Our Press Releases

February 16, 2016

Biggest Week Yet for Pay for Success in the U.S.
HKS Government Performance Lab celebrates announcements
 in Denver, South Carolina, and Connecticut


February 16, 2016

Three Pay for Success (PFS) projects receiving technical assistance from the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab (GPL) reached important milestones during the week of February 16th, 2016. Denver, South Carolina and Connecticut each made announcements that their Pay for Success projects are about to begin delivering critical services to vulnerable populations.

“Governors and mayors around the country are looking for ways to expand good programs despite limited fiscal resources. The Pay for Success approach has the potential to generate scalable solutions to some of our nation's most pressing social problems,” said Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and Government Performance Lab director. “With these new projects, Denver, South Carolina, and Connecticut are leading the way in trying to provide more effective services to their citizens and make better use of taxpayer dollars.”

This week marks the biggest week yet for PFS projects in the U.S.  These three announcements bring the total number of U.S. PFS projects to eleven, seven of which have relied upon GPL technical assistance.   Across the country, the Government Performance Lab is providing pro bono technical assistance to more than twenty governments in developing PFS projects.


Through their PFS contract, the City of Denver and Mayor Michael Hancock aim to connect more than 250 homeless individuals with quality supportive housing and intensive case management over a five-year period. Denver will make future success payments if service providers meet key outcomes in housing stability and jail day reductions among the individuals served.

 Approximately 210 new units of housing are in development across the city to meet the needs of homeless residents through the project. The PFS initiative braids funding from multiple sources to develop the housing including: Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, vouchers from the Denver Housing Authority, allocations from the Colorado Housing Investment Fund, federal HOME funds, and Denver Office of Economic Development Funds.

South Carolina

Governor Nikki Haley announced South Carolina’s first Pay for Success contract, which expands Nurse-Family Partnership home visiting services to 3,200 low-income, first time mothers and their babies this week. Over four years, Medicaid-eligible moms will receive regular home visits from specialized nurses during their pregnancy and until their child’s second birthday. South Carolina, which has one of the highest rates of pre-term births in the nation, expects that the expansion of NFP services will lead to healthier starts for babies and their families.  

Led by the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the project also incorporates Medicaid dollars to cover a portion of the services through a 1915(b) waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. A total of $7.5 million has been set aside by South Carolina for success payments in the project should NFP reach targets for reducing pre-term births, reducing child hospitalizations due to injury, increasing healthy birth spacing, and serving mothers in low-income zip codes.


The Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) announced the execution of a Pay for Success Contract designed to promote family stability and reduce parental substance use for families involved with Connecticut’s child welfare system. The PFS contract is part of DCF’s efforts to combat the widespread effects of the opioid epidemic on CT families by providing services focused on recovery and family stability. Substance use indicators were present in more than 18,000 cases DCF investigated in 2013, and serious substance use has long-term consequences for the families involved.

Under the PFS contract, DCF will provide Family-Based Recovery Services (FBR) to approximately 500 families in Connecticut over five years. FBR pairs caregivers with substance use problems with treatment teams that combine in-home visitation and coaching that focuses on parenting support and substance use treatment. FBR will expand its model to include treatment for families with children between 3-6 years old, filling a pressing gap in DCF’s service array.

About the Government Performance Lab

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. By engaging current students and recent graduates in this effort, we are able to provide experiential learning as well.

The Government Performance Lab began as the HKS Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab (SIB Lab).  Established in 2011, the SIB Lab helped Massachusetts and New York State become the first two states to launch Pay for Success projects.  In 2013, eight additional governments won a national competition for SIB Lab assistance: Chicago, Colorado, Connecticut, Denver, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and South Carolina.

Today the Government Performance Lab is assisting more than two dozen state and local governments around the country across three types of technical assistance:

    • Pay for Success (PFS)/Social Impact Bond (SIB) projects: Through our SIB Lab, we support state and local governments in developing PFS contracts.
    • Performance Improvement projects: We provide technical assistance to governments that seek to improve the results they achieve with their core spending.
    • Results-Driven Contracting projects: As part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative, we are helping 20 cities improve their key procurements over the next three years.

The Government Performance Lab has received funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, the Dunham Fund, the Social Innovation Fund.

For more information, visit http://govlab.hks.harvard.edu.

March 11, 2015

March 11th, 2015

State and Local Governments Receive Assistance to Launch Pay for Success Projects Across the Country

CAMBRIDGE, MA – The Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab (SIB Lab) at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) today announced the selection of five state and local governments to receive technical assistance to help develop Pay for Success (PFS) projects that align payment for community-based solutions with verified social outcomes. The competition, run with support from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Social Innovation Fund (SIF) and the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, received applications from 30 state and local governments, demonstrating the growing interest in new approaches to identifying and funding effective social services to address pressing social problems. In addition to the five new state and local governments that will receive technical assistance, the SIB Lab will collaborate with the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) on assisting a cohort of three state governments. 

