How Do Legislators Assess Administrative Performance? Georgia’s Department of Transportation in the Eyes of the State’s Legislators

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State legislatures and their member legislators serve as important overseers to state administrative departments, charged to function as principals relative to departmental agents. Yet, we know relatively little about how legislators assess the performance of those departments. This research is designed to improve that knowledge through an exploratory analysis of how and why legislators in one state assess the performance of a large state government department. Using data from a survey of Georgia state legislators, the article explores legislator evaluations of the state’s Department of Transportation (GDOT) and the factors that may underlie those evaluations. The findings suggest that legislators assess administrative performance on three principal dimensions: (a) administrative service to individual legislators, (b) assistance to the legislature as a whole, and (c) performance in meeting the state’s transportation needs. Those assessments appear to be shaped by legislator perceptions of (a) personal interactions with the department and (b) the quality of specific GDOT products and services. These and earlier findings suggest that the focus of public performance measurement systems might be broadened to include measures of personal treatment by administrative agencies in addition to traditional objective service outcome measures.

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The American Review of Public Administration

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