GPL Projects Are Setting the National Standard for Using Contracting to Improve Social Service Outcomes

RFA Panel

The GPL’s projects are helping to set national standards in state operational excellence and outcome-based contracting. Results for America (RFA) recently released their 2019 State Standards of Excellence Report, discussing how state governments are using evidence-based practices across the country to achieve better outcomes for their residents. In their report, RFA highlights promising examples of data-driven projects across policy areas, including child welfare, criminal justice, education, health, and workforce development. The GPL’s work with Rhode Island’s Department for Children, Youth, and Families on overhauling service delivery for child-welfare involved families was named the country’s single best example of contracting for outcomes:

Transforming Service Delivery for Rhode Island’s Children, Youth, and Families
“Since 2015, Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) has worked to reform and restructure the department’s procurement processes in four areas: improving service delivery through strategic planning, embedding results-driven procurement in new contracts, improving performance through active contract management practices, and supporting results-driven contracting practices through technical resources, tools, and processes for staff. As part of this initiative, the department executed $90 million in 116 results-driven contracts that require providers to meet outcome goals rather than output metrics. As a result, DCYF has reduced the number of children in group care by over 20% since 2015, experienced a 50 percent expansion of foster care resources for the most challenging adolescents, doubled the capacity of high quality family visitation and reunification services, and made start-up investments of $1.2 million in nonprofit community organizations to support new and expanded programming.”

Several of the GPL’s other projects were also highlighted in the State Standards of Excellence Report, emphasizing active contract management strategies to improve social service outcomes for publicly funded programs. These projects include:

  • Expanding Supportive Housing for Individuals Experiencing Chronic Homelessness in Massachusetts
    “In 2014, Massachusetts launched the Massachusetts Chronic Homelessness Pay for Success Initiative to provide permanent supportive housing to 500 to 800 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. As part of the five-year, $3.5 million project, the state will make payments based on stable housing for at least one year for program clients. The project partners hold monthly operational monitoring meetings to review performance and quarterly oversight meetings with Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. As of July 2019, the Pay for Success program has housed 857 tenants, of which 643 have been enrolled in the innovative Medicaid reimbursement program, Community Support Program for People Experiencing Chronic Homelessness, that provides health services for chronically homeless individuals.” Read more about this work here.

  • Developing Wraparound Services for Dually-Involved Youth in Illinois
    “The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice and Department of Children and Family Services streamlined the process for supporting youth who are dually involved in the child welfare and criminal justice systems. The project used a performance-based contract, active contract management, and other tools to focus on improving case management and coordination between the foster care and juvenile justice systems, and improving services by using evidence-based interventions. Early results include reducing the reporting time for the state to share juvenile justice occurrences with child welfare agencies from 90 days to less than 3 days.” Read more about this work here.

  • Supporting Workforce Development in Rhode Island
    “In 2015, Rhode Island’s Department of Labor and Training launched Real Jobs Rhode Island, an innovative $14 million workforce program. To track the program’s success, Rhode Island created performance-based metrics and used frequent meetings with training providers to track results and make course corrections. As a result of this active contract management, Rhode Island was able to reconfigure the way it manages and evaluates its job training programs to capture meaningful longterm employment outcomes. The state also has created a Strategic Coaching Procurement Playbook, which includes specific strategies and sample language for using active contract management to get better results.” Read more about this work here.

The GPL works with state and local social service agencies to develop and implement lasting reforms in how they procure for and administer their programs.  Despite the fact that human service agencies spend more than $200 billion each year supporting vulnerable populations, most governments treat procurement and contract management as back-office functions rather than key strategic activities. Typically, government agencies assume that their role is complete once a contract is signed and do not purposefully attempt to improve service provision or collaborate effectively with providers to improve outcomes. However, by strategically using procurement and contract management practices, governments can implement real-time improvements to service delivery and drive better outcomes for the people being served.

The GPL’s work is helping to create a national model for state and local governments seeking to use contracting to improve social service outcomes. Read more about how the GPL supports agencies in these efforts using tools including results-driven contracting, strategic procurement, pay for success, and service matching.