Use of performance measurement information in a federal agency: a comparative case study analysis
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Type of Workxiii, 256 leaves
DepartmentUniversity of Baltimore. College of Public Affairs
ProgramUniversity of Baltimore. Doctor of Public Administration
RightsThis item may be protected under Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law. It is made available by the University of Baltimore for non-commercial research and educational purposes.
United States. Health Resources and Services Administration
The use of performance measurement information has been examined in public administration literature for decades; however, the focus has been state and local government agencies. How performance measurement information is used and what factors support this used at the federal level is not well documented. The lack of research examining how and why performance information is used poses a major knowledge gap for federal programs that are trying to find ways to enhance the use of performance measurement information to improve programmatic efforts, such as use for the purposes of accountability, improvement, understanding and mobilization. Based on this information, the purpose of this research study was to examine how performance measurement information is used at the federal level and the factors that influence the use. To this end, a comparative case study analysis that consisted of a two-phased, sequential mixed methods approach was conducted. The unit of analysis was two program offices within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)--the Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) and the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC). These program offices represented two very diverse programs that have performance measurement systems but diverge in areas such as available resources, organizational culture, and organizational structure. The first phase of the research consisted of a survey of managers and staff within the HRSA's BPHC and ORHP examining perceptions of use and the factors that influence such use. Semi-structured interviews built upon the survey findings and further explored the emerging patterns from the survey and provided ideas for encouraging the use of performance measurement information within federal agencies. Written documents were also employed to corroborate the survey and interview findings. The study results appear to confirm previous studies that rational/technocratic factors, organizational complexity and organizational culture are important to the use of performance measurement information. The results also indicate the overall use of performance measurement information and use of this information both instrumentally, for the purposes of accountability and program improvement, and non-instrumentally, for the purposes of understanding and mobilization. Moreover, the results suggest that different types of use are influenced by different factors. Rational/technocratic factors, for instance, appear to play an influential role in perceived performance measurement use, instrumental use and non-instrumental use. The results also show that rational/technocratic factors, organizational complexity and organizational culture influence perceived performance measurement use. Lastly, perceived instrumental use is guided by rational/technocratic factors and organization complexity where as non-instrumental use appears to be influenced by rational/technocratic factors and organizational culture. The results, however, did not indicate stakeholder involvement as an influential factor for performance measurement use, instrumental use and non-instrumental use. Nevertheless, the interviews suggest that stakeholders are an important part of the performance measurement process, particularly regarding the development of performance measures and providing technical assistance to grantee organizations. The findings from this study show that performance measurement information is being used at the federal level. The findings also suggest that communicating the value and importance of performance measurement information, continuously re-assessing needs associated with using performance measurement information and creating a culture that encourages and supports the use of performance measurement information are all critical aspects to the actual use of this information. Lastly, the findings indicate the importance of considering the use of performance measurement information from a holistic perspective that is inclusive of instrumental and non-instrumental use in order for organizations to build or enhance their management and decision making processes.