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The Performance of Performance Standards

  • James Heckman
  • Carolyn Heinrich
  • Jeffrey Smith

This paper examines the performance of the JTPA performance system, a widely emulated model for inducing efficiency in government organizations. We present a model of how performance incentives may distort bureaucratic decisions. We define cream skimming within the model. Two major empirical findings are (a) that the short run measures used to monitor performance are weakly, and sometimes perversely, related to long run impacts and (b) that the efficiency gains or losses from cream skimming are small. We find evidence that centers respond to performance standards.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9002.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9002.

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Date of creation: Jun 2002
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Publication status: published as Heckman, James J., Carolyn Heinrich and Jeffrey Smith. "The Performance Of Performance Standards," Journal of Human Resources, 2002, v37(4,Fall), 778-811.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9002
Note: LS PE
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  1. Heckman, James J & Smith, Jeffrey A., 2003. "The determinants of participation in a social program: Evidence from a prototypical job training program," Working Paper Series 2003:10, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  2. Hanushek, Eric A., 2002. "Publicly provided education," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 30, pages 2045-2141 Elsevier.
  3. James Heckman & Jeffrey Smith & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Accounting For Dropouts In Evaluations Of Social Programs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 1-14, February.
  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 Heckman & Neil Hohmann & Jeffrey Smith, 1998. "Substitution and Dropout Bias in Social Experiments: A Study of an Influential Social Experiment," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9819, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  6. Robert S. Gay & Michael E. Borus, 1980. "Validating Performance Indicators for Employment and Training Programs," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 15(1), pages 29-48.
  7. John Burghardt & Peter Z. Schochet, 2001. "National Job Corps Study: Impacts by Center Characteristics," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 79dc6705a88648e3881115389, Mathematica Policy Research.
  8. Heckman, James J & Smith, Jeffrey, 1997. "Making the Most Out of Programme Evaluations and Social Experiments: Accounting for Heterogeneity in Programme Impacts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 487-535, October.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
  12. Howard S. Bloom & Larry L. Orr & Stephen H. Bell & George Cave & Fred Doolittle & Winston Lin & Johannes M. Bos, 1997. "The Benefits and Costs of JTPA Title II-A Programs: Key Findings from the National Job Training Partnership Act Study," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 549-576.
  13. James J. Heckman, 1991. "Randomization and Social Policy Evaluation," NBER Technical Working Papers 0107, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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