2019 State Standard of Excellence
1. Strategic Goals
Did the Governor have public statewide strategic goals?
In 2019, Colorado launched the Governor’s Dashboard, which outlines four high-priority strategic goals: tax reform and economic development, energy and renewables, health, and education and the workforce. Each high-priority strategic area is supported by a cabinet working group as well as aligned goals, metrics, and strategies contained within agency performance plans. The governor’s annual budget request also links these goals to specific agency activities and outcomes.
2. Performance Management / Continuous Improvement
Did the state or any of its agencies implement a performance management system aligned with its statewide strategic goals, with clear and prioritized outcome-focused goals, program objectives, and measures; and did it consistently collect, analyze, and use data and evidence to improve outcomes, return on investment, and other dimensions of performance?
A 2013 Washington State Executive Order established Results Washington within the Governor’s office as “an innovative, data-driven, performance management initiative, that will drive the operations of state government.” As part of its work, Results Washington proactively and regularly publishes outcome data within the state’s priority areas of: world-class education; prosperous economy; sustainable energy and clean environment; healthy and safe communities; and efficient, effective and accountable government. In each of these areas, the state measures progress. Since 2014, Results Washington has conducted Results Review meetings with the Governor 10 times per year. The meetings are recorded and publicly posted and allow the “Governor and state agency directors to discuss objectives, improvement strategies and metrics.”
3. Data Leadership
Did the governor’s office or any state agency have a senior staff member(s) with the authority, staff, and budget to collect, analyze, share, and use high-quality administrative and survey data—consistent with strong privacy protections— to improve (or help other entities including, but not limited to, local governments and nonprofit organizations improve) federal, state, and local programs? (Example: chief data officer)
A 2018 Connecticut law formalized the position of Chief Data Officer, created the Connecticut Data Analysis Technology Advisory Board, and required each state agency to designate an agency data officer to manage high value data sets and coordinate data-related activities with the state Chief Data Officer. The Chief Data Officer, along with individual agency data officers, are required to biannually update the state data plan, which covers open data and creates data standards for agencies. The plan also contains 11 principles and accompanying practices that all agencies should adopt in order to improve their management, use, sharing, and analysis of data.
4. Data Policies / Agreements
Did the state or any of its agencies have data sharing policies and data sharing agreements—consistent with strong privacy protections—with any nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, local government agencies, and/or federal government agencies which were designed to improve outcomes for publicly funded programs, and did it make those policies and agreements publicly available? (Example: data sharing policy, open data policy)
The Washington Education Research and Data Center has a memorandum of understanding which identifies how data will be collected and shared among partners with a strong focus on protecting individual privacy. The Center brings together eleven partners, including state workforce, education, and child welfare agencies, to compile education and workforce data to improve student achievement and workforce outcomes.
The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services maintains an Integrated Client Database with data from 10 state agencies, 40 separate data systems, and 2.4 million individuals. This data is used for rapid-cycle policy analysis, program evaluation, predictive modeling, and performance measurement to help agencies understand how health and other factors are related to outcomes for persons served by public assistance programs. The database has been used by the state’s Health Home Program, which provides intensive care management services to high-risk Medicaid beneficiaries, to improve beneficiary health outcomes and lower costs. These lower costs have included over $20 million in savings to the state as well as tens of millions in dollars in shared savings payments from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which has evaluated the program and encouraged other states to consider developing similar programs.
5. Data Use
Did the state or any of its agencies have data systems consistent with strong privacy protections that linked multiple administrative data sets across state agencies, and did it use those systems to improve federal, state, or local programs?
The Indiana Management Performance Hub, overseen by the state’s Chief Data Officer, houses the integrated Education and Workforce Development database, which brings together data from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, the Indiana Department of Education, the Department of Workforce Development, and the Family and Social Services Administration. In addition, the Hub has created integrated databases to address pressing policy issues related to opioids, vehicle crashes, medicaid, fiscal transparency, and other areas. According to a 2018 annual report, the Hub has generated an estimated return on investment of $40 million for the state.
