NLPES Question of the Month
What tools or resources for program evaluation research have you found on the Internet that might be useful to colleagues in other states?
From: John Patterson, Minnesota
Besides the NLPES website and listserve, I have found the following sites to be useful.
- Federal Web Locator (http://www.infoctr.edu/fwl) provides links to federal websites, which are organized by federal departments.
- FirstGov (http://www.firstgov.gov) provides links to federal websites, which are organized by topics of interest.
- FedStats (http://www.fedstats.gov) is a gateway to statistics from the federal government.
- American FactFinder (http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/BasicFactsServlet) is a relatively easy way to access data from the Census Bureau.
- Piper Resources (http://www.piperinfo.com/state/index.cfm) provides a guide to websites sponsored by state and local governments from around the country.
- FindLaw (http://www.findlaw.com/11stategov/index.html) provides links to laws and regulations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- Electronic Policy Network (http://epn.org) is an electronic consortium of public policy organizations and advocacy groups.
- SpeakOut.Com / Policy.Com (http://www.speakout.com/activism/policy) is a web-based policy news and information service.
- NewsLibrary (http://nl14.newsbank.com/nlsite) allows one to search for news articles from around the country.
- Consumer Price Index (CPI) calculator (http://woodrow.mpls.frb.fed.us/economy/calc/cpihome.html) adjusts for inflation between specified years.
- Sample Size Calculator (http://www.surveysystem.com/sscalc.htm) calculates an appropriate sample size based on the size of the population being sampled and a specified confidence level and interval.
From: Michael Oakleaf, Wisconsin
I'm not sure if this qualifies as a "Website" per se, but I've found the search engine Google (www.google.com) to be a very useful tool. I consistently get more, and more useful, results when I use Google as opposed to other search engines. Of course, it is always a good idea to try more than one (since no search engine is absolutely comprehensive) if you need to be absolutely sure that you have gotten all available information. However, I usually find what I need quickly using Google.
Google is King!!
From: Wisconsin Legislative Auditor Bureau Supervisors
From: Utah Office of the Legislative Auditor General
The auditors in Utah's Office of the Legislative Auditor General use the internet extensively to gather background information, to help develop issues and to gather criteria from other states.
We have found the following to be very helpful during the survey and fieldwork phases of our audits :
- Archives of our statewide newspapers
- Archives of regional newspapers
- National newspapers and magazines
- Websites for the federal government
- Websites for relevant industry non-profit organizations, national and regional associations
- Website for the auditee to get information on staff, operations, etc.
- Governor's Office of Planning and Budget to get extensive statewide data
We also do extensive searches by subject using Alta Vista, Lycos, Northern Light and Info Track search engines. We use the Net to review state specific information such as statutes, legislation, state expenditures and payroll.
A few specific sites that have been helpful include:
- NLPES web page and NLPES Listserve This site contains web sites for each of the states where one can search for other state's audit reports.
- http://www.piperinfo.com/state/index.cfm A convenient way to access a wide variety of information from the government. Has convenient links to all states, associations, etc.
- http://www.infoctr.edu/fwl The Center for Information Law and Policy includes excellent links to federal agencies, information.
- WWW.alec.org The American Legislative Exchange Council. This is a good site because some legislators get their information from this site. This group studies a variety of issues and makes suggestions and proposals for legislative action including model legislation.
- www.business.utah.edu/bebr Most states have a Bureau of Economic and Business Research. The one in Utah is at the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research. It provides links to valuable research sites like STAT-USA, Gov. websites, news websites, etc.
- www.GAO.gov This is an excellent site for General Accounting Office reports.
- www.osc.state.ny.us/nsaa NSAA has a web site, to which we contribute, which is also searchable by subject and by state.
From: Dale Carlson, California
To help ease the identification and gathering of Web-based information for performance reviews, federal compliance audits, and other types of assessments, California's Bureau of State Audits created a cyber library for use by our staff. We call it our "Cybrary." Simply speaking, the Cybrary is a office-wide list of "favorite" or "book-marked" Web sites. It provides a set of direct links to numerous sites have been shown to provide staff with reliable and valid information. Although it started life as an MSWord document (for ease of updating), it has since been transformed into an HTML document (to ease moving it to other computers and reading by other computer programs).
The Cybrary consists of five sections. To help staff conduct general Internet searches, the Cybrary's first section provides links to a handful of search engines (e.g., www.google.com, www.northernlight.com, and www.metacrawler.com). This section also has links to sites offering guides on how to use search engines (e.g., searchenginewatch.internet.com/links/) and to sites that offer their own listing of Internet research tools (e.g., www.afn.org/~afn05660/search.html).
Section Two is probably the most heavily used section. It consists of links to "legal-related" documents. In this section, the Cybrary provides links to information such as pending legislation, laws, regulations, and court cases for both the federal and state government levels. Much of the federal documentation we use comes from either the www.access.gpo.gov or the fedlaw.gsa.gov site. Access to California laws is typically through the www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html site. When we need to search the laws of other states, we have successfully used www.alllaw.com/state_ resources/. Also included in this section are links to specific California laws such as its Open Meeting and Public Records laws, links to specific California policy manuals (e.g., the State Administrative Manual and the State Contracts Manual), and links to documents for California's budget. Finally, because a large portion of the BSA's work consists of federal compliance reviews of state agencies, a portion of this section is set aside to provide links directly to sites containing OMB circulars and guidance, the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, and the Inspectors General Web site.
From the Cybrary's third section, BSA staff use links to search for reports issued by other government agencies. Links in this section include those to the NCSL's and GAO's Web sites. Section Four of the Cybrary contains links to "index" sites. Index sites contain links to a group or groups of other sites. Cybrary links in this section include those to federal government agencies (www.lib.lsu.edu/gov/fedgovall.html); California's state agencies, counties, and cities (www.ca.gov/state/portal/myca_html); and to the home pages of other state's audit organizations (www.nol.org/home/auditor/usa.htm).
The Cybrary's final section contains miscellaneous links to help make our employee's jobs easier. Included in this section are links to Web-based maps and route planners, state employee telephone and e-mail directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, newspapers, professional associations, and of course, the Yellow Book.
If you would like further information about the BSA's Cybrary or a copy of it, please contact Dale Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From: Anne McAloon, Connecticut
Several web sites of use for studies covering a wide range of topics are:
The Inflation Calculator, which adjusts any given amount of money for inflation, according to the Consumer Price Index, from 1800 to 2000 http://www.westegg.com/inflation/ The Legal Information Institute (at Cornell Law School) which gathers, state by state, Internet- accessible sources of the constitutions, statutes, judicial opinions, and regulations for the fifty states, plus D.C., and the U.S. territories and affiliated jurisdictions http://www.law.cornell.edu/ American Journalism Review, which provides links to local newspapers in all states http://ajr.newslink.org/statnews.html
If anyone needs state specific licensure information, Connecticut has set up a web site with detailed information about 900 licenses and permits www.ct-clic.com
From: Jenny Wilhelm, Florida
Click here to see OPPAGA's "links" database - with links to about 900 Internet resources. (Warning: file size=approx. 700 kb)