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Rating the Performance of the 50 State Governments

- March 4, 2008


Governing Magazine and the Pew Center on the States have just issued “efficiency and effectivenes” ratings of the 50 state governments. And the winners are … Utah, Virginia, and Washington, each with an overall grade of A-.

The ratings assess each state government in four key areas.

bq. (1) Money: How states manage fiscal resources, including budgeting, forecasting, accounting and financial reporting, procurement, contracting, investments, and debt.

bq. (2) People: What states are doing to recruit and retain strong professionals and to offer development and recognition for top-level service.

bq. (3) Infrastructure: How states maintain, improve, and plan for future physical infrastructure needs, including roads, bridges and buildings.

bq. (4) Information: How effectively states apply data and technology to measure the effectiveness of services, make decisions, and communicate with the public.

The state governments were graded — in dog-show fashion — against a set of criteria rather than directly against one another. Feeding into these assessments were data from “over 12,000 different sources—including surveys, written documents and interviews.”

Some of the state ratings should cause raised eyebrows — at least they raised mine. For example, Louisiana gets an overall grade of B and Kentucky a B-. These above-average and average grades, respectively, certainly cut against the grain of popular conceptions of the way those two states are run, and lead me to suspect that grade inflation isn’t confined to academia.

Anyway, how did your state do? To find out, click here. Does that seem about right to you? Do the raters know something you don’t know?

(By the way, the building pictured above is the State Capitol of South Dakota, in Pierre (pronounced “Peer,” of course, not “Pee-air”).