The Effects of Performance Measurement on Community Development Spending Priorities

Since 1974 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has administered the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to invest over $100B dollars in America's low-income communities, through housing, job creation, public services, and other community development projects. Data on CDBG spending by activity type is examined, with the relative stability of spending priorities over the past seven years presented as evidence of the \New Federalism" at maturity: despite the fact that spending decisions are set at the local level by over 1,000 di erent community development oces, and without the bene t of an overarching federal strategy (or even much of a debate on one), the eld has achieved a de facto consensus as to national priorities. The data can be further distinguished into an \Urban Entitlement" spending pattern seen in the larger cities (with strong spending for housing, infrastructure, and public services) and a \Statewide Program" pro le for smaller communities (prioritizing infrastructure and little else).

At the same time, CDBG's "maturity" has brought with it additional challenges, unanticipated by the framers of the original block grant approach: namely, the creeping tide of performance measurement requirements for federal programs. With the passage of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) in 1993 -- and the more recent attempts to implement these requirements at HUD in earnest, starting in 2006 -- CDBG managers are being increasingly pressed to measure and report the results of their spending decisions. While performance measurement is undoubtedly a necessary component of any management scheme and can be an important tool in generating support for public spending, the increased emphasis at HUD may have the e ect (unintended or otherwise) of altering the existing mix of activities to encourage more cities to adopt spending strategies closer to those seen in the "Statewide" pro le. (An apologetic postscript is also included, to ensure that HUD staff do not feel attacked by the author, who actually has a great deal of admiration and respect for them.)


Title The Effects of Performance Measurement on Community Development Spending Priorities
Authors Ezra Glenn
Type of Publication
Journal Paper
Neighbourhood: the international journal of urban regeneration
Date of Publication
Apr 1, 2008
Neighbourhood: the international journal of urban regeneration