The state has improved outcomes by using results-focused contracts for its publicly funded programs.
14. Results-Focused Contracting
In order to improve outcomes and eliminate disparities, the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) is shifting its entire contracted client services portfolio to performance-based contracts, a key priority in the agency’s 2021–2026 Racial Equity and Strategic Plan. The project intentionally focuses on deepening stakeholder engagement, using Performance-Based Contracting as a tool to identify and address disproportionality and outcome disparities, and facilitating continuous improvement through data and research. DCYF has successfully initiated the shift in over 70% of its portfolio, which includes over 1,000 contracts that invest approximately $1 billion each biennium in services to children, youth, and families.
Annually, the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE) collects inclusion plans from State agencies, which specify steps agencies plan to take to make contracts and procurements accessible to minority- and women-owned small businesses. OMWBE encourages agencies to eliminate barriers by planning and forecasting their needs early so they can lengthen solicitation timelines, use inclusive practices such as unbundling contracts, and reviewing and updating experience, bonding, and insurance requirements.
Since 2015, the Governor’s Subcabinet on Business Diversity has been working to increase small, minority, women’s, and veteran business participation in State contracting and procurement. This effort is supported by the 2019 Washington State Disparity Study. Agencies forming the Subcabinet, led by OMWBE, have implemented recommendations from the disparity study in joint collaboration to lead agencies on the path toward equity. Tools for Equity in Public Spending and the Business Diversity Management System will provide tools that support the economic vitality of Washington State by ensuring all businesses have competitive access to public bidding opportunities in a variety of different industries. Implementing these tools is critical to the state’s efforts to eliminate discrimination and help all sectors of the state economy thrive. Additional tools will be added periodically to ensure contract specialists have access to up-to-date, comprehensive information to guide their inclusive spending efforts.
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
Within Results Washington (Results WA), the Governor’s performance audit liaison fosters the process among auditors, executive branch agencies, the Governor’s Office, the Office of Financial Management (OFM), and the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO). The liaison also serves as a resource for guidance and escalation. Part of the liaison’s role includes working with the audited agencies and OFM or OCIO to provide a joint response to each performance audit. If the auditor finds gaps and makes recommendations, the response includes specific agency actions and due dates that the liaison tracks and publishes on Results Washington’s website through completion.
In 2020, Results WA implemented a new Public Performance Review (PPR) process, which is one part of performance management and continuous improvement in Washington. The PPR process includes a monthly meeting with the Governor, leaders, agency experts, and community members designed to: focus on a cross-agency project tied to the Governor’s priorities; hear from those impacted by the project – those with lived experiences and those who are customers and process partners in the community; and engage in discussions and problem-solving on relevant issues. These reviews inform management and policy decisions.
In 2020, the Washington State Legislature established the Washington State Office of Equity, which is housed within the Governor’s Office. The office will provide a unified vision around equity for all state agencies with the goal of reframing state government to work in a way that bridges opportunity gaps and reduces disparities to improve equitable and just outcomes for state residents. As a result, all state agencies are currently completing organizational equity readiness baseline assessments and gathering state employees, customers, and stakeholders insights to co-create its five-year equity strategic plan, performance data, outcome measures, and performance dashboards, as described by the 2020 law.
The state has statewide strategic goals that are public, quantitative, published regularly, customer oriented, aligned, equity oriented, and publicly informed.
1. Strategic Goals
A 2013 Washington State Executive Order established Results Washington to strengthen performance management and continuous improvement throughout Washington State government. At that time, the Washington State Governor’s Office issued five overarching goal areas with aligned outcome measures: world-class education; prosperous economy; sustainable energy and clean environment; healthy and safe communities; and effective, efficient, and accountable government. Results Washington (Results WA) is responsible for developing a system of work that supports these five goal areas as well as ongoing state initiatives.
In 2021, Results WA began a significant strategic planning effort to develop an updated approach integrating continuous improvement (including Lean) and performance management. The goal is a feasible, attainable, and sustainable approach that is guided by feedback gathered from agency partners. Iterative implementation is set to begin in January 2022. The five goal areas will remain the same, but how they are defined for the future and operationalized will be updated as a part of this planning process.
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 Washington Governor relies on the state’s COVID-19 dashboards that were created in partnership with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and Microsoft. The dashboards allow policymakers, the public, medical teams, and community partners access to near-real-time information on cases, hospital capacity, investigations and contract tracing, and vaccination rates. The Governor uses these dashboards to determine COVID-19 restrictions and guidance for counties across the state. The dashboards have been – and continue to be – instrumental in deciding when to reopen activities and locations across the state. Resulting decisions, guidance, and associated information have been communicated to the public by the Governor via multiple channels, including regular press conferences that include top Department of Health and other officials.
The Washington Office of Finance Management’s (OFM) State Human Resources division deploys the Statewide Employee Engagement Survey, which goes out to the entire executive branch workforce and is now in its 12th cycle, to gather satisfaction and sentiment information from state employees. Engagement survey data has been used to inform agency internal strategic priorities that improve retention and performance of employees.
The state uses innovation to achieve its priority goals and improve results for residents.
As part of Washington’s Lean and continuous improvement initiative, Results Washington hosts an annual statewide Washington State Government Lean Transformation Conference, which convenes and provides free training to thousands of attendees from state and local governments and other entities. The 2020 and 2021 conferences were held virtually, allowing Results Washington to reach more attendees than ever. The 2021 conference focused on providing concrete tools and methods that participants could readily apply, learning that works in hybrid and remote environments and resources that support Washington’s commitment to furthering equity, diversity, and inclusion.