In the Pay for Success model, governments partner with private sector investors who provide up-front funding to promising service providers. Investors only receive a repayment from the government if the service provider’s work is measurably successful. Because governments pay only if the programs work, the PFS model has the potential to more effectively allocate taxpayer dollars while increasing funding for programs that deliver improved social outcomes.

“Governments around the country are looking for solutions to difficult social problems, from chronic homelessness to insufficient access to high quality early education. Governors and mayors are looking for ways to scale up good programs with limited fiscal resources. The Pay for Success approach has the potential to generate scalable solutions to some of our nation's most pressing challenges,” said Jeffrey Liebman, professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School and SIB Lab director. “The SIB Lab is excited to partner with these innovative government leaders who are trying to provide more effective services to their citizens and make better use of taxpayer dollars.”

During the past three years, the SIB Lab has helped Massachusetts, New York State, and Chicago launch Pay for Success contracts using social impact bonds. Newly selected state and local governments will join current SIB Lab partners Colorado, Connecticut, Denver, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and South Carolina in receiving pro bono technical assistance. The technical assistance will support recipients in designing, implementing, and evaluating policy initiatives in areas ranging from early childhood education to prison recidivism and economic self-sufficiency to green infrastructure.

The winners of the 2014 SIB Lab competition for technical assistance are:

  • Arkansas
  • DC Water (District of Columbia)
  • Nevada
  • Pennsylvania
  • San Francisco

The SIB Lab evaluated project proposals based on the potential of the project to advance the PFS field by applying the model in new areas or policy fields, the level of commitment and readiness demonstrated by the applicant, and the feasibility of the proposed projects to scale.

“The SIF Pay for Success grantees held highly competitive, open competitions to select communities in need of services and here we’re seeing the results of those competitions,” said Lois Nembhard, Acting Director of the Social Innovation Fund. “We couldn’t be more enthusiastic for the first Pay for Success subgrantees, all charged with the important mission to measurably improve the lives of people most in need.”

The SIB Lab will provide each winning government with a full-time Government Innovation Fellow to be based for one year in the government agency that is spearheading the city of state’s pay-for success initiative, pro bono technical advising from Liebman and other senior experts, up to six months of programmer and data analyst time, and a small pool of flexible funding that can be used to remove barriers to implementation of PFS projects.

The SIB Lab will also be collaborating with another SIF awardee, CSH, to provide a joint cohort-based model of technical assistance to a cohort of state governments interested in the use of the PFS model to provide persons residing in institutional settings with the opportunity to transition to community-based supportive housing. As part of its collaboration with CSH, the SIB Lab will provide technical assistance to New Mexico, New York, and Washington.

“It is an honor for CSH to collaborate with the Harvard Kennedy School Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab (HKS SIB Lab) to provide our subgrantees the in-depth knowledge they will need to succeed,” said Deborah De Santis, CSH President and CEO. “HKS SIB Lab has built a sterling, national reputation for its government-focused expertise on project development, evaluation design, and procurement, and we know our subgrantees will benefit greatly from their contributions.”

Comment from Winning State and Local Governments:

"This kind of innovative, public-private partnership can result in important reforms in our criminal-justice system while also saving the taxpayers money. Under this plan to ‘pay-for-success,’ the Department of Community Correction will be able to retain expert intervention services aimed at reducing the reincarceration rate in an accountable, cost-effective way."

Governor Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas

“Early learning is a top priority for my administration and for the future success of Nevada’s children. As we search for new and innovative service models and funding sources, technical assistance from the Harvard Kennedy School will be of tremendous benefit. Nevada is honored to be a part of the Corporation for National and Community Service project.”

Governor Brian Sandoval, Nevada

“My Administration is committed to investing in what works to improve the lives of Pennsylvanians and save money for taxpayers. Pay for Success is an innovative strategy to finance proven programs, and we are honored to be selected and look forward to working with the Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab to find cost-effective and efficient solutions to help our most vulnerable citizens.”

Governor Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania

 “San Francisco is committed to combatting poverty and building stronger mixed-income communities through our HOPE SF initiative. We will explore using a Pay for Success approach to tie funding to long-term HOPE SF outcomes to ensure all our residents, especially those in public housing, share in the prosperity of our City.  We look forward to working with Harvard and CNCS to improve the quality of life for our most disconnected residents and end intergenerational poverty in our City.”

Mayor Edwin M. Lee, San Francisco

“In addition to the benefits of green infrastructure, this work will develop the social impact bond model and will be a huge public service to the industry and other CSO communities across the nation. And the SIB model is measurable, so that participants can objectively quantify results, which promotes accountability and smart programming.”

CEO and General Manager George S. Hawkins, DC Water