Gaming the System

In Government by the Numbers, [PDF] authors Daniel Esty and Reece Rushing discuss how data-driven decision-making can work in some instances and not in others. Governing Magazine examines how to avoid using it incorrectly.

Data-driven decision-making has to measure the right outcomes to avoid this picture: “When the Environmental Protection Agency started ‘scoring’ each of its 10 districts based on the number of compliance actions completed, a curious thing happened. Each district began reporting small problems such as asbestos removal cases, and ignoring big polluters. As Esty and Rushing note, ‘The crudeness of the ‘bean counting’ at headquarters — where each case got scored the same — resulted in an emphasis on less important policy matters rather than the harder but more significant cases.’”