The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative in Mississippi

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative in Mississippi


In December 2012, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn extended a formal partnership invitation to the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative. As chairman and vice chairman of the state’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee, Reeves and Gunn intend to use the Results First model to support their broader goal of building a performance-based budgeting system in the state. They selected the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, Herb Frierson and Eugene “Buck” Clarke, to lead the effort in their respective chambers. Representative Toby Barker and Senator Terry Burton were tasked with assisting Frierson and Clarke in assessing the state’s strategic planning framework and proposing needed changes.

The Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER) agreed to provide staff support to the joint budget committee for this effort and adopted a three-pronged approach to provide the Legislature with better information for resource-allocation decisions. Those areas are: 

  1. Assisting legislative leadership in establishing statewide priorities (i.e., the most important goals, policies, and issues that leadership wants to focus on and measure over time).
  2. Creating an inventory of state agency programs, including:
    • Basis. Is the program research- or evidence-based?
    • Cost.
    • Performance measures and targets. With a focus on outcomes and results, determine the reliability of reported data.
  3. Using the Results First model to identify which programs are evidence-based, and for those that are not, whether better results or returns on investment could be achieved by shifting resources.


Staff members from the PEER committee make up the core of the technical team implementing the Results First cost-benefit analysis model. PEER is well-suited for this role because it routinely conducts performance evaluations, investigations, and expenditure reviews of state government agencies to support the Legislature in its oversight role and in making state government more effective, efficient, and accountable. Max Arinder, director of PEER, and Brian Dickerson, senior analyst, lead the technical team, and Linda Triplett, performance improvement methodologist, and David Pray, fiscal accountability methodologist, are responsible for the technical aspects of the performance-based budgeting revitalization effort. Staffs from the Legislative Budget Office and the Departments of Corrections, Education, and Human Services are providing critical resources to help ensure the ultimate sustainability of the accountability improvement effort.

The technical team began implementing the criminal justice component of the Results First model in January 2013 and started work on the education and juvenile justice elements in July 2013. In July 2014, the team completed the initial implementation of the adult criminal justice component and released a detailed report that included a full inventory of programs provided by the Department of Corrections and a cost-benefit analysis of those programs identified as evidence-based.

Next steps

In consultation with leadership from the Department of Corrections, the technical team and key legislative leaders are reviewing the database of evidence-based programs to identify options for updating or replacing programs that lack evidence of effectiveness. To inform these discussions, the technical team will use the cost-benefit model to produce projections of the impact of various evidence-based programs. This team is also working with the Department of Education and the Division of Youth Services to develop inventories and assess programs for evidence of effectiveness.