The Pew operates in the United States of America with headquarters based in Washington D.C. It aims to provide information regarding social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends that are most prevalent within the country. There are several projects that are overlooked by the Pew Research Center. This includes Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Pew Global Attitudes Project, Pew Hispanic Center, and a few other projects. The government performance project has an objective of providing a better service to its citizens by utilizing fewer resources. This is made possible because the state governments learn from the successes and failures of other states, and this helps them to improve their own performance. Along with this, Pew Center on the States conducts in-depth research and analysis to deduce methods that would allow them to serve the public interests much more effectively. The Government Performance Project includes a 50-page report card that provides comparative information of the states. Adding on, it provides an in-depth analysis of the various states regarding money, people, infrastructure, and information. (The Pew Charitable Trusts)
The three states that I have chosen for the purpose of this paper includes; California, Florida, and Montana. These states would be judged on the basis of money, people, infrastructure, and information respectively. Beginning with the category of money, the recession has brought about a significant change in the way states function. The criteria used to judge the performance of a state includes; the state’s ability to use long-term perspective in making budget decision, transparency of the state’s budget system and practicality, balance between revenues and expenses, effectiveness of procurement activities, and assessment of its financial and managerial operations. Florida has the best control over money category from amongst the three states chosen. Their accounting and financial methods may be outdated but they have been able to control their accounts moderately. They have long-term plans in mind which would benefit the state in case of contingency requirements. For instance; the catastrophe fund would provide a means for the state to support itself when required. California is the weakest link in this category. The major problem lies in the structural balance of the state. They have suffered multiple deficits and are under-spending in their infrastructure.
The people category of the Pew Government Performance Project has five basic standards against which the states are judged. These five include; regular check on the state’s human-capital needs, state’s ability to acquire relevant employees, retention of a skilled workforce, development of the workforce, and effective management of the workforce. Montana serves best in the people’s category. It is able to retain its workforce and is taking full advantage of the skills the locals possess. Montana is able to ensure that they have an effective HR plan that takes into consideration the use of its human resources. The director of personnel is making an extra effort in managing workforce planning. Furthermore, Montana has a strong economy compared to the other two selected states; this allows Montana to retain and recruit talented individuals. California and Florida both have a C- in this category. However, Florida’s weakness lies in the workforce planning and employee retention areas; whereas, California has a problem in hiring and managing employee performance. California is unable to manage its HR function effectively which is leading to personnel problems in the state. All of these are mediocre in Montana which helps it to achieve a B- in the category.
The infrastructure category also has five criteria which are used as a basis to compare state performance. These criteria include; ability to conduct regular needs analysis regarding infrastructure and the transparency in selecting the projects, effectiveness to monitor infrastructure projects for the duration of the project, maintenance of project according to acceptable engineering practices, comprehensive management of the infrastructure, coordination of interstate and intergovernmental infrastructure networks. Florida is the best under this category and has earned an A- for its performance. It has strengths in 3 of the 5 criteria. The strengths include; project monitoring, maintenance, and intergovernmental coordination. Florida may be commended on its ability to manage its assets namely; buildings and transportation. They have been able to complete 10% of the projects within the estimated price which is not easy to accomplish with the inflation levels on a rise. The weakest of the three chosen states is Montana in terms of infrastructure. Their greatest weakness lies in maintenance. Even though the state was able to allocate surpluses towards development and maintenance of infrastructure facilities, simultaneously, a bill was passed that restricted the finances spent on maintenance. The state is still highly reliant on its revenues to be generated from natural resources such as; mineral extraction. As Montana rarely witnesses heavy rain, there is no need to maintain a separate fund to help Montana in such days. This money could rather be spent on maintaining and developing the state’s infrastructure.
The last category of information is judged on a set of criteria which includes; the active focus on policy making and planning to support policy direction, appropriateness of the data on the relationship between cost and performance to help in resource allocation decisions, appropriateness of information to make sound managerial decisions, assessment of actual performances and practices, the public’s access to information. Florida was the strongest of the three selected states. Their strengths lie in performance auditing and evaluation and online services and information. The programs of the state are regularly audited which helps them to stay focused and ensure they are on the right track. Making data available to residents helps in making better policies in the future in a democratic form. California and Montana both have a C+ which suggests that they are on an equal footing in this category. Montana’s and California’s weakness lies in budgeting for performance due to a lack of information. But California also enjoys strength in performance auditing and evaluation and online services and information. Therefore, this makes California the better of the worst states compared to Montana.
Based on the above observations and facts, the most important factor to judge a government’s performance was their ability to manage their human resource. When a states human-capital has a sound employment, and they are being treated with respect and dignity then the state as a whole performs well. As the human element is important for all the factors, it is vital for the human element to be worked upon. The state government should employ more resources in developing its human capital. I would introduce more projects that would help develop the local population and enhance their skills. The greater the skills the human resource has the better would be the states performance in various facets. This is going to mean a greater budget allocation towards such programs but the cost will be converted into benefits not only in monetary forms but in the form of success and satisfaction as well.
The Pew Charitable Trusts. (n.d.). The Pew Charitable Trusts. Retrieved March 3, 2014, from http://www.pewstates.org/research/reports/grading-the-states-2008-report-85899379355