group that doesn’t—to determine the effectiveness of a program or service on the desired outcomes. Randomized controlled trials (RCT) and quasi-experimental designs (QED) are evaluations that use comparison groups. 

OEI encourages the use of clearinghouses and clearinghouse databases to find this type of evidence. These tools conduct systematic reviews to evaluate programs and determine their impact. Click the images below to access the National Results First Clearinghouse, which compiles research from several clearinghouses into one central location, or the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP)'s benefit-cost analysis. Or, download OEI's list of Evidence-Based Clearinghouses.

Results First Clearinghouse Database
Washington State Institute for Public Policy Benefit-Cost Results

To download FY25 evidence-based budgeting forms and view general instructions, visit the budget instructions page. The following resources are designed to support agency budget teams in completing the FY25 forms:

Frequently Asked Questions

Aug. 22 & 23 Training Slides

Sample Cost Increase Request

With general budget questions, contact your agency's budget analyst. With questions about evidence and impact, contact us at OEI.Questions@tn.gov.