ASPA 2015 Abstract

Title:  Change, Continuity, and Lessons Unlearned:  A Tale of Two Administrations' Experiences with Evaluation and Performance Measurement.  

Authors:  N. Hart and K. Newcomer. 

Abstract:  Calls for "evidence‐based policy" and for assessing how well government programs work have been around for many years. The George W. Bush and Barack Obama Administrations both espoused support for the generation and use of evidence to guide and improve government management. The two presidents brought very different professional experiences, political views, and policy advisors to the job as Chief Executive of the federal bureaucracy, yet their “President’s Management Agendas” established similar expectations about the use of evaluation and performance data. The paper outlines how the two Presidential Administrations centrally approached “evidence‐based policy” and “performance management,” with emphases on program evaluation and performance measurement, respectively. We highlight the many similarities across the Administrations, the interesting differences, and the intriguing ways in which some lessons that could have been “learned” were not. The role of the Office of Management and Budget and pertinent laws are detailed, and the experience of the Federal executive agencies implementing the Administrations' agendas are summarized.