Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
International Journal of Public Administration
For a Special Issue on
The Government Performance and Results Act at Age 30
15 September 2022
08 May 2023
The Government Performance and Results Act at Age 30
In 2023, the U.S. federal government will mark the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). The act came during the first months of the Clinton administration’s “Reinventing Government” initiative, which built on Osborne and Gaebler’s best-seller of the same name (1992). Reinventing government, in particular, focused on changing the incentives of government managers by measuring results. The passage of GPRA marked both the first, major legislative accomplishment of the movement and the launch of a far broader collection of performance initiatives throughout American government.
In the world of public administration, Robert J. O’Neill, Jr., called Reinventing Government “the most influential book of the past 25 years” (Buntin, 2016). The movement to measure performance became the cornerstone of the effort to bring data into governments everywhere. It was, in fact, the single biggest innovation in American government since the 1990s.
However, government officials reported, the movement led to a kind of PTSD. “The department heads I have the most respect for hated it the most,” said Kristine LaLonde, Nashville’s co-chief innovation officer (Buntin, 2016). In the academic world. Beryl Radin wrote an award-winning book arguing that the performance movement too often was simplistic, caught up on one-size-fits-all approaches that, in turn, undermined democratic values.
On the other hand, the performance movement has continued energetically at the federal level with the Government Performance and Results Act of 2010, a series of presidential management agendas that continued to call on federal agencies to define their goals and measure results, and the CitiStat and StateStat movements (Behn, 2014).
In short, the performance movement sparked by GPRA has both been roundly criticized (as unworkable and undemocratic) and deeply praised (at the foundation for improving government). Reinventing Government, meanwhile, remains a top seller among books in public administration.
GPRA was more than just an American movement. It was part of a far broader campaign for government reform, especially among the Westminster nations (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom), especially during the 1980s and 1990s (Kettl, 2005). The performance movement has also spread widely across Asia, including China, India, and South Korea, as well as across Africa (Lu, 2013; Hong ; Gao). In the years since, the issue certainly has not gone away. If anything, its reach across government has become both deeper and broader.
So, at the 30th anniversary of the passage of GPRA, it is a perfect time to assess the implications of GPRA and, more broadly, the performance movement. What do we have to show for the work? And where is it going in the future.
We invite original contributions to the symposium on this topic. In particular, we would welcome proposals that explore the following issues:
• GPRA in theory. The performance movement that GPRA launched transforms the traditional approach to accountability. What are its lasting effects?
• GPRA in practice. The law called on federal agencies to change their approach to planning and management. What has been our experience with this effort?
• Experience of state/local governments. Many state and local governments have engaged the performance movement. What have we learned about performance management across levels of government?
• GPRA in the global setting. GPRA is embedded in a much broader policy stream of performance management in many countries around the world. What are the implications of this performance movement for the US—and what lessons from the US might be transferrable to other countries?
Researchers who are interested in submitting a paper for this symposium should submit an abstract to the symposium’s guest editor, Don Kettl ([email protected]) of no more than 500 words (including references). The proposal should briefly discuss:
• The relevance of the paper to the major themes of the symposium, as outlined above.
• The significance of the research and how it will add to our knowledge of the field.
• The research questions and the method to be used.
After the deadline for submission of the proposal, the guest editor, in consultation with the journal’s editors, will notify authors who will be invited to submit a paper for the symposium.
Following the submission of the draft papers, there will be a Zoom Workshop, where authors will present their papers and get comments on their drafts. Authors will then revise their papers for peer review.
Manuscripts submitted for the symposium will go through the regular review process for IJPA. A guide for authors can be found at https://www.tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?show=instructions&journalCode=lpad20 .
The timetable for the symposium is:
Proposals are due September 15, 2022
Invitation to submit papers for the symposium October 15, 2022
Deadline for submission of the papers and Zoom Workshop March 31, 2023
Deadline for submission of final draft for peer review May 8, 2023
We anticipate an accelerated peer review process, so that accepted papers will be in print quickly.
Donald F. Kettl
Professor Emeritus and Former Dean
University of Maryland School of Public Policy
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