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Mississippi Moving Forward With Program To Track The Effectiveness of State Spending

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 15 Jan 2013 06:14pm | comments

Mississippi is moving toward adopting a national program that is intended to measure how much impact each dollar of state spending is creating. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the state corrections system is the first target of a data driven program to measure cost versus benefit.

The program, called Results First, is designed by the Pew Center for States to determine which state program is getting the most result per dollar spent.

Gary VanLandingham with Pew spoke to the house and senate appropriations committees yesterday.

He says for decades state lawmakers have struggled to have enough information to know if state spending is effective.

"But there has been a lot of research that has been done nationally over the last 20 or 30 years that has really starting to answer those questions. So we are able to bring a much more precise way and more powerful way of addressing how effective are programs and how do they compare to how we were able to do in the past," VanLandingham said.

Mississippi is starting the program in the corrections department because it has some of the most visible and easy to track data.

VanLandingham says it could be at least six months before Mississippi has it first results.

Republican Representative Greg Snowden of Meridian says if this program works, if could be a first step to expanding performance measure in other state budgets.

"And this will allow us, if we build the matrix correctly as the state of Washington and other states have done, it would give us the kind of feed back to know what is working and what is not. And then it will allow us to spend more money on things that work and less money on things that don't. So it really has great potential," Snowdon said.

Representative Reecy Dickson, a Democrat from Macon, says knowing which programs work means nothing if lawmakers aren't willing to respond to the information.

"Getting the cost effective analysis is things that we have constantly done in the past. But having the political will to abide by those recommendations and results is one of the things that I am most concerned about," Dickson said.

In the 1990s Mississippi attempted to measure the effectiveness of its spending, but those results have been ignored in recent years.

Pew's VanLandingham says it will be up to lawmakers to follow through on the findings of the program.

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