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Making Government Accountable: Lessons from a Federal Job Training Program

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  • Pascal Courty
  • Gerald Marschke

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Abstract

We describe the evolution of a performance measurement system in a government job-training program. In this program, a federal agency establishes performance measures and standards for sub-state agencies. We show that the performance measurement system’s evolution is at least partly explained as a process of trial-and-error, characterized by a feedback loop: the federal agency establishes performance measures, the local managers learn how to game them, the federal agency learns about gaming and reformulates the performance measures, leading to possibly new gaming, and so on. The dynamics suggest that implementing a performance measurement system in government is not a one-time challenge but benefits from careful monitoring and perhaps frequent revision.

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File URL: http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/CMPO/workingpapers/wp83.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK in its series The Centre for Market and Public Organisation with number 03/083.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:03/083

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Keywords: performance measurement; performance incentives; government organisation; organisational dynamic;

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References

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  1. Pascal Courty & Gerald Marschke, 2003. "Dynamics of Performance-Measurement Systems," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(2), pages 268-284, Summer.
  2. Kathryn Anderson & Richard V. Burkhauser & Jennie E. Raymond, 1993. "The effect of creaming on placement rates under the Job Training Partnership Act," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(4), pages 613-624, July.
  3. Pascal Courty & Gerald Marschke, 2004. "An Empirical Investigation of Gaming Responses to Explicit Performance Incentives," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(1), pages 23-56, January.
  4. Cragg, Michael, 1997. "Performance Incentives in the Public Sector: Evidence from the Job Training Partnership Act," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 147-68, April.
  5. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey A. Smith, 1999. "The Pre-Program Earnings Dip and the Determinants of Participation in a Social Program: Implications for Simple Program Evaluation Strategies," NBER Working Papers 6983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Burt S Barnow, 2000. "Exploring the relationship between performance management and program impact: A case study of the job training partnership act," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(1), pages 118-141.
  7. Lynch, Lisa M, 1992. "Private-Sector Training and the Earnings of Young Workers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 299-312, March.
  8. Heckman, James J & Heinrich, Carolyn & Smith, Jeffrey, 1997. "Assessing the Performance of Performance Standards in Public Bureaucracies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 389-95, May.
  9. James J. Heckman & Carolyn Heinrich & Jeffrey Smith, 2002. "The Performance of Performance Standards," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(4), pages 778-811.
  10. Heckman, James J & Smith, Jeffrey A, 1999. "The Pre-programme Earnings Dip and the Determinants of Participation in a Social Programme. Implications for Simple Programme Evaluation Strategies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(457), pages 313-48, July.
  11. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  12. James S. Coleman, 1993. "The Design of Schools as Output-Driven Organizations," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 88, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  13. LaLonde, Robert J, 1986. "Evaluating the Econometric Evaluations of Training Programs with Experimental Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 604-20, September.
  14. Levitt, Steven D., 2002. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt2wj7v1j4, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  15. David Dranove & Daniel Kessler & Mark McClellan & Mark Satterthwaite, 2003. "Is More Information Better? The Effects of "Report Cards" on Health Care Providers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(3), pages 555-588, June.
  16. Maria Goddard & Russell Mannion & Peter Smith, 2000. "Enhancing performance in health care: a theoretical perspective on agency and the role of information," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(2), pages 95-107.
  17. James J. Heckman, 2001. "Micro Data, Heterogeneity, and the Evaluation of Public Policy: Nobel Lecture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(4), pages 673-748, August.
  18. Healy, Paul M., 1985. "The effect of bonus schemes on accounting decisions," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1-3), pages 85-107, April.
  19. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey A. Smith & Christopher Taber, 1996. "What Do Bureaucrats Do? The Effects of Performance Standards and Bureaucratic Preferences on Acceptance into the JTPA Program," NBER Working Papers 5535, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Carolyn J. Heinrich & Gerald Marschke, 2010. "Incentives and their dynamics in public sector performance management systems," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(1), pages 183-208.
  2. Andrea Doneschi & Rossana Patron, 2011. "Assessing incentives and risks in training decisions. A methodological note applied to the Uruguayan case," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 1511, Department of Economics - dECON.
  3. Bruttel, Oliver, 2005. "Contracting-out and governance mechanisms in the public employment service," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Labor Market Policy and Employment SP I 2005-109, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).

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