How IARPA Judges the Success of Investments in Research and Innovation

The Government Analytics Breakfast (GAB) Forum was pleased to welcome Dr. Jason Matheny, Director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), and learn about the methods used to evaluate IARPA's research investments.

IARPA is a U.S. Government organization that invests in high-risk, high-payoff research in support of national intelligence.  Approximately one quarter of IARPA's budget is devoted to measuring and evaluating the quality of the research it funds, a very difficult task.  For example, Dr. Matheny noted that scientists often learn a lot from what doesn't work.  IARPA devotes time and resources to recording failures so future scholars can learn from them (and thereby avoid the "file drawer problem").

Two metrics commonly used to measure research success are (1) the number or impact of publications and (2) the transfer of technologies that result from the research undertaken.  Dr. Matheny, explained, however, that these are certainly not the only measures of success available, but it's not clear which measures are "best", particularly when determinig future funding.

Increasingly IARPA is using prize money (instead of traditional contracts) to entice a wider breadth of researchers to investigate solutions that can be applied in the intelligence field.  Under this compensation structure, teams of researchers need not submit proposals to receive funding -- they simply submit their solutions and IARPA then judges which solution(s) is best.

Dr. Matheny concluded by noting the importance of scientists learning how to communicate complex findings to wide audiences.  He suggested the researchers leverage tools like videos and podcasts as means to convey the importance of their work to nontechnical audiences, including high-level policymakers.

You can view the entire talk here.


Screening of Hamilton's America Last Night at the JHU Center

Alex Horwitz came to the JHU Center for Advanced Governmental Studies last night to share a screening of his documentary, Hamilton's America.  The film was a collaborative project Alex did with Lin Manual Miranda, the creator and writer of the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton.  Lin and Alex were college friends and fellow history buffs.  They wanted to do the film to provide a history of the life of Alexander Hamilton, well before the play Hamilton had been conceived.  The film intersperses footage from the Broadway hit with discussion of Hamilton's own rise as a prominent figure in the United States.


After viewing the film, Alex fielded questions about the making of the documentary as well as larger questions about how to teach civics to American school children and how the political contours of the United States have been indelibly shaped by the Hamilton and Jefferson divide.  It was both an historical and timely discussion.



JHU Faculty Lee Drutman Addresses Problem of Polarization at an Institutional level

See Professor Lee Drutman's article here from the New America Foundation.


JHU Center for Advanced Governmental Studies Chair, Dr. Benjamin Ginsberg, Featured on C-SPAN

See Dr. Ginsberg interviewed on C-SPAN discussing the book he co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Bachner, What Washington Gets Wrong:  The Unelected Officials Who Actually Run the Government and What They Think About the American People.


Gov Analytics Student Selected as PMF Finalist

Congratulations to Jesse Sloman, a current MS in Government Analytics student, for his selection as a Presidential Management Fellowship finalist!  This year there were 6,370 applicants and 417 finalists.  Of the finalists, 35 were from Johns Hopkins University with 3 from AAP.  The program is a fantastic opportunity for those looking to become leaders in government.  We here at the Government Analytics program are thrilled and proud!