Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Moynihan research cited in federal budget proposal

Donald Moynihan Donald Moynihan

President Barack Obama's proposed budget references research by La Follette Professor Donald Moynihan on federal agencies’ use of performance management data. The president sent his proposed budget for fiscal year 2017 to Congress on Tuesday, February 9, 2016.

In an assessment of the Government Performance and Results (GPRA) 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.

Published in 2015 by The American Society for Public Administration, their research is referenced on pages 64 and 65 of the proposed budget’s “Analytical Perspectives” section, which details the government's efforts to improve analysis and management practices to raise federal performance. The report – “Performance Management Routines That Work? An Early Assessment of the GPRA Modernization Act” – illustrates 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 reforms that tended to increase the passive collection and reporting of performance information rather than increase the active use of data to improve performance, says Moynihan.

“Up to now, there has been little strong evidence that performance management reforms are making a difference,” says Moynihan, who received support from the Jerry and Mary Cotter Faculty Fellowship for this research. “Our early assessment suggests that the current approach, using performance data to manage programs and employees and to identify and solve problems, should be given more time."