The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Reily Connaughton

Headshot of Reily Connaughton
Budget and Policy Analyst
Rhode Island Office of Management and Budget

Degree & graduation year: Master of Public Policy 2018

What I do: I am part of OMB’s Public Safety and Health & Human Services budget development group. We serve the state by providing fiscal analysis, management support, and analytical research for the governor, various state agencies, and the general public. My main agency responsibilities are the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services. I’m also part of the program-based budgeting team, where we are in the process of creating the third annual Children's Budget and a pilot of a Behavioral Health Budget.

How I ended up working there: I had applied to various Rhode Island and Massachusetts state government positions, and through networking and recommendations, I was pointed in the direction of OMB.

The best part of my job: The best part of my job (this will definitely sound cliché) is having the privilege to work in an environment with several smart, dedicated individuals, where our team is given the leeway to experiment and implement our own proposals. I had imagined state government to be far more averse to change and reactionary. Being able to be part of the solution-making process, while also providing an oversight role, is by far the most fulfilling part of my job.

A recent exciting work experience: Completing Governor Raimondo’s FY 2021 budget recommendation earlier this year. I was able to be involved in the policymaking process regarding subsidized childcare reimbursement rates, Medicaid waivers, Rhode Island TANF cash assistance, statewide sick leave reform, and more.

How the School of Public Policy prepared me for my career: The coursework from the SPP accelerated Master of Public Policy program gave me the skillset to analyze proposals that are forwarded to OMB from other agencies and from the legislature. Specifically, for tasks like writing fiscal notes for proposed legislation, I’ve drawn on the toolkit that I developed during graduate school. I fall back on what I learned in courses quite often: Policy Analysis with Professor Michael Ash, Federal Budgeting with Professor Henry Chang, and Program Evaluation with Professor Valerie Cooley. I highly recommend all three!

Advice to students considering a degree in public policy: At the risk of sounding self-serving, my advice would be to look to state service for potential internship and post-graduate school opportunities. I’ve found that there are far more opportunities in state government to propose, plan, and implement substantive changes than I believe is widely perceived. Due to the smaller scale than the federal government, I also think state service gives you the opportunity to partner with some key decisionmakers you otherwise wouldn’t have exposure to.

Future plans: I plan on continuing at OMB for the foreseeable future, but I have an interest in the federal budget-making process as well—we’ll see!