PUBLIC SECTOR INNOVATION
ARE THEY COMPATIBLE CONCEPTS?
A CASE STUDY OF TEN HARVARD/FORD
FOUNDATION INNOVATIONS IN STATE AND LOCAL
GOVERNMENT AWARDS PROGRAM WINNERS
EVERETT EDWARD DAHL
B.S., Southwest Missouri State University, 1967
M.P.A., California State University Sacramento, 1977
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
1996 by Everett Edward Dahl
All rights reserved.
This Thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
has been approved for the
Graduate School of Public Affairs
2, 3 I 7*^
Dahl, Everett Edward (Ph.D., Public Administration)
Public Sector Innovation and Accountability: Are They Compatible
Concepts? A Case Study of Ten Harvard/Ford Foundation Innovations in
State and Local Government Awards Program Winners
Thesis directed by Professor Allan Wallis
This is a comparative case study of governmental innovation at the state
and local level investigating how control, accountability and democratic values
are or are not maintained in the process of implementing such innovations.
Government is often described as inefficient and wasteful, and tax
payers insist that government be more efficient, innovative, and
entrepreneurial. At the same time, the public expects government to be
This dissertation investigates whether public sector agencies, which are
structured as bureaucracies and characterized by tight controls, can operate as
In 1986 Harvard Universitys, Kennedy School of Government, with the
aid of a Ford Foundation Grant, began annually recognizing ten public sector
innovators with $100,000 awards. Researchers have conducted a great deal of
analysis to better understand this innovation phenomenon. The bulk of these
studies have focused on innovation but not on accountability requirements.
This dissertation examines whether public sector innovation and control,
accountability, and democratic values are compatible concepts.
Ten Harvard/Ford Foundation program award winners (period 1986-
1992) were judgmentally selected for analysis. Control, accountability and
democratic values described in the literature were compared to the cases
selected to validate the findings and conclusions. Six propositions dealing with
accountability, based on the intensive research of six authors, were developed
and then contrasted to the accountability strategies utilized by the ten
innovations investigated. Applying the logic of analytic generalization, theory
building findings and conclusions were disclosed.
The dissertation concludes that innovation and accountability are
compatible concepts. Superhuman efforts to innovate and maintain
accountability expectations are not required. The innovators were pragmatic
and did what had to be done. The process was time consuming and often
complex, but the innovators, contrary to popular literature and research
findings, did not have to engage in subversive or deceptive behavior to
circumvent accountability requirements. The dissertation establishes
conventional wisdom is wrong-innovation is not inconsistent with
accountability requirements. Those requirements do force a deliberative
process, but they do not prevent innovation and American democratic values
are protected by the process.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates
dissertation. I recommend its publication.
To my loving and supportive wife
Sandra Lynn Lewis-Dahl
and our four children.
1. INTRODUCTION.......................................... 1
Research Question.................................... 8
Scope of Study...................................... 12
Assumptions and Definitions......................... 14
2. REVIEW OF LITERATURE................................. 19
Defense of Bureaucracy ............................. 24
Control, Accountability, and Democratic Values...... 27
Demand for Change, Innovation, Entrepreneurship,
and Reinvention..................................... 31
Harvard/Ford Foundation Award Program.............. 38
Prior Investigations............................... 40
3. RESEARCH DESIGN ..................................... 46
Why a Case Study................................... 51
Propositions Development, Definition, Application, and
Utilization as an Analytic Device.................. 53
Data Analysis, Construct Validity and External Validity ... 59
4. RESEARCH FINDINGS PART 1........................... 65
Strategies of Innovation and Accountability.......... 69
Ten Case Reports..................................... 75
Case 1 Entity: State of Missouri, Department of
Education, Division of Elementary and Secondary
Case 1 Summary................................. 85
Case 2 Entity: Commonwealth of Kentucky,
Kentucky Courts of Justice .................... 86
Case 2 Summary
Case 3 Entity: City of Fort Collins, Colorado,
Office of Development Services Planning
Case 3 Summary................................116
Case 4 Entity: St. Louis County, Missouri -
Police Department ............................118
Case 4 Summary................................131
Case 5 Entity: State of Kentucky, Kentucky
Case 5 Summary................................142
Case 6 Entity: Ramsey County, Minnesota -
Community Human Services Department (CHSD) . 144
Case 6 Summary................................160
Case 7 Entity: Montgomery County, Maryland -
Department of Health..........................162
Case 7 Summary................................178
Case 8 Entity: City of Seattle, Washington -
Engineering Department Solid Waste Utility .180
Case 8 Summary................................201
Case 9 Entity: Madisonville, Tennessee -
Monroe Maternity Center, Inc. (MMCI)..........203
Case 9 Summary....................................217
Case 10 Entity: State of Washington -
