An Analysis of the Program Assessment Rating Tool: Measuring the Performance of Federal Environmental and Natural Resource Programs
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Interest in, and use of, performance evaluation tools in the federal government has increased over the past two decades as a mechanism to gauge the effectiveness of federal programs. An effective evaluation system can improve government performance in many ways including boosting outcomes, strengthening accountability, and enhancing process transparency. A well-developed and consistently applied performance evaluation system can also assist in the identification of programs that excel and those that do not achieve their intended results. This research aims to analyze one such performance evaluation tool, the Office of Management and Budget’s Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART), by examining a subset of programs concerned with the environment and natural resources. The objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of PART as a means to hold agencies accountable for their performance. This objective is accomplished by examining the quality of goals, measures, and evidence provided by programs in their PART reviews as well as the relationship between PART rating and budgetary allocations. Focusing on the set of 167 natural resource and environmental program PARTs, no correlation was found between improved PART scores and budgetary allocations. Significant correlations between PART ratings and evidence and program measures were found. We conclude from this research that future performance evaluation mechanisms should focus more closely on program outcomes, while increasing understanding within agencies of the performance evaluation process and improving transparency for all parties.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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