About the 2021 State Standard of Excellence
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, state government leaders faced immense challenges from managing a public health crisis that was rapidly evolving to investing in an economic recovery that is equitable and lasting. The 2021 Invest in What Works State Standard of Excellence demonstrates that data and evidence can support states in building the capacity to make better decisions about how to drive an economic recovery; advance equitable outcomes for residents and governments; and invest in evidence-based programs and services.
2021 State Standard of Excellence Criteria
The 2021 Invest in What Works State Standard of Excellence includes 16 criteria that are organized by thematic areas: Managing for Results, Leveraging Data, Building and Using Evidence, and Investing for Results. Read more about the Criteria breakdown here.
1. Strategic Goals
The state has statewide strategic goals that are public, quantitative, published regularly, customer oriented, aligned, equity oriented, and publicly informed.
2. Performance Management
The state has achieved better outcomes through an enterprise performance management system that engages state leaders in using performance data to continuously improve results.
The state has a culture that supports the sustainable use of data and evidence to deliver results in a transparent, equitable, and ethical manner.
The state uses innovation to achieve its priority goals and improve results for residents.
5. Data Leadership & Governance
The state has senior leadership and governance structures with the mandate to equitably use data to improve results.
6. Data Policies
The state has data policies that outline the principles, people, and activities that govern its data collection and use.
7. Data Infrastructure
The state has improved outcomes through technology infrastructure that allows it to efficiently collect, inventory, and share data.
8. Data Use
The state has improved outcomes by combining and analyzing cross-agency data to inform policy, budget, or management decisions.
9. Evaluation Leadership & Governance
The state has a leadership and governance structure with the authority to use evaluations to improve results.
10. Evaluation Policies
The state has evaluation policies and a learning agenda that outline the principles, people, and activities to use evidence to improve results.
11. Evaluation Resources
The state has dedicated resources for using evaluations to improve results.
12. Evaluation Use
The state has improved results by using evaluation, program inventories, and cost-benefit analysis.
13. Results-Focused Budget Process
The state has improved outcomes by prioritizing data and evidence in its budget process through guidance to agencies and engagement with the legislature.
14. Results-Focused Contracting
The state has improved outcomes by using results-focused contracts for its publicly funded programs.
15. Evidence-Based Grantmaking
The state has improved outcomes by allocating grant funding based on evidence of effectiveness.
16. Repurpose for Results
The state has improved outcomes by moving funds away from programs that are ineffective and toward those that get results.
Leading & Promising Examples by State
Hover or click on a state to learn more about where it excels in State Standard of Excellence criteria.
state examples in 2021
U.S. states represented in 2021
increase in examples since 2018
Results for America’s analysis is based on data provided under license by The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Results First initiative (which was used to inform its 2017 report on states’ engagement in evidence-based policymaking) and input from more than 150 current and former state government officials and other experts. Results for America thanks all the state government leaders who contributed to the 2021 State Standard of Excellence.