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

PFM, Vol. 4 No. 3, (2004)

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

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