Government Performance Project

Government Gets A Report Card!

Syracuse's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Governing and Government Executive Magazines to Rate Federal, State and Local Government Performance

Pilots Slated for Five States, Five Cities & Counties, Five Federal Agencies

Washington, DC -- The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University, Governing Magazine and Government Executive Magazine announced in February 1997 the Government Performance Project, an ambitious new program to rate the performance of all 50 states, city and county governments, and federal agencies. Funded with a start-up grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, the unique partnership is committed to a rating system that will create public interest in government performance and encourage governments to work more effectively by learning from one another.

"Our first priority is to develop the best possible methodology for rating government performance," said Patricia W. Ingraham, Professor of Public Administration and Political Science and director of the Alan K. Campbell Public Affairs Institute at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. "It is our intention to do this right and to do it in a way that's understandable."

The Maxwell School is currently developing performance ratings in six areas:

  • Financial Management
  • Human resource management
  • Managing for Results
  • Information Technology
  • Capital Management
  • Executive Capacity

Ingraham noted that the project will also produce composite ratings across performance categories. Former Senator Mark Hatfield (Oregon) will chair the Government Performance Project's Senior Advisory Committee. A group of specialized advisory boards of leading experts from government, universities and research institutions, pilot studies and learning conferences round out the project's extensive process for developing and refining the government performance rating methodology.

Rating systems developed by academic experts will be augmented by a journalistic effort to be mounted by the two monthly magazines, which write about management trends and issues in government. Government Executive, a publication of National Journal Inc., covers federal management issues for an audience of 200,000 executives and managers throughout the domestic and national security agencies of the federal government. Governing, which is published by Congressional Quarterly, Inc., provides similar coverage of state and local government trends and issues for an audience of more than 300,000 state and local officials throughout the United States.

Timothy B. Clark, editor and publisher of Government Executive, said, "The Government Performance Project will help systematize what we've been doing from month to month: evaluating how well units of government are doing in their public missions. As a management magazine, we attempt to inform our readers about what's working well in various government settings, and this project will help identify what management ideas are getting results and the reasons for their success."

Peter A. Harkness, editor and publisher of Governing -- a key media resource for state and local governments -- commented, "This is a unique partnership that combines academic rigor with publishing power and journalistic excellence. The two magazines -- Governing and Government Executive -- will serve as the starting point for a broader campaign to disseminate information about government performance throughout the country."

Both magazines plan to devote extensive coverage to the performance studies at each stage, including their own journalistic follow-up to discover why some governments and agencies get top ratings and others do not.

Pilot studies to field test the methodology will be conducted this year in five states, five city and county governments, and five federal agencies. The pilots include:

Cuyahoga County, OH

Hennepin County, MN

Philadelphia (city/county)


Virginia Beach






U.S. Coast Guard

Veterans Health Admin.



Defense Logistics Agency

Philip G. Joyce, Assistant Professor of Public Administration and Senior Research Associate in the Maxwell School's Campbell Public Affairs Institute, said, "The pilot studies are an essential part of developing the methodology. The pilot governments are committed to the 'tryouts' -- to helping us learn what about the rating system works and what does not."

Noting that the pilots are essentially test labs for the project, Joyce said that pilot ratings will not be issued. "The project will begin to create results over time," he said, "especially as we help governments measure and increase their capacity instead of simply counting their resources."

Throughout the project the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs will continue to refine the survey instruments and other data collection and verification methodologies through its own academic resources, the project's Senior Advisory Committee and specialized committees of experts, learning conferences, and feedback from government officials.


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