2020 State Standard of Excellence
Did the state or any of its agencies have staff, policies, and processes in place that encouraged innovation to improve outcomes?
Encouraging innovation allows state governments to implement new models that can improve programs and build new evidence about what works.
In 2020, California launched the California COVID Assessment Tool to identify potential COVID-19 hotspots, predict which hospitals might reach capacity, and proactively allocate resources to such hotspots. This innovative assessment tool is a “model of models,” which incorporates the statistical projections of several leading research institutions. Notably, the assessment tool allows residents to create their own scenarios for transmission potential in the coming months depending on specific public health guidelines. Further, California released the source data sets on California’s Open Data Portal, allowing the public to examine the data underlying the Assessment Tool.
The California Government Operations Agency (GovOps), which serves as an umbrella organization for the state’s innovation work, is designed to institutionalize policies, tools, and training that can drive its mission to modernize the processes of government through lean process improvement, data, leadership, and performance improvement. GovOps brings together statewide initiatives such as the Lean Academy, California Leadership Academy, the Office of Digital Innovation, and California’s Open Data Portal resources. As well, the California Health and Human Services Agency has an Office of Innovation that focuses on improving programs and services through the use of tools such as human-centered design and data analytics.
Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families, in partnership with the Harvard Kennedy School’s Government Performance Lab, implemented an Enhanced Service Coordination project in 2019. One part of the state’s 2020-2024 Child and Family Services Plan, it seeks to improve the process of matching clients to services across the state. The innovations included real-time use of data to inform organizational processes and procurement as well as active contract management strategies to further improve service delivery.
A 2019 Connecticut law required that the Office of Policy and Management develop a Two-Generational Interagency Plan to address intergenerational poverty and support families in overcoming barriers to economic success. The plan is designed to improve interagency data sharing and community engagement with cross-agency indicators focused on collaboration, economic self-sufficiency, and racial and socioeconomic equity. The initiative began with proof of concept pilots, designed to use or build evidence.
Since 2009, the Colorado Department of Public Safety has housed the Evidence-Based Practices Implementation for Capacity (EPIC) Resource Center, which partners with agencies to implement evidence-based and researched-informed programs to enhance program fidelity and improve justice outcomes in Colorado communities. For example, EPIC, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Local Affairs, and the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab are partnering with Volunteers of America to implement the Rapid Rehousing program, which provides homes for people leaving jails and prisons. The Department of Human Services’ Performance Management Academy, a similar approach to EPIC, supports strategic goal setting, performance management, continuous improvement, and program evaluation. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Quality Improvement Plan and Quality Improvement Council are designed to support a culture focused on improvement through a variety of quality improvement and performance trainings, accreditations, and resources and tools. In addition, the department has operated a competitive Innovation Mini-Grant program, which began in 2017 and has awarded grants of $50,000-$100,000 to fund innovative, staff-generated ideas. One innovation funded by the grant program is an industry-supported carbon-capture and reuse pilot.
In 2019, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services hosted the Transformers of Child Welfare Summit that focused on evidence-based interventions for the implementation of the Family First Prevention Services program. Through the Summit and nine regional convenings, the Department for Community Based Services convened state and local advocates, policymakers, public child welfare agencies, private providers, the legal community, and other stakeholders to collaborate on the effective and efficient implementation of these evidence-based practices. The Kentucky Center for Statistics, KYSTATS, also hosted a two-day Data Use Conference to advance the use of data to drive policy decisions in education and workforce sectors as well as foster data collaborations among local governments, school districts, academics and researchers, and residents.
The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development dedicated up to $2 million in its family shelter procurement for provider-defined innovative proposals. The grant allocated 60 points to applicants who proposed interventions that would produce evidence of success based on existing research or providers’ past performance. Interventions were focused on three outcomes: promoting shorter shelter stays to transition families into stable housing; improving housing stability to reduce repeated homelessness; and improving family well-being.
In 2019, Missouri launched The Show Me Challenge, which encourages state employees to pitch innovative ways to better serve state’s citizens and improve the effectiveness of government. In December 2019, the state announced the winners of the first three cycles of this innovation challenge and the fourth cycle is underway. Their pitches and plans are publicly available, including the research that supports their innovative ideas.
In 2020, Missouri’s Department of Economic Development created a PPE Marketplace to connect public and private buyers and vendors of personal protective equipment (PPE). The marketplace data has been leveraged by policymakers to calculate the states overall PPE burn rate, which has allowed the state to invest over $100 million in a PPE reserve for managing COVID-19 during the winter cold and flu season and protecting the state from supply chain shortages.
In 2020, the State established the COVID-19 Fusion Cell (CFC), a statewide daily, cross-agency virtual forum of nearly 250 attendees, with representation from every state agency and the Governor’s Office, and multiple external stakeholders. CFC drove an interdepartmental collaboration against 13 whole-of-government priorities. Further as a real-time platform for cross-functional problem-solving and decision-making, the CFC supports a forum of 16 Cabinet members and the Governor’s senior staff three times weekly to support regular problem-solving among state leaders on the state’s COVID-19 response. The foundation for the CFC’s work is a series of dashboards, which pull data from across state and federal sources in the public health COVID-19 GIS Dashboard and COVID-19 models, as well dashboards related to the state’s recovery in Employment, Business, Consumer, Social Impact, Consumer Finance, and Industry.