6. Evaluation Leadership
Did the governor’s office or any state agency have a senior staff member(s) with the authority, staff, and budget to evaluate its major programs and inform policy decisions affecting them? (Example: chief evaluation officer)
The Director of the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Research, Evaluation and Advanced Analytics is responsible for helping educational leaders across the state recognize, gather, analyze, evaluate, and leverage data to solve problems and improve student outcomes. Initiatives such as Empowered by Evidence and the Ohio’s Evidence-Based Clearinghouse are designed for “a culture of continuous learning…[and to] create the framework and processes needed for actionable research.” The Department has partnered with the Ohio Education Research Center to share education data across the state.
7. Evaluation Policies
Did the state or any of its agencies have an evaluation policy, evaluation plan, and research/learning agenda(s), and did it publicly release the findings of all completed evaluations?
In 2018, Minnesota Management and Budget adopted an evaluation policy, which governs its use of evaluations and requires the release of all completed evaluation reports regardless of findings. The policy outlines key principles for evaluation: rigor; relevance; independence; transparency; and ethics. Relatedly, Minnesota Management and Budget also defines evidence for research, evaluation, and funding purposes.
9. Outcome Data
Did the state or any of its agencies report or require outcome data for its state-funded programs during their budget process?
The 2013 Colorado State Measurement for Accountable, Responsive and Transparent Government (SMART) Act required all Colorado state agencies to submit annual performance reports to the Colorado state legislature as part of the state’s budget process. These reports include: (1) performance measures for the major functions of the department; (2) performance goals for at least the following three years; (3) a description of the strategies necessary to achieve those goals; and (4) a summary of the department’s most recent performance evaluation. In addition, the state’s FY 2019-2020 budget development instructions (pp. 43-47) prioritize new program requests “based on the evidence and body of research supporting the program’s effect on desired outcomes and proposed implementation plan.” The instructions also include information on tiered evidence frameworks and program evaluation requirements. In the FY 2020-2021 budget cycle, the state applied an evidence continuum to budget requests and used that criteria to inform resource allocation decisions.
10. Evidence Definition and Program Inventory
Did the state or any of its agencies release a common evidence framework, guidelines, or standards to inform its research and funding decisions and make publicly available an inventory of state-funded programs categorized based on at least two tiers of evidence?
Under a 2015 Minnesota law (section 13), Minnesota Management and Budget has developed numerous inventories of evidence-based programs, including in the areas of criminal justice, mental health, child welfare, and higher education. Minnesota Management and Budget also maintains the Minnesota Inventory, a searchable clearinghouse of more than 400 programs operating in the state. As part of the inventory, the state developed a guide for using evidence in policymaking and evidence definitions to categorize interventions as proven effective, promising, theory based, or no effect. These resources helped inform funding decisions in the state, including $87 million in new or expanded evidence-based programming in the FY 2020-2021 budget.
11. Cost-Benefit Analysis
Did the state or any of its agencies assess and make publicly available the costs and benefits of public programs?
A 2013 Washington State law (pp. 105–106) directed the Department of Corrections, in consultation with the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP), to (1) compile an inventory of existing programs; (2) determine whether its programs were evidence-based; (3) assess the effectiveness of its programs, including conducting a cost-benefit analysis; and (4) phase out ineffective programs and implement evidence-based programs. As a result of this and similar laws, WSIPP has published hundreds of cost-benefit analyses in a wide variety of issue areas over the past 10 years. The WSIPP cost-benefit framework has been widely adopted by governments across the country.
12. Use of Evidence in Grant Programs
Did the state or any of its agencies (1) invest at least 50% of program funds in evidence-based solutions or (2) use evidence of effectiveness when allocating funds to eligible grantees (including local governments) from its five largest competitive and noncompetitive grant programs?
Since 2017, the Nevada Department of Education has allocated 100% of the state’s $8.5 million in federal Title I school improvement funds to districts and schools for interventions backed by strong, moderate, or promising evidence (using the top three tiers of evidence as defined by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)). This represented an increase over the approximately 15% of funds that had been allocated based on level of evidence in the 2016-2017 school year. Grant recipients may set aside funds to monitor and evaluate the identified evidence-based approaches to ensure the investments yield a positive impact on student outcomes. Applications for Title I school improvement funds must meet at least one of Nevada’s three statewide priorities: focus on the lowest performing schools, data-driven decision-making, and leadership development.
