One of the significant achievements of the Family Policy Program during its first five years has been its contribution to Oregon's Benchmarks Initiative. Oregon has long been a leader in the use of social indicators as a kind of beacon guiding the bureaucratic ship of state- and community-level planners. Benchmarks help the state track its progress toward a broad range of social and economic goals. They also make agencies accountable for results.
What the benchmarks do not do is lay out specific intermediate steps along the road to a general goal. To address this need, the Oregon Commission on Children and Families (OCCF) developed and implemented a statewide accountability system in collaboration with the OSU Family Policy Program.
This system enables communities to implement and assess empirically sound prevention efforts addressing child abuse, teen pregnancy and parenting, juvenile crime, early childhood development, and other issues.
The OCCF accountability system builds on performance measurement and emphasizes results accountability. Using the Building Results model and guides, local commissions and programs identify the resources, activities and outputs, and outcomes that are appropriate for their local programs and initiatives.
Performance measurement is used to compare these planned inputs, activities and outcomes to actual activities and accomplishments. To facilitate performance measurement, the OCCF maintains a comprehensive, interactive database system links resources, activities, and results. County commission on children and families use this data system to record and link information about community planning and program implementation. Internal controls assure the accuracy of information entered into the database.
Local and state analysis of the database information informs future comprehensive planning and community implementation. Thus, future decision-making is grounded in the information about current efforts and successes.