In 2018, New Jersey’s governor appointed the state’s first Chief Innovation Officer who launched Innovation ENJINE, an open innovation challenge for state employees to submit, vote on, and implement innovative proposals focused on effectiveness and efficiency. The criteria included direct cost-savings, staff time efficiency, and improved impact of an existing service or program. Five ideas were selected for implementation in November 2019. In addition, New Jersey launched the Innovation Skills Accelerator, a free, online program to train state staff to use innovative methods – including design thinking, evidence-based decision-making, and collective intelligence – to solve public problems.
In 2019, the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services partnered with the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy to host a 10-week course called “Evidence-Based Policing: Translating Research into Practice.” New York was the first state to offer the course, which was completed by 26 law enforcement professionals, during which students developed and presented ideas for furthering the use of evidence-based policing strategies in their respective agencies.
In 2018, North Carolina appointed the state’s first ever Director of Strategic Partnerships to identify philanthropic, nonprofit, and higher education partners to support the state’s priorities, including research partnerships to support evaluations. As part of a Strategic Partnerships initiative, the North Carolina Department of Revenue developed a research agenda in October of 2019, listing its most important research questions and possible research partners. The state also established a pandemic recovery office to coordinate its COVID-19 recovery efforts and provide technical assistance to state agencies and local governments for properly spending $6 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds.
In 2019, North Dakota appointed a Chief Reinvention Officer to lead statewide efforts to improve the customer experience associated with the state’s technology offerings. The Office of Reinvention has offered process improvement training to state employees and also standardized the state’s website platform to create a consistent user experience, saving $1 million through strategic consolidation.
LeanOhio, an initiative of the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, uses the Lean process improvement methodology to assist state agencies in streamlining their service delivery through consultations and training. Between 2011 and 2019, LeanOhio ran more than 360 projects in 44 agencies, boards, and commissions.
In 2019, the Ohio Department of Education launched a new program, Student Wellness and Success: Ideas for Innovation, to help school districts use novel strategies to increase mental health counseling, wraparound services, and mentoring programs. The evidence built from these innovation grants will be included in the Ohio Evidence-Based Clearinghouse.
In 2019, the governor signed an executive order creating the InnovateOhio Advisory Board, whose mission is to make the state the most innovative, creative, and entrepreneurial state in the region. This Office advises the Office of Innovateohio on new technologies and innovations to improve customer service across state agencies, departments, boards, and commissions. The Board’s key focus areas include: reduce costs, improve services, and spur a culture of innovation through public-, private-, and academic partnerships.
The Oregon Youth Authority has used predictive modeling to determine risk factors associated with youth entering the juvenile justice system through their Feeder Systems Project. These risk assessment tools are based on data and outcomes captured in the state’s Juvenile Justice Information System, which uses a risk/needs profile to provide adaptive interventions and support program evaluation, such as a 2019 report on recidivism outcomes. Further, the initiative seeks to identify earlier-intervention strategies to help youth avoid future engagement within the juvenile justice system.
In April 2020, Utah began beta-testing its COVID-19 contact tracing mobile application, Healthy Together. The mobile application tracks users’ location data for enhanced contact tracing and includes privacy protections compliant with the state’s data security and encryption law. The state also leveraged a public-private partnership with the local technology industry to conduct testing and messaging for residents alongside a public-private partnership to provide free masks to residents through the #MaskForEveryUtahn initiative.
Additionally, as of December 2019, the Utah Department of Health demonstrated a more than 60% performance improvement across 11 of its largest systems of operation. The Department implemented performance measures, dashboards, and monthly accountability sessions to spotlight innovative projects aligned with the department’s strategic plan. These resulted in service improvements in autopsy reports, a 21% increase in cancer screenings for women at or below the 250% federal poverty level, and a 42% increase in the number of matches between adoptees and their biological parents.
In 2017, Vermont’s governor launched the Program to Improve Outcomes Together (PIVOT) in conjunction with a Governor’s Government Modernization and Efficiency team. PIVOT combines outcomes-based improvement and lean process improvement into a unified effort. Vermont’s Chief Performance Officer (CPO) oversees the implementation of the continuous improvement effort, which is aligned with strategic outcomes and indicators enacted by the state legislature. PIVOT aims to “move the needle” on indicators aligned with the state’s strategic plan.
The Virginia COVID-19 response command includes a Health Equity Work Group charged with “prioritizing resources and decision points impacting marginalized and at-risk individuals and communities.” The Work Group overlayed geospatial and race and ethnicity data to establish testing areas in communities, which later allowed the public health department to target the distribution of masks and hand sanitizer in communities that are typically underserved by government programs.