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Improving Public Sector Performance Management: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

Published in PFM, Vol. 4 No. 3

This empirical study of the performance management system in the U.S. Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program identifies challenges and prospects for implementing performance management systems effectively in public agencies. The analyses of performance standard setting processes and relationships among standards and state performance levels demonstrate that setting performance targets is a key task that determines the nature of incentives in the performance management system. In the absence of regular adjustments to performance standards for changing local conditions, the WIA system appeared to promote increased risk for program managers rather than shared accountability. Program managers, in response, appeared to make undesirable post-hoc accommodations to improve measured performance.

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