By Ben Reynolds and Dakota Thomas, Ph.D.
The Governing for Results Network is a multi-state peer learning network of state evidence leaders. The network is a collaborative effort hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures, The Council of State Governments and The Policy Lab at Brown University. The Governing for Results Network works to foster connections across the network, and within and across state governments, by engaging with state legislators, budget directors, and legislative and agency staff who advance the use of data and evidence across branches of government.
States have made significant progress in adopting evidence-based policies and programs. Using evidence to improve performance management requires interbranch collaboration and coordination between the executive and legislative branches. Such cooperation offers several important benefits. When the legislature and executive branch work independently in siloes, it can result in inefficiency, duplication of work, turf struggles and communication problems. Working together can alleviate these issues.
An interbranch commitment to evidence-based policymaking helps ensure that turnover — whether that be legislative, executive or agency staff — or other external shifts do not halt momentum or disrupt the process of creating and using evidence. Interbranch collaboration can also enable state governments to create a shared understanding of evidence-based policymaking and ensure that stakeholders in both branches are utilizing evidence to make informed decisions for their state. Shared goals and common language help to increase buy-in across both branches and with external partners.
Though interbranch collaboration can take many forms, this brief highlights two notable examples of interbranch collaboration focusing on improving performance management in North Carolina and Utah.
North Carolina’s Interbranch Approach to Performance Management
In North Carolina, interbranch collaboration is formally integrated into the policymaking process through explicitly interbranch committees like the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Performance Management.
The Governor’s Advisory Committee on Performance Management was created by executive order to facilitate interbranch collaboration by bringing together its 13 members who represent the governor’s office, the Legislature and state agencies. These members work together, facilitate a platform for sharing insights and experiences, and ultimately advise the governor on strategies for improving performance in state government.
The committee met Oct. 25, 2023, to discuss an overview of findings from an evaluation of a college readiness program, recommendations on data infrastructure improvements for the whole state, and to provide guidance on using data to improve performance management. This meeting allowed the committee to hear varying perspectives, learn about issues with recruiting and retaining data analysts, and to consider the best approach for setting up their state’s data systems.
By bringing together experts, stakeholders, data and best practices from across all of state government, each branch has an opportunity to learn innovative strategies while identifying potential process improvements.
Utah’s Interbranch Collaboration for Performance Reporting
Interbranch collaboration in Utah is incorporated into performance management by legislative action. Through the passage of HB 326 (2021), which was amended and updated by SB 296 in 2023, Utah formalized the process of interbranch collaboration between the legislative and executive branch for their state’s performance management efforts.
Together, the laws require the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget to create a full list of all funding items passed during the legislative session and provide those lists to each executive agency. Those agencies then provide a proposed performance measure and performance target for all qualifying funding items to the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, which then reviews all proposed measures and coordinate with the executive agencies to modify and finalize those measures.
The amended law then requires a formal review of performance measurements by the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, and also dictates that the Office of the Legislative Auditor General will review and respond to all efficiency evaluations, ensuring that results can be used to make meaningful improvements to processes.
Every stage of Utah’s process involves interbranch collaboration between the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst, Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget and other state agencies/legislative organizations. Taken as a whole, Utah’s laws create a holistic system of explicitly interbranch performance management for other states to potentially replicate.
Evidence-based policymaking often requires collaboration across branches of government. As seen in North Carolina and Utah, states are formalizing interbranch collaboration and coordination to support their evidence-based policymaking work. Such efforts are already bearing fruit. North Carolina’s interbranch committee has shaped the state’s strategy on interagency data sharing infrastructure, while Utah’s performance management approach has led to the creation of new kinds of performance measures (e.g., performance indicators for physical buildings and new construction). These strategies help sustain work, promote efficiency and consistency, and spread the word about the benefits of incorporating data and evidence into the policymaking process.
- The Governing for Results Network is happy to assist you with efforts to improve interbranch collaboration on evidence-based policymaking in your state.
- Utah’s Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget jointly produced a “Performance Measurement Playbook,” which provides best practices and guidance derived from their experience working together to improve Utah’s performance management systems.
- The website of the North Carolina Governor’s Advisory Committee on Performance Management offers additional information, including the purpose and structure of the committee, how the committee was created, its members, and where you can find all meeting minutes posted publicly.
- The Results First initiative produced a resource — “How Cross-Branch Collaboration Helps States Strengthen Evidence-Based Policymaking” — to assist states looking to improve interbranch collaboration on evidence-based policymaking.