Results Based Accountability (RBA)

The Community Partnerships for Children and Families is now using the RBA framework as the facilitating guide for selecting and monitoring services and programs. Within this document (Results Matter (link: 2008_QAC_Results_Matter.pdf), the RBA format is presented to describe the top three priority Result Areas selected by Queen Anne’s County for further attention and action.

The Governor’s Office for Children urged Local Management Boards in each jurisdiction to renew their needs assessments and planning documents using the “Results Based Accountability” or RBA model of assessment and planning created by Mark Friedman. Mr. Friedman worked for Maryland’s Department of Human Resources for 19 years, six of which were as the Chief Financial Officer. While in state service, Mr. Friedman noticed many ways that funds and programs could be better accounted for and believed assessment and planning methods could be more efficiently streamlined toward a bottom line of “less talk and more action.” He created the Results Based Accountability approach from his experiences and beliefs and successfully applied this model to public agencies, private non-profit groups, as well as for profit corporations across the United States and in other countries such as Ireland. Mr. Friedman provides the following question and answer format to explain RBA in very simple terms:

What is RBA?

RBA is a disciplined way of thinking and taking action that communities can use to improve the lives of children, families and the community as a whole. RBA can also be used by agencies to improve the performance of their programs. RBA can be adapted to fit the unique needs and circumstances of different communities and programs.

How does it work?

RBA starts with ends and works backwards, step-by-step, to means. For communities, the ends are conditions of well-being for children, families and the community as a whole. For example: Residents with good jobs, children ready for school, or a safe and clean neighborhood, or even more specific conditions such as public spaces without graffiti, or a place where neighbors know each other. For programs, ends could be how customers are better off when the program works the way it should. For example, what percentage of people who participate in the job training program actually get and keep good paying jobs?

How can it help?

Many people have been frustrated by past efforts that were all talk and no action. RBA is a process that gets you and your partners from talk to action quickly. It uses plain language and common sense methods that everyone can understand. The most basic version of the RBA (the “Turn the Curve” exercise) can be done in less than an hour, and produces ideas that can be acted on immediately. RBA is an inclusive process where diversity is an asset and everyone in the community can contribute. Like all good processes, RBA is hard work. But it is work that you control and that makes a real difference in peoples’ lives.

Why are data important?

When you are trying to fix a leaking roof, you really don’t need data. You can see if the roof is leaking or not. But community conditions and the way programs work are much more complicated. If we rely on just stories and anecdotes, we really don’t know if things are getting better or worse. By using common sense measures, we can be honest with ourselves about whether or not we’re making progress. If we work hard and the numbers don’t change, then something more or different is needed. We rarely have all the data we need at the beginning. But we can start with the best of what we have and get better. And it doesn’t always have to be gathered by the experts. You can use simple, common sense methods, like community surveys with just a few questions, or a count of vacant houses each month, or even a show of hands at a monthly meeting about knowledge of crime victims to provide bases for making plans.

Where can I get more information?

If you would like more information about Results Based Accountability, please consult one or both of the following websites: www.resultsaccountability.com or www.raguide.org.