Cambridge, MA – The Government Performance Lab (GPL) at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) announced today that it has selected three states and four cities to receive technical assistance developing performance improvement projects that apply Pay for Success (PFS) principles to core agency services. The selected jurisdictions are Arizona, Chicago, Florida, Los Angeles, Maryland, New York City, and Seattle.  This is the second of two rounds of a national competition the GPL held for technical assistance funded in part through an award made last year from the Corporation for National and Community Service’s (CNCS) Social Innovation Fund (SIF) in which 27 state and local governments applied for technical assistance from the GPL.

Since 2011, the GPL has provided pro bono government-side technical assistance to 40 jurisdictions in 24 states and has helped state and local governments develop 9 of the 15 launched Pay for Success projects in the country. In 2015, the GPL began providing technical assistance on performance improvement projects that apply PFS principles to core agency spending by using data to identify individuals with the greatest need and matching them to the right services, applying active contract management to core agency contracts, and incorporating better use of outcomes into procurement and contracting to improve service delivery. The GPL piloted this model of assistance in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, where it has worked on projects in child welfare, employment readiness, criminal justice, behavioral health, and adult education. This national competition is the first time it has made performance improvement technical assistance broadly available to state and local governments.

“The GPL’s performance improvement projects help governments provide services more effectively and speed up progress on challenging social problems,” said Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and GPL Director. “We are excited to be collaborating with innovative government leaders in these jurisdictions on projects supporting children and families, improving outcomes for young adults, and combating recidivism and homelessness.”

The GPL will provide intensive technical assistance to the selected jurisdictions, assisting them in improving the results they achieve with their core human services spending. Jurisdictions will receive fellows who will help agency staff identify key outcomes and metrics, use data to match the right individuals to the right services, develop performance management strategies that include real-time response to performance metrics, align government-provider incentives through performance payments, and set up rigorous evaluations of program impacts. In addition to full-time assistance from GPL fellows, jurisdictions will receive direct support from other GPL staff including GPL Director Jeffrey Liebman, experienced assistant directors, research assistants, data analysts, and senior technical advisors. The selected jurisdictions are undertaking projects in policy areas from child well-being to criminal justice.

Arizona: The Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) will work with the GPL to improve programs supporting children and families served by DCS. The GPL will assist DCS in developing a performance-based contracting strategy for delivery of critical services. This effort will help children achieve faster times to permanency and reduced likelihood of recurrent maltreatment.

“In Arizona, we are committed to streamlining how state government works so that it can most effectively protect our most vulnerable citizens and empower children and families,” said Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. “We are honored to be selected to participate in this year’s award and are excited to work with the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab to advance our mission and improve the lives of Arizona’s children and families.”

Chicago: Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS), which supports a continuum of coordinated services to some of Chicago’s most in-need residents, is transitioning to a more outcome- and data-driven organization in order to better connect city residents and families to resources that build stability, support their well-being, and empower them to thrive. As part of that transition, the GPL will provide assistance across program divisions within DFSS by refining outcome goals and metrics to focus on lasting improvements for Chicago’s residents, incorporating these goals into outcomes-based contracts, and piloting data-driven collaboration with service providers to enable real-time troubleshooting and improve outcomes for the residents DFSS serves.

“Ensuring our residents have access to the services they need is one of my top priorities," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "Chicago looks forward to partnering again with the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab to find new and innovate ways to use our data to deliver the best results for the people of this City."

Florida: Florida’s Department of Children and Families (FLDCF) requested the GPL’s assistance to help ensure services provided or funded by the agency meet the complex needs of families in the child welfare system and reduce the prevalence of child fatalities in the state. The GPL will provide technical assistance in both the FLDCF Tallahassee office and the SunCoast regional office in Tampa, Florida on projects including examining strategies for reducing childhood fatalities, improving outcomes for families simultaneously receiving care from child welfare service providers and behavioral health service provides, and exploring opportunities to strengthen how DCF’s service array meets the needs of Florida’s high-risk children and families.

“At the core of DCF’s mission is protecting vulnerable children and adults in our communities, and improving the services we provide to families in crisis is a key factor in preventing child fatalities,” said Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll. “DCF is excited to begin working with GPL to improve outcomes for the families we serve, especially those dually served in the child welfare and behavioral health systems.”

Los Angeles: The City of Los Angeles is exploring creating a new Strategic Procurement Office to be run by the City’s first Chief Procurement Officer. The office will focus on improving the speed, ease, and cost-effectiveness of procurements for services. This will be accomplished by conducting an end-to-end analysis of the RFP process to identify areas for improvement, creating a specialist advisory team to help departments conduct and manage their largest procurement, and centralizing some key procurements with citywide value to produce better results by re-orienting contracts to focus on outcomes. The GPL will provide technical assistance to the Mayor’s Office to help design and launch this new Strategic Procurement Office and reinforce a culture that focuses on innovation, performance, and results.

