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May 12, 2016

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This blog post was co-authored by Nicole Truhe, Director of Government Affairs at America Forward, and Juanita Tolliver, Manager at America Forward.

Outcomes and evidence, and even Pay for Performance/Pay for Success contracting arrangements, have been leveraged by social innovators and community-based organizations, as well as state and local leaders for years, and now the federal government and legislators on the Hill are taking notice. In March 2016, Congress passed legislation to establish the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking in the executive branch with strong bipartisan support. Just this week the Senate Finance Committee held its first ever hearing on evidence-based practices where an important piece of federal legislation, the Social Impact Partnership Act, was a focus, and the House Ways and Means Committee held a markup on the newly introduced Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act. And Democrats and Republicans alike lined up to sing their praises for evidence-based policies and Pay for Success models during both events.

What a difference a few weeks make!pay_for_success_infographic

The Senate Finance hearing entitled, “Can Evidence Based Practices Improve Outcomes for Vulnerable Individuals and Families?” was well attended by members from both sides of the aisle. The statements from both Senator Hatch and Senator Wyden as well as the testimonies from the expert witnesses touched on the potential of Pay for Success, the need for greater access to data, particularly administrative data, to decrease the cost of evaluations, and the need for government to invest more substantially in evaluations of social services programs and in services already deemed to work. The hearing closed with Senator Hatch noting that he was committed to doing what we could to pass S. 1089, the Social Impact Partnership Act, which would fund Pay for Success feasibility studies, evaluations, and provide federal funding as end payor dollars in Pay for Success arrangements.

The House Ways and Means markup was as well attended as the Senate hearing and members substantially debated a number of bills aimed at improving the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. One of those bills, H.R. 5170, the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act, is the companion bill to S. 1089, the Social Impact Partnership Act. There was important discussion at the markup regarding the merits and utilization of Pay for Success with ultimately H.R. 5170 being successfully voted out of committee by voice vote.

H.R. 5170 now moves to the House floor for a full vote. If it succeeds there, the bill will go to the Senate where Senator Hatch will now be tasked with, as he stated, doing what he can to pass this important piece of legislation through the Senate.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress aren’t the only ones who agree on the power of Pay for Success and using evidence and outcomes in our social services sector to measurably improve lives. The America Forward Coalition has been connecting with presidential campaigns and senior policy staffers on the trail to pitch innovative ideas such as Pay for Success and its potential diverse application since the 2016 election cycle began. The candidates and their policy staffers have been captivated by the efficiencies, partnerships, and innovations that emerge as element and natural byproducts from Pay for Success models.

What really jumps out to the candidates and staff is that not only will taxpayer dollars be used more effectively at the local, state, and national levels, but Americans will be better served by programs that have leveraged data in developing proven, evidence-based interventions, the public sector will be able to effectively engage the private and nonprofit sectors to increase capacity, resources and responsiveness to addressing the country’s most pressing social problems, and innovation will continue to spark new ideas and data- driven, iterative improvements to community-based programs and federal policies.

The next president has the opportunity to champion policies that leverage highly effective partnerships to create evidence-based, community -driven solutions that could make outsized progress in improving lives. As Pay for Success is beginning to take root across the country, this initiative should be expanded to new promising focus areas, including higher education, veterans, federal assistance programs, health care, and child welfare.

For example, one Pay for Success policy recommendation that America Forward would like the next president to consider is using Pay for Success to Scale Innovations that Increase Access, Persistence, and Completion in Post-Secondary Education. Today, a wide range of new approaches are emerging to support under resourced students through the college application process, provide integrated supports post-enrollment, accelerate time to completion strategies, and form tangible connections with career opportunities, among others. A newly created Pay for Success and innovation fund dedicated to structuring Pay for Success projects and contracts, and funding feasibility work and evaluation could be leveraged to accelerate adoption of these innovations in post-secondary education.

Click here to see more of our Pay for Success policy recommendations for the next President related to supporting and strengthening families, bringing rigor to federal assistance programs, and decreasing veteran unemployment rates.

The solutions are already out there, waiting to be tapped, and community-based organizations and nonprofits across the country stand ready and waiting to do this critical work together with partners from every sector. Congress is taking notice and we hope that the president does as well.

Read more about how social innovators in the America Forward Coalition are solving America’s biggest problems in communities across the country every day in our briefing book, Moving America Forward: Innovators Lead the Way to Unlocking America’s Potential, and join the conversation. Follow @America_Forward, and tell us how Pay for Success and evidence-based innovations are solving problems in your community using #AFPresidential16.

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