Accessing and using programs should be intuitive. Information and choices among program options should be clear. Forms should be simple and easy to complete.
Behavioral science provides us with tools for designing the kind of government Americans deserve.
The Federal government administers a wide array of programs on behalf of the American people: financial aid to assist with college access, social insurance programs and tax incentives to promote retirement security, health insurance programs to ensure access to healthcare and financial protection for families, disclosure requirements to help people obtain safer mortgages, and others.
But Americans can only realize the benefits of these programs if the programs are easy to access, understand, and use. Research from behavioral science demonstrates that seemingly small barriers to engagement, such as pages of unstructured information, burdensome applications, or poorly presented choices, can prevent programs from effectively reaching the people they are intended to serve. An effective and efficient government must, therefore, reflect our best understanding of human behavior — how people engage with, participate in, and respond to policies and programs.
The members of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST), a subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council, represent more than a dozen organizations across government including the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Education. A diverse group of civil servants, policymakers, and experts in a variety of fields have collaborated to complete more than 30 pilots with rigorous evaluations.
Building on SBST’s first year of results, on September 15th, 2015, President Obama issued an executive order directing Federal Government agencies to apply behavioral science insights to their programs to better serve the American people.
Second Annual Report - 2016
The 2016 Annual Report presents the results of completed projects and describes ongoing efforts in eight key policy areas: promoting retirement security, advancing economic opportunity, improving college access and affordability, responding to climate change, supporting criminal justice reform, assisting job seekers, helping families get health coverage and stay healthy, and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of Government operations. View Report
First Annual Report - 2015
As a result of SBST projects in 2015, more Servicemembers are saving for retirement, more students are going to college and better managing their student loans, more Veterans are taking advantage of education and career counseling benefits, more small farms are gaining access to credit, and more families are securing health insurance coverage. And improvements in government program integrity and efficiency are saving taxpayer dollars. View Report