Report Rates Worst, Best Governments

WASHINGTON (March 3) - Utah, Virginia and Washington state have the
most effective state governments in the country, according to a scorecard
released Monday by The Pew Center on the States.

The center ranked the states based on how well they manage their budgets,
staffs, infrastructure and information.

The states with the highest scores have made accountability and innovation
a priority, the report said.

Washington, for example, holds public meetings led by the governor to
monitor how its programs are working, while Utah has a sophisticated
financial tracking system that provides up-to-the-minute data. Virginia offers
its employees incentives for meeting goals and improving service.

New Hampshire — which got the lowest score — is not closely monitoring its
costs and performance, Pew said in a press release.

"Effective state government really matters," said Neal Johnson, director of
Pew's Government Performance Project, citing infrastructure as evidence.
"The Minnesota bridge collapse and the failure of the levees in New Orleans
prove that few functions of state government have more direct impact on the
daily lives of Americans."

The "Grading the States" report card was the fourth in a series of
assessments issued by Pew's Government Performance Project and
Governing Magazine. The last was released in 2005.

The rankings are based on reviews by a panel of state government experts.

States were graded on their recruitment and retention of qualified
employees, their use of information and technology, management of budgets
and purchasing systems, and planning for improvements to roads, bridges
and other core infrastructure.

Susan Urahn, managing director of The Pew Center on the States, said the
rankings are intended to give states objective information about how they
can improve their performance.

At a panel discussion on the rankings in Washington, Georgia Gov. Sonny
Perdue said management practices may not be the sexiest of political issues,
but they can significantly impact how efficiently tax dollars are used and how
well a government delivers services.

"Although you can't run a government like a business, you can use the
principles that work," said Perdue, whose state placed in the top tier in the
WORST: New Hampshire
Overall state government
grade: D+

WORST: Rhode Island
Overall state government
grade: C-

WORST: California
Overall state government
grade: C

WORST: Massachusetts
Overall state government
grade: C

WORST: Arkansas
Overall state government
grade: C

BEST: Michigan
Overall state government
grade: B+

BEST: Texas
Overall state government
grade: B+

BEST: Washington
Overall state government
grade: A-

BEST: Virginia
Overall state government
grade: A-

BEST: Utah
Overall state government
grade: A-
Is it easier to have
democracy when there
is less diversity?
Good state