State Fact Sheet

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative in Vermont

Background

In November 2011, Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell and House Speaker Shap Smith submitted a letter inviting the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative to help "guide our thinking about our budget development system design." The Legislature committed to conducting a pilot of the Results First approach in 2012 and familiarizing policymakers with its methodology and preliminary findings so that the model would be "increasingly functional for the fiscal year 2014 budget-building process.” Campbell and Smith designated the Legislative Joint Fiscal Office to lead the implementation effort with “extensive Administration support and data assistance."

As state agencies developed the Vermont Results First model to project recidivism reduction outcomes of various adult criminal justice programs, policymakers saw a need to formalize the data collection, analysis, and approval process. In 2013, reaffirming the state’s commitment to using evidence in decision-making, the Legislature approved Act 61, which created a multi-agency Criminal Justice Consensus Cost-Benefit Working Group to develop the Vermont Results First model and vet data with stakeholders.

Implementation

The Legislative Joint Fiscal Office houses the core Vermont Results First model, which incorporates cost estimates produced by the Criminal Justice Consensus Cost-Benefit Working Group. The working group consists of criminal justice stakeholders from 12 state entities, including the executive and judicial branches, and is staffed by the Crime Research Group of Vermont, a nonprofit research organization. In the fall of 2013, the working group met regularly to consider data on the costs of recidivism to the criminal justice system and to crime victims. In early 2014, the group reported its preliminary findings to the Senate and House judiciary committees and to the House Committee on Corrections and Institutions, and in April of that year, it issued a final report to the General Assembly.

The Crime Research Group of Vermont is continually expanding the model to analyze additional policy areas, such as education, at the request of the Legislature. Stephen Klein, chief fiscal officer of the Joint Fiscal Office, directs a technical team made up of consultants and fiscal office staff, which conducts the analyses.

Cost-benefit findings

The technical team completed model implementation in the fall of 2012 and then worked with key stakeholders to review and vet the preliminary results. In March 2013, it released an issue brief, "Community High School of Vermont," which described the results of a cost analysis conducted using the Vermont Results First model. The report identified a high per-student cost at the school and presented options for increasing its cost efficiency.

In April 2014, the working group released its final report, detailing the process undertaken by state agencies to determine the costs associated with the criminal justice system and reporting cost-benefit findings on the Bennington County Integrated Domestic Violence Docket Project. The analysis found that the program is cost beneficial: Every dollar produces almost $2 in benefits. The working group concluded the report by recommending that the state continue to use the Results First approach in the area of adult criminal justice and that it use the data to focus on reducing crimes that incur the highest costs.

Policy impact

The state’s fiscal 2014 budget included less funding for the Community High School of Vermont, a decision that was informed by the technical team’s issue brief.

Next steps

The Joint Fiscal Office, in collaboration with the Crime Research Group, continues to develop and use the Vermont Results First model. The Crime Research Group is also working to build support in the Legislature to expand the model in 2015 with an emphasis on child welfare, substance abuse, and mental health.

Policy impact

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Media Contact

Catherine An

Officer, Communications

202.552.2088