The Performance Movement and Other Evidence-Based Reforms

  • Steven Putansu


This chapter examines a subset of reforms, characterized by Beryl Radin as the “performance movement,” (Radin, B. A. [2006]. Challenging the performance movement: Accountability, complexity, and democratic values. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.) as well as recent “evidence-based policy” reforms. It shows that, since the first government-wide performance reform in 1965, there have been numerous attempts to link policy knowledge and government decisions, and each has relied on the evidence-based proverb. These reforms offer “one-size-fits-all” frameworks for policy knowledge and advocate using them as a panacea for decision making, while failing to acknowledge the limitations of the data, information, and evidence they create. The chapter shows this repeated reliance on the evidence-based proverb, coupled with promises of panacea, has inevitably failed to supplant political factors. This highlights the importance of considering quality, purpose, and limitations of policy knowledge—in combination with politics—when attempting to understand and influence government decisions.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Putansu
    • 1
  1. 1.US Government Accountability OfficeWashington, DCUSA

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