Building a Results-Oriented Government

State government plays an important role in the lives of people across Massachusetts.  From turning around low performing schools to making the health care system more cost-effective, from developing new approaches to reducing youth violence, to supporting job creation and economic development – state government is making a difference on critical issues that matter to the people it serves.  Success on these issues in recent years stems in part from the unprecedented investment the Patrick-Murray Administration has made in these areas and that are prioritized in the FY2014 budget.  However, how much money is spent by state government is not the benchmark this Administration uses to determine whether the state’s goals have been achieved.  Ultimately, it is the results of those investments that matter.  Has school performance improved, has health care cost growth been contained, are kids safer in their neighborhoods, are jobs being created in all parts of the Commonwealth – those are the real tests of state government’s success.

That is why as part of its FY2014 budget, the Patrick-Murray Administration is launching the MassResults initiative, which seeks to further embed a results-oriented culture in state government.  In launching MassResults alongside the investments proposed in this budget, the Administration is making a further down payment towards changing the way state government does business.

What is MassResults?

MassResults aims to make state government more effective, more accountable and more open – building a results-oriented culture by:

Building a more results-oriented government is the specific charge of the Office of Commonwealth Performance, Accountability and Transparency (CPAT), which was created by the legislature in 2012 and housed within the Executive Office for Administration and Finance.  CPAT has: directed the Administration’s comprehensive strategic planning and performance management efforts; brought a greater level of coordination to federal grant management than ever before; led efforts to enhance controls to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse; and improved economic and caseload forecasting capabilities to enable state government to better predict and address fiscal impacts.  CPAT will lead the MassResults initiative to make government more effective, accountable and open. 

Making Government More Effective

The first phase of the Administration’s comprehensive strategic planning and performance management effort culminates with this budget.  In February 2012, Governor Patrick signed Executive Order 540 to embed performance management across state government.  Consistent with EO 540 and legislation (Chapter 165 of the Acts of 2012) signed by the Governor in July 2012, the Patrick-Murray Administration’s FY2014 budget includes:

Articulating what success looks like and being held accountable for results is something that every resident should expect from state government.  Together, the publication of strategies for the Governor’s four priorities, the Secretariat strategic plans and the new all-funds program-based budget show the public not just how much state government is spending, but what it plans to achieve with these investments.  This is something that state government has never done before and should never fail to do again.

Using Data and Evidence to Get Results

Many state agencies have been using performance management practices to achieve better outcomes and improve service delivery. Already this year, the Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has conducted its first-ever public accountability meeting to share its results with interested residents.  The Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) revamped its EHS Results performance management system to measure progress across its agency clusters.  The Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) led the development of business plans with outcome measures for all of its 18 public and quasi-public economic development agencies. And to support the spread of these practices, CPAT, in partnership with the Collins Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts in Boston (UMASS Boston), has trained more than 300 state managers in performance management techniques and implementation. 

The Administration is committed to embedding performance management practices across state government.  By setting clear goals and regularly using data and evidence to make better decisions, state agencies have achieved some notable successes. For example:

Paying for Results

In addition to implementing performance management, the Patrick-Murray Administration has sought to change the way state services are paid for and delivered – requiring local and private partners to measure results, using incentives to reward success and pioneering the use of innovative funding models.  Reforms to health care payment methods encompassed in the recently passed landmark health care cost containment legislation are but one such example.  The Administration’s Safe and Successful Youth grants program, which is aimed at reducing youth violence, has outcomes built into its grants and recipients are required to report regularly on progress meeting them. The state’s accountability and assistance framework for elementary and secondary schools requires that turnaround plans for low-performing schools include measurable goals on indicators such as participation rates, educational attainment, college readiness and school culture.

Additionally, the Administration is finalizing a pay-for-success contract to reduce juvenile recidivism in the Youth Recidivism Project, outlined in more detail in “Positive Youth Development and Violence Prevention.” Under the contract, the state will only pay when a successful intervention has been delivered by providers, using agreed upon data and performance measures to determine whether outcomes have been achieved.  The Administration is also partnering with providers and funders to create stable housing for several hundred chronically homeless individuals, and is developing a similar pay-for-success mechanism to address this issue. 

Beyond these signature initiatives, there are examples across state government of performance-based incentives being built into funding streams, grants and contracts for the delivery of vital state services.  Examples include: 

Further reforms to change the way state government pays for and delivers services have also been developed as part of the Governor’s FY2014 budget.  Building on the enactment of landmark reforms to the community college system last year, the Administration is proposing that community college funding become performance-based to reward better student outcomes, workforce development and the completion of certificates and degrees in fields of high employer need.  The Administration is also seeking to provide incentives for local communities to improve their effectiveness and efficiency.  A new incentive aid pool has been proposed to reward cities and towns for adopting better financial practices and policies and participating in performance management programs.  Through these efforts, state government can stretch taxpayer dollars to get better results.

