Urban Institute
Project Associate

Blog recap: Administration Nearly Doubles Number of "Pay for Success" Feasibility Studies

April 20, 2016 - 11:13am

The White House is doubling down on pay for success (PFS). This week, the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a federal program at the Corporation for National and Community Service, announced 25 new PFS feasibility studies across the country. Feasibility studies are an important part of PFS project development because they help jurisdictions determine the viability of the PFS model for their specific challenges, local organization capacity, and geography. In a blog post announcing the new studies, Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz and OMB Director Shaun Donovan highlight three takeaways from this rapid growth in the field:

  • PFS feasibility studies allow state and local governments to assess whether PFS can be a solution to their most important local challenges;
  • PFS is just one part of a broader effort to leverage dramatic increases in available data and information to modernize government and make it more effective for the people it serves; and
  • The United States is now the largest PFS market in the world as a result of “visionary social entrepreneurs” and bipartisan support from state and local leaders.

In addition to nearly doubling the number of SIF-funded feasibility studies from 33 to 58, SIF is partnering with the Nonprofit Finance Fund to help nine projects structure project agreements, which is typically a final step before implementation.

Muñoz and Donovan conclude: “PFS is a promising tool because it enables government to identify and invest in better, more effective solutions by focusing on—and only paying for—positive outcomes.” Here at the Urban Institute’s Pay for Success Initiative, we agree that communities benefit when governments use evidence to scale what works. PFS is one promising way to get there.

As an organization, the Urban Institute does not take positions on issues. Scholars are independent and empowered to share their evidence-based views and recommendations shaped by research. Photo via Shutterstock.