The Oklahoma Incentive Evaluation Commission (IEC) was established in 2015 to review the state’s economic incentives every four years. PFM has been conducting approximately ten evaluations each year in the four-year cycle, and Smart Incentives has participated since 2019. As the process enters its eighth year, these evaluations bring ongoing value to Oklahoma.

Our team has also been learning from Oklahoma. Each year, I am impressed by the commitment of incentive program managers who actively participate in the evaluation process. They collect and share high-quality program data. We discuss ongoing efforts to streamline programs while maintaining effective controls and compliance. We hear a lot about interagency collaboration and outreach to local partners. 

Program managers also provide updates on changes implemented in response to previous evaluations. Some of the best discussions center around enhancing data collection and reporting to better tell the story of how these programs benefit individuals, communities, and businesses in Oklahoma. 

Through this process, I have learned valuable lessons from Oklahoma’s incentive evaluation work. Here are five key takeaways:

  1. Regular evaluations outperform one-off evaluations as they create opportunities for continuous improvement.
  2. A successful evaluation process relies on trust and respect, requiring dialogue with program stakeholders to gain a practical understanding of how programs work beyond mere spreadsheet analysis.
  3. Collaboration and communication play pivotal roles in achieving success. Oklahoma’s evaluation process involves active participation from the Incentive Evaluation Commission, state agency leaders, program managers, and external stakeholders, fostering a greater likelihood of implementing recommended changes.
  4. Transparency is a valuable asset. Oklahoma’s evaluation process is accessible, with open Commission meetings, public comment on draft reports, and a comprehensive website serving as a repository for final evaluations.
  5. Engaged leadership drives the evaluation process forward, preventing it from becoming stagnant. Oklahoma’s Incentive Evaluation Commission members take a proactive role, setting schedules, approving evaluation criteria, staying updated on projects, reviewing reports, and debating recommendations. The IEC’s steady leadership is one of the main reason’s Oklahoma’s evaluation process works so well.

The ongoing evaluations this year will be completed by year-end. For further information about the Incentive Evaluation Commission and past evaluations, please visit