The Administration has also started to apply a results-oriented philosophy to tax expenditures – the provisions in the tax code that are designed to encourage certain kinds of activities or investments.  In April 2013, the Tax Expenditure Commission, which was formed to study and recommend methods for measuring and reviewing the effectiveness of tax expenditures, charged CPAT and the Department of Revenue with identifying the public purpose and desired outcomes for each expenditure and to develop metrics for assessing tax expenditures’ effectiveness at achieving these purposes and outcomes.  The first part of this charge has been met, with public policy purposes and outcomes identified.  These are now being vetted with stakeholders and legislators.  Metrics and data are also being collected for a number of grant-like tax expenditures.  This work will continue throughout 2013. 

The Next Phase of Performance Improvement Efforts

Consistent with EO 540, CPAT will lead the next phase of MassResults performance management efforts in 2013. These efforts include:

Making Government More Accountable

Today’s fiscal reality demands that every taxpayer dollar is stretched as far as possible and utilized to its fullest extent.  Three important elements of CPAT’s charge are to better manage federal grants; provide leadership in program integrity efforts across state government; and use economic and caseload forecasting to better assess impacts on the state’s finances. 

Better Managing Federal Grants

The Federal Grants Management Office (FGMO) in CPAT was created after the state government’s successful coordination of $7.5 B in additional funding through the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  In managing ARRA funds, real time information was used to track usage and outcomes.  This ensured ARRA funds were spent in a timely manner to create and retain jobs and support economic recovery. 

Learning from ARRA is enabling the state to improve its management of the $16 B in annual state revenue that derives from federal funding.  This includes identifying information gaps in how well federal grant funds are managed and spent.  While spending from federal sources is accounted for, it was found that grant awards could be better coordinated and used more effectively.  Additionally, better management of federal grants could enable deeper analysis of the effects of federal budget policies on state finances.  To play this critical central oversight function and lay the foundation for more effective grants management, the FGMO has:

Going forward, the unit will continue to work to maximize federal awards, ensure federal funding is aligned with Administration priorities and that it best supports the goals state government is working to achieve.

Coordinating Program Integrity Efforts Across State Government

Regardless of the source of funding, state government has an obligation to root out fraud, waste and abuse.  CPAT’s Program Integrity Unit has led efforts to share best practices across state government and enhance internal controls, including: 

These efforts will support continued improvement and learning in preventing and detecting fraud, waste and abuse throughout state agencies.

Better Economic Forecasting and Analysis

To be more accountable and effective, state government must have a long-term outlook, particularly regarding its finances.  CPAT’s Economic and Caseload Forecasting Unit is helping state government develop that perspective by: 

The Economic and Caseload Forecasting Unit will work to expand the Long-Term Fiscal Policy Framework, including estimating the impact of further federal deficit reduction policies and Affordable Care Act implementation.  The unit also is taking on responsibilities related to the health care cost containment legislation in forecasting economic growth.

Making Government More Open

The Patrick-Murray Administration has been committed to an unprecedented level of transparency since it took office six years ago.  At that time, Massachusetts was given a failing grade for sharing information on state spending with the public according to the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MassPIRG).  Since that time, the Commonwealth’s transparency rating has steadily improved and MassPIRG gave the state an A- in 2012. Fulfilling a promise to build a more open government, the Administration, through CPAT, has created new tools and strategies to share more information than ever before on state governments’ spending and performance. 

The most important transparency initiative implemented in recent years is the Commonwealth’s Open Checkbook.  Launched in December 2011, the Open Checkbook provides the public with easy access to state spending information.  During the last year, the Administration has continued to make enhancements to the site, adding new content such as information on 13 categories of tax credits.  Since its launch, the Open Checkbook has received more than 420,000 hits and will continue to be an important source of spending data for residents of the Commonwealth. 

In addition to the Open Checkbook, the presentation of the new program-based budget is a vital step forward in the Administration’s transparency efforts.  For too long, the presentation of the budget has been more about informing government insiders than engaging the public – satisfying accounting requirements as opposed to meeting democratic and civic demands.  The program budget is part of efforts to make the budget more accessible and understandable to state residents.  It sets out state spending in more detail than ever before, showing:

The Next Phase of Transparency

Building on the progress the Administration has made to make government more open, CPAT will do the following in 2013:

Your MassResults

The Patrick-Murray Administration is committed to making government more effective, more accountable and more open.  It recognizes however that changing the way government does business cannot occur through the actions of government officials alone – it requires the collaboration and support of an engaged citizenry.  Ultimately the results achieved by government matter only if they are the results that people want to see. 

Your ideas and insights are therefore essential to this effort so please visit the MassResults website:  There you will be able to find more information about this initiative and contact us with ideas and feedback.