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Colorado government gets a C+

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

WASHINGTON ” 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.

Colorado received a passing grade with a C+ overall. The center complemented the state for passing Referendum C, which helped provide more funding for higher education by allowing the state to keep tax surpluses for five years.



The referendum narrowly passed in 2005 with strong opposition among some Republicans, but the Pew Center credited the move with saving the state from a “fiscal hole” that some feared “might swallow the higher education system.”

The center warned however that Referendum C is set to expire in 2010.




“Colorado has shed its fiscal straitjacket for the time being, but difficult decisions loom,” the center said.

The study lists the state’s training and development of people and infrastructure maintenance as weaknesses. Colorado was also knocked for weaknesses in three areas of information use: strategic direction, budgeting for performance and managing for performance.

“An $11 million upgrade to a statewide e-mail system has been shelved indefinitely, and human resources managers grapple daily with obsolete technology,” the study said. “With this in mind, the efficiencies that often come from centralized IT procurement could be particularly useful in Colorado.”

The states with the highest scores have made management improvement 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.

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.

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