Evidence matters in public policymaking and government. By
highlighting what is working and what is not, evidence and audits can
guide and inform policy and budget decisions, eliminate wasteful
spending and deliver better outcomes for San Diegans.
Our County government hasn't always held those values, but when Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer joined the Board in 2021, she brought a culture of learning to the County of San Diego.
As Vice-Chair of a County government with 20,000 employees, an $8 billion budget and a AAA credit rating, Supervisor Lawson-Remer has prioritized high-quality research, data, and program evaluation over and above anecdotes, ideology, and inertia towards the status quo.
The County's Office of Evaluation, Performance, and Analytics (OEPA) is the centerpiece of her efforts to build a more effective and accountable County government. Of all the actions the Supervisor has taken in her first three years, OEPA may be the most important because it changed the culture of how the County operates.
OEPA works across all County departments, assesses the effectiveness of programs and services, and helps to determine if the policy solutions Supervisor Lawson-Remer and her colleagues write and pass are successful, and worth continued financial resources and staffing support. Seven evaluations are now underway or will be soon:
1. Evaluation of the Recovery Action Fund for Tomorrow Program,
2. Evaluation of the Shallow Rent Subsidy Program for Older Adults,
3. Economic Analysis of Increasing the Neurodivergent Workforce in the Public Sector,
4. Using Contractual Incentives to Improve Recovery of Wage Theft Judgements,
5. Evaluation of the Family Income for Empowerment Program,
6. Evaluation of the Immigrant Rights Legal Defense Program, and
7. Evaluation of the Homelessness Diversion Program.
Integrating this proactive evaluation throughout County government represents a major shift towards evidence and evaluation decision-making, an anomaly in government. Institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have taken notice. They are now providing technical assistance to the County.
Supervisor Lawson-Remer is building a results-based culture of learning and continuous innovation at the County, which will lead to even better use of taxpayer dollars, and make County government more effective and accountable.