JPAM Featured Article: "The Effect of the Child Support Performance and Incentive Act of 1998 on Rewarded and Unrewarded Performance Goals"
October 12, 2016 08:00 AM
As part of our ongoing effort to promote JPAM authors to the APPAM membership and the public policy world at large, we are asking JPAM authors to answer a few questions to promote their research article on the APPAM website.
By: Ed Gerrish
What was the genesis/history of the idea for your research?
I was doing other work in the area of performance management and ran across this really large policy change in child support enforcement. It had some of the classic hallmarks of performance management in the mid 1990’s – high stakes performance, financial rewards, etc. So I decided it would be worth taking a much closer look.
What is the main conclusion that becomes evident from your research? (Or, what is our main takeaway?)
The main takeaway is that even though practitioners seem to be in support of the policy changes contained in CSPIA (compared to the previous regime) and some research suggested it was having some positive effects, when looking at the policy from a larger and longer vantage point that really did not seem to be the case—only one of the three performance measures I examined improved after CSPIA. But that was not without a cost, which came in the form of interstate collections, or cooperation in child support collections between states.
What are some of the more interesting or surprising findings/conclusions, you discovered during this process?
In studying CSPIA, particularly with the support the policy seems to have had with practitioners, that I would find sizeable positive impacts on measureable child support outcomes. I thought that I might also find some gaming responses as well, but that is fairly typically with such high-stakes performance regimes (think of the Wells Fargo Scandal. Sure they opened fraudulent accounts, but bank tellers met their targets!). The finding that there was very little in terms of performance improvements was rather surprising to me.
Ed Gerrish (@edgerrish), is an Assistant Professor of Public Administration at the University of South Dakota. His research focuses on the use of performance information in public organizations, particularly in evaluations of their impacts on public performance. His research also focuses on state and local public budgeting and finance, and meta-analysis in the social sciences.
Check out this and other Journal of Policy Analysis and Management articles online.