Means, motive and opportunity: Distortion of public policy-making performance management data

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Journal Article
Australian Journal of Public Administration, 2017, 76 (2), pp. 237 - 250 (23)
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Regulatory authorities are increasingly relying on performance data for public policy making purposes. However, this reliance necessarily assumes that the data is free from material distortion. This paper provides a conceptual framework for understanding the ‘means’, ‘motive’ and ‘opportunity’ for distorting data employed in high stakes performance management programmes. We present empirical evidence which suggests that the use of data drawn entirely from financial statements is by no means a guarantee of a distortion free depiction of performance. In addition, we provide econometric evidence of some important determinants of performance data distortion. Taken as a whole, the following analysis provides a comprehensive picture of the salient matters which must be addressed in order to ensure accurate data for public policy making purposes.
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