Data driven decision making, long the norm in the private
sector, is becoming prevalent in the public sector. This is true not only here at home, but also around
the world as many countries grapple with how to improve outcomes while living
within constrained budgets. Evidence-based
policy making, using data to inform decisions, and paying for performance are
all tools being used to improve results.
On September 18, 2017, Human Services Director Kathy Fallon
had the great honor to speak to 20 finance ministers from 16 provinces in
China. The daylong seminar was organized
by Triway International and furthered their goal to bridge China with the rest
of the world. The group began their week
at Public Consulting Group (PCG) before heading to meetings with the
Massachusetts Comptroller’s office, the Officer of the Inspector General, and
the Treasurer of the City of Boston.
While at PCG, Kathy discussed the evolution of the budget
process in the United States, explaining how it grew from an accounting
document to a performance management tool.
Considerable focus was paid to payment and performance incentives, and
how to move from an organization that pays for inputs to one that pays for
outcomes and results. Participants were
particularly interested in discussing how to price contracts based on the
complexity of the offering, and what services can be privatized effectively.
During the afternoon session, the group moved to the topics
of evidence-based practice and data informed decision making. Attendees learned about the Government
Performance Act and how the reporting of results can be used to drive policy decisions. When outcome data is combined with financial
data, the public manager has the power to understand which programs and
projects are returning the best value.
With the aid of an able translator, an excellent discussion
with many questions was achieved throughout the day. The language barrier obliged both the
questioners and answerer to break concepts down into their most fundamental
elements. The process of successfully explaining
these complex concepts to foreign visitors from a different governmental system
reinforced for Kathy the true power of the path we are on: paying for what is
proven to work and continually improving performance. The messages resonated as well with Chinese
finance ministers as it does with leaders in the US.