Seattle Human Services Department and Government Performance Lab discuss results of contracting pilot program

Today the Human Services Department, the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities hosted a convening to discuss the results of a one-year pilot program in Seattle focused on retooling the department’s homelessness contracts.

Begin ning in August 2015, the Government Performance Lab embedded a fellow for a year in the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department to support the implementation of results-driven contracting for the department’s most important homelessness contracts. This project was a part of What Works Cities—an initiative to help 100 mid-sized U.S. cities enhance their use of data and evidence to improve services, inform local decision-making, and engage residents.

The pilot project was designed to allow the city to fully realize the potential of its contracted dollars by setting up the necessary systems – clearly identifying goals, tracking performance, and meeting regularly with providers – that allow them to actively manage their contracts. The Government Performance Lab recommended two main components to the pilot: consolidating contracts and implementing results-driven contracting strategies to focus contracts on performance goals.

“Mayor Murray has laid out the 4 key ways Seattle can continue to transform our city government: transparency and accountability, increased efficiency, better financial management and innovation through the use of data. Our year-long pilot with the Government Performance Lab is a perfect example of using those cornerstones to rebuild our response to homelessness,” said Human Services Department Director Catherine Lester, “By using results-driven contracting and the outcomes framework we have the tools to make a more effective system.”

Seattle continues to be a national leader in exploring new ways to reduce homelessness in the city. Just this week, Mayor Murray unveiled a budget proposal that includes a record $59 million investment in homelessness services and its Pathways Home initiative.

Staff from other WWC cities, including San Francisco, Anchorage, Tacoma, Bellevue, Portland, Denver, Gresham, Las Vegas, and Boston, were also in attendance as well to learn about Seattle’s work, discuss their cities’ challenges with homelessness, and share about their own successful initiatives.