Hawaii’s governing grade dragged down by planning
A national score card of state governments puts Hawaii in the middle of the pack, with strong hiring practices but poor financial planning.
The rankings by the Pew Center on the States give Hawaii's government a C+ grade.
The center evaluated the states based on how well they manage their budgets, staffs, infrastructure and information.
Hawaii scored well in hiring but had weaknesses in long-term outlook, strategic work-force planning, career planning, maintenance, strategic direction, budgeting for performance, managing for performance and online services and information.
The report cites state Auditor Marion Higa's claim that Hawaii government agencies essentially ignore a requirement that they accurately measure their efficiency.
Utah, Virginia and Washington state were ranked at the top, with the most effective state governments in the country.
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 -- does not closely monitor 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.
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 might not be the sexiest of political issues, but they can significantly affect 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 rankings.