The state has a culture that supports the sustainable use of data and evidence to deliver results in a transparent, equitable, and ethical manner.
The Tennessee Governor’s 2020 and 2021 State of the State addresses highlighted the state’s evidence-based budgeting practices and data-driven decisions to improve results for residents. During the budget development process in 2019, the Governor’s Office provided a memo to the press introducing the state’s new evidence-based budgeting efforts. The Office of Evidence and Impact, which leads the state’s evidence-based budgeting practices, provides evidence-based budgeting trainings in preparation for new budgets. It also provides robust program inventory training so agencies learn about the benefits of measuring meaningful outcomes and using evidence to support and improve programs.
The Tennessee Employee Suggestion Award Program fosters state employee-driven innovation and improvement of government operations or services, including cost savings. Staff who propose innovative solutions receive a cash award when the interventions realized savings equal 15% of the annual savings realized in a fiscal year (maximum award of $100,000). This has led to improvement in procedures on soil and water inspections and use of digital services by the Department of Labor.
The state uses innovation to achieve its priority goals and improve results for residents.
The Tennessee Office of Customer Focused Government (CFG), in addition to overseeing the state’s performance management processes, leads innovation statewide. The mission of the office is to “drive innovation and operational efficiency to benefit [residents].” CFG staff consult with agencies to run a variety of projects across the enterprise that foster innovation and continuous improvement, specifically finding opportunities to improve outcomes pertaining to their operations and how they serve their customers.
The state has senior leadership and governance structures with the mandate to equitably use data to improve results.
5. Data Leadership & Governance
In June 2020, Tennessee hired a Chief Data Officer (CDO) within the Office of Strategic Technology Solutions (STS) as part of Finance and Administration. The CDO has developed a data management and open data strategy and a statewide framework for data governance. The CDO has developed a future state architecture for the data platform to modernize the way data is shared and accessed internally across agencies and externally.
Additionally, the state has a Data Governance Committee to improve data quality, promote data sharing, and support deploying a statewide data governance framework. The Data Governance Committee is responsible for contributing to the statewide and agency data policies, practices, and implementation, from the regular review and analysis of practices that support and improve data quality to recommending training and workforce development programs as they relate to data and more.
7. Data Infrastructure
The state has improved outcomes through technology infrastructure that allows it to efficiently collect, inventory, and share data.
7. Data Infrastructure
Tennessee leverages a longitudinal data system, P20 Connect TN, to link education, labor and workforce, human services, children’s services, and economic data at the individual level to produce insights for programmatic investments. For example, connected K-12, postsecondary, and labor data have enabled the study of the outcomes of the Tennessee Promise program that has informed program implementation both in Tennessee and in other states.
The state has evaluation policies and a learning agenda that outline the principles, people, and activities to use evidence to improve results.
10. Evaluation Policies
The Tennessee Education Research Alliance is a formal research partnership between the Tennessee Department of Education and Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education. Led by full-time staff and guided by a steering committee and advisory council, the Department and the University have co-created a research agenda that builds a body of knowledge to better position the state to make data-driven and evidence-based decisions. The Alliance conducts independent studies and directs external research to provide relevant and timely information to state policymakers across a variety of topic areas, including early reading, professional learning, and school improvement. Similarly, Tennessee Postsecondary Evaluation and Analysis Research Lab, established in 2017, is a joint effort by the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research, Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development, and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The lab produces policy-relevant research on higher education and postsecondary.
Issue Areas: Education
12. Evaluation Use
The state has improved results by using evaluation, program inventories, and cost-benefit analysis.
OEI reviews each submission and provides the Budget Office and Governor’s Office with a summary report for use in the budget process. The summary report objectively presents the evidentiary information and any available data for each programmatic budget request to inform the governor’s decisions regarding those requests. Departments may choose to leverage this information in presentations to the legislature.
The state has improved outcomes by using results-focused contracts for its publicly funded programs.
14. Results-Focused Contracting
In 2016, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services introduced a performance-based contracting model that includes performance bands. Provider agencies are placed into one of three bands: high performance, mid-range (or average) performance, or lower performance. Providers are then paid based on their performance on specific metrics, resulting in a performance pay system with standardized outcomes, daily rates for contracts, metric definitions, and a measurement methodology. As part of this initiative, the agency distributes monthly performance reports to providers.
Issue Areas: Child Welfare
15. Evidence-Based Grantmaking
The state has improved outcomes by allocating grant funding based on evidence of effectiveness.
15. Evidence-Based Grantmaking
A 2007 Tennessee law defined evidence and required that 100% of the state’s juvenile justice funding be evidence-based beginning in 2012, with the exception of pilot programs that are building the evidence basis for research or theory-based interventions. As a result, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services’ 2017 Request for Proposal for juvenile justice services, which provided funding through 2020, noted that “the Department of Children’s Services is prohibited from expending state funds on any juvenile justice program…unless the program is evidence-based.”