Urban Institute
Research Analyst

SIPPRA: Continued interest in PFS at the federal level

June 2, 2017 - 3:37pm

In his first speech to the Senate, Senator Todd Young (R-IN)—a long-time proponent of pay for success (PFS)— gave a special shout-out to the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act (SIPPRA). Young, as one of Indiana’s Congressional Representatives in the 114th Congress, introduced and stewarded SIPPRA through the House with his colleague John Delaney (D-MD). However, SIPPRA failed to come before the Senate for a vote at that time.

Senator Young, along with Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), has now reintroduced SIPPRA in the Senate. The bill aims “to encourage and support partnerships between the public and private sectors to improve our Nation’s social programs.” We wrote about SIPPRA when it was first introduced in the House, and mechanically, little has changed in the bill—though it includes a funding increase that would be significant if passed.

The current version of SIPPRA still allows state and local jurisdictions to propose PFS projects in response to requests from the federal government to improve job outcomes for the unemployed, reduce dependence on means-tested welfare programs, promote child welfare, or pursue other social outcomes that could potentially save federal dollars. All proposals must be evidence-based, and if selected, must incorporate a rigorous evaluation funded by the federal government.

Notably, SIPPRA’s passage would continue federal support for PFS. SIPPRA would build out federal infrastructure, capacity, and funding—with up to $300 million held by the Treasury, a significant increase from $100M in the previous version, for outcomes payments—to support PFS efforts at the state and local level. Up till now, the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) under the Corporation of National and Community Service (CNCS) has been a key catalyst of PFS efforts around the country, channeling more than $25 million to upwards of 90 subgrantees to support PFS-specific efforts. But with the SIF’s recent defunding for FY 2017, SIPPRA’s passage could mean that the fund it creates would become the main federal support for PFS efforts nationwide.

Furthermore, just one project to date—the one in New York State focused on reducing recidivism through workforce development programming—has had a federal department or agency (the U.S. Department of Labor, in this case) as an outcomes payor. SIPPRA’s passage would create a fund for outcomes payments at the federal level. While a PFS Incentive Fund was proposed in Obama administration budgets, and SIF seeded feasibility work, this would be the first standing federal fund for PFS outcomes payments across topic areas if passed.

Pay for success has always enjoyed bipartisan support. If SIPPRA passes, there is good cause to be optimistic in a continued appetite for evidence-based policymaking and programming at the federal level. 

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