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Toward a more public discussion of the ethics of federal social program evaluation


  • Jan Blustein

    (Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, New York University)


Federal social program evaluation has blossomed over the past quarter century. Despite this growth, there has been little accompanying public debate on research ethics. This essay explores the origins and the implications of this relative silence on ethical matters. It reviews the federal regulations that generally govern research ethics, and recounts the history whereby the evaluation of federal programs was specifically exempted from the purview of those regulations. Through a discussion of a recent evaluation that raised ethical concerns, the essay poses-but does not answer-three questions: (1) Are there good reasons to hold federal social program evaluations to different standards than those that apply to other research?; (2) If so, what ethical standards should be used to assess such evaluations?; and (3) Should a formal mechanism be developed to ensure that federal social program evaluations are conducted ethically? © 2005 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management

Suggested Citation

  • Jan Blustein, 2005. "Toward a more public discussion of the ethics of federal social program evaluation," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(4), pages 824-846.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:24:y:2005:i:4:p:824-846
    DOI: 10.1002/pam.20141

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John Burghardt & Peter Z. Schochet & Sheena McConnell & Terry Johnson & R. Mark Gritz & Steven Glazerman & John Homrighausen & Russell Jackson, "undated". "Does Job Corps Work? Summary of the National Job Corps Study," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 3d00dc5e556f4bdd88335dd90, Mathematica Policy Research.
    2. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.87.11.1773_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:mpr:mprres:2952 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. David H. Greenberg & Marvin B. Mandell, 1991. "Research utilization in policymaking: A tale of two series (of social experiments)," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 633-656.
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