IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/5535.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

What Do Bureaucrats Do? The Effects of Performance Standards and Bureaucratic Preferences on Acceptance into the JTPA Program

Author

Listed:
  • James J. Heckman
  • Jeffrey A. Smith
  • Christopher Taber

Abstract

Bureaucratic performance standards are featured in many proposals to increase efficiency in government. These standards reward bureaucrats on the basis of measured outcomes. The performance standards system created under the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) of 1982 is often cited as a successful prototype. Under the JTPA system, local training centers receive monetary rewards based on the employment levels and wage rates attained by their trainees upon completion of the program. Critics of the JTPA performance standards system argue that it creates an incentive for program managers to encourage case workers to `cream-skim' the most employable applicants into the program. We examine this issue by analyzing the determinants of acceptance into JTPA among applicants at a training center for which we have data on everyone who applied over a two year period. We find that case workers prefer to accept the least employable applicants, rather than the most employable as suggested by the cream-skimming story. This evidence indicates that concerns about cream-skimming in JTPA may be exaggerated. Instead, the performance standards system may operate as a countervailing force against the preferences of case workers. Using experimental data from the recent National JTPA Study, we also determine whether or not case workers accept those applicants with higher expected gains from the program. Our evidence only weakly supports this hypothesis.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5535
    Note: LS
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5535.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Browning, Edgar K, 1987. "On the Marginal Welfare Cost of Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 11-23, March.
    2. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
    3. 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.
    4. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "The Theory of "Screening," Education, and the Distribution of Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 283-300, June.
    5. Kathryn H. Anderson & Richard V. Burkhauser & Jennie E. Raymond, 1993. "The Effect of Creaming on Placement Rates under the Job Training Partnership Act," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(4), pages 613-624, July.
    6. McCubbins, Mathew D & Noll, Roger G & Weingast, Barry R, 1987. "Administrative Procedures as Instruments of Political Control," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 243-277, Fall.
    7. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    8. John B. Shoven & John Whalley, 1992. "Canada-U.S. Tax Comparisons," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number shov92-1, June.
    9. Daniel McFadden, 1976. "The Revealed Preferences of a Government Bureaucracy: Empirical Evidence," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 7(1), pages 55-72, Spring.
    10. Michael Spence, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-374.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5535. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: () or (Joanne Lustig). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.