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The GO Lab works to bridge the gap between academic research and real-world practice. We conduct academic research on improving public sector outcomes. Based on robust evidence we inform national policy decisions and equip public sector leaders across central and local government with the tools to tackle complex social issues.

Alongside our team of researchers and practice professionals, each year we appoint a small group of leading practitioners with a range of experience across sectors to support our work. These are our Fellows of Practice and they regularly contribute to our research, events and engagement work.

Research 

Outcomes based contracting 

Presently, we are completing work on outcomes-based contracting, and looking at social impact bonds as one tool that may improve outcomes for vulnerable people across society. 

We have published an evidence report that looks at the state of play of UK social impact bonds (SIBs). Building the tools for public services to secure better outcomes: collaboration, prevention, innovation looks beyond the question of whether SIBs work or not and asks ‘is there any magic dust in SIBs?’

We are involved in evaluating the Life Chances Fund projects. This is an £80 million fund designed to help people who face great challenges through SIB projects. We are evaluating the impact, process and value for money of the SIBs from this fund compared to other approaches - exploring ‘the SIB effect’. 

Collaboration in communities

More broadly we are looking at the ways that local government leaders are working to promote collaboration within their communities. We are exploring how collaborative approaches can be pursued whilst maintaining accountability for tax payers’ money and delivering services that meet citizen’s needs. Are we Rallying Together? shares our early findings and case studies that have shown collaboration and innovation across the country.  

An international outlook

Alongside our work exploring practice in the UK, we maintain an outward-facing stance towards practice internationally. Our annual international conference draws academics and practitioners from around the world to share insights, perspectives and the latest thinking on improving public sector outcomes. We are developing research into international outcomes funds including the Education Fund for Africa and the Middle East, and we regularly work with associated organisations in Finland, France, Italy, the US, Canada, South Africa and Japan.

Guidance 

Events and webinars

The GO Lab offer practical support and guidance to those designing, developing and implementing outcomes-based contracts and social impact bonds. We host regular webinars, workshops and events across the country which discuss key topics and facilitate networking with sector experts. These include the SIB Knowledge Clubs that foster peer learning. 

Technical guidance 

Another way we support those developing outcomes-based contracts (including SIBs) is through our technical guides. These offer in depth support on topics including setting and measuring outcomesevaluationprocurement, as well as contracting and payment mechanisms (coming soon). We regularly update and improve these guides and work on new ones in response to need. For more specific and personalised support we offer advice surgeries via phone or online.

On top of our evaluation support for the Life Chances Fund we also provide support to individual projects. Our technical guidance is available to them and we have developed a SIB readiness framework with our partners at the Big Lottery Fund. This is an online tool that explores considerations to be made at each stage of developing a SIB.    

Knowledge 

We have developed a knowledge bank on outcomes based contracting and social impact bonds, as well as relevant information for those involved in the sector. Our basic guides share introductions to outcomes based contractingsocial impact bondsdevelopment impact bonds, and more. 

We regularly update our publications library that shares the latest from across the sector, as well as the projects database which shares information about outcomes contracts that have been launched. We have a collection of case studies that offer in depth information about programmes.  

We regularly share short opinion-forming and thought-leadership pieces in our blog, which represents views from key players in the space, as well as interviews, summaries of panel debates we have hosted, and contributions from our own team and Fellows of Practice.