Productivity Commission: Building capacity to undertake rapid evidence assessments using a systematic approach

The Productivity Commission (PC) provides the Secretariat to the Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision which produces an annual report monitoring the performance of Australian governments in the provision of social services (such as health education and community services). To complement this work, the Steering Committee is pursuing a new stream of reporting that goes beyond the monitoring of outcomes and seeks to identify what is effective in achieving those outcomes.

To assist in getting this work underway, the PC sought assistance from the Centre for Evidence and Implementation in developing the approach. CEI has also worked with the Productivity Commission to help build their internal capacity to assess evidence using a rapid, systematic review approach.

A key part of that process was developing a protocol for conducting “what works reviews”. This is a technical manual that provides a step-by-step guide to systematically review the literature related to a policy question of interest. Following development of the guide, CEI assisted with the first What Works Review, which focused on assessing the supports for carers of older people with dementia and whether they can prevent or delay entry into residential aged care. CEI worked with the PC team to ensure that the review process adhered to common standards for the conduct of high-quality systematic reviews.