Results First: Moving States Forward
By Jennifer Burnett, Program Manager, Fiscal and Economic Policy
As state leaders continue their search for better, more efficient ways of doing business, a few strategies have emerged. Several states are putting one strategy into place—using an evidence-based, rigorous cost-benefit model to make policy decisions—thanks to the efforts of The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative.
The initiative will be discussed during a webinar at 3 p.m. EDT Tuesday, May 28.
Results First 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 them invest in policies and programs that are proven to work.
Results First provides state leaders with a tool for comparing the returns on investment for state-funded programs in an unbiased, nonpartisan way, according to 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.
“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 their 14 partner states, Results First has demonstrated early success in a number of ways, including helping states to:
Implement the best research-based cost-benefit models to assess policy alternatives;
Design policies that work together as a total package or “portfolio,” recognizing that investments or cuts in one program can affect costs and outcomes in others; and
Learn from each other, adapting best practices so each state doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.
“In addition, we have been successful at 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 Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, 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 their policy and budget decisions. More states are expected to join the initiative in the coming months.
On the webinar, Results First staff will provide an overview of the initiative and discuss the cost-benefit model. In addition, representatives from three partner states will share their experiences in working with Results First.