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Rural Ohio needs looked after as well

When ordinary citizens spend their money, they want to know they are getting something in return. If they pay to have a project completed at their homes, for example, they want some assurance that the work will be completed and worth the money. When bureaucrats spend citizens’ money, however, those assurances are not always sought.

In Ohio, Treasurer Robert Sprague set about changing that when he implemented ResultsOHIO to support pay-for-success programs that fight social and public health challenges in the state. It is what Sprague’s office calls a “results-based” idea, in which taxpayers’ money is used to reimburse project costs if the project is proven to deliver real results.

To that end, Sprague’s office developed a scoring system for projects: “pay-for-success appropriate and ready;” “pay-for-success appropriate, but not ready;” “not pay-for-success appropriate;” or “ineligible.” This week, the first five projects deemed “pay-for-success appropriate and ready” made it through the first round of screening.

They are projects that address unemployment and poverty, education, support of high-risk pregnant women, and addiction. But with the exception of one statewide project from the Ohio Department of Education, they are all based in urban centers: Hamilton County (Cincinnati), Franklin County (Columbus) and Montgomery County (Dayton).

Given the number of requests for funding received in Columbus each year, it is difficult to judge any effort by such a small sample size. However, if it becomes a trend, staffers on the ResultsOHIO project might want to take a look at whether they are receiving a representative number of requests from rural areas, and/or whether those requests have any common failings. A training session or two might be in order.

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