Department of Labor and Industries, Workers
Compensation System-State Fund....................219
Case 10 Summary...................................238
Cross-Case Generalizations Part 2.....................240
Degree of Complexity and Analysis of Cause/Need
for Innovation, Accountability Strategy, and
Government Level .......................................240
Cause or Need for Innovation............................242
Innovation and Accountability as an Interactive and
Transactional Process ................................. 244
Problem Identification and Recognition -
Reactive vs. Proactive..................................255
Governmental Size/Level and Function Type ..............257
Outside Groups, Contractors, Consultants,
and Public Private Partnerships ........................261
The Unexpected and Unanticipated........................262
Similar Conditions Different Strategies...............271
PT and PC ON and MC
PT and PC.........................................272
ON and MC.........................................274
Importance of Study...............................286
A. RESEARCH PROPOSITIONS BY AUTHOR...................294
B. DISSERTATION TEN JUDGMENTALLY
SELECTED HARVARD/FORD FOUNDATION
AWARD WINNERS ....................................297
C. OUTLINE FOR CASE REPORTS.............298
D. CROSS-CASE SUMMARY ..................299
E. TOTAL HARVARD/FORD FOUNDATION
AWARD WINNERS BY FUNCTION,
GOVERNMENTAL LEVEL AND YEAR OF
AWARD (1986 1992, TOTAL 60)....... 301
F. AWARD WINNER BY FUNCTION, GOVERNMENTAL
LEVEL FOR 1993 1994 (TOTAL 20) NON-SAMPLE
2.1 Bellone and Goerl Democratic Values Propositions............ 30
3.1 Accountability Propositions by Author ...................... 55
3.2 Research Propositions Derived from Authors ................. 56
4.1 Listing of the Ten Award Winners Investigated by Name
Of Entity, Title of Innovation, Research Title- Code, and
Year of Award............................................... 74
4.2 Accountability/Control Requirements and Strategies
Required to Comply..........................................240
4.3 Cause and/or Need for Innovation and Accountability
4.4 Summary Listing of Dissertation Findings....................275
4.5 Accountability Scale (Procedural/Rule Based)................279
4.6 Democratic Values...........................................279
5.1 Summary of Dissertation Conclusions.........................292
I owe a substantial debt to all of those who have contributed to this
dissertation. There are certain individuals, however, who merit special
recognition for their contributions.
Dr. Allan Wallis, my dissertation advisor, who encouraged and guided
me through all of the stages of this process. He provided important
suggestions and criticisms in the preparation of this research product. I
especially thank him and the other committee members, Michael Cortes, Sam
Overman, Linda deLeon, and James Miller for not giving up on me. I have
not only been in the doctoral program for a very long time, but it has taken
me a great deal more time to complete the dissertation than I ever imagined.
I thank each of you for your patience, advice, counsel, and encouragement.
A few years ago, before I retired from the U.S. Department of
Education, work schedules and commitments nearly caused me to drop out of
the doctoral program all together. Sam Overman, who was then the doctoral
student advisor, worked with me and with his encouragement persuaded me
not to quit. I am especially thankful for his advice and counsel.
On several occasions I have visited or spoken with Marc Zegans,
Associate Director of Research, Innovations in American Government,
Harvard University. Both he and other staff members in the Innovations
program have provided much needed information and documents. Without
their help and assistance, this dissertation could never have been completed.
My interest and strong belief in the importance of innovation and
creativity in the public sector began while I served on a three-year project to
facilitate innovations in the U.S. Department of Education, Office of the
Inspector General. To develop and implement new and innovative approaches
is both rewarding and, at times, frustrating. Knowing this through personal
experience and from the knowledge gained during this research, I want to
commend the public sector innovators who have tried to change and improve
the system. The process is risky, time consuming and all too often thankless.
For those who were recognized by the Harvard/Ford Foundation Awards
Program, my hat is off to you.
Finally, as a life-long student, many hours have been spent in the
classroom, writing papers and reading; time which was utilized at the expense
of my beloved family. Without the support, understanding, patience, and love
of my wife and children, none of this would have been possible. I am
fortunate in so many ways, but my family has always given my life meaning
and purpose. Thank you for being there when you were needed most.
This dissertation examines how ten public-sector entities at the state
and local level balanced the need for innovation while maintaining
accountability requirements. There are constant demands on government to
provide more programs and services with fewer resources. Government must
also solve problems caused by internal and external forces and which have
been thrust upon them with new and creative solutions. Government is
described almost daily as bloated, impersonal, ineffective, and wasteful while
taxpayers insist that government be more productive, efficient, innovative and
entrepreneurial; at the same time the public expects government to be
accountable and not take risks with their money.
