The OMIs research advisory group has remained involved in the initiative since its inception, and is viewed by OMI leaders as an essential component of the initiative. Its usefulness is likely linked to two factors: flexibility and synergy.
Flexibility: The RAG has shown flexibility at multiple levels, including its willingness to respond to the initiatives developmental stage and its ability to work across disciplines toward a common goal. RAG members have strived to support the OMI by providing or collecting information for the initial design and the initiatives development, expansion, and evaluation. The ability to work across disciplines toward a common goal has been a hallmark of the RAG, and has resulted in multiple collaborations that often further the research interests of individual RAG members as well as those of the initiative.
Synergy: The composition of the RAG-including researchers, practitioners, and policymakers-has created a synergy that supports the ongoing evolution of the initiative. The annual RAG meetings present an opportunity for the state to emphasize its policy and program interests, for program implementers to bring forward the issues they are confronting, and for experts to contribute their knowledge from research and past experience. The common interests and cohesiveness of the group contribute to the dynamics and staying power of the initiative.
Among the challenges facing the OMI are how to rigorously evaluate the impact of the initiative on state-level outcomes, and how to collect information from workshop participants so that a better understanding of who is participating can be obtained. Future research efforts will likely be designed to address both of these issues.