2023 Invest in What Works
State Standard of Excellence
A national benchmark – a “north star” – for how state governments invest in what works.
About the 2023 State Standard of Excellence
The 2023 Invest in What Works State Standard of Excellence demonstrates that states are increasingly using data and evidence to produce better, more equitable results for their residents.
2023 State Standard of Excellence Criteria
The 2023 Invest in What Works State Standard of Excellence includes 12 criteria that are organized by thematic areas: Building Evidence, Using Learning, and Delivering Results. Read more about the Criteria breakdown here.
1. Evaluation Leadership
The government has a designated leader and/or team responsible for coordinating evaluation policy and use of findings (e.g., Chief Evaluation Officer).Learn More
2. Data Leadership
The government has a designated leader and/or dedicated team responsible for coordinating the governance, collection, sharing, and analysis of data (e.g., Chief Data Officer).
3. Investment in Capacity to Learn What Works
The government invests at least 1% of discretionary program funds in evaluations [and evidence building] and uses evaluation findings to advance the agency’s mission.
4. Evaluation Policy and Learning
The government has an evaluation policy and a learning agenda to support the building and use of evidence.
5. Data Policy and Practices
The government has documented, user-friendly policies and practices to expedite internal and external data sharing, linkage and access.
6. Investing in What Works through Grants and Contracts
The government defines and prioritizes evidence of effectiveness in grant programs or contracts in order to achieve equitable outcomes.Learn More
7. Investing in What Works through Direct Services
The government directly administers evidence-based interventions (i.e. government employees deliver interventions) in order to achieve equitable outcomes.Learn More
8. Investing in What Works through Budgeting
The government has a budget policy that prioritizes evidence of effectiveness in order to achieve equitable outcomes.Learn More
9. Performance Management
The government has performance management practices for incorporating evidence and data results to improve decision-making processes and create a culture of accountability.
10. Results-Driven Contracting
The government uses strategies to structure, evaluate, and actively manage contracts strategically, using data to help leverage procurement as a tool to achieve equitable outcomes.
11. Community Participation
The government has practices for proactively engaging and empowering residents and community partners to inform policy development, program design and delivery processes with an emphasis on historically underserved communities.
12. Identifying Key Outcomes and Tracking Progress
The government has a strategic plan or priorities with measurable goals to achieve equitable outcomes that were informed by underserved communities and the government tracks progress on these key outcomes.Learn More
Leading & Promising Examples by State
Hover or click on a state to learn more about where it excels in State Standard of Excellence criteria.
- Leading Example
- Promising Example
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state examples in 2023
U.S. states represented in 2023
Results for America’s analysis is based on data provided under license by The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Results First initiative (which was used to inform its 2017 report on states’ engagement in evidence-based policymaking) and input from more than 150 current and former state government officials and other experts. Results for America thanks all the state government leaders who contributed to the 2023 State Standard of Excellence.