Toward Understanding Homelessness: The 2007 National Symposium on Homelessness Research. Accountability, Cost-Effectiveness, and Program Performance: Progress Since 1998.. Opportunities for More Periodic and Systematic Use of Homeless Assistance Program Utilization and Effectiveness Data


Research and other evaluation projects are by necessity time-consuming. They are also intended to produce information that will be useful on a long-term basis for service system planning. By contrast, many of the information needs of public agencies are much more immediate. Managers and policymakers need timely data to forecast budgets, monitor their inventory of programs, guide programs toward intended policy and program objectives, and allocate resources in the most effective manner possible. Establishing accountability on the part of public agencies and the contractors with whom they work is also critical to garnering public confidence, and the willingness of legislators and the executive branches of government to continue to support these programs. Much progress has been made in the last eight years in creating means by which government agencies can track the utilization of homeless assistance programs and measure program performance. Innovations have also been achieved in the capacity and methods for measuring the impact of homelessness on other social service systems. In this section, we provide an update on advancements made since the publication of the accountability framework in 1998. We also consider some of the barriers that have been encountered in trying to implement accountability systems, and we examine two examples of jurisdictions (Arizona and Columbus, Ohio) that have been effective in using performance measures to shape their service systems to meet explicit policy objectives.

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