Student Reports

Spring 2010

Professors Douglas J. Besharov and Douglas Call

In Spring 2010, students worked with clients at the Maryland Department of Human Resources, the Montgomery County Office of Legislative Oversight, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues), the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. All projects focused on one cross-cutting policy question: How can performance management systems be used as a tool for program management and improvement?

The following are the final projects prepared by the students. They are listed in order of clients and the names of the authors have been removed by request.

The course is required for all 48-credit (MPP) Social Policy students. Work must be completed by graduation.

County Government
Montgomery County CountyStat

1. Montgomery County Performance Management: Is CountyStat Helping Close the Performance Gap? The purpose of this study is multifaceted as it seeks to describe the previous state of performance management in Montgomery County; to evaluate how well CountyStat has met its goals; to determine whether after two years of CountyStat implementation, there are identifiable culture and business process changes as a result of the program's efforts; and to assess whether the Executive's performance-based budgeting has moved forward because of the implementation of CountyStat.

The author finds that CountyStat has not developed output, outcome, proximal and distal impact performance measures, and provides recommendations for each type of performance measure. The adoption and use of these measures is necessary in order to determine if there are identifiable culture changes as a result of CountyStat's activities.

Paper   Presentation
Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services

2. Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services: Analyzing the Performance Measurements of the Community Health Improvement Process. This paper analyzes the performance measures of the Montgomery County Community Health Improvement Process (CHIP), which is a mechanism to systematically measure and reduce health disparities in Montgomery County. The author finds that performance measures for CHIP are lacking and proposes a number of performance measures that could be instituted. Because the program is in its early stages, these performance measurements will help guide the CHIP Community on what aspects have succeeded and are performing up to standards, and what factors of CHIP need to be improved upon or altered to meet the main goals.

Paper   Presentation

3. Montgomery County Neighborhood Safety Net: Performance Management. This report analyzes a new initiative put in place by the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services: the Neighborhood Safety Net. The research question is then: Do the current measurements allow sufficient analysis of the performance of the program? If they do not, what needs to be changed to improve performance management?

The author demonstrates that the current performance management system of the NSN needs to be improved to be able to measure the results of the problem and provides recommendations in relation to the outputs, outcomes and impacts that should be measured to assess performance.
Paper   Presentation

4. Montgomery County John F. Kennedy Cluster Project: Program Analysis and Recommendations for Performance Measurement. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the John F. Kennedy Cluster Project, a multi-agency effort of Montgomery County, Maryland, in order to provide recommendations for performance measurement. 

The author provides recommendations about measuring the results (outputs, outcomes, and impacts) of the Project.  By collecting quality data on its activities and their results, Project leaders will be able to accurately measure the success of the Project.  Project leaders will then be able to evaluate and analyze this data in order to demonstrate the Project's success.  This is a crucial component of any government initiative as governments have a responsibility to their citizens to use resources wisely in order to achieve the greatest possible good for their citizens.  It is also critical that the Project measure its performance in order to secure future County support, as well as funding from both the County and outside sources.
Paper   Presentation
Montgomery County Office of Legislative Oversight

5. Montgomery County Collaboration Council for Children, Youth and Families: History and Current Status. This memorandum report responds to the County Council's request for information on the background, structure, programs, and funding of the Montgomery County Collaboration Council for Children, Youth, and Families, Inc.  The Collaboration Council is a quasi-public nonprofit corporation that is currently designated as Montgomery County's Local Management Board (LMB) to implement a local interagency service delivery system for children, youth, and families.

The author finds that the Collaboration Council successfully performs the functions of a Local Management Board, as specified by state and county law. The author recommends that the Council approve the extension of the Collaboration Council's designation as the County's Local Management Board until December 1, 2010.  The author also recommends that the Council return in June 2010 to a discussion of the future of the Collaboration Council.  At that time, there should be a much clearer picture of the state and county resources that will be available in FY11 to support the Collaboration Council's activities.  In addition, this will provide time for the Collaboration Council to develop its own proposal for moving ahead as the County's designated LMB.
Paper   Presentation
State Government
Maryland Department of Human Resources

6. Maryland's Family Investment Program: Improving Performance Measures at the Local Level. This paper explores the effectiveness of the current Family Investment Program performance measures of the Maryland Department of Human Resources at the county level.  The Maryland Department of Human Resources administers the state's TANF program, which Maryland named the Family Investment Program. DHR allows Maryland's counties and Baltimore City to administer their own programs that aim to increase employment, education, and job skills.

