Common Cause Releases Report Calling for a NYS Poverty Dashboard

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Susan Lerner

December 2, 2011


Common Cause Releases Report Calling for a NYS Poverty Dashboard

Dashboard would allow New Yorkers to see effectiveness of state services

Today Common Cause released recommendations for how the state can better measure performance reporting on services to the neediest New Yorkers. The recommendations are included in a report which is the result of a months long series of round table discussions with major stakeholders. The report is being sent to the Governor, the SAGE Commission and the chairs of the relevant legislative committees.

The ensuing recommendations call for creating a cross-agency accountability mechanism in the form of a statewide poverty reduction performance metrics dashboard. While a complex undertaking, this NYS Poverty Dashboard would serve as an important foundation in strategically focusing and holding accountable government programs located across multiple agencies. The full report can be viewed here:

“Governor Cuomo has made effectiveness a hallmark of his administration to great success, which is why it’s especially important to make sure the public can see and account for the performance of tax-payer funded programs. The Dashboard is also an important tool for managers, practitioners and legislators to measure performance and make decisions in the best interest of the neediest New Yorkers. We hope that the Dashboard and the performance reporting on which it would be based will be instituted,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause NY.

The dashboard would both highlight specific performance metrics related to poverty and well being and, through its design and functionality, express the key principles agreed upon by the project participants: 1) the importance of program and service accessibility

2) the need to provide an understandable context for reported data

3) transparency

The report recommends a model based on Virginia’s system “Virginia Performs”. Virginia focuses on the joint results of a number of contributing agencies- which is necessary to track the performance of the State of New York in meeting the needs of low income families and individuals.

For example, with respect to the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), these proposals include overall measures of poverty and well being, access to and engagement with OTDA benefits and services, measures of client employability and measures of success in connecting clients to other income enhancing benefits and services. Certain broad data would be highlighted and the dashboard user would have the ability to click further into the dashboard for more detailed statistics, long term trends, county level variations, and explanatory information. Some Roundtable members recommended, and Common Cause concurs, that dashboard information be available in easy to download formats in order to facilitate analysis by end users.

“The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies is pleased to have participated in the roundtable process. Collaborative efforts to establish measures of agency performance, accountability and transparency are critical. It is of special importance when measuring how New York State’s Temporary Assistance to Need Families program reaches and serves the states lowest income families,” said Fatima Goldman, President/CEO, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies.

“Too many New York families are living in deep poverty as a result of unemployment, disabilities and other barriers to self sufficiency. The discussions convened by Common Cause tackled issues of fundamental importance to our low income clients: their ability to support, feed and and shelter their families in times of need. We appreciate the opportunity to participate in this process and hope that the report’s recommendations will result in concrete steps to improve the delivery of programs and services that can help ameliorate the effects of poverty,” said Ken Stephens, Legal Aid Society

Round table participants include: Dennis Smith, Wagner School, NYU (facilitator); Tom Gais, Rockefeller Institute; Russell Sykes, Deputy Commissioner, OTDA; Jeff Barnes, Director, Special Policy Analysis, OTDA; Barbara Guinn, Director of Employment and Advancement Services, OTDA; Ken Stephens, Legal Aid Society; Sondra Youdelman and Jennifer Hadlock, Community Voices Heard; Susan Antos and Don Friedman, Empire Justice Center; Bich Ha Pham and Liz Accles, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies; Chris Keeley, NYS Stimulus Alliance; Francine Delgado, Seedco; David Jolly, Orange County Commissioner of Social Services; Kevin McGuire, Westchester County Commissioner of Social Services; Gregory Blass, Suffolk County Commissioner of Social Services