VT House Passes S.293: “The Results-Based Accountability” Bill, Governor Intends to Sign into Law

A landmark bill designed to increase accountability and improve decision making throughout Vermont state government was approved by the Vermont House of Representatives on April 30, 2014. Sponsored by Senator Diane Snelling,w S.293, “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, throughout state government and Vermont’s social sector.

Upon hearing of the the House vote, Senator Snelling said, “This process of accountability will help determine the policy impact of every tax dollar spent”.

Once signed by Governor Peter Shumlin, the bill will have an impact on how Vermont nonprofits interact with state government as recipients of funds and designers of programs.

Lauren-Glenn Davitian, of Common Good Vermont, has been tracking the bill closely on behalf of Vermont’s mission-driven organizations. “Vermont nonprofits carry out much of the State’s work through contracts and grants. S. 293 is a major step forward. It allows us to make direct links between Legislative policy and the work we do to promote well-being of Vermonters. Results-Based Accountability is a common language that will help rationalize our contracts, explain how people are better off, and demonstrate  financial value we provide as a social sector”.

Strong supporters of the bill include Representative Anne O’Brien, Senator Snelling, Chief Performance Officer Susan Zeller, the Vermont Agency of Human Services, Benchmarks for a Better Vermont, the United Way of Chittenden County, Lamoille Family Center,  A.D. Henderson Foundation, and the Vermont Accountability Group.

While in the House, final amendments were added, which were ultimately accepted by the Senate.

The final version of S.293 specifies that: The Chief Performance Officer shall assist agencies as necessary in developing performance measures for contracts and grants and report annually to the General Assembly “by rate or percent of how many State contracts and grants have performance accountability requirements and the rate or percent of contractors’ and grantees’ compliance with those requirements”.

The bill identifies eight population level outcomes to guide the work of the Legislature, which can be amended in the future. These are further detailed by performance measures to guide state agencies and their programs. The population level outcomes include:

(1) Vermont has a prosperous economy.

(2) Vermonters are healthy.

(3) Vermont’s environment is clean and sustainable.

(4) Vermont’s communities are safe and supportive.

(5) Vermont’s families are safe, nurturing, stable, and supported.

(6) Vermont’s children and young people achieve their potential.

(7) Vermont’s elders and people with disabilities and people with mental conditions live with dignity and independence in settings they prefer.

(8) Vermont has open, effective, and inclusive government at the State and local levels.

The latest version of the bill may be found here. It is expected that Governor Shumlin will sign the bill shortly.

Common Good Vermont will cover the signing and press event.

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