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Goal 2: Supporting the State Budgeting Process

A skyline view of Denver with the gold dome of the Colorado state capitol building

Goal 2 Overview

Equip state agencies with tools to embed evidence-based decision making in their budgeting process and align structures in the budget cycle across executive and legislative branches.

A gold and red oblong shape and a money icon that says Goal 2: Supporting the State Budgeting Process

A colored circular graphic depicting the tenets of evidence-based decision making

Goal 2 Activities

State agencies have expressed a need for support in using data to inform budget and policy priorities. In response, the Colorado Lab developed the evidence portfolio process, which is applied to each budget item that involves a program or practice. The evidence portfolio process is based on literature and tools from implementation science and evidence-based policymaking. The process uses a set of criteria tied to the three major domains of evidence-based decision making: best available research evidence, community needs and implementation context, and decision-maker expertise. Through structured tools and guidance, these criteria help to elicit the evidence behind a program or practice. A completed evidence portfolio tells the story of impact and identifies opportunities for strengthening and scaling the program or practice.

A four column graphic depicting the evidence portfolio process

The evidence portfolio process directly supports agencies in developing their annual budget submissions and acts as the “front door” to evidence-based policymaking. Aligning the evidence portfolio process with budget instructions from the Governor’s Office and with definitions of evidence from SB21-284 are important next steps to ensure continuity across the budgeting process.

Goal 2 Actionability

Evidence portfolios help state agencies apply evidence to improve outcomes for Coloradans, leverage data to inform learning and action, and build evidence on what works and for whom, all while promoting innovation. Beyond the state budgeting process, agency staff report that evidence portfolios benefit their day-to-day and strategic work. This includes cross-training staff who are otherwise siloed, building cross-agency partnerships, identifying opportunities for continuous quality improvement, and securing grant funding.

Colorado Lab support for replicating the evidence portfolio process across all state agencies follows a pipeline approach (see visual). This approach helps to ensure state agencies receive the technical assistance necessary to a) launch successfully and adapt the tools to their unique context, b) build fluency and embed the work into agency operations, and c) sustain the evidence portfolio process over time. Agencies are prioritized for the pipeline based on select readiness factors, the top of which is whether leadership is poised and willing to embrace the EBDM vision.

Pipeline for Replicating Use of the Evidence Portfolio Process Across State Agencies

Agency Pipeline for the Evidence Portfolio Process shows the stages from onboarding to building fluency to sustaining

Note: An agency may move through a given phase in the pipeline within one budget cycle, or may need multiple budget cycles to fully accomplish a phase. This depends on factors such as capacity, complexity of organizational structure, and size of budget, among other things.

The Colorado Lab developed the evidence portfolio process in 2023 in response to a need at the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC). CDEC wanted a decision-making process for prioritizing the continuation of stimulus-funded activities that would otherwise end with COVID-19 relief funding. After testing an early version of the evidence portfolio process on just stimulus-funded activities, they adopted it for all the agency’s programs and practices during the SFY25 budget cycle. Since then, additional agencies have adopted evidence portfolios with technical assistance from the Colorado Lab. Their logos, included on the graphic above, reflect approximately where each is in the process.

Get Involved

Contact us to start a conversation about how the Colorado Lab can help your organization get the most out of the evidence portfolio process.

Contact Us

For more information about working with the Colorado Lab, see Government and Community Partnerships or Research Partnerships.