Senate Bill No. 93

Introduced By brooke

By Request of the Joint Oversight Committee on Children and Families

A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act establishing guiding principles to assist the legislature in obtaining and assessing evaluation data for human services programs seeking continued or new legislative appropriations; requiring that certain fiscal notes include the cost of conducting an outcome evaluation; amending section 5-4-205, MCA; and providing an effective date."

WHEREAS, standard and accurate program information and evaluation are essential to strategic planning for services to Montana's children and families; and

WHEREAS, program evaluation should be a component of program design; and

WHEREAS, limited resources and competing needs compel the Legislature to ensure that money appropriated for human services programs affecting Montana's children and families be used as effectively as possible to achieve desired outcomes.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:

NEW SECTION. Section 1.  Short title. [Sections 1 through 3] may be cited as the "Legislative Program Evaluation Guidelines Act".

NEW SECTION. Section 2.  Purpose. The purpose of [sections 1 through 3] is to establish a basic legislative philosophy to guide legislators when making policy and funding decisions affecting current and proposed human services programs. It is not the intent of [sections 1 through 3] to mandate that program evaluation be conducted or to require that a specific methodology be employed to evaluate human services programs. The intent of [sections 1 through 3] is to enable legislative decisionmakers to obtain and assess program information as systematically as possible so that resources can be strategically targeted and so that program effectiveness in achieving desired outcomes can be accurately measured.

NEW SECTION. Section 3.  Guiding principles for designing program evaluation. (1) In recognition of the need for policymakers to have consistent program information and evaluation data to assist the decisionmaking process in the strategic allocation of resources, the legislature encourages requests for appropriations for programs specifically designed to serve Montana's children and families to include but not be limited to the following basic components:

(a) a clear definition of the problem or the current condition to be addressed;

(b) a profile of the characteristics of the target population to be served;

(c) an outline of the behaviors, risk factors, or conditions to be affected;

(d) the activities, services, or methods to be employed to affect the behaviors, risk factors, or conditions targeted and the extent to which these activities, services, or methods reflect best practices;

(e) an outline of the outcomes expected as a result of the activities, services, or methods to be employed; and

(f) the evaluation strategy to be used in the program's design to measure outcomes and determine the extent to which the program achieved its objectives. Evaluation costs should be considered part of program costs and should be identified in the fiscal note as provided in 5-4-205.

(2) The legislature encourages the presentation of information listed in subsection (1) to be made in a brief written format, if possible.

(3) The information listed in subsection (1) is a guideline only and should not be construed as mandatory.

Section 4.  Section 5-4-205, MCA, is amended to read:

"5-4-205.   Contents of notes. (1) Fiscal notes shall must, where when possible, show in dollar amounts the estimated increase or decrease in revenues revenue or expenditures, costs which that may be absorbed without additional funds, and long-range financial implications. No A comment or opinion relative to merits of the bill shall may not be included;. however, technical Technical or mechanical defects in the bill may be noted.

(2) (a) Fiscal notes for bills amending or creating human services programs designed to serve children and families must include the estimated cost of an evaluation to assess program outcomes.

(b) Cost estimates may be based on the evaluation guidelines established in [section 3]."

NEW SECTION. Section 5.  Codification instruction. [Sections 1 through 3] are intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 5, and the provisions of Title 5 apply to [sections 1 through 3].

NEW SECTION. Section 6.  Effective date. [This act] is effective July 1, 1997.