Evaluation panel:
VATT research is of high quality but support for decision-making needs improvement

Ministry of Finance 14.2.2020 11.00
Press release

An international panel has carried out an evaluation of the activities of the VATT Institute for Economic Research. The panel submitted its report to the Ministry of Finance on Friday 14 February.

The evaluation panel examined VATT’s scientific activities, social impact and quality in relation to its duties and objectives.

VATT research is of high academic quality and reliable

According to the evaluation panel, VATT's activities have changed significantly since 2007, when raising the academic level of research was seen as one of VATT’s key areas for improvement. The panel concluded that VATT's research is now of high academic quality and reliable, and it focuses on phenomena that are relevant for decision-making.

VATT has adapted well to the changes following the comprehensive reform of state research institutes and research funding in Finland: VATT has successfully applied for external research funding and continued to intensify cooperation with universities and other research institutes.

VATT should provide better support for ex ante evaluation of policy measures

VATT could play a stronger role in and have more impact on supporting political decision-making, such as the drafting of reforms and the conducting of ex ante evaluations. The current situation is partly due to the deliberate decision to focus VATT's research activities on research aimed at publishing articles in peer reviewed scientific publications. In terms of impact, it is also essential how the Ministry of Finance and other ministries communicate their knowledge and research needs to VATT.

The evaluation panel’s key proposal is to strengthen VATT’s support for the ex ante evaluation of policy measures. However, it is important that VATT's main focus remains in producing academic research data. For the development of ex ante evaluation, it is essential to create a systematic framework for discussing knowledge and research needs, and to ensure the commitment of the Ministry of Finance and VATT management in promoting the development efforts.

The evaluation panel recommends that consideration be given to focusing VATT’s resources on a smaller number of research themes or, alternatively, increasing VATT’s resources. VATT could have a role in considering the ways in which quantitative models for evaluating political decision-making can be developed and maintained. 

The evaluation of VATT's scientific activities was commissioned by the Ministry of Finance. The members of the evaluation panel were Professor Emeritus Vidar Christiansen from the University of Oslo, Professor Olof Åslund from the IFAU Institute (Institutet för arbetsmarknadspolitisk utvärdering), Doctor of Economics Vesa Vihriälä and Director Raija Volk, who also chaired the panel. Evaluation reports on VATT’s activities have been previously commissioned in 2007 and 1995.

International Evaluation of the VATT Institute for Economic Research. Report of the Evaluation Panel 

Inquiries:

Ilari Valjus, Senior Specialist, tel. +348 295 530 093, ilari.valjus(at)vm.fi

The VATT Institute for Economic Research is an expert organisation in applied economics research in the administrative branch of the Ministry of Finance. VATT assesses the impact of policy measures on individuals, households and businesses by making use of extensive registry data and statistical methods. VATT also provides expert support for the preparatory work for decision-making and the assessment of economic policies.