Beginning in 2017, the Nevada Department of Education began requiring school districts to invest awarded funds from two additional federal grant programs in interventions that meet one of the four tiers of evidence (strong, moderate, promising, and under evaluation) defined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): (1) ESSA Title IV-B ($9 million in 2017-2018), for the competitive 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants and (2) Competitive ESSA Title IV-A grants ($3 million in federal funds to Nevada in 2017-2018 to increase students’ access to a well-rounded education), where applications with stronger evidence are considered for funding before other applications. Applications for Title IV-A must meet at least one of Nevada’s three statewide priorities: focus on the lowest performing schools, data-driven decision-making, and leadership development.
Starting in 2013, the Nevada State Legislature passed a series of laws with strong evidence requirements that aligned state education funding with ESSA’s tiered evidence definition. The following six programs require grantees to use interventions that meet one of the four ESSA evidence tiers (though supplemental curriculum and professional development must meet the top three tiers: strong, moderate, or promising) and align with one of Nevada’s three statewide priorities: focus on the lowest performing schools, data-driven decision-making, and leadership development: (1) The Zoom School program, first enacted in 2013 supports competitive grants ($50 million per year in state education funds) to help school districts provide English language instruction to non-native speakers; (2) the Nevada Turnaround grant program, authorized in 2017, is a competitive grant program ($2 million in state education funds per year) that helps underperforming schools implement their school improvement plans; (3) SB 178, authorized in 2017, gives weighted formula grants to support extended learning opportunities in schools (approximately $1,200 for every eligible student; 2019 total funding of $70 million in state funds per year); (4) the competitive College and Career Readiness program ($4.9 million in state education funds per year), created in 2017 helps school districts establish advanced programs for middle school and high school students; (5) the Victory Schools initiative ($25 million in state education funds per year), created in 2017 (and reauthorized in 2019) aims to improve results in the state’s lowest performing schools; and (6) Nevada’s 2015 Read by Grade Three Act ($22.3 million in state funds in 2016-17), amended in 2019, allocates funds to school districts through a formula grant process.
Did the state or any of its agencies have staff, policies, and processes in place that encouraged innovation to improve outcomes?
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.
14. Contracting for Outcomes
Did the state or any of its agencies enter into performance-based contracts and/or use active contract management (frequent use of data and regular communication with providers to monitor implementation and progress) to improve outcomes for publicly funded programs?
Since 2015, Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) has worked to reform and restructure the department’s procurement processes in four areas: improving service delivery through strategic planning, embedding results-driven procurement in new contracts, improving performance through active contract management practices, and supporting results-driven contracting practices through technical resources, tools, and processes for staff. As part of this initiative, the department executed $90 million in 116 results-driven contracts that require providers to meet outcome goals rather than output metrics. As a result, DCYF has reduced the number of children in group care by over 20% since 2015, experienced a 50 percent expansion of foster care resources for the most challenging adolescents, doubled the capacity of high quality family visitation and reunification services, and made start-up investments of $1.2 million in nonprofit community organizations to support new and expanded programming.
In 2015, Rhode Island’s Department of Labor and Training launched Real Jobs Rhode Island, an innovative $14 million workforce program. To track the program’s success, Rhode Island created performance-based metrics and used frequent meetings with training providers to track results and make course corrections. As a result of this active contract management, Rhode Island was able to reconfigure the way it manages and evaluates its job training programs to capture meaningful long-term employment outcomes. The state also has created a Strategic Coaching Procurement Playbook, which includes specific strategies and sample language for using active contract management to get better results.
15. Repurpose for Results
Did the state or any of its agencies shift funds away from any practice, policy, or program which consistently failed to achieve desired outcomes?
Since 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has set performance targets for its community corrections program through performance-based contracts. Providers that meet recidivism prevention goals receive a 1% increase in their rate while providers that fail to meet targets for two consecutive years can have their contracts terminated. Following the introduction of these performance goals, the program’s recidivism rate dropped by 11.3% in 2014, another 16% in 2015, and another 11% in 2016. In 2018, the Commonwealth Foundation’s report on criminal justice reform in Pennsylvania recommended expanding the program to other areas based on these results.