Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, April 15, 2014

School holds symposium on government efficiency

More than 80 legislators, state agency staff, local government budget officials and others crowded a room in the Wisconsin State Capitol last week to hear and discuss the latest research on government efficiency.

"Getting More Bang for Your Buck: Improving Government Efficiency" was the title of this year's annual Spring Symposium sponsored by the La Follette School of Public Affairs, with support from the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau.

"This was a thought-provoking event that focused deeply on program tools of performance management, program evaluation, and cost-benefit analysis," said La Follette School professor Pamela Herd, who spearheaded planning for the symposium.

Topics and speakers included:

The GPRA Modernization Act: Lessons for Wisconsin by Professor Donald Moynihan, La Follette School of Public Affairs.

The PerformanceStat Potential: A Leadership Strategy for Producing Results by Robert Behn, lecturer, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Utilizing Cost-Benefit Analyses to Evaluate Government Policies by David Weimer, professor, La Follette School of Public Affairs

Results First: Innovations in Evidence-Based Policymaking in State Governments by Gary VanLandingham, director, Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative, Pew Charitable Trusts

Herd says she was particularly pleased to bring in outside scholars to complement the research by La Follette scholars on strategic leadership and focused policymaking.

Behn's presentation described the potential of PerformanceStat, a strategy for using performance data, regular meetings and persistent follow-up to reduce crime, improve social services and enhance overall public management.

VanLandingham used the occasion to announce the extension of the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative to Wisconsin, an analytical tool that summarizes prior analyses of the costs and impacts of different programs, and tailors them to particular states.

"I think we started a good conversation for legislators, budget officers and others with responsibility for program design and evaluation," Herd says. "And it builds on our successful professional development class for legislative staff held last January."

From left: symposium presenters Donald Moynihan and David Weimer of the La Follette School; Steve Miller, chief of the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau; Gary VanLandingham, director of Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative; Robert Behn, lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School of Government; and La Follette School professor Pamela Herd.