Over the past several weeks, America Forward has engaged in conversations with Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and his team around the importance of advancing evidence-based approaches to ensure the effectiveness of federally funded programs and support innovation.
On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, during a hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, America Forward was heartened by an exchange between Benjamin Harris, nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy — who would oversee the bipartisan Social Impact Partnership to Pay for Results Act (SIPPRA program) — and Senator Bennet, that focused on the importance of supporting outcomes-oriented, Pay for Success programs.
In the exchange, Senator Bennet highlighted the breakthrough $100 million federal outcomes fund, SIPPRA, that he and Senator Todd Young (R-IN) co-wrote — one of America Forward’s signature legislative achievements. Senator Bennet also asked some pointed and timely questions about why it is taking the Treasury Department and the federal government so long to implement this innovative, outcomes-driven, innovative new program.
The exchange between Senator Bennet and Mr. Harris is transcribed below, and a recording of the hearing can be found here (the exchange begins at 1:40:47).
Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO): Mr. Chairman, I also want to call all the nominees’ attention to the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act (SIPPRA), which was a bill that I wrote with Senator Young, bipartisan legislation that offers an innovative way to improve the effectiveness of certain social services. After a rigorous review, the SIPPRA commission approved eight applications in November 2019 including projects in my state of Colorado, as well as those of Senators Young, Lankford and Scott…and to date the Treasury Department has only released 1 of the 8 approved grants, 2 years after applications were due. The other seven projects, including the four in states represented by senators on this committee, are still delayed, leaving communities and families in limbo. Mr. Harris, if confirmed, can you commit to looking into this to make sure that we can figure it out?
Ben Harris: Senator, in a word, yes. I know you’ve been a champion for this important approach, and I’ll just quickly note that I have a background in evidence-based policy, and the SIPPRA approach is a favored strategy for those who truly want to see effective government. So, this Pay for Results approach I think is critical, and I 100% commit to making this program more effective.
America Forward deeply appreciates Senator Bennet’s continued leadership on this issue, and looks forward to working with Dr. Harris, should he be confirmed, in his new role at the Treasury Department, to do what SIPPRA was always intended to do: launch innovative projects that harness evidence to measurably improve lives across the country.
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