ideas42 launches “Gov42” to drive innovation within state and city governments

New team will partner with governments to improve policies for millions of Americans

New York, New York, March 28, 2016 – As states and cities face growing policy challenges and budget constraints, they can now tap into the expertise of nonprofit behavioral design lab ideas42, which today launched a new initiative, Gov42: Behavioral Science Innovations in Government.

As its first initiative, Gov42 will immediately be able to partner with select state governments to design and test innovative, behaviorally-informed solutions to improve policies and programs for millions of Americans. Results from the work will be widely disseminated and made open-source to maximize social impact and promote evidence-based policy-making, all at no cost to states.

Potential state-run programs that could be explored include well-established anti-poverty efforts like Medicaid and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), along with programs that improve education and provide support for new and expecting mothers. 

“All too often programs don’t end up providing the most impact or the best experience for the people they are meant to serve – these gaps are almost always wasteful of time and money,” said Josh Wright, ideas42 Executive Director. “Gov42 will be an important element in helping to change that dynamic.”

Using insights from behavioral science often uncovers small, seemingly simple factors in program and policy design that have an outsized impact – from the length and complexity of forms, to the timing and content of reminders sent to program participants. Behavioral science is increasingly improving outcomes in a variety of organizations around the world – from small nonprofits to large corporations and international organizations like the World Bank.

Gov42 builds on the success of ideas42’s involvement with the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST). The SBST released its first report in September 2015, coinciding with President Obama’s Executive Order calling for federal agencies to apply behavioral science. The inaugural report cited successes including boosting retirement savings among military service members, increasing the number of Americans going to college, and facilitating the timely repayment of student loans. ideas42 has contributed to this work since 2014, and embedded team members as Fellows in the SBST since its inception.

“In the wake of SBST’s success, Gov42 gives us a chance to apply advances in behavioral science to states and cities to help them work more effectively and improve lives for the people they serve, “ says Ted Robertson, ideas42 Managing Director and leader of the new Gov42 team. “We are starting to set up collaborations with state and local officials across the country and we are excited to work with them to get better results.”

Robertson said he expects ideas42 to form initial partnerships with at least two to three different states by the middle of 2016, with more to follow.

Gov42 projects will draw support from ideas42’s network of Academic Affiliates and Experts in Behavioral Science.

Support for Gov42 initiatives is provided in part by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Laura and John Arnold Foundation’s core objective is to address our nation’s most pressing and persistent challenges using evidence-based, multi-disciplinary approaches.

About ideas42

ideas42 has a clear mission: to use our unique experience as a nonprofit at the forefront of behavioral science to change millions of lives. We create innovative solutions to tough problems in economic mobility, health, education, consumer finance, energy efficiency and international development. Our approach is based on a deep understanding of human behavior and why people make the decisions they do. Working closely with our partners from government, foundations, NGOs and companies, we have more than 50 active projects in the United States and around the world.


For further Press Information or for media availability/interviews with Gov42, contact:

Andy Plews

Mitra Salasel