The author recommends that DHR add additional and improved performance measures in the FIP reports to provide explanatory data and shift the focus of the measures from impacts to outcomes. The author also recommends that DHR update the FIP reports monthly so that the localities can use the reports to manage their programs more effectively. If DHR does not have the time or resources to implement these recommendations, it is recommended that DHR combine the FIP Performance Measures Reports with the JobStat Reports.
Paper   Presentation
Federal Government
U.S. Department of Education

7. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): Enhancing Performance Management. This paper analyzes performance management at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), detailing ways in which current performance monitoring can be enhanced to more effectively measure how well the agency is meeting its goals.

The author recommends that the NCES place greater emphasis on the analytic processes that takes place after the performance data is collected. By enhancing what the agency does with its performance data, the agency can continue to make strides in the future towards improving performance as a whole.
Paper   Presentation
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

8.Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program: Analysis of Performance Measures. This report provides analysis of the current performance measures used to evaluate the effectiveness of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in meeting its explicitly stated goals.  The focus of the analysis is centered on two main research questions: Do the current performance metrics of the TANF program accurately measure the program's effectiveness? And, how can these measures be improved?

The author finds that the current performance metrics do provide some helpful outcome-based measurements towards the programs goals. However, there still remain two program goals, 1) reduction of out-of-wedlock births, and 2) children being cared for in their own hones, that are not subjected to any performance measurements.  Furthermore, the TANF performance management model should include additional measures beyond outcomes, such as the proximal and distal impacts outlined in this report.
Paper   Presentation

9.Refugee Resettlement: Overcoming Management Challenges. Performance management challenges outlined in this report surround the Office of Refugee Resettlement's funding, monitoring, promoting best practices, data collection, reporting, and strategic planning - all of which fall under the purview of performance management. 

Recommendations for improving the ORR's performance management will increase incentives for improving performance through pay-for-performance initiatives and more oversight.  They will strengthen assessments of current conditions and goals for improvements through the inclusion of more qualitative data, metrics, and timely reports.  They will facilitate information - sharing among partners in the program at annual conferences, so that insight can be exchanged and applied in different contexts.  They will also help make the current model more dynamic and proactive in recognizing potential issues.  Lastly, the creation of a well-crafted strategic plan will make goals and objectives more clear for both ORR staff and other entities involved in the resettlement process.
Paper   Presentation
U.S. Government Accountability Office

10. Child Care and Development Block Grant: Analyzing Quality Performance Measures. This paper reviews and analyzes data from the Administration on Children and Families on the Child Care and Development Block Grantís (CCDBG) quality performance measures. The paper also provides an overview of best practices regarding performance measures; the current measurement criteria for CCDBG are weighed against these best practices. Case studies are used to better understand how states have added requirements to their performance measures as well as the impact of those requirements.

The author finds that CCDBG quality performance measures are too broad and allow for a wide range of quality improvement activities, alternative childcare quality performance measures illustrate areas of improvement for current measures, and that the Quality Rating Improvement System serves as a model for states to enhance quality improvement measures.
Paper   Presentation

11. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program: The Use of the High Performance Bonus from 1998 to 2003. This paper provides analysis for the U.S. Government Accountability on the High Performance Bonus (HPB) for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program that existed between 1998 and 2003. The questions the report sought to answer are: Was the HPB effective?  Why was the HPB discontinued?  Did states have additional measures? 

The author finds that without some kind of experiment related to the use of HPB, it's difficult to know whether tying incentives to the performance measures has any effect on state behavior.  Without being able to isolate state efforts, the measures themselves don't tell anything useful that can be applied to improvement of programs.  Tangentially, the data collection and analysis process for HPB was such that rewards were given out two years after the fiscal year in which they were earned.  This further deters any effort the federal government may have made to identify policy improvements.
Paper   Presentation

12. Individual Development Accounts: Addressing Asset Poverty. While some of the initial impact evaluations examining Individual Development Account (IDA) programs suggest that IDA programs may be a powerful tool in promoting asset development, little is known about the extent to which IDA programs receive federal support, how well IDA performance is measured and what challenges are faced by IDA programs.

The author finds that gaps in the IDA performance measures make it difficult to examine how effective these programs have been in meeting short-term and long-term goals and only two programs actually collect performance measures. While these programs' outcome and impact measures indicate that participants are purchasing assets, it is unclear to what extent the IDA programs are responsible.
Paper   Presentation

13. Refundable State Child and Dependent Care Tax Credits Under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program. This paper examines child care tax credits at the state level, focusing on credits funded using federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families money. These credits are examined through the context of a logic model outlining their theory, design, activities, outputs and outcomes. Special focus is placed on performance measurement possibilities. The recommendations provided are to focus on clarifying the theory and design of these credits, creating pragmatic performance measures that can be calculated using existing data, and considering the need to increase the amount of the credits.

Paper   Presentation


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