Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Study finds program performance measures lacking

Attempts to improve the performance of federal programs haven't been as effective as they could be, according to a Brookings Institution report conducted by Donald Moynihan and Stéphane Lavertu.

They found performance management reforms in 1993 and 2002 did not affect federal managers' administrative decisions or their allocation of money, although the changes did result in managers refining program goals, the web site Government Executive reports.

Brookings published the study in October in Issues in Governance Studies. Moynihan is a professor of public affairs at the La Follette School, and Lavertu is on the faculty of the Glenn School of PUblic Affairs at the Ohio State University.

"Moynihan and Lavertu looked at data from surveys of federal managers using the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act and the Program Assessment Rating Tool, a 25-part questionnaire the George W. Bush administration used to rate specific federal programs on a scale ranging from 'results not demonstrated' to 'effective.' GPRA required managers to develop strategic plans and monitor agency performance. PART sought to replace what the Bush administration called an 'ineffective tool' by refining the collection of performance data. The scholars concluded that both GRPA and PART had little direct effect on how performance data were actually used," the article says.

"'This finding generally supports the claims of policymakers that these reforms did not fulfill their potential,' Moynihan and Lavertu wrote."

Program performance measures aren't living up to their potential, scholars say, October 16, 2012, Government Executive

Do Performance Reforms Change How Federal Managers Manage?, October 2012, Issues in Governance Studies