Grading the States 2008: Pew's 50-State Report Card Evaluates How States Manage Public Resources

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All 50 states received report cards today evaluating each state government's performance in serving the public. Grading the States 2008 is the only 50-state assessment of its kind that evaluates and grades each state based on a range of areas, from budget and finance to roads and bridges. The report demonstrates the importance of state governments that work better and cost less, particularly in the wake of widespread budget deficits and a weakening national economy.

“Fostering meaningful change through fact-based research provides all states with useful knowledge to pursue innovative solutions that will strengthen performance and service to the public,” said Susan Urahn, managing director of The Pew Center on the States. “State leaders and managers should look beyond the grade and pursue the opportunity that the report provides: to operate more efficiently and effectively, improve transparency, and be more accountable for results.”

Overall state performance in 2008 ranged from A- (Utah, Virginia, and Washington) to D+ (New Hampshire). The national average among the 50 states was B-, which 18 states received. Thirteen states earned grades above the national average and 19 states' grades were below the national average. (See state-by-state performance chart.)

The report card can be accessed online at www.pewcenteronthestates.org/gpp. The PDF of the report can be accessed below.

States that received the highest grades are making better management a top priority. Washington state holds governor-led public meetings to monitor program results and improvements; Utah has implemented a financial tracking system that provides real-time data for decision-making; and Virginia provides employee rewards linked to improved service delivery and agency goals. States that received lower marks, like New Hampshire, have limited cost and performance information and are not closely managing resources.

At the report launch, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm discussed how a strategic, statewide perspective drives all aspects of agency actions in the state's executive branch—even under the toughest of economic circumstances. Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue shared his experiences pressing more than 300 private sector representatives into volunteer service with the state, benchmarking state operations against best business practices. The changes have achieved stronger customer service results.

Report findings are the result of a thorough and rigorous review by a panel of the nation's leading state government management experts that paints a clear and complete picture of states' performance. State-level managers and opinion leaders provided more than 12,000 pieces of data.

States are not ranked, or graded against each other; they are graded based on a set of criteria.

Grading the States 2008, released in partnership with Pew's Government Performance Project and Governing Magazine, is the fourth in a series, the most recent issued in 2005. States were evaluated on how well they were advancing—or backsliding—in key areas such as recruiting and retaining highly qualified, productive public employees; using information and technology to measure performance and communicate more effectively with the public; managing fiscal resources from budgeting to procurement; and planning for, maintaining and improving roads, bridges and buildings.

In the coming months, Pew will work with states to ensure that they benefit from this new research and draw on best practices, identify areas for improvement, and explore additional partnerships with policy makers and private sector leaders to pursue problem-solving strategies to improve service to the public.

About the Center
Pew Center on the States identifies and advances effective policy approaches to critical issues facing the states. For more information, visit www.pewcenteronthestates.org.

About the Project
The Government Performance Project was launched nearly a decade ago to provide states with comprehensive research, knowledge and support to establish a culture of effective management and meaningful policy action that better serves citizens. The project is an important component of Pew's work to foster states' fiscal health, economic competitiveness and efficiency.

 

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