TN Budget Decisions Lean on Data and Outcomes

Thursday, December 30, 2021 | 03:20pm

NASHVILLE – Tennessee is using a new tool in developing the state budget as the state continually works toward greater efficiencies and better delivery of services.  

“The only way to be sure we are planning our budget wisely is by looking at the data gathered to measure impact on citizens,” Office of Evidence and Impact Director Christin Lotz said. “For fiscal year 2022-23, we’re completing a full cycle of evidence-based budget analysis with the Tennessee evidence framework. It’s a model that gathers program outcomes and classifies programs based on the level of available evidence. In short, it’s a framework for identifying program effectiveness.”

The state’s evidence-based budgeting involves three steps:

  • Creating a comprehensive list of funded programs to examine program outcomes and available research.
  • Requiring new funding requests to include data showing effectiveness.
  • Sharing data among departments for deeper insights into program outcomes.  

One example of a program expansion supported by data is a jobs initiative proposed this year by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (MHSAS).

“Our ‘Creating Jobs Initiative’ is a great example of an evidence-based practice that’s really changing the lives of Tennesseans,” Commissioner Marie Williams said. “People living with behavioral health challenges want to work, and this will expand the evidence-based program to make that a reality. Working with the Office of Evidence and Impact, we have highlighted that many of the initiatives in our recent budget proposal are backed by data and evidence.”

Both this year and in 2020, the National Governor’s Association and Results For America named Tennessee one of the top states in the nation for using data to make decisions.

OEI’s Lotz was selected in 2020 to serve on a newly created Federal Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building. The federal advisory Committee will develop recommendations to OMB on how to improve data sharing and data linkage.

For more information about evidence-based budgeting, the framework for evaluating state programs or to meet the Office of Evidence and Impact team, go to