At a virtual event co-hosted by the National Governors Association, Results for America highlighted Utah’s exemplary use of evidence and data to improve results for Utahn’s. 

Results for America, a national nonprofit focused on helping government leaders improve results by investing in what works, released the 2020 Invest in What Works State Standard of Excellence, which showcases 169 examples of data-driven and evidence-based practices, policies, programs, and systems in 35 states across the country. Utah was recognized as a Leading State.

“In Utah, we understand how to sift through data to find key pieces of information that can make the biggest impact,” said Governor Gary R. Herbert of Utah. “We appreciate Results for America for highlighting states that are working hard to become more effective and efficient stewards of taxpayer dollars in 2020.” 

Data played a vital role in helping the state implement a dynamic, data-informed, and unified plan for Utah’s COVID-19 health and economic response called Utah Leads Together. Taken together, Utah’s focus on performance and data demonstrates how states can improve efficiency and effectiveness.

“The COVID-19 crisis underscores the critical importance of using evidence and data to drive decision-making at every level of government,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and Co-Founder of Results for America. “The 2020 State Standard of Excellence illustrates how many governors and state agency leaders around the country and across the political spectrum are rising to the occasion and investing in what works to meet the urgent needs of their residents.”

“All of our work in Utah state government focuses on achieving a triple win for taxpayers, customers, and employees,” said Kristen Cox, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget. “Utah uses the right evidence and data to help us achieve breakthrough results and create more value for every tax dollar invested.”

The 2020 State Standard of Excellence highlights how state governments can respond more effectively to crises when they incorporate evidence into their decision-making. In recent months, all 50 states have elevated the importance of data in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by creating public-facing dashboards to track key health and economic indicators in their states. States with strong existing capacity to leverage data are better positioned to respond rapidly to COVID-19 and focus their efforts on addressing the pandemic’s disproportionate effects on communities of color. Further, the 2020 State Standard of Excellence features a growing number of states that have invested in evidence-based budgeting, a key lever for funding what works in the face of a recession. 

“America’s governors are committed to making a measurable, positive difference in the states and territories they serve,” said Timothy Blute, Director of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices. “They are using data to inform their responses to COVID-19 to promote the physical and economic health of their residents, and the 2020 State Standard of Excellence recognizes the critical role of data and evidence in state policymaking in this most challenging time.”

Utah has participated in Results for America and the National Governors Association’s What Works Bootcamp training series. These peer-learning opportunities convene senior leaders in governors’ offices to advance the use of evidence and data in order to improve results and are designed to equip top state decision-makers with the high-level tools they need to improve enterprise-wide performance and invest in evidence-based policymaking to help their governor’s deliver results for residents. Utah’s Bootcamp participants include Gordon Larsen, Director of Federal Relations, Office of the Governor of Utah; Rachel Stone, Chief Data Officer, Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.

For more information about how states are building data and evidence capacity, state leaders can refer to Results for America’s Blueprint for Delivering Results in State Government, which serves as an implementation guide for the State Standard of Excellence.