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Making Government Accountable: Lessons from a Federal Job Training Program

Gerald Marschke () and Pascal Courty ()

Discussion Papers from University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics

Abstract: We describe the evolution of a performance measurement system in a government job-training program. In this program, a federal agency establishes performance measures and standards for sub-state agencies. We show that the performance measurement system's evolution is at least partly explained as a process of trial-and-error, characterized by a feedback loop: the federal agency establishes performance measures, the local managers learn how to game them, the federal agency learns about gaming and reformulates the performance measures, leading to possibly new gaming, and so on. The dynamics suggest that implementing a performance measurement system in government is not a one-time challenge but benefits from careful monitoring and perhaps frequent revision.

Date: 2004
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