AuthorHwang, Eunjin
  1. Introduction

    Numerous significant efforts have been made to increase performance in the public sector in the U.S. government. The Bush administration established the PART (Program Assessment Rating Tool) to encourage performance information use by focusing on program-level measures (Moynihan and Lavertu, 2012). The Obama administration also focused on performance information use by enacting the GPRA (Government Performance and Results Act) Modernization Act of 2010, which focused on cross-agency and agency-level priority goals. This legislation also entails active performance management by linking between goal setting and performance information (GAO, 2011). These efforts, however, have not affected active performance information use among managers, according to the 2014 study conducted by the General Accounting Office (GAO, 2014).

    In addition, to increase performance, studies have traditionally focused on performance measurement and management foci in the wake of new public management reforms. Measurement involves numbers, including non-numerical outputs, outcomes, and throughputs of organizations, and thus it can create performance information based on these output and outcome measures. On the other hand, lately, the topic of 'performance information use' has attracted scholarly attention. According to these studies, performance information has several advantages. Citizens can judge using performance information whether governments perform well or poorly by observing how their taxes are utilized for the public, thereby increasing transparency (Talbot, 2005). Managers use performance information as a device to control their service delivery departments and to communicate with monitoring groups, such as Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Congress (Askim, 2009). Congress can also use such information to evaluate whether managers and agencies perform well or poorly from an efficiency perspective, focusing on input-output relations (Behn, 2003; Talbot, 2005).

    Moynihan and Pandey (2010) raised a significant question in their article: why do managers use performance information in response to external attention, such as from the OMB, Congress, and audits? Moynihan and Lavertu (2012) have confirmed that a manager's PART and GPRA routines, leadership commitments, and discretion all play key roles in information use. Based on their findings, our understanding of managerial information use should be updated. A manager's involvement and perception of performance related activities need further specification to increase performance information use. Their study was conducted with 2000 and 2007 data, with their earlier data published before GPRAMA (GPRA Modernization Act) was enacted. GPRAMA, enacted in 2010, provides important tools to help overcome the challenges of performance information use in their agency performance plan. Thus, the earlier data was also of limited use in studying the relationship between managerial influences and performance information.

    Therefore, this study uses the updated survey collected by the GAO in 2013 and 2017 for investigating federal performance management practices. This paper follows Moynihan and Lavertu's (2012) study focusing on management perspectives. This study includes four sections functioning as follows: (1) to determine the influence of these variables on performance information use based on Moynihan's categories, passive use and purposeful use; (2) to identify the relationship between independent variables--a manager's proximity to the performance system, accountability, and organizational behavior factors--and the dependent variable, performance information use; (3) to employ Moynihan's model using more sophisticated statistical methods to analyze the data; and (4) to discuss the results and provide direction for future studies.

  2. Performance information use

    Performance information refers to the process of collecting and reporting performance data for effective monitoring and program management (Pollanen, 2014). Performance information includes the performance of an organization in relation to certain goals, and this can be understood as resources that have been purchased, including outputs, outcomes, efficiency, and effectiveness (Moynihan and Lavertu, 2012). A variety of studies have emphasized the various effects of using performance information (Moynihan et al., 2012). Performance information can function as an interactive dialogue between interests (Moynihan, 2008) in which the actors contribute their perspectives through their decision making. Their participation is necessary because decision makers are not always consistently rational, and some decisions are deemed political. Performance data also improves organizational capacity when organizations are in a process of innovation because agency actors can engage in learning, as well as accumulate professionalism and specializations in particular functions by developing performance information systems. Furthermore, performance information use protects organizations from criticism and maintains resources, since performance use as a tool can be used in communication with external stakeholders (Stewart, 1984; Mayne, 1997).

    Moynihan (2009) outlines the 'Four P's': Passive, Political, Perverse, and Purposeful. According to his definition, passive use focuses on complying with requirements for increased performance, while political use employs decision-making to receive more support from stakeholders. Perverse use refers to unintended information collected for personal gain, and purposeful use refers to a desired behavior. Among these four P's, this study focuses on passive and purposeful use. Passive use simply involves complying with government policies to report performance information. On the other hand, purposeful use has received attention in performance studies (Kroll, 2015). Kroll and Vogel (2014) define purposeful use as 'the making of better-informed management decisions based on performance data' (p. 976). It entails 'using performance information to improve services through better-informed decisions, goal-based learning, or sanctioning and rewarding' (Kroll, 2015, pp. 461-462).

    Only two of Moynihan's four Ps are found in the GAO survey data, and due to its reliance on this secondary data, the present study employs purposeful and passive use as sufficient categories to account for the performance use reflected in the data. It examines how managerial involvement in GPRA processes and PART reviews relates to performance information use, focusing on passive and purposeful forms of performance information use with data from 2000 and 2007. Managers adopt passive approaches when they comply with norms to meet the requirements of performance systems (Radin, 2006; Moynihan and Lavertu, 2012), while managers adopt purposeful forms of performance information use in order to achieve efficiency and effectiveness (Moynihan, 2008). According to their study, managerial involvement has little effect on performance information use, but other factors, such as learning routines, the motivational nature of the task, and leadership commitment are positively associated with performance information use. Due to limited data, however, Moynihan and Lavertu (2012) could not examine all indicators together.

    To update Moynihan and Lavertu's (2012) study, the present study uses recent data with advanced statistical methods. Based on previous research, this study mainly examines the relationship between performance information use and managers' involvement in goals, awareness of these goals, and accountability, based not only on the content of the information in use, but also on how the information was used. This study utilizes specific categories within passive and purposeful use, following Moynihan and Lavertu's (2012) study. For analyzing a manger's involvement and awareness of goals, this study employs the proximity concept, commonly used in social science fields.

  3. Manager's proximity

    Public managers could perceive a situation differently because of their different experiences and diverse individual needs (Schermerhorn et al., 2008). Therefore, 'the quality or accuracy of a person's perceptions has a major impact on his or her responses to a given situation. Perceptual responses are also likely to vary between managers and subordinates' (Schermerhorn et al., 2008, p. 32). This is the dynamic described in Miles' Law: 'where you stand depends on where you sit'. For example, Buchanan (1974) argues that if managers, especially those who are fully involved in a program, have been engaged in performance assessment activities, they are more likely to commit to performance-related activities. On the other hand, managers who are familiar with performance activities are more likely to access performance information.

    A manager's level of involvement or commitment could be examined by proximity. The concept of proximity consists of both objective and subjective proximity (Cole et al., 2013; Wilson et al., 2008). Objective proximity can be neutrally measured or calculated, while subjective proximity is defined as actors' perceptions of closeness or distance from persons or systems (Wilson et al., 2008). Whether objective or subjective, a high level of proximity increases the motivation or willingness to act (Balcetis and Dunning, 2010). From this perspective, a manager's proximity effects include direct involvement in setting targets and performance metrics, and this also comprises cognitive efforts by managers to recognize information and their feelings about outcomes. Managers who have a high proximity to the performance system--that is, managers who are more involved in performance measures for a specific program or program evaluations-related activities--are more willing to obtain beneficial information to improve performance to achieve good results the following year. Furthermore, managers who have a high level of...

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