For the first time, agencies are developing Priority Questions as part of their 2023-25 strategic plans. These are questions that, if answered, would inform policy and programmatic decisions about how best to achieve strategic goals. These priority questions serve as the learning agenda portion of an agency’s strategic plan. While the state does not have an overall learning agenda, the inclusion of these questions in 15 agency strategic plans demonstrates agencies’ increased attention to the value of strategic plans, the work agencies do, and their capacity and opportunities for evaluating that work. It is a bottom-up approach (vs a top-down, “one learning agenda for all” approach) that fits well with North Carolina’s state government culture and has the potential to be far-reaching and impactful. OSBM and the NC Office of Strategic Partnerships (OSP) can support agencies in generating the evidence needed to design and implement effective solutions.
OSP developed the NC Project Portal, an innovative tool for helping to create and launch government-research partnerships and for bolstering cross-sector collaboration. The portal includes information about opportunities for partnering with state agencies on their research needs and answering agencies’ priority questions, and how to express interest in pursuing those opportunities. It includes 35+ projects that are open, in-progress, or completed as well as project deliverables and information about the planned use of results where applicable.
The North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management also aims to deliver better outcomes for residents by investing in effective, evidence based programs. In conjunction with the NC Results First Initiative, OSBM created an evidence rating scale that provides a common language for communicating the effectiveness of a program and the degree of confidence in those conclusions.