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted innovations at the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) that increased safety for residents and worked to reduce inequities, including:
WA Notify, a new tool working through smartphones to alert users if they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Over 1.9 million Washington residents have registered on the app.
Sara Alerts, a new tool that automates public health notifications and reporting for people who have been exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19. This tool, combined with calls from investigators, has allowed DOH to reach out to over 500 cases a week.
Vaccine Locator, a new tool that allows the public to find providers who have current vaccine appointments. Currently, over 1.4 million Washington residents are registered.
The state has senior leadership and governance structures with the mandate to equitably use data to improve results.
5. Data Leadership & Governance
In 2020, the Washington State Legislature established the Washington State Office of Equity, which is housed within the Governor’s Office. The office will provide a unified vision around equity for all state agencies with the goal of reframing state government to work in a way that bridges opportunity gaps and reduces disparities to improve equitable and just outcomes for state residents. The Office of Equity Director will establish standards for the collection, analysis, and reporting of disaggregated data pertaining to tracking population-level outcomes of communities, create outcome measures to determine the effectiveness of agency programs and services on reducing disparities, and identify additional subcategories in workforce data for disaggregation to track disparities in public employment.
Issue Areas: Economic Mobility, Equity
7. Data Infrastructure
The state has improved outcomes through technology infrastructure that allows it to efficiently collect, inventory, and share data.
7. Data Infrastructure
The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Research and Data Analysis (RDA) division provides policymakers with data and analyses to improve the effectiveness of services for clients. RDA maintains integrated client databases, which bring together data from 10 state agencies, 40 separate data systems, and individuals receiving services through publicly funded health and human services programs in Washington. Among many other applications, predictive modeling and clinical decision support tools developed and maintained in RDA’s integrated data environment have been used by the state’s Health Home Program to generate tens of millions of dollars in performance payments from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as the result of improved care management for persons dually enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid.
The Education Research and Data Center (ERDC), integrates data across multiple education, workforce, other state agencies, and institutions to conduct collaborative analyses from early learning through postsecondary education and training and into the workforce. ERDC brings together more than a dozen partners to compile education and workforce data to improve student achievement and workforce outcomes. The ERDC is directed to provide research that focuses on student transitions within and among the early learning, K-12, and higher education sectors in the P-20 system. The ERDC shares data with the education and workforce agencies and also shares education and workforce data with external data requesters proposing to audit or evaluate state or local education programs.
The state has improved outcomes by combining and analyzing cross-agency data to inform policy, budget, or management decisions.
8. Data Use
The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Research and Data Analysis (RDA) division integrates client databases with data from 10 state agencies, 40 separate data systems, and individuals receiving services through publicly funded health and human services programs in Washington. Data is used for rapid-cycle policy analysis, program evaluation, predictive modeling, and performance measurement to help agencies understand how health services and other factors are related to outcomes for persons served by public assistance programs. Predictive modeling and clinical decision support tools developed and maintained in RDA’s integrated data environment have been used by the state’s Health Home Program – which provides intensive care management services to high-risk Medicaid beneficiaries – to improve health outcomes and lower costs. These lower costs have resulted in tens of millions in dollars in shared savings payments from the federal U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The Washington State Institute for Public Policy maintains and uses a criminal history database that links records across courts, adult corrections, and juvenile rehabilitation over time. This database allows the institute to investigate long-term outcomes for individuals in the state who participated in state-funded initiatives and programs related to criminal justice and juvenile rehabilitation. Recently, this database has been used to examine a variety of issues, such as the effectiveness of Aggression Replacement Training provided by the juvenile courts and long-term outcomes for youth dually involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.
The state has dedicated resources for using evaluations to improve results.
11. Evaluation Resources
The Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) is often directed by law to study the effects of specific state programs as an objective evaluator independent of state agencies. The legislature appropriates state general fund dollars to fund these evaluations. For example, in 2021, the state legislature appropriated (Section 610(4) (pp. 468-69) over $550,000 in the next biennium for WSIPP to evaluate the Department of Corrections’ Reentry Community Services program, to study the pathways from incarceration to the state’s community and technical colleges, and to evaluate implementation of the Guided Pathways model in Washington’s community and technical colleges.
Issue Areas: Criminal Justice, Education
12. Evaluation Use
The state has improved results by using evaluation, program inventories, and cost-benefit analysis.
12. Evaluation Use
Since 2012, at the direction of the legislature, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) has produced a series of inventories of evidence-based, research-based, and promising programs. These inventories are developed with the aim of informing state agencies about effective and cost-beneficial options for service provision. In addition, a 2013 state law directed the Department of Corrections, in consultation with WSIPP, to: (1) compile an inventory of existing programs; (2) determine whether its programs were evidence-based; (3) assess the effectiveness of its programs, including conducting a cost-benefit analysis; and (4) phase out ineffective programs and implement evidence-based programs.
The 2021 legislature directed WSIPP to publish benefit-cost analyses of wilderness therapy programs for youth mental health as well as the use of domestic steel in transportation and capital budget contracts. WSIPP also has ongoing projects examining the long-term costs and benefits of legalizing recreational cannabis, investigating the cost-effectiveness of integrating involuntary treatment for substance use disorders and mental health disorders, and exploring the costs and benefits of the state quality rating system for early childhood education providers.
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 2021 Washington law includes funding for the Office of Financial Management (OFM) to provide recommendations for equity impact statements for legislative proposals. The operating budget passed the legislature during the 2021 legislative session. Washington agencies and departments are currently making progress to implementing the requirement, including determining how to measure outcomes in the future. This requirement will then inform equity in legislative proposals.