Results-Based Accounting [Commentary]

July 11, 2006

Since I was elected to the State Senate in 2002, I have been a strong advocate for a responsible government, especially in regards to state spending. I have sought conservative spending plans that keep your tax rates low and maximize your tax dollars that are being spent. This week, I would like to introduce you to a concept known as ‘results-based accounting’ that I and several of my legislative colleagues are hoping will become a regular part of constructing the state budget each year in the future.

Results-based accounting takes a different look at what particular programs and projects the state is contributing to in order to determine whether or not your tax dollars are being spent wisely.

Results-based accounting strays from more traditional methods of determining which state programs should receive the most funding each year. For instance, often times individuals tend to look at only things such as participation when determining funding-levels for particular state programs. However, participation in a particular program does not necessarily translate to a successful program. That’s where results-based accounting comes in.

Rather than looking primarily at enrollments, programs should be judged on the goals the program achieves. The state needs to set goals for each program and measure that goal to determine whether or not the program is achieving what it was designed to do. Furthermore, we want to make sure that the programs your tax dollars are funding are working and not being funded simply because the government has “always funded that program.” This way, improvements can be made, if necessary, and the state would not continue down the fiscally irresponsible path of re-funding ineffective programs year after year.

Already, a bi-partisan group of legislators, including myself, have rallied behind results-based accounting. In fact, a volunteer committee consisting of both Republicans and Democrats has already applied the concept to a variety of existing state programs. Several current programs related to the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Education are being examined.

This method of thinking is in fact not new to the business world but it is new in state government. It will take a while for the concept to catch on and work but certainly it is the way we, as legislators, should approach the funding of state programs. I will keep you abreast of the findings of this program as well as when the state will begin applying results-based accounting to other programs throughout Connecticut.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call me toll-free at 1(800) 841-1421 or e-mail me at [email protected].