Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Federal budget proposal cites Moynihan research

President Obama's proposed budget references professor Donald Moynihan's research on the use of performance management data by federal agencies.

In an assessment of the Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act of 2010, Moynihan and co-author Alexander Kroll of Florida International University found that as federal managers experience a series of performance routines the act established, the managers are more likely to report using performance data to make decisions.

Moynihan's work is cited in the "Analytical Perspectives" section of the budget, which details the government's efforts to improve analysis and management practices to raise federal performance. The budget cites Moynihan and Kroll's 2014 working paper to illustrate how the use of performance data is higher for managers who have been asked to implement high priority goals, and for managers who taken part in data-driven reviews.

These findings stand in contrast to prior performance management efforts, which have shown little correlation between performance routines and the use of performance data, says Moynihan, who has presented the paper at the World Bank and the Organisation of Co-operation and Economic Development.

"The federal government has an explicit goal of encouraging its managers to make better use of performance data, but up to now there has been little strong evidence that management reforms have made a difference," Moynihan says. "Our paper has a lot of policy relevance because it offers an early assessment as to whether the current wave of reforms are making a difference or not. There is always appetite to come up with a new performance framework, but our research suggests that the current approach should be given more time."

The study, Performance Management Routines that Work? An Early Assessment of the GPRA Modernization Act, is available as La Follette School Working Paper No. 2014-005. Moynihan received support from the Jerry and Mary Cotter Faculty Fellowship for this research.