The idea that if we just throw enough taxpayers’ money at a problem, it will go away was discredited years ago.
Yet we continue to try that approach, probably wasting billions of dollars nationwide that could be put to better use.
Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague’s office may be trying something that could change that.
ResultsOHIO applies a “pay for success” model to the funding of projects meant to tackle a variety of public policy challenges. Among the examples given by Sprague’s office are: addiction, infant mortality, long-term care, early childhood education preparedness, water quality, workforce training, criminal care and foster care.
Unfortunately, people don’t always get what they pay for — and that is particularly true for taxpayers, who often fund ineffective programs. ResultsOHIO could break the cycle of programs that become entrenched in a community — and receive ongoing funding that does little more than keep paychecks coming for a few folks in an office — even when they have been proven incapable of achieving their stated goals.
“It’s difficult to get rid of those programs,” Sprague said. And that means it is difficult to keep them from draining taxpayer dollars.
ResultsOHIO is keyed on two ideas.
First, private-sector support for new initiatives is critical.
Second, funded programs must demonstrate success, not just use of public money.
According to Sprague, projects funded through the ResultsOHIO model are “more likely to involve local resources,” and “definitely an incentive to local development.”
Funded through the state budget, ResultsOHIO is something of a trial run at breaking the longstanding model of simply handing out taxpayers’ money and hoping for results.
Once it has demonstrated success — as we think is inevitable — state government as a whole should adopt the results-based approach.