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Dartmouth College students deliver agency study to governor

HANOVER - It was a first for Dartmouth College students earlier this month when they briefed Gov. John Lynch on their study of performance management systems within the state Department of Safety and its divisions.

Undergraduate students studying at the Rockefeller Center Policy Research Shop have testified numerous times before the New Hampshire and Vermont legislatures as well as to county and local officials, but this meeting with Lynch marked the first time Dartmouth students presented Policy Research Shop findings to the top state executive.

The unbiased, neutral work of the students in the research program has become increasingly relevant for lawmakers over the years, said Rockefeller Center Associate Director of Curricular Programs and Senior Fellow Ronald G. Shaiko. 'We've had bills that have been amended because of our work. We've had bills that have been killed because of our work.'

This is the 83rd student-led research brief the center has produced since 2005. But this was the first time a study crossed the governor's desk, Shaiko said.

Recently students from the center have studied and testified to the Legislature regarding voter identification laws in other states and concussion prevention measures for New Hampshire schools.

The briefing with Lynch was scheduled after Dartmouth students Amy Couture, Michael Danaher Tina Meng, and Ben Schifberg presented their analysis, 'Performance Measurement for State Governmental Agencies: Comparative Case Studies,' to the New Hampshire Commissioner of Safety John Barthelmes earlier this year.

Shaiko said the research center was approached by the Department of Safety after the Legislature strongly advised the state government to create a performance based assessment programs for all departments and agencies.

The four students conducted 21 case studies of other performance based assessment programs in other states and crunched the data into a comprehensive report for the Department of Safety.

The research center was started as an undergraduate program at Dartmouth in 2005 with three students, a faculty member; without a client or a class.

Two classes of about 50 students now generate the research of the center.

'Those two classes now feed the research shop,' Shaiko said.