Cambridge, MA – The Government Performance Lab (GPL) at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) has announced the awarding of pro bono technical assistance to an additional six state and local governments.
Boston, Massachusetts; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Salt Lake County, Utah; and the states of New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Washington will receive intensive support from the GPL to design and implement initiatives addressing high-priority challenges in areas ranging from workforce development to child welfare.
Since 2011, the GPL has provided pro bono government-side technical assistance on 84 projects, supporting leaders of 61 jurisdictions in 28 states in using new data-driven public management tools to achieve better outcomes.
“The challenges our new awardees are tackling—connecting people to jobs, protecting vulnerable children, and combating homelessness—are ones that jurisdictions across the country face,” said Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and GPL director. “We selected this new cohort of government partners not only because their proposed projects may change the lives of individuals within their jurisdictions, but also because they offer the opportunity to develop high-impact solutions that can be shared with other governments.”
The GPL evaluated applications for technical assistance based on the projects' potential to yield innovative solutions, the level of commitment demonstrated by government leaders, and the scale of potential impact. Jurisdictions will receive full-time support from GPL team members who will help agency staff with tasks such as identifying key outcomes and metrics, using data to match individuals to the right services, developing management strategies that include real-time response to performance metrics, instituting data-driven collaborations with providers to improve service delivery, and establishing rigorous evaluations of program impacts.
The GPL will support Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development in creating a strategy for using data to more quickly move homeless individuals and families from emergency shelters or the streets into stable housing.
“As a data-focused administration committed to ending chronic homelessness in our city, we are always looking for new and better ways to use data to more quickly move homeless households into stable, permanent housing,” Mayor Walsh said. “I'm excited at the prospect of having extra capacity this summer to help us solve this issue in a way that's more efficient and cost effective, while making real change in the lives of our residents.”
Cuyahoga County, OH
The Department of Health and Human Services for Cuyahoga County, Ohio requested the GPL’s assistance to help improve long-term employment and wage outcomes for low-income individuals and families enrolled in cash assistance and other safety net programs. The GPL will assist the department in strengthening its partnerships with contracted providers of workforce support services to swiftly match customers to the right service at the right time, use data to track handoffs and monitor performance, and orient provider contracts around results.
“Helping our low-income residents access employment opportunities that lead to a career path is one of my key strategic priorities,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish. “Having the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab supporting our efforts and helping us with innovative approaches will be of great benefit to our efforts.”
As part of the state’s broader transformation of its child welfare system, New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services will focus its GPL assistance on two initiatives. The GPL will assist the Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) with providing consistent and effective services to children and families needing protection or at risk of future harm. The GPL will also help DCYF increase the proportion of children cared for by families through strengthening the recruitment and retention of foster family resources.
“As governor, I have been committed to transforming New Hampshire’s child welfare system to protect our most vulnerable citizens,” said Governor Chris Sununu. “There is more work to be done, and the support of Harvard Kennedy School’s Government Performance Lab will help that transformation by bringing innovative solutions to strengthening the DCYF child protection and foster care programs.”
North Carolina’s Department of Commerce requested the GPL’s assistance to support the state’s Workforce Development Boards in using data to help better connect unemployed and underemployed individuals with workforce services that support increased employment and wages. North Carolina operates 80 Career Centers across the state to serve the varied needs of the state’s workforce and employers. Individuals receive job search assistance, support for training, and additional support depending on their needs. The GPL will be providing technical assistance to the Department of Commerce as they work together to strengthen service delivery at local Career Centers through better use of data on the educational, employment, and wage outcomes of individuals served. The GPL will also assist the Department of Commerce in monitoring the impact of changes to ensure individuals are connected to the jobs they need and are equipped with the skills necessary to support the state’s employers.
“Employers and other business leaders tell me time and again that their number one need is a well-trained workforce,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “North Carolina’s 80 NCWorks Career Centers connect people with the training and skills required for good-paying jobs. We welcome this collaboration with Harvard Kennedy School’s Government Performance Lab, which will allow us to do even more to prepare North Carolinians for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”
Salt Lake County, UT
In 2015, Salt Lake County convened a coalition of stakeholders from state, county, and city government together with more than 30 service providers to reform how homelessness services in the county are delivered. The coalition secured support from state and private sector leaders who are investing significantly in the effort. The GPL will assist the Mayor’s Office in leading collective impact efforts to redesign regional homeless service systems and align funding from government and community stakeholders to improve outcomes for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The GPL will support the design of metrics for measuring progress on core outcomes and assist in the design, procurement, and implementation of new emergency shelter and other stabilizing services. The GPL will also support the County’s efforts to integrate results-driven contracting principles into the County’s procurement and contracting more broadly.
“When we launched our homelessness initiative, we assumed four key responsibilities: guide the development of a shared vision and strategy, build public will, advance policy, and mobilize funding,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams. “To undertake these responsibilities, we built an unprecedented coalition committed to better serving those in need and stewarding scarce tax dollars. Our collaboration with the Government Performance Lab will lend unparalleled expertise as we hold ourselves accountable for achieving outcomes.”
The Washington Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) requested the GPL’s assistance to support its launch as a new state agency serving at-risk children and their families. The new agency integrates the previously separate administration of the state’s early learning programs, child protection and welfare services, juvenile justice resources, and other family supports with a new emphasis on supporting families before crises happen. The GPL will help DCYF improve its systems to connect families at risk of child abuse and neglect with high quality early learning programs and family home visiting services. The GPL will also help DCYF develop new solutions to improve transitions to adulthood for teenagers at risk of aging out of the foster care system.
“Making high quality supportive services available and accessible for at-risk children, youth, and families is essential to prevent deep child welfare and juvenile justice system involvement,” said Secretary Ross Hunter. “We at Washington’s new Department of Children, Youth, and Families look forward to collaborating with the Government Performance Lab to help us build systems that will weave together high quality early learning options for the state’s most at-risk young children.”
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. In addition to full-time assistance from GPL team members, 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.