Pay-for-Success Watch: PFS Expert to Lead on White House Social Innovation

The Obama administration announced last week that Dave Wilkinson would be the new director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation (SICP), a wing of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Wilkinson was already a White House senior policy advisor on social finance and innovation, which includes pay-for-success projects (PFS) and social impact bonds. His previous focus at the White House was on “green finance” for the Council on Environmental Quality.

Before joining the administration he helped found and served as executive director of City First Enterprises, a 22-year-old nonprofit bank and incubator for social finance projects based in D.C.

Among the projects on Wilkinson’s plate: the Performance Partnership Pilots for Disconnected Youth, or “P3.” Grants under the P3 program allow governments to test outcome-focused strategies to achieve significant improvements for disconnected youth between 14 and 24.

SICP presides over and coordinates with innovation offices at several federal agencies, including the Corporation for National and Community Service, which in late 2014 made $12 million in grants to promote PFS projects through its Social Innovation Fund.

Both PFS and social impact bond models shift the burden of social investment off the government and onto private investors. Private sector investors front the capital for organizations to implement social programs.

The government only pays the initial investor back, with interest, if a specific set of outcomes are met. So, in essence, the government is now paying for outcomes and not services rendered.

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John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change
About John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change 1210 Articles
John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach him at