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Cass R. Sunstein

Biden’s Faith in Behavioral Science Will Pay Off

A government tool that could help speed up vaccine compliance and reduce red tape. 

There’s a science to this.

There’s a science to this.

Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images

In the impressively detailed memorandum on “scientific integrity” that President Joe Biden recently released, one provision could easily escape notice. It’s an explicit endorsement of behavioral science — and it calls for much more of it.

The provision requires the director of the Office of Management and Budget to produce, within 120 days, “guidance to improve agencies’ evidence-building plans and annual evaluation plans.” It calls out President Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13707, issued in 2015, which has guided the use of behavioral science by government officials. Biden’s memorandum instructs the OMB director to build on that order and to work toward better practices.