Legislative Wrap-Up, 1120 ALBJ, Vol. 81 No. 6 Pg. 452 (November, 2020)

AuthorOthni J. Lathram Director, Legislative Services Agency
PositionVol. 81 6 Pg. 452


No. Vol. 81 No. 6 Pg. 452

Alabama Bar Lawyer

November, 2020

Othni J. Lathram Director, Legislative Services Agency

The Study of Effectiveness And Efficiency in State Government

The right services, to the right people, in the right way, at the right time. This is the mantra of the critical review of one of Alabama's newest state entities: the Alabama Commission on the Evaluation of Services ("ACES"). This innovative group is tasked with looking at services provided across state government and seeking to answer these questions. The key is what types of outcomes are we getting, and are we getting them efficiently and effectively?

Background and History

The effort culminating in the creation of ACES through Act 2019-517 was borne out of the state budget struggles of 2015 and 2016. Fiscal leaders in the legislature were seeking more and better information to inform what were very difficult budget decisions. The truth is that prioritizing spending decisions across a very broad array of different services provided across state government can be a daunting task. The goal was to try and identify a process to look at those services and their delivery, and come up with a replicable review process that measures the efficiency and effectiveness of the work being done.

The Legislative Services Agency undertook the task at first by shepherding a pilot project with the help of outside consultants to do a deep dive on the work of the Alabama Department of Public Health. That project generated a wealth of information that was helpful and interesting, but the process itself proved to be more cumbersome and strenuous than was likely to be replicated across a spectrum of agencies in a realistic timeframe.

What was borne out of the ADPH pilot project though was a dedicated team of professionals within LSA: the Alabama Support Team for Evidence-Based Practices ("ASTEP"). This team was tasked with focusing on where and how evidence-based practices are used, inventorying those practices, and looking for how to improve outcomes using better practices. A strategic partnership with the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative ("RFI") was a critical step in this process. Over the course of the next couple of years, ASTEP did tremendous work in creating a program inventory of services across state government culminating in a report on the effectiveness of 52 mental health programs.


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