Report finds Pa. government ranks average

March 3, 2008 3:05:07 PM PST
Pennsylvania received an average grade on a scorecard released Monday by The Pew Center on the States that looked at the effectiveness of state governments. The center ranked the states based on how well they manage their budgets, staffs, infrastructure and information.

Utah, Virginia and Washington scored the highest, with an A-, while Pennsylvania rated a B-.

The states with the highest scores have made management improvement and innovation a priority, the report said.

Washington, for example, holds public meetings led by the governor to monitor how its programs are working, while Utah has a sophisticated financial tracking system that provides up-to-the-minute data. Virginia offers its employees incentives for meeting goals and improving service.

Pennsylvania was praised for coming up with a plan to respond to its alarming backlog of bridges in need of repairs and furnishing meaningful information about programs financed with state money. The report, however, also noted that budget debates in Harrisburg are lengthy and heated, and Pennsylvania is spending less per-employee on training than it did three years ago, despite two recent mass retirements by state employees.

New Hampshire - which got the lowest score - is not closely monitoring its costs and performance, Pew said.

The "Grading the States" report card was the fourth in a series of assessments issued by Pew's Government Performance Project and Governing Magazine. The last was released in 2005.

The rankings are based on reviews by a panel of state government experts.

States were graded on their recruitment and retention of qualified employees, their use of information and technology, management of budgets and purchasing systems, and planning for improvements to roads, bridges and other core infrastructure.

Susan Urahn, managing director of The Pew Center on the States, said the rankings are intended to give states objective information about how they can improve their performance.