Saturday, February 26, 2011

Programs That Work

Many of the nonprofit organizations that are primarily funded by government are seeing their funds shrink or at worst, disappear, as government struggles with less revenue.

This article from Governing suggests ways to determine what programs work before reducing or removing funding, which is a very good idea.

An excerpt.

“Nearly all states have imposed some level of budget cuts -- some quite deep -- since the recession began in 2008. But very few have established systematic ways of sorting programs that are working from those that aren't.

“That's problematic. Without a serious evaluation of program effectiveness, politics tend to dictate important budget decisions, and arguments over stakeholder interests and political palatability drown out important questions of real-world impact.

“As a result, states and cities respond to record budget shortfalls with across-the-board cuts, and some vital public services end up on the chopping block unnecessarily.

“That's why we've developed the "Reviewing What Works" tools, a process for evaluating the effectiveness of government programs. They are part of a Center for American Progress report entitled The Secret to Programs that Work.

“The key to the Reviewing What Works approach is an interagency assessment of effectiveness with specific, concrete steps to compare various programs. The tools include a series of basic questions that should be asked of every existing program: What impact has it had on the problem it's trying to solve? How does it compare to other programs with similar goals? Is it well run?

“Given the grim budget picture, statehouses need to focus on cost effectiveness.

"Openly measuring the performance of our public institutions, and communicating that performance to citizens, has never been more important," Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said at Governing magazine's annual Outlook in the States and Localities conference. "The states that win will be the states that...manage for results."