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Sept. 13, 2013


CSG National Conference Highlights Initiative
to Help States Compare Return on Investment

LEXINGTON, Ky.--As state leaders continue their search for better, more efficient ways of doing business, a few standout strategies have emerged in recent years. State leaders attending The Council of State Governments 2013 National Conference in Kansas City, Mo., will learn how those initiatives work during a Sept. 19 session presented by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

One strategy--using an evidence-based, rigorous cost-benefit model to make policy decisions--is being put into place in a number of states thanks to the efforts of the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative. The initiative is a joint project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation that works with states to implement an innovative cost-benefit analysis approach to help policymakers invest in policies and programs that work.

"With budget issues dominating the agenda of most legislatures, state leaders and the people they serve expect government to do more with less," said David Adkins, executive director/CEO of The Council of State Governments. "Across-the-board budget cuts often throw the baby out with the bath water. A more enlightened approach is needed. That's why it is so important for state appropriators to invest in results. Results First is a great tool to help states do just that."

Results First provides state leaders with a tool for comparing the returns on investment for state-funded programs in an unbiased, nonpartisan way, said Gary VanLandingham, director of the initiative. The model can help state leaders make better policy choices and enable them to target their limited resources at programs that generate the best returns for taxpayers.

"This is a much more rational strategy than making across-the-board cuts that reduce funding for effective and ineffective programs alike," said VanLandingham.

In working with the 14 partner states, Results First has demonstrated early success in a number of ways, including helping states to:
"In addition, we have been successful in creating the climate needed to make decisions based on results, not anecdotes or external pressures, by providing technical assistance and other direct support," said VanLandingham.

Results First is working with 14 states--Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont--to adopt the model and begin applying this rigorous analysis to policy and budget decisions. More states are expected to join the initiative in the coming months.

Learn more about CSG's 2013 National Conference here.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Members of the press receive complimentary registration. CSG staff will be happy to work with journalists to secure interviews with speakers at the Economic Summit. Please contact Kelley Arnold at (859) 536-7087 or karnold@csg.org for more information.


The Council of State Governments is our nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.