Tuesday, March 4, 2008

State resource management merits average grade

Wisconsin scored a B- in the latest assessment by the Pew Center on the States of state government performance, the same score as in 2005.

While a B- sounds OK, because Pew doesn't grade on a curve, it's actually just average. Of the 50 states, 18 scored B-, 13 scored above that and 19 below. The highest grades were earned by Utah, Virginia, and Washington, which scored A-, and the lowest by New Hampshire, which scored D+.

According to the report,
"States that received the highest grades are making better management a top priority. Washington state holds governor-led public meetings to monitor program results and improvements; Utah has implemented a financial tracking system that provides real-time data for decision-making; and Virginia provides employee rewards linked to improved service delivery and agency goals."
Pew, in cooperation with Governing magazine, evaluated the states on how well they were or weren't advancing in areas such as recruiting and retaining highly qualified employees; using information and technology to measure performance and communicate more effectively with the public; managing fiscal resources from budgeting to procurement; and planning for, maintaining and improving roads, bridges and buildings.

Wisconsin's big weaknesses came in the areas of structural balance in the budget, capital planning, and managing for performance. That our state has the second highest turnover rate for veteran state employees didn't help, either. One bright spot mentioned was Wisconsin's Legislative Audit Bureau, which is credited with going after hot-button issues and with communicating findings to citizens in user-friendly ways, including podcasts and RSS feeds.

The criteria used to awards the grades are as follows, according to Governing:

• The state actively focuses on making future policy and collecting information to support
that policy direction.
• Elected officials, the state budget office and agency personnel have appropriate data
on the relationship between costs and performance and use these data when making
resource-allocation decisions.
• Agency managers have the appropriate information required to make program
management decisions.
• The governor and agency managers have appropriate data that enable them to assess
the actual performance of policies and programs.
• The public has appropriate access to information about the state, the performance
of state programs and state services and is able to provide input to state policy makers.

• The state regularly conducts and updates a thorough analysis of its human-capital needs.
• The state acquires the employees it needs.
• The state retains a skilled workforce.
• The state develops its workforce.
• The state manages its workforce-performance programs effectively.

• The state uses a long-term perspective to make budget decisions.
• The state’s budget process is transparent, easy to follow and inclusive.
• The state’s financial management activities support structural balance
between ongoing revenues and expenditures.
• The state’s procurement activities are conducted efficiently and supported
with effective internal controls.
• The state systematically assesses the effectiveness of its financial operations
and management.

• The state regularly conducts a thorough analysis of its infrastructure needs and has
a transparent process for selecting infrastructure projects.
• The state has an effective process for monitoring infrastructure projects
throughout their design and construction.
• The state maintains its infrastructure according to generally recognized
engineering practices.
• The state comprehensively manages its infrastructure.
• The state creates effective intergovernmental and interstate infrastructure
coordination networks.

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