“For years, the City has been interested in improving the way it contracts for services to provide an excellent experience for vendors, a faster turnaround for departments, and better value for taxpayers,” said Los Angeles Deputy Chief of Staff Matt Szabo. “The City is excited to work with the Government Performance Lab to help make this vision a reality.”

Maryland: In May 2016, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed the Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA) into law. This criminal justice reform legislation aims to enhance public safety by reducing Maryland’s prison population and increasing investment in programs to reduce recidivism rates, treat substance abuse, and enhance community supervision practices. The Government Performance Lab will provide technical assistance to the Governor's Office for Children and the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention to support the implementation of JRA initiatives. This includes designing and negotiating outcome-based contracts with organizations providing services that are alternatives to incarceration, integrating performance improvement strategies into law enforcement grants and other JRA programs, and assisting with performance metric development and data integration.

“Breaking the cycle of crime and recidivism requires an all-hands-on-deck approach," said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. "Maryland’s partnership with the Government Performance Lab, which uses innovative strategies and evidence-based solutions, will help achieve our administration’s goal of enhancing public safety and well-being for our citizens. We thank the Social Innovation Fund and Harvard Kennedy School for their role in making this partnership possible."

New York City: The GPL will place staff in the NYC Mayor’s Office of Operations to focus initially on two performance management projects: developing a results-based Citywide Children’s Budget, and establishing priority performance metrics for the new Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS).  Working in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity (NYC Opportunity), the GPL will provide technical assistance to develop a results-based Children’s Budget.  The project, a priority of the City’s Children’s Cabinet, will help policy leaders better understand and drive outcomes for children as measured by 26 indicators of child well-being.  The GPL will help the City analyze city-wide spending on services for children, identify gaps in services, and enhance the impact of spending through performance improvement. The GPL will also help the City’s new Department of Veterans’ Services set up a performance tracking system that can enable real-time monitoring of trends amongst the veterans population. This information will enable DVS to prioritize and match resources based on need and track its progress against its goals related to veterans’ housing; health; and education, employment, and entrepreneurship.

“In New York City, we have bold goals, and we also hold ourselves accountable,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Working with the Government Performance Lab will allow us to deepen our work in critical areas – making sure our investments in supporting New York City’s children and veterans are targeted and effective. We look forward to working with the Lab to deliver real results for New Yorkers.”

Seattle: The City of Seattle requested GPL assistance to assist the Youth and Family Empowerment division of the Department of Human Services with the development of a services strategy to achieve better outcomes for criminal justice-involved youth aged 18-24 through an upcoming Community Safety RFP in coordination with broader City efforts to reduce youth violence in Seattle’s highest risk neighborhoods and support youth and young adults in the transition to adulthood.

“Seattle is experiencing an unprecedented economic boom, yet too many youth of color are being left behind,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “We must eliminate institutional barriers that prevent vulnerable young people from getting an opportunity—we can achieve that by understanding which programs deliver the best long-term results. With the help of the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab, we can ensure our resources produce the opportunities young people need. Ultimately, their health is essential to the health and future of our city.”

The Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab evaluated applications for technical assistance based on the project’s potential to advance the PFS field by applying the model in new ways, the level of commitment demonstrated by government leaders, the scale of potential impact of the project, and the readiness of the applicant to engage in project activities. This is the second round of awards funded by a $2.16M grant to the GPL by the Social Innovation Fund and matched by philanthropic donors.

“As part of the Social Innovation Fund’s commitment to find and expand programs that work, SIF is proud to support the GPL’s work with state and local governments using innovative tools to increase accountability and evidence in social services,” said Lois Nembhard, acting director of the Social Innovation Fund.

Arizona, Chicago, Florida, Los Angeles, Maryland, New York City, and Seattle join three states selected during the competition’s first round. California, Connecticut, and Illinois will use GPL assistance to undertake projects designed to alleviate poverty, increase family stability, combat recidivism, and improve higher education.

For more information about the Government Performance Lab’s work with state and local governments, visit

The GPL’s 2017 technical assistance competition was funded in part by the Corporation for National Service Social Innovation Fund. The Social Innovation Fund is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the nation’s volunteer and service efforts. SIF positions the federal government to be a catalyst for impact—using public and private resources to find and grow community-based nonprofits with evidence of results. The Social Innovation Fund focuses on overcoming challenges confronting low-income Americans in three areas of priority need: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development. To learn more, visit


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