Chapter 12: Implementation Defining Implementation • Implementation: concerns the execution of laws • Emphasizes the programs and the results they produce • Studies the interaction between the setting of goals and the actions geared to achieving them Judging Success • To judge program success: compare results with goals • Goals evolve through implementation process • Standards of efficiency and accountability: – Efficiency: economists’ premier standard for judging program success – Accountability: trade-off with efficiency; more efficiency means less accountability Problems Hindering Performance • Practical uncertainty about how to reach program goals • Inadequate resources such as money and staff Problems Hindering Performance (continued) • Organizational problems that interfere with program handling • Uneven leadership • Growing dependence on other levels of government and private sector Intergovernmental Implementation • Three types of intergovernmental implementation strategies: – Administration through grant programs – Administration through regulatory programs – Administration through off-budget programs Administration through Grant Programs • Intergovernmental grant programs advance funding of the government’s goals. • Grant programs lure recipients into a broad range of regulatory programs. Administration through Grant Programs (continued) • Grant programs vary by function, breadth, and distribution method: – Function: state and local governments are like federal field agents; administer grants of federal government’s design Grant Programs by Breadth • Grant programs vary by two levels of breadth: – Categorical grants: for specific, narrowly defined purposes such as federal highway grants to states for road construction – Block grants: for broad purposes, usually the result of consolidation of related categorical grants Grant Programs by Distribution • Grant programs vary by two distribution methods: – Formula-based programs: statistical procedures determine who is eligible for money and how much recipients can receive – Project-based programs: competitions that produce unhappy losers and heavy paperwork for applicants; broad discretion to federal administrators over who receives the money • Grantsmanship: complaints in federal aid system that entrepreneurial local and state administrators had exploited the project system for maximum funding Administration through Regulation • Every grant program brings a package of regulations and mandates. • Regulation further spreads federal influence over state and local government activities. Administration through Regulation (continued) • Crossover sanctions: failure to meet one program’s standard can produce a punishment in another program, for state and local grant recipients. • Partial preemption: a federal agency sets standards that state and local governments must follow; if they fail, then the federal government takes over program administration. • Mandates: federally imposed regulations Administration through Off-Budget Programs • Collection of off-budget strategies to advance federal government goals: – e.g., Individuals can deduct local property tax payments from their federal taxable income. – e.g., Federal government provides credit to state and local governments for rural development and college housing. Implementation Problems • Inequity • Fragmentation – e.g., Polluted water flows across state boundaries Implementation Problems (continued) • Functionalism: many layers of government each resisting collaboration – Delegation: the reliance by the federal government on state and local governments for program implementation; depends heavily on trust • Weak federal control of state and local implementation – Fungibility: grant extended for one purpose has instead expanded services in another purpose area Advantages of Contracting Out • Contracting: in American government, older than government itself; utilizing private suppliers for products or services. This approach can: – Reduce costs – Enlist services of specialists not on own staff – Avoid bureaucratic red tape – Provide perception that government has not ballooned Disadvantages of Contracting Out • Sometimes not enough competitors; complicated proposal • Too many regulations on contractors • Problems cutting off contracts • Potential for corruption Points to Consider for Implementation • The fundamental issue is increasing intermingling of federal-state-local and private-public roles in society. • Goals can change over time. • The problem of information distortion intensifies when bureaucratic boundaries are crossed. • Most programs do work and work well. Importance of Feedback • Effective program implementation depends critically on obtaining good feedback. • Feedback comes through routine administrative monitoring: – Whistle-blowers: disaffected employees can often produce explosive surprises. Importance of Feedback (continued) • Backward mapping should replace forward mapping. – Forward mapping: managers decide what goals they want to accomplish and then define the responsibilities for those goals at each step in the implementation process. – Backward mapping (Richard Elmore): evaluation can educate managers about what problems implementers may face; armed with that information, managers can redesign the implementation process to reduce those risks. Other Types of Feedback • Managers often develop formal systems of evaluation to provide regular, high-quality feedback. • Managers can design their program evaluations to test precisely what they want and to obtain just the information they need. • Results-based management is also used in many state and local governments that have created quick-response information systems to measure success and failure. – e.g., CompStat: NYC weekly reports on crime in each precinct; CitiStat: Baltimore measured performance of all city programs Conclusion • Many problems we label implementation instead reflect larger administrative issues. • The principal focus has been on implementation by American governments. • Many implementation problems are from increasing complexity of American society and not from government failure.
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