Metrics Management and Bureaucratic Accountability: Evidence from Policing

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Abstract

Bureaucracies increasingly use quantitative measures to monitor personnel behavior. I develop a model of the incentives created by metrics management, a bureaucratic accountability technique, using policing as a case to show that monitoring can lead public-interest motivated bureaucrats to focus on work not in the public interest. Second, I develop a new measure of data manipulation in crime statistics: although theory predicts the presence of manipulation, researchers observe only the altered data. I solve this using the fact that police departments can reclassify rapes (but not other violent crimes) as “unfounded,” concluding the reported crime did not occur. Finally, I test the effects of metrics management in policing using a novel data set. CompStat is associated with at least 3,500 additional minor arrests per city-year, substantial data manipulation, and no decrease in serious crime. These results have implications for bureaucracies implementing metrics management, scholarship using administrative data, and legal implementation.

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APA

Eckhouse, L. (2021). Metrics Management and Bureaucratic Accountability: Evidence from Policing. American Journal of Political Science. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajps.12661

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