Title

Explaining federal government performance information utilization

Date of Award

1998

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Public Administration

Advisor(s)

Patricia W. Ingraham

Keywords

Management reform, Decision-making, Results-oriented, Federal government, Performance information

Subject Categories

Public Administration

Abstract

The experience of federal government in using program evaluation information in decisionmaking has not been encouraging during the past three decades. In the current results-oriented management reform in government, the issue of using performance measurement information in decisionmaking again becomes critical. The worth of results-oriented reform has to be determined by the utility of performance information in decisionmaking for continuous performance improvement. The objective of this dissertation is to understand the relations between the utilization of performance information and a group of factors that influence the extent of utilization in federal government. By using the data from a survey conducted by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) on results-oriented management practice in federal agencies, this dissertation attempts to answer two questions: (1) What are the factors that may influence the likelihood of utilization of performance information in federal government? (2) How much impact do those factors have on utilization? Using the method of path analysis, this dissertation develops a performance information utilization model that includes seven variables with direct and indirect influence on utilization: performance measurement capacity, organizational goal clarity, organizational climate, performance measurement quality, leadership commitment to achieving results, involvement, and training. The impact of these variables is examined and compared in two utilization areas: management improvement and budgeting. The results indicate that goal clarity, organizational climate, and training have significant influence on utilization in both areas. The impact of measurement quality is significant in management improvement but not in budgeting. The impact of involvement is significant in budgeting but not in management improvement. Leadership commitment to achieving results does not show significance in both utilization areas. These mixed results demonstrate the complexity of performance information utilization in federal government. They also provide support to the principles of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 that emphasize strategic planning, agency mission and goal clarification, and managerial accountability linked to flexibility. The results also show that using performance information in management improvement and in budgeting may not be exactly the same due to their differences.

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