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Five States Recognized for Evidence-Based Investments

At a virtual event co-hosted by the National Governors Association and Results for America, the 2023 Invest in What Works State Standard of Excellence was released, highlighting best practices in state data use.

Image shows cyan data points connected with cyan lines over black background.
Results for America today released the 2023 Invest in What Works State Standard of Excellence highlighting state data use at an event co-hosted with the National Governors Association.

Last year, eight leading states were recognized. This year, only five leading states were recognized: Colorado, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon and Tennessee. Five other states received honorable mentions — California, Connecticut, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Utah.

Several of these states, Colorado, Minnesota, North Carolina and Tennessee, were recognized as leading states for the second year in a row; Oregon received honorable mention last year.

“Governors, state legislators and state agency leaders are using the key levers of power — grantmaking, budgeting and direct services — to expand evidence-based solutions and accelerate economic mobility,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and co-founder of Results for America in the announcement.

The announcement was made at an event titled “How Red States and Blue States Are Shifting Dollars to What Works: Release of the 2023 Invest in What Works State Standard of Excellence.”

Leadership in both blue and red states are leveraging evidence to better serve constituents in several key areas, including evidence-driven grantmaking, direct services, budgeting, evaluation investments and community participation.

The State Standard of Excellence highlighted 33 states with well-defined evidence-driven grantmaking processes that have prioritized data use in at least one grant program since 2020. Of the 70 programs evaluated, 48 percent of those are in states led by Republican governors and 52 percent are in states led by Democratic governors.

Regarding evidence-driven direct services, the resource highlighted that 13 states reported having agencies that invested in evidence-based direct services. Notably, both Tennessee and Minnesota each invested more than $1 billion in this area.

Ten states were found to have embedded evidence-based processes in their budget process, with Ohio being the most recent state to require agencies to demonstrate a program’s effectiveness when requesting new or additional program funds.

In terms of evaluation investments, 10 agencies across seven states invested at least 1 percent of their program funds into the valuations and evidence-building. For example, the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management has directed some of the state’s investment in evidence-building into an evaluation fund that aims to support research partnerships to inform policy and program decisions.

“We’re going to continue to use evidence-based policy to improve decision-making and maximize the investment of taxpayers,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper in the announcement.