2019 State Standard of Excellence

13. Innovation

Did the state or any of its agencies have staff, policies, and processes in place that encouraged innovation to improve outcomes?

Why is this important?
Encouraging innovation allows state governments to implement new models that can improve programs and build new evidence about what works.

Leading Example

California Outline



The California Government Operations Agency (GovOps), which serves as an umbrella organization for the state’s innovation work, is designed to institutionalize policies, tools, and training that can drive its mission to modernize the processes of government through lean process improvement, data, leadership, and performance improvement. GovOps brings together statewide initiatives such as the Lean Academy, California Leadership Academy, the Office of Digital Innovation, and California’s Open Data Portal resources. Also, the California Health and Human Services Agency has an Office of Innovation that focuses on improving programs and services through the use of tools such as human centered design and data analytics.

Promising Examples



In 2019, Missouri launched The Show Me Challenge, which encourages state employees to pitch innovative ways to serve the state’s citizens better and improve the effectiveness of government.



LeanOhio, an initiative of the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, uses the Lean process improvement methodology to assist state agencies in streamlining their service delivery through consultations and training. Between 2011 and 2019, LeanOhio ran more than 340 projects in 44 agencies, boards, and commissions.


Single agency

Criminal Justice

The Oregon Youth Authority has used predictive models to determine which interventions are most likely to succeed for at-risk and court-involved youth. These risk assessment tools are based on data and outcomes captured in the state’s Juvenile Justice Information System, which uses a risk/needs profile to “assist in decision making for appropriate supervision levels, service type and dosage, readiness for transition, and support program evaluation.” A 2019 report on recidivism outcomes was published using data captured by the Juvenile Justice Information System.



The Rhode Island Governor’s Office has partnered with the The Policy Lab at Brown University, which launched in 2019, to bring together experts from government, universities, and community organizations to collaborate on research tailored to inform decisions about how to improve policies and programs across the state.


Multiple agencies


In 2012, the Governor challenged the state to achieve a 25% improvement in operational performance within four years. Between January 2013 and December 2018, the state demonstrated a 27.4% improvement, as measured via the QT/OE formula, thereby exceeding the Governor’s goal. As part of this work, the Utah Governor’s Office of Management and Budget developed the Rules of Flow, a framework designed to improve workflow. This framework was applied to the Utah State Hospital where a pilot from January to August 2018 reduced the average length of stay, improved discharge rates, and increased the number of people admitted to the hospital by 77%.



As part of Washington’s Lean process improvement initiative to improve the quality of state government services, Results Washington hosts an annual statewide Washington State Government Lean Transformation Conference, which convenes 2,000 people from dozens of state agencies, tribal government, local government, and the private sector to learn about Lean. Results Washington’s Lean program publishes case studies, issues a list of improvements by state agencies, and runs a Lean Fellowship Program housed within the governor’s office.