a Legislature could consider
to promote Results-Based Accountability
Here are 11 things a legislature could consider to change the
way people work together, and to improve the measurable well-being of children,
families and communities.
1. Create a special committee to assess the overall well-being of children
and families: There is no need to start by changing the existing committee
structure. It may make sense, however to create a new standing committee or task
force to look issues of child and family well-being which cross committee
boundaries. For example, no single committee is responsible for children ready
for school or young people staying out of trouble, or for helping communities
deal with coordinating services across agencies. These matters touch the
responsibilities of many committees. A select committee, with top leadership,
could take on the job of looking at how families and children are doing across
these boundaries, and what kinds of actions by state, local and private partners
could make a difference.
2. Establish results and indicators of child and family well-being:
Encourage or require the establishment of a set of results and indicators for
children and families. Encourage or require reporting at least annually (and
preferably more often) on how children are doing. Encourage or require the use
of baselines (not just point in time reporting) as the way of assessing
3. Hold results hearings for one or more results: Choose one result (such
as children ready for school) and hold a hearing. Since the subject will cross
committee lines make it a joint committee meeting. Call before the committee a
panel of department heads and ask:
- What measures do you use to tell if children in this
state are ready for school?
- How are we doing on those indicators?
- Who are the partners who have a role to play in doing better?
- What works to do better (including what's worked elsewhere' and no cost
low cost ideas?)
- How do you propose to work together on a joint strategy to improve?
Allow partners to testify. Make this an annual event and get
better each year. If this proves useful, pick a second result for a similar
4. Create a family and children's budget: Make this a requirement of the
executive branch budget submission. It shouldn't require more than a half time
position to coordinate production of the first versions of this. Require the
inclusion of all programs which benefit children and families with children.
Require that the budget document get better over time, so that it includes
summaries of spending by functions across agency lines, and analyses of the
short and long term costs and benefits of investments in children and families.
Consider issuing an addendum after legislative action on the budget.
5. Use performance measures to monitor agencies and programs: Require
agencies to select the 3 or 4 most important performance measures for each
program. Use the Finance Project methodology or some other disciplined approach
to separate the wheat from the chaff. Make sure that the measures address the
- How well are we delivering service?
- How are people better off as a consequence of our service?
This last question is about "client (customer, patient or
student) results." Then ask for the creation of baselines for the most
important measures. And ask agencies to report on how they are doing in relation
to their own performance baseline, what partners have a role to play in doing
better. what works to do better, what is their proposed action plan, and how is
that reflected in the budget?
6. Encourage the creation of cross system collaboratives: Consider
legislation which encourages or requires the creation of local (county or
community) cross system collaboratives. Make sure such collaboratives have broad
representation. Ask collaboratives to establish a set of results and indicators
for children and families in their county or community. Ask them to take on the
challenge of turning one curve this year. Provide support for these efforts
through the state departments and/or the state children's cabinet or similar
structure. Give state agencies the ability to waive rules (bust barriers) in
order to support a local turn the curve effort.
7. Authorize trading fund flexibility for Results-Based Accountability:
Consider legislation which authorizes the negotiation of a trade of fund
flexibility for Results-Based Accountability. Look at the work on Iowa's
Decategorization program and work in other states. Allow local collaborative
entities to receive a package of prevention and remediation funds as a block
provided both sides can negotiate appropriate incentives and safeguards.
Make the major incentive the ability to keep savings from remediation and spend
it on prevention. Allow savings to be rolled across fiscal years.
8. Create a cost of bad results analysis: Prepare this analysis annually
and use it to show the financial stakes of continuing on our current course of
escalating remediation expenditures for children and families. Include all the
costs, public and private, federal state and local, of remedial expenditures we
would like to go down (e.g. prison costs, juvenile justice costs, child welfare
costs, welfare costs, etc.). Prepare an analysis of program expenditures which
are today devoted to reducing these costs (e.g. immunizations, welfare to work,
recreation etc.) Require the staff to analyze and present the most cost
effective investments the state can make to reduce the Cost of Bad Resuts
over the next 10 years. Hold this analysis up to business investment analysis
standards. Consider getting business involved in supporting this analysis.
9. Create a children and family data and research agenda: Establish a
process to systematically identify the data your state needs to measure the well
being of children and families on a timely basis. Consider what it would take to
create the equivalent of the newspaper's weekly business indicators report - for
family and children indicators. Allocate resources to move in this direction.
10. Create a "what works" capacity in your state: This could be
based at a university or other support institution. Assemble usable information
on things that have worked to improve the well being of children and families.
Make the information easily accessible, easy to understand by lay people.
Highlight successes in your state. Assist communities in learning from each
other, and replicating successful efforts.
11. Sponsor training opportunities for state and local partners: For
people in the executive and legislative branches, state and local collaboratives
to learn about results-based decision making, or other approaches which use data
to make decisions. Consider other ways in which to advance the capacity of state
and local partners to do better.