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Re:CAP Recommends | A new way of working with states and localities

June 30, 2017

Re:CAP Recommends: A new way of working with states and localities by Andrew R. Feldman for Brookings

What: Many federal policies are implemented at the state and local levels, and billions of dollars from the federal government flow to states and localities in order to do so. However, the federal government mostly demands compliance with their rules rather than accountability by means of results. Feldman argues that the federal government needs to focus on flexibility and evidence based approaches in order increase the results we see from these programs.

Takeaway:  Feldman proposes an initiative to reform the relationship between federal demands and state and local program implementation that would ideally be championed by the White House. The goals of this initiative include tracking outcomes and using grant money for programs that produce results rather than programs that comply with autocratic rules.

  1. Create a model to follow on a high priority issue with bipartisan support. Examples include the opioid epidemis, veterans services, and early childhood programs
  2. Perform a “spring cleaning” each year to modernize grant making, removing onerous reporting requirements and refocusing on grants and contracts on results.
  3. Encourage local progress tracking by having state and local granteesuse funding to collect data and keep improving.
  4. Encourage local innovation by use of waivers and rigorous result evaluation.

Bottom line: We can improve efficiency in federal spending with evidence, data and innovation at the state and local level in grant programs.

Andrew Feldman is a Visiting Fellow in the Center on Children and Families in the Economic Studies program at the Brookings Institution. His work and research focus on helping public agencies at the federal, state and local levels to use evidence and innovation to better achieve their missions. He is an expert in public sector management and innovation, as well as evidence-based strategies to reduce poverty and expand opportunity.

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Fels Institute of Government
University of Pennsylvania
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Phone: (215) 898-2600
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felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu