National Benefit/ Cost Analysis of Three Digit-Accessed Telephone Information and Referral Services

Researcher(s):Dan O'Shea, Christopher T. King, Stuart Greenfield, Elaine Shelton, Laura Sullivan, Erin Taber, Jerome A. Olson
Date Published:
December 2004
Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources, The University of Texas at Austin

Full Report (PDF)
107pp., Executive Summary (PDF)

Abstract: The Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources at The University of Texas at Austin developed estimates of the benefits, costs, and net value created by public and private investments in a national, three digit- accessed (2-1-1) information and referral (I&R) network for health and human services in a study conducted for the United Way of America.


The information, data, and observations regarding benefits and costs gathered through this research provided the basis for an ex ante estimation of the net value of a national 2-1-1 I&R network. Net value to society was presented as the difference between the benefits accrued and the costs incurred by participants and taxpayers, less taxes and transfers between them. Under three of the four 2-1-1 scenarios examined, the estimated net value to society was positive. Only the scenario of a single model/decentralized system produced a negative net value. The generally positive estimated net value of a national 2-1-1 I&R network was supported by observations drawn from conversations with call center administrators and staff, as well as local health and human services professionals and individuals from the general public who have used 2-1-1.

Research also indicated that: the viability of maintaining and expanding a standards-based, national 2-1-1 information and referral network is dependent on the infusion of additional funds; several promising prospects and practices are available to further offset costs in favor of enhanced net value; and the national 2-1-1 effort is ripe for enhanced public/private sector collaboration.

Ray Marshall Center

Share on facebook
RMC Login | The University of Texas at Austin | Copyright | Privacy | The University of Texas Offices A-Z | Calendars | UT Direct