Colorado has long been a leader in evidence-based policymaking. Working with the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative and through other efforts, state leaders have transformed how they choose which programs to fund by systematically incorporating evidence into the budget process. To broaden the impact of such data-driven decision-making, however, officials recognize the need to help county and local governments deliver their services more effectively.
In 2017, the Governor’s Office, state agencies, and data-focused nonprofit and private organizations launched the Colorado Evidence-Based Policy Collaborative (EBP Collaborative) to bolster this approach at all levels of government. Members aim to encourage state and local leaders to value and use evidence, support communities with implementation of evidence-based programs and policies, and ensure that state-level decisions are responsive to local needs.
From the start, the group sought to understand the challenges facing counties in effectively using state and local resources to implement and evaluate evidence-based programs. To gain insight into county-specific needs, the EBP Collaborative, in partnership with Colorado State University and with support from Results First, convened in Denver on Dec. 12-13 with about 20 representatives from eight rural and urban counties. The group invited counties that had experience with at least one of two state-funded evidence-based programs that promote coordinated efforts across human service agencies.
During the event, members of the EBP Collaborative shared information about national and state resources that support local program selection, implementation, and evaluation. In turn, county leaders discussed their need for and interest in specific resources and shared the challenges they face in using evidence in their decision-making processes.
As the event unfolded, county leaders described their top priorities for the EBP Collaborative. They recommended that the group seek to:
The EBP Collaborative will use these recommendations to develop strategies for further state-county collaboration. Given the enthusiastic participation and rich feedback at the event, leaders hope to provide other venues for cooperation to continue to inform the group’s work.
Sara Dube is a director and Abby Hannifan is a senior associate with the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative.