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Outcomes-based contracting encompasses a wide array of approaches, including payment-by-results, social outcome contracts, social impact bonds, development impact bonds, pay for success and social impact contracts. An in-depth understanding of the global evidence on the effect of these different tools is crucial in enabling policymakers to make evidence-informed decisions on the most appropriate form of outcome contracts or financial model to adopt in different contexts.   

Amid a growing – but mixed - body of evidence on these ever-evolving approaches, understanding the potential of these outcomes-based contracting tools can feel like both art and science. How are policymakers and practitioners to make sense of the mixed evidence? How can they integrate this mixed evidence into policy decisions and best practice?   

In this session, we presented the preliminary findings of the Global Systematic Review on Social Outcomes Contracting launched by the Government Outcomes Lab and Ecorys in January 2021. The review explores whether, when, and where (and if possible, how) outcomes-based contracting approaches deliver improved impact when compared to more conventional funding arrangements.

We explored the practical implications of the research findings with a panel of experienced policymakers and practitioners, in a discussion moderated by Carolyn J. Heinrich, Professor of Public Policy, Education and Economics at Vanderbilt University. 

Want to know more about the state of play of impact bonds? Explore our global interactive map to find out data on impact bonds in their various stages of development and policy areas.

Discover our dataset on impact bonds around the world