Our Assistance Model

The Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab conducts research on how governments can improve the results they achieve for their citizens. An important part of our research model involves providing pro bono technical assistance to state and local governments. Through this hands-on involvement, we gain insights into the barriers that governments face and the solutions that can overcome these barriers.

We believe that three ingredients are needed in order to spur public sector innovation:

1. Creative ideas for how to improve government performance and effective implementation of the ideas.

2. Rigorous assessments of whether the ideas and implementations worked.

3. Strategies for communicating the results of the initiatives and/or engaging citizens in a way that allows them to know when government effectiveness has improved –so as to generate positive feedback loops in which political leaders want to undertake additional innovation projects.

Pay for Success and Social Impact Bonds

Our Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab (SIB Lab) assists state and local governments in developing pay for success contracts using social impact bonds (SIBs). The SIB Lab awards technical assistance state and local governments to explore SIBs in areas including early education, criminal justice, behavioral health, and child welfare. More [Link to PFS/SIB page]

PFS Projects 

Performance Improvement and Transformation

The Government Performance Lab is providing technical assistance to states seeking to improve the core operations of government agencies, so that they can achieve better results with their core spending. This assistance helps governments target which clients to connect with which services, sets up systems to monitor performance in real time so as to enable governments to collaborate with service providers to re-engineer systems to produce better outcomes, supports the development of frameworks to make procurement, budget, and programmatic decisions based on performance data, and enables rigorous evaluation of management and policy reforms. The Government Performance Lab also helps governments implement systematic change in specific policy areas such as behavioral health, child welfare, criminal justice, and workforce development. More

Performance Improvement Projects [Link to Our Projects/PI]

Results-Driven Contracting

As part of the “What Works Cities” Initiative, the Government Performance Lab is providing technical assistance to cities that seek to adopt results-driven contracting strategies for their critical grants and procurements. These strategies include clearly defining performance goals, measuring outcomes achieved, tying payments to successful outcomes, and using performance data to inform future procurement decisions. More [Link to results-driven contracting page]

Results-Driven Contracting Projects