Projects Focused on Federal Government Agencies and State and Local Governments in the United States

Review of the role of Local Governments in State Prison Population Size Management Strategies

With support from the MacArthur Foundation, the Urban Institute conducted an in-depth analysis of how state sentencing, corrections, and parole/probation policies designed to reduce the growth of prison populations can also affect local criminal justice systems. Although these state strategies have the potential to greatly benefit both the offender and the community, they can strain the resources and capacity of jails, supervision officers, and community-based providers. Likewise, local actors may respond to these strategies with policies and practices that conflict with state prison population management efforts. Findings from the analysis and recommendations on how state and local stakeholders can avoid these unintended outcomes are provided in the final report.

Development of a Grant Performance Management Process for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

To initiate development of an ongoing process for tracking outcomes of grant programs and individual grants, the Urban Institute is working with the IMLS to prepare a performance measurement/management plan that provides:

  • a results framework;
  • procedures for examining outcomes elements when reviewing applications and monitoring progress;
  • candidate performance indicators and data sources;
  • ways to analyze and use performance information;
  • and recommendations regarding steps needed to implement the process.

Performance Measurement Support for Performance Indicator Development for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Strategic Plan

The Urban Institute assisted CNCS in identifying indicators for its new five-year strategic plan related to its legislatively based focus areas of education, economic opportunity, healthy futures, and veterans assistance. Institute researchers in partnership with Abt Associates contributed to development of goals statements and specific results-based outcome indicators and, subsequently, adapting this material for CNCS Notice of Funding Opportunities for prospective grantees.

Development of Performance Measures Standards for CNCS AmeriCorps Grantees

The Urban Institute assisted CNCS with identification and detailed guidance for developing guidelines regarding what performance indicators AmeriCorps should require of program grantees proposing work relating to (a) teaching or tutoring assistance to elementary and secondary students (such as indicators of student improvement in reading and mathematics) and (b) economic opportunity services for disadvantaged populations (such as indicators to track progress in financial literacy, success from job training, and success from housing assistance).

Development and Implementation of a Performance Measurement Process for Providing Performance Data for AmeriCorps Program.

The Urban Institute developed and implemented a five-year long series of annual performance measurement surveys of AmeriCorps members, host organizations (grantees) and (for one year) end beneficiaries regarding a range of program performance indicators. Results were intended for use in CNCS annual reports to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Congress and by agency managers for making program improvements.

Use of Performance Stat to Help federal Agencies Implement a Process for Regular Data-Driven Performance Reviews

Based on interviews with federal agency staff and a review of local and state government efforts, the Urban Institute prepared a guide for use by federal agencies in implementing a STAT result-based management approach (A Guide to Data-Driven Performance Reviews).  The approach received considerable favorable publicity because of the apparent success of New York City's CompStat (police department) and Baltimore's CitiStat (across all city agencies) programs. OMB has encouraged all federal agencies to introduce such an approach.

Health Professions Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Performance Reporting System

The Urban Institute is assisting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to develop and implement a process for tracking the outcomes of HPOG grantee low-income clients (both individually and collectively) in helping them move into health care occupations. The regular reports being generated provide information for program management by individual grantees as well as by ACF.

Partner Satisfaction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD's) Performance

HUD delivers services and benefits to end customers through a multitude of partner intermediaries and recognizes the need to maintain high-quality relations with them. To measure and track partner satisfaction, HUD commissioned a series of surveys in 2001, 2005 and 2010 that were developed and reported by the Urban Institute. The 2010 surveys were the basis for briefings to HUD's secretary and executive staff, its field policy and management office, and its program offices; the latter planned strategy sessions based on the findings.

National Parks Service (NPS) Benchmarks and Scorecard

The Urban Institute provided the NPS with recommendations for benchmarking procedures related to a number of its performance indicators. Benchmarks were based on other organizations (within the U.S. and internationally) as well as across NPS park units. Both NPS internal historical data on each park and information on benchmarks for park-like organizations in the federal, state, local, international, and private sectors were considered in developing candidate benchmarks. An innovative feature involved tailoring benchmarks to each park's own characteristics. Institute researchers also examined the NPS's current scorecard process and provided recommendations for improving its usefulness for budgeting and park management purposes.

State Transportation Performance Reporting

For, and with, the Pew Center on the States, the Urban Institute developed criteria for rating the quality of performance information reported by state transportation agencies, and used the criteria to assess the performance information reported publicly by each of the 50 states. State government performance reporting documents (including strategic plans and annual reports) were reviewed to identify their goals and performance measures as well as to assess their coverage with respect to safety, infrastructure preservation, mobility (congestion/delay times/travel times), access of population groups, economic development, and environmental protection. The Pew Center used the information in its report Measuring Transportation Investments.

State and Local Government Legislating for Results

National Conference of State Legislatures Logo

In separate partnerships with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the National League of Cities (NLC), the Urban Institute developed a series of Action Guides that provided recommendations to elected officials and their staffs as to how to obtain better information on program outcomes and how such information can be used to improve citizen services.

The state guides (briefs) are available at the NCSL's web site,

The local government guides are available from the Urban Institute,

Training Programs on Management for Results

For USAID, the Urban Institute and Development and Training Services are developing two basic courses in managing for results--one for field missions and one for USAID headquarters management services activities.