Background on Oregon Option

The announcement was made in Portland, OR, a state that has pioneered an outstanding federal-state-local partnership. For several years, Oregon has experimented with results-driven government based on "benchmarks," standards that all levels of government can share in achieving, such as higher reading levels for children.

In 1994, Oregon proposed to use these community-developed benchmarks to turn the federal-state relationship upside down. The federal government said yes. On December 5, 1994, Vice President Gore signed a memorandum of understanding with the Governor and other officials to carry out the "Oregon Option." Under the agreement--the first of its kind--federal, state, and local officials are working together to test service delivery based on the results that Oregon plans to achieve. The agreement stresses outcomes, not processes, and puts faith in state and localities' decisions ahead of rigid regulations that dictate how federal monies can be spent.

The Oregon Option led to greater interagency cooperation and a series of federal waivers and flexibilities that the state is using to leapfrog over bureaucratic barriers. Federal partners are the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Labor, Commerce, Education, Justice, and Interior and the Office of Management and Budget.

For more information about the Oregon Option, call Connie Revell in Oregon at (503) 986-0246. If there's no answer, call (503) 986-0244. NPR Home Page Search the NPR Site NPR Initiatives Site Index Calendar Comments Awards Links Tools Frequently Asked Questions Speeches News Releases Library Navigation Bar For NPR site