The state has achieved better outcomes through an enterprise performance management system that engages state leaders in using performance data to continuously improve results.
2. Performance Management
The Rhode Island Department of Health COVID-19 Response Unit Quant Team provides weekly presentations to the Governor’s Office on the “State of the Spread,” pulling together key indicators and insights for decision-making. The weekly meetings address the most recent data available – in many cases, data that have accrued the day of the meeting – to ensure that the Governor’s Office has the most current information based on the situation “on the ground.” Data includes testing, cases, hospitalization, fatality, and vaccination trends disaggregated by various geographies and demographics of interest, as well as predictive modeling outputs from partners at Brown University.
The Executive Office of Health and Human Service (EOHHS) applies the PULSE framework – Performance, Utilization, Leadership Support, and Execution – to manage and improve performance of the programs and agencies within the secretariat. EOHHS delivers on the Governor’s and secretariat’s strategic priorities through a project management approach focused on outcomes and collaboration. The framework is largely driven by the need to assess and define project-specific goals and success measures, in partnership with the departments, for secretariat review. PULSE includes:
Problem diagnosis and strategic planning;
Resource strategy and active resource management; and
Performance and program evaluation.
Issue Areas: COVID-19, Equity, Health
The state has a culture that supports the sustainable use of data and evidence to deliver results in a transparent, equitable, and ethical manner.
As part of the budget process, Rhode Island provides regular trainings for state staff on how data and evidence can improve results. For example, the state has partnered with The Policy Lab at Brown University to provide finance and program staff at state agencies with training on how to use evidence throughout the Rhode Island budget process.
The state uses innovation to achieve its priority goals and improve results for residents.
In response to the federal COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, Rhode Island’s Department of Labor and Training partnered with the nonprofit Research Improving People’s Lives and Amazon Web Services to develop a cloud-based system to share data and improve management of unemployment claims. This enabled Rhode Island to be among the first states in the nation to provide Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits in the face of record-high employment claims during the COVID-19 crisis. The State’s experiences were documented in the Journal of Digital Government: Research and Practice: Rhode Island’s timely delivery of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits was an estimated cost savings of $502,000 (representing a 411% return on investment).
Back to Work RI is an initiative of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT), designed to train, support, and hire thousands of Rhode Island workers who have been displaced by COVID-19. The state partners directly with employers to ensure participants gain skills they need to secure well-paying jobs in growing industries. The program removes obstacles to participation by providing support services such as childcare and transportation assistance, so that every participant is able to take advantage of these opportunities. While using proven practices, the state is also producing high-impact innovations, such as applying artificial intelligence to connect Rhode Island jobseekers with pathways to careers. To date, more than 7,000 Rhode Islanders have benefitted from the program, and the impact is measured on DLT’s “Back to Work Stat.”
The state has improved outcomes through technology infrastructure that allows it to efficiently collect, inventory, and share data.
7. Data Infrastructure
In response to the federal COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, Rhode Island’s Department of Labor and Training partnered with the nonprofit Research Improving People’s Lives and Amazon Web Services to develop a cloud-based system to share data and improve management of unemployment claims. This enabled Rhode Island to be among the first states in the nation to provide Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits in the face of record-high employment claims during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Rhode Island Ecosystem is an analytic system, managed by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, that links data at the person and family level across state agencies to drive holistic improvements in human well-being. A cross-agency eMOU outlines the data-sharing process and permissible uses for cross-agency data. Several high-impact uses have been conducted, including projects focused on opioid use disorder and child maltreatment prevention. More recently, the ecosystem has collaborated with partners in state government to support a public dashboard that tracks Rhode Island COVID-19 cases and response, as well as internal daily dashboards for the Governor and other high-level policymakers on system capacity.
The state has improved outcomes by combining and analyzing cross-agency data to inform policy, budget, or management decisions.
8. Data Use
The Rhode Island COVID-19 Task Force, created by an executive order, assisted the Department of Business Regulation (DBR) with improving public health by ensuring business compliance with COVID-19 mandates. Rather than taking a punitive approach, the agency applied data analysis to identify businesses that might need assistance. The analysis found, for example, that some minority-owned businesses faced language barriers that impeded their ability to fully comply with the mandates. As a result, DBR partnered with community-based organizations, such as the Center for Southeast Asians, to provide signage that was translated in multiple languages.
Rhode Island’s Data Ecosystem, managed by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), uses state data from more than 15 sources, including health, child welfare, and human services. The ecosystem is led by a Director of Data and Analytics and a team of analysts who use integrated data to improve state programs. The ecosystem produces regular dashboards that are used for internal performance management meetings centered on the PULSE framework – Performance, Utilization, Leadership Support, and Execution – to manage and improve performance of the programs and agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services secretariat.
Cross-agency, shared data benefitted the State’s COVID-19 response in several ways:
The Executive Office of Health and Human Services Data and Analytics team and the Equity Council convened by the Secretary worked to create a general data dashboard and high-density community dashboard and approach to the response.
The Rhode Island Department of Health’s COVID-19 Response Unit Quant Team includes a “Dashboarding” Team that pulls data from a variety of state sources to create a holistic, cross-sector picture of the pandemic’s spread and impact on Rhode Islanders.
Data on age-adjusted cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities were critical in identifying Rhode Island’s innovative geographic approach to rolling out vaccinations. High-density communities experiencing more severe COVID-19 impacts were prioritized for vaccination, alongside an age-based approach focusing on congregate care residents.
Issue Areas: Child Welfare, COVID-19, Equity, Health
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.
13. Results-Focused Budget Process
A 1996 Rhode Island law requires state agencies to submit performance information as part of the state’s budget process. The State’s Office of Management and Budgetcollects this performance data and works with agencies to achieve performance goals. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) rolled out a new process for FY22 requiring agencies to report on program evidence and performance when submitting budget requests, utilizing a new three-tier evidence scale (proven effective, promising, and theory-based). This was accompanied by a new process to integrate evidence more fully into the OMB’s and the Governor Office’s materials used to make budgetary decisions.
The state has improved outcomes by using results-focused contracts for its publicly funded programs.
14. Results-Focused Contracting
Since 2015, Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families has worked to reform and restructure the Department’s procurement process. As part of this initiative, the Department has required providers to meet outcome goals rather than output metrics across 116 results-driven contracts amounting to $90 million. As a result, the department has reduced the number of children in group care by more than 26% since 2015, expanded foster care resources for the most challenging adolescents by 55%, and doubled the capacity of high-quality family visitation and reunification services.
Rhode Island Works, administered by the Department of Human Services, also used performance payments and active contract management to improve its job search services, which ranked at the bottom nationally on the federal measure of work participation rate in 2015. To improve the program, the department partnered with the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab to incorporate performance-based payments for self-sufficiency outcomes and deploy active contract management. As a result, the federal participation rate improved by one-third within the first six months after these reforms were launched.