Congressional Briefing - August 9, 2010

Improving Performance-Based Accountability for Public Services

performance-based accountability


Brian Stecher
Associate Director, RAND Education

Frank Camm
Senior Economist, RAND Corporation


Monday, August 9, 2010


1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.


1334 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C.

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About the Program

Performance-based accountability systems (PBASs) link financial or other incentives to measured performance as a means of improving services to the public. But little has been known about whether such systems actually achieve their goals.

RAND examined PBASs in five sectors—child care, education, health care, public health emergency preparedness, and transportation—and found that effective accountability systems, regardless of sector, require

  • a goal that is widely shared
  • measures that are unambiguous and easy to observe
  • incentives that apply to individuals or organizations that can control the performance measured
  • incentives that are meaningful to those being incentivized
  • few competing interests or requirements
  • adequate resources to design, implement, and operate the PBAS.

The briefing will be of interest to those who develop and implement accountability systems as well as policymakers and their staffs who are charged with evaluating or deciding whether to adopt a PBAS.

After the briefing, Stecher will be joined by Camm, a coauthor of the forthcoming study Toward a Culture of Consequences: Performance-Based Accountability Systems for Public Services, for a question-and-answer session with attendees.

About the Speakers

Brian Stecher's research focuses on measuring educational quality and improvement and evaluating education reforms, particularly assessment and accountability systems. He has directed prominent national and state evaluation projects, including studies of No Child Left Behind, mathematics and science systemic reforms, and class size reduction. Stecher has served on expert panels relating to standards, assessments, and accountability for the National Academies; has published widely in professional journals; and is currently on the editorial boards of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis and Educational Assessment.

Frank Camm currently leads multidisciplinary teams studying high-level resource management issues in the U.S. Department of Defense. He has worked on many defense-related resource allocation and management issues. His domestic policy work has focused on tax, pricing, and regulatory issues relevant to environmental and energy policy. Effective cost measurement, process improvement, and adaptation of best commercial management practices for use in government agencies are themes that run through much of this work. He has served on a variety of other high-level teams for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Air Force and on the congressionally mandated Commercial Activities Panel that led to major changes in federal sourcing policy.

About RAND

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND focuses on the issues that matter most such as health, education, national security, international affairs, law and business, the environment, and more. As a nonpartisan organization, RAND operates independent of political and commercial pressures. We serve the public interest by helping lawmakers reach informed decisions on the nation's pressing challenges.

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Further Inquiries

For further information about this event, contact the Office of Congressional Relations at or call (703) 413-1100, ext. 5395.