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ERIC Number: ED511387
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Are Performance-Based Accountability Systems Effective? Evidence from Five Sectors. Research Brief
Leuschner, Kristin J.
RAND Corporation
During the past two decades, performance-based accountability systems (PBASs), which link financial or other incentives to measured performance as a means of improving services, have gained popularity among policymakers. Although PBASs can vary widely across sectors, they share three main components: goals (i.e., one or more long-term outcomes to be achieved), incentives (i.e., rewards or sanctions to motivate changes in behavior to improve performance), and measures (formal mechanisms for monitoring service delivery or goal attainment). While the use of PBASs has spread in the public sector, little is known about whether such programs are having the desired effect or how to design them to be as effective as possible. To address this gap, a RAND study examined several examples of PBASs, large and small, from a range of public service areas. The study focused on nine PBASs, drawn from five sectors: child care, education, health care, public health emergency preparedness (PHEP), and transportation. The study suggests that PBASs represent a promising policy option for improving the quality of service delivery in many contexts. However, evidence of PBAS effectiveness is rare, and successful design requires careful attention to the selection of incentives, performance measures, and implementation issues, as well as rigorous evaluation to monitor the program's effectiveness. [This research brief describes work done for RAND Education documented in "Toward a Culture of Consequences: Performance-Based Accountability Systems for Public Services" and "Toward a Culture of Consequences: Performance-Based Accountability Systems for Public Services--Executive Summary".]
RAND Corporation. P.O. Box 2138, Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138. Tel: 877-584-8642; Tel: 310-451-7002; Fax: 412-802-4981; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: RAND Education