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At the Government Outcomes Lab, we are developing rigorous but accessible tools, informed by research, for those working on or within cross-sector partnerships to help them overcome the challenges of collaborative working.

Practitioners, policymakers and researchers seeking to improve cross-sector partnerships for social outcomes all need to define, measure and work with outcomes across sectors. However, this is not a straightforward task. Definitions are inconsistent, and data is fragmented across many different stakeholders. There are many different measurement tools available, but limited guidance as to when a particular tool is appropriate. And while much evidence is being generated on particular cross-sector partnership experiments, there is limited synthesis to suggest whether, when and where particular approaches are effective.

We host the International Network for Data on Impact and Government Outcomes (INDIGO), a data collaborative dedicated to improving the quality and accessibility of data related to cross-sector partnerships for better social outcomes. This includes a range of open datasets, including our flagship Impact Bond Dataset, the most comprehensive public dataset on impact bonds around the world.

We are also developing a range of economic tools, including an Impact Wayfinder to navigate social impact measurement resources, a Value for Money toolkit (developed in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, CIPFA) to help assess value for money in outcomes-based contracts, and a decision tree sourcing tool to aid consideration of the different approaches for contracting for services to improve social outcomes.

In partnership with research consultancy Ecorys and co-funded by the Netherlands Economic Institute, the GO Lab is also currently undertaking a systematic review of the evidence on outcomes-based contracting from around the world. The review draws on both academic and practical literature from a range of disciplines and languages to explore whether, when, and where (and if possible, how) outcomes-based contracting approaches deliver improved impact when compared to more conventional funding arrangements.


J. Outes Velarde, M. Airoldi, E. Carter, M. Gibson, T. Hameed. & J.R. Macdonald. (2021) INDIGO Impact Bond Insights July 2021. Government Outcomes Lab

J.R. Macdonald, C. Tye, J. Outes Velarde. B. Tiplady, J. Meek. (2021) Exploring Social Investment - Big Issue Invest and Government Outcomes Lab Technical and Learning Report A Government Outcomes Lab & Big Issue Invest.


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