Monitoring across Sectors: Examining the Effect of Nonprofit and For-Profit Contractor Ownership on Performance Monitoring in State and Local Contracts


Anna A. Amirkhanyan is an assistant professor of public administration at American University, where she teaches and conducts research in the fi elds of organizational theory, public and nonprofi t management, and research methodology. She received her PhD from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Her research has been published in numerous journals, including Public Administration Review, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, and Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.


What is the effect of contractors' nonprofit and for-profit ownership on the scope and nature of performance measurement used by government agencies? Quantitative and qualitative data were generated through semistructured interviews administered to a sample of state and local public agencies and private contractors across five jurisdictions. The findings of this study suggest that monitoring officers working with nonprofit rather than for-profit contractors are more likely to rely on qualitative performance data and examine equitable access to services, contractors' reputation, and compliance with industry rules and regulations. Although organizational ownership may not be well understood by practitioners, performance appears to be conceptualized differently across sectors. The author calls for a better understanding of the impact of the identified differences in performance measurement on the effectiveness of contract monitoring.