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Process models of governmental resource allocation and program evaluation

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The General Revenue Sharing program poses problems for systematic evaluation that are similar to the problems posed by many public programs. Evaluation is very difficult when programs are not planned experiments and when program effects depend upon the discretionary responses of many individuals or organizations. The main difficulty is in knowing what would have happened without the program. Models of behavioral processes have an indispensable role in evaluating such programs. This paper considers the role of “process models” in program evaluation. It summarizs research on the impact of General Revenue Sharing on municipal fiscal behavior that used models of municipal resource allocation processes. Quasi-experimental research designs have been characterized as inherently inferior to experimental designs for program evaluation. There is no inherent inferiority. When we have good descriptive models of behavior, it is possible to evaluate programs rigorously without classic experimental research designs.

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Revised version of a paper presented at the annual meeting of the Public Choice Society, Roanoke, Virginia, April 1976. The empirical work was supported by the National Science Foundation, Research Applied to National Needs. I am indebted to John P. Crecine, William T. Stanbury, and others for assistance with this paper. All errors, unsupported assertions, value judgments, and labored explications of the obvious are my responsibility.

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Larkey, P.D. Process models of governmental resource allocation and program evaluation. Policy Sci 8, 269–301 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01719636

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  • Resource Allocation
  • Research Design
  • Descriptive Model
  • Program Evaluation
  • Main Difficulty