What is an Embedded Lab?
Embedded Labs are teams of IPA and public sector employees working side-by-side to strengthen the use of data and evidence in public policy. Each lab works on a variety of activities to equip IPA’s partners to regularly use evidence to improve their decision-making, policies, and programs. Think of labs as IPA for government.
What does an Embedded Lab do?
Each lab works on a variety of activities, tailored to the partners’ goals. These might include:
- Administrative data mapping and strengthening
- Developing a policy-oriented research agenda and facilitating the development of research projects in line with the agenda
- Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) plans for key programs
- Evidence sharing and supporting partners to use evidence to inform public policy
- Evaluations, using administrative data primarily, but perhaps supplemented by independent data collection
- Strengthening the link between the generation and use of evidence
- Technical assistance for scaling up effective evidence-based programs
How do Embedded Labs contribute to policy impact?
IPA aims to build a world with less poverty by creating and sharing evidence and enabling policymakers to use it to reduce poverty. Embedded Labs emphasize this last pillar to create a culture of evidence-informed decision-making. Labs enable policy impact in several ways:
- By institutionalizing the sharing and application of evidence, making this a regular part of a government agency’s ways of working.
- By building the skills and systems that decision-makers need in order to create and use rigorous evidence.
- By directly supporting the scale-up of evidence-informed policies and programs, including through effective monitoring at scale.
We believe that Embedded Labs can have a lasting impact, as they can work closely with implementing partners and can be somewhat insulated from political change.
Learn more about our Embedded Labs:
MineduLAB is an innovation lab for education policy housed within the government of Peru. The lab pilots and evaluates the effectiveness of low-cost education innovations. Its ultimate goal is to equip the Ministry of Education to use evidence to improve education outcomes throughout the country. MineduLAB has tested nine interventions and it’s currently working on five more evaluations.
Procuralab is an embedded innovation lab created in partnership with the Attorney General Office in Colombia to support the office in making policy decisions based on rigorous data and evidence. Currently, the lab supports the PGN through the design, implementation, and experimental evaluation of innovative solutions to fight corruption and prevent human rights violations. The lab also helped improve the design of a tool to collect and monitor data on the impacts of COVID-19.
Ghana’s Embedded Lab was IPA’s first attempt to replicate the model we developed and incubated with Peru’s Ministry of Education. The lab adapts to the way Ghana’s education ministry works (primarily through a set of influential sub-agencies), and their existing patterns of evidence and data use. The lab supports the Ministry of Education to develop, implement, and monitor programs to strengthen the delivery of evidence-based educational programs.
Rwanda’s Embedded Lab was established in partnership with the Rwanda Education Board (REB) with the main objective of supporting the process of centralizing teacher recruitment and management. The Lab is also conducting a national comprehensive assessment to provide recommendations on how to improve the teacher recruitment process along with a rapid assessment on ICT capacity among teachers and schools, undertaken at the behest of REB's Department of ICT in Education.
The Embedded Lab in Zambia was established in partnership with the Ministry of General Education (MoGE) in September 2019. The lab is currently defining a research agenda to perform rigorous policy evaluations, establish a monitoring and evaluation team, and contribute to capacity building within the MoGE. In addition, the Lab is supporting an investigation for lowering school fees and supporting the MoGE with developing a research agenda for the Joint Sector Review (JSR) meeting. This event is held with partners and education experts to review the performance of the Ministry and annual planning. In 2020, IPA supported the Ministry in planning the JSR meeting, developing research tools, training staff, analyzing data, and writing reports.
For more information, please reach out to us.