Administration, Governance, and Policy Tools in Welfare Policy Implementation

Authors

  • Jo Ann G. Ewalt,

    1. Jo Ann G. Ewalt is an associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Government and a faculty associate in the Institute of Government at Eastern Kentucky University. Her research interests focus on policy implementation and program evaluation. E-mail: joann.ewalt@eku.edu.
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  • Edward T. Jennings Jr.

    1. Edward T. Jennings, Jr., is a professor in the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Kentucky. His research explores policy development and implementation. His current work has two streams: one focusing on the links between public management and the performance of welfare reform programs, and the other examining the role and impact of performance-measurement systems in public policy. He is past-president of the American Society for Public Administration. E-mail: Pub714@uky.edu.
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Abstract

Landmark welfare reform legislation passed in 1996 has been operating by legislative extensions since its expiration in September 2002. At this writing, reauthorization has been derailed by controversy over various legislative proposals. In this article, we contribute to the welfare policy debate by studying the importance of specific policy tools and the role of public administration in the dramatic fall in welfare caseloads from 1996 to 2000. Using administrative and survey data on welfare programs in 44 states, we test our theory that caseload reduction is a function of administrative commitments, policy design, and administrative actions linked to five sets of governance variables: environmental factors, client characteristics, treatments, administrative structures, and managerial roles and actions. We find strong evidence that administrative action to move clients into work, coupled with administrative commitments, can provide important links between policy goals and policy outcomes.

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