Federalist No. 71: Can the Federal Government Be Held Accountable for Performance?


Beryl A. Radin is a scholar in residence in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University. An elected member of the National Academy of Public Administration, she received the H. George Frederickson Award in 2009 from the Public Management Research Association. She has written a number of books and articles on public management issues, served as managing editor of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, and was a staff member in several federal government agencies.


Federalist No. 71 and Federalist No. 76 focus on the level of authority in the executive. This essay reviews the recent history of efforts to measure government performance as a way to control executive performance and then proceeds to a discussion of the weakness inherent in past approaches. The author uses the Government Performance and Results Act and the George W. Bush administration’s Program Assessment Rating Tool as examples in making the case.