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Costs and benefits through bureaucratic lenses: Example of a highway project

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Author Info

  • Anthony Boardman
  • Aidan Vining
  • W. G. Waters

Abstract

This article characterizes the perceptions of government bureaucrats about cost-benefit analysis (CBA). The observations arise after working with government officials on various projects and leading many executive seminars for government employees over the last decade on the principles and practice of CBA. Government employees tend to adopt one of three conceptual lenses: Guardians, Spenders, and Analysts. These perspectives differ sharply from one another, resulting in completely different meanings to the words benefits and costs. The orientation of Guardians is to “revenue-expenditure” analysis, while Spenders are oriented to “constituency-support” analysis. Analysts are oriented to standard CBA. The differences in perspectives are illustrated using an ex ante CBA of a proposed toll highway project.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.2307/3325305
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Volume (Year): 12 (1993)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 532-555

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Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:12:y:1993:i:3:p:532-555

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Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/34787/home

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  1. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-64, August.
  2. Nelson, Robert H, 1987. "The Economics Profession and the Making of Public Policy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 49-91, March.
  3. Boardman, Anthony E. & Lave, Lester B., 1977. "Highway congestion and congestion tolls," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 340-359, July.
  4. Bender, Bruce, 1988. "An Analysis of Congressional Voting on Legislation Limiting Congressional Campaign Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 1005-21, October.
  5. Walter Hettich, 1983. "The Political Economy of Benefit-Cost Analysis: Evaluating STOL Air Transport for Canada," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 9(4), pages 487-498, December.
  6. Donald H. Rosenthal & Robert H. Nelson, 1992. "Why existence value should not be used in cost-benefit analysis," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(1), pages 116-122.
  7. Lind, Robert C., 1990. "Reassessing the government's discount rate policy in light of new theory and data in a world economy with a high degree of capital mobility," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages S8-S28, March.
  8. Breton,Albert & Wintrobe,Ronald, 2008. "The Logic of Bureaucratic Conduct," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521071727, October.
  9. Raymond J. Kopp, 1992. "Why existence value should be used in cost-benefit analysis," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(1), pages 123-130.
  10. Daniel McFadden, 1975. "The Revealed Preferences of a Government Bureaucracy: Theory," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 6(2), pages 401-416, Autumn.
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Cited by:
  1. Kerry Krutilla, 2005. "Using the Kaldor-Hicks tableau format for cost-benefit analysis and policy evaluation," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(4), pages 864-875.
  2. de Bettignies, Jean-Etienne & Ross, Thomas W., 2009. "Public-private partnerships and the privatization of financing: An incomplete contracts approach," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 358-368, May.

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