New Mexico's Evidence-based Approach to Better Governance

NM: Evidence-based Approach to Better Governance


Since partnering with the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative in September 2011, New Mexico has become a leader in using sophisticated cost-benefit analysis to inform policy and budget decisions.

Building on a strong history of investing in evidence-based programs and measuring their performance, the Results First approach has enabled state policymakers to get a clearer picture of the comparative value of potential taxpayer investments and to direct resources to the most effective programs.

New Mexico's Results First model uses state-specific data to compare the costs and long-term benefits of a range of programs and policies. The state's Legislative Finance Committee, working with the New Mexico Sentencing Commission and Corrections Department, implemented the model with a focus on public safety programs; as the model grew to include other policy areas, additional state agencies also provided data. Over the past two years, the state has used the Results First approach to:

  • Calculate and compare the long-term costs and benefits of portfolios of programs in adult and juvenile justice, child welfare, mental health and substance abuse, and early childhood.
  • Help inform legislative funding decisions to direct $49.6 million to evidence-based programs that will deliver high returns for New Mexico residents.
  • Shift funds from an offender intervention program determined to be ineffective to an alternative that analysis showed would produce strong public safety outcomes.
  • Promote the development of an inventory of the state's recidivism-reduction programs to identify the extent to which they are evidence-based.
  • This brief documents New Mexico's progress in implementing the Results First approach, highlights its accomplishments in using evidence-based policymaking, identifies challenges facing the state, and illustrates how this work complements other state efforts to use data to deliver better results.