Benchmarks for a Better Vermont (BBVT), a collaborative initiative led by Marlboro College to help nonprofits in the state measure their performance (The Marlboro Record, Spring 2013), is now making inroads into state government. The Vermont legislature recently passed S.293, a bill that will foster use of “results-based accountability” as a tool for gauging legislative investments, guiding state agency actions, and promoting the wellbeing of the state.
Results-based accountability (RBA) is a framework for establishing social goals for policy makers, communities, and coalitions, and measuring their performance relative to these goals. Detailed by author Mark Friedman in Trying Hard is Not Good Enough and field tested in Vermont since 1993, RBA has gained traction in Vermont through the efforts of BBVT. It has been used effectively by the Vermont Agency of Human Services, and United Ways across the state, since the early 2000s.
But the RBA bill, titled “An Act Relating to reporting on population-level outcomes and indicators and on program level performance measures,” seeks to institutionalize the use of results based policy making in the Vermont Legislature. The bill stands to revolutionize how policy decisions are made and state dollars are invested, by tracking statewide indicators of well-being. State agencies and their funded parners will be asked to identify which of their programs contribute to improving these indicators, and report on program performance for the clients each serves.
“S.293 is the result of many thoughtful minds working together and setting a vision and a process to collaborate on the best future for Vermont,” said Senator and bill sponsor Diane Snelling. The bill was passed by the Vermont House of Representatives on April 30, and is due to be signed into law by Governor Shumlin in the coming weeks.
BBVT, housed at Marlboro College Graduate and Professional Studies Center, is the foremost provider of results-based accountability training and coaching in northern New England. Since 2011, BBVT has trained more than 700 professionals in basic RBA principles, and worked with dozens of nonprofits to help them implement the RBA framework.