2021 State Standard of Excellence Practices by Criteria & Sector

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. The charts below show the growth of State Standard of Excellence examples in each theme by criteria from 2018-2021.

Managing for Results

Managing performance starts with understanding how the Governor’s administration defines success and builds the overarching system and culture to deliver that success. Without a set of goals and metrics (or strategic plans) to define the administration’s agenda, it is difficult to communicate to staff within the agencies or the general public what the government aims to deliver. Governors and state leaders should seek to ensure that goals are equity-oriented and publicly informed through authentic community and stakeholder engagement strategies.

Leveraging Data

The key to improving performance in government is to leverage data to inform goals, measure progress, and learn lessons for future improvement. States should be able to collect and share disaggregated when and where appropriate to derive insights and improve data use. Further, state governments should engage with stakeholders, communities of color, and those impacted by data policies, practices, analysis, and use.

Building and Using Evidence

State governments should have the evaluation infrastructure that allows evidence to inform an administration’s budget, management, and policy decisions. In the generation and use of evidence, lived experience, stakeholder engagement on learning and knowledge building, and disaggregation of evaluation results can help state leaders understand how evidence can address issues of equity.

Investing For Results

Government spending is policy in action, and incorporating evidence and data into these spending decisions – in budgets, contracts, and grants – is the best way for state governments to focus on getting better results, and more equitable results, too.

Sector Examples

Within these criteria, states implemented programs and policies that improved results most in these issue areas in 2021. In 2021, Results for America counted equity practices for the first time. In total, there were 35 equity examples in 2021.