Poster Paper: Exploring an Emerging Intersection of Government Accountability: The Relationship Between Performance Metrics and Open Data in the City of Los Angeles

Saturday, November 5, 2016
Columbia Ballroom (Washington Hilton)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Robert W. Jackman and Matthew Young, University of Southern California

PerformanceStat-based reforms have been employed as a method of attempting to improve effectiveness through increased accountability within public service organizations for nearly twenty years. Within the past seven years, the open data movement has emerged as a new technology-driven innovation in public administration, with its advocates making similar normative claims – some in fact see open data as effectively crowdsourcing performance management. Both systems, grounded in the data-driven decision-making philosophies of New Public Management, require substantial amounts of data to function. In this way open data and performance management systems appear to be complimentary; each creates demand for bureaucratic data that can be used by the other. Yet, while each of these innovations has been studied separately, little is known about how their simultaneous implementation augments each system. This paper provides the next step in studying performance management and open data by analyzing how they interact in practice within public organizations. Specifically, it considers whether open data and performance management systems amplify each other to bring positive reforms to public service organizations, or whether these types of initiatives suffer from the same implementation issues in tandem as they do individually. Our research focuses on the City of Los Angeles, which since 2013 under the administration of Mayor Garcetti has instituted a performance management system and an open data portal under the auspices of getting “Back to Basics” in City governance. During the summer of 2015 we conducted a survey of over 1,500 managers in City departments to assess how city staff view the progress of open data and performance management reforms over the preceding two years. During the summer of 2016 we will run a follow up survey to consider the ongoing progress over the last year. This comparative data, in tandem with other metrics gathered from internal city documents allows for the first comprehensive consideration of how open data systems and performance management systems interact. The paper assesses the delivery of select City services before and after the implementation of data driven reforms. Additionally, it analyzes whether City managers are incorporating the open data presented to the public into their internal performance metrics, and if this translates into City decision-making.