A great deal of literature exists which demonstrates by whom, how, and
where innovation occurs in some public-sector entities. Simultaneously, the
media, courts, legislative bodies, citizens, clients, interest groups, internal
control groups (auditors and Inspectors Generals), and academics continue to
find instances of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement. These facts stand
as prima facie evidence of the need for control, accountability, and democratic l
values in the public sector.
Very little inquiry has been conducted as to how successful public sector
innovators balance experimentation and risk taking with the requirements for
control, accountability, and democratic values. Levin and Sanger suggest
public-sector innovators have successfully learned to negotiate their way
through these two requirements. Their emphasis, however, was less on public-
sector organizations and more on how successful public managers used creative
subversion to implement their initiatives and circumvent control mechanisms.
Although they discuss over thirty examples of successful innovations in both
the public and private sectors, their research offers only anecdotal
representations of the innovators behavior.1
In essence, they theorize, along with others more fully detailed in the
Literature Review, Chapter 2, that innovation is not compatible with
accountability in the public sector since public administrators are forced to use
creative subversion or some other deception to implement their initiatives.
Through force of will and determination, these innovative public managers
make government work. This was not, however, the rinding of this *
Martin A. Levin, and Mary Bryan Sanger, Making Government Work:
How Entrepreneurial Executives Turn Bright Ideas into Real Results (San
Francisco, C.A.: Jossey-Bass Publisher, 1994), preface.
The innovators in the ten cases investigated were not strong-willed
individuals. In almost all of the cases, the innovations were developed and
implemented in groups, teams or by individuals who collaborated, but not at
the same time or on the same part of the innovation. In seven of the ten
cases, there was a crisis (or near crisis) which drove the need for the
innovation. The problem, not the will or determination of a strong
leader/manager provided the incentive for a solution. Although there were
strong advocatessupportive champions, leaders, and public pressure and
interest groups-it was the need for a solution(s) to a pressing problem that
generated the backing for the use of government resources and drove the
development and implementation of the innovation.
This dissertation is an empirical inquiry using a comparative case-study
design to investigate the compatibility of innovation and accountability. Each
case provides a contemporary example of how the examined entities did or did
not comply with controls, accountability, and democratic value expectations in
the development and implementation of their innovations. The logic of
theoretical replication is applied to establish analytical generalization(s) to the
The purpose of this dissertation is to explore how ten judgmentally
selected Harvard/Ford Foundation "Innovations in State and Local
Government" (the award program title changed to "Innovations in American
Government" in the 1995 award year) award winners balanced experimental
and risk-taking behavior and initiatives with accountability requirements and
their compatibility. It is well-documented that government bureaucracies
operate with interacting rules, regulations, laws, and oversight mechanisms
designed to hold unelected public officials and executives accountable.
Basically they are expected to act in the public interest and to do the right
things. These procedural-based accountability requirements are designed to
control the actions of public officials and to force them to operate and
perform within the limits of their statutorily created authorities, duties, and
responsibilities. Still, it has not been and probably never will be possible to
define a public officials functions with such detail that some levels of
discretionary authority will not remain. One could also argue that to eliminate
all discretionary authority would be unwise, even if it were possible.
The courts at both the federal and state levels have over the years
recognized through numerous precedent-setting court decisions that public
officials have the power to exercise discretionary authority which exists
incidental to their statutorily created duties and powers. "However, such
discretion must be exercised according to the established rules of law and
principles of justice and not in an arbitrary or capricious manner, or for
personal, selfish, or fraudulent motives, or for any other reason or reasons not
supported by the discretion conferred [by law]. This grant of power mandates
that public officials powers, which includes discretionary, be exercised for the
The amount of slack in the American political system is large and
arguably growing.3 This translates into broader bands of discretionary
authority and the increased potential for fraud, waste, abuse, and
mismanagement of public resources. With the daily doses of publicity given to
wrongdoing, whether through feasance or malfeasance, it is, unfortunately,
easier to call for more controls than less.
Within the last several decades, few candidates for elected office would
expect or hope to win on a platform which advocates the elimination or
reduction of controls or accountability requirements. Press stories of
governmental improprieties just add fuel to the already deeply ingrained
2Corpus Juris Secundum. 1978 ed., s.v. "Oaths and Affirmations-
3Robert Dahl, Polyarchy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971), 8.
mistrust Americans hold toward their government and its officials.4
As in the past, to direct the actions and activities of public officials we
continue to enact new control mechanisms that attempt to enforce the
accountability standards and democratic values we expect and demand. We
cannot, however, legislate morality or ethical values into the powers of public
officials, which, if possible, would theoretically prevent most fraud, abuse, and
self-serving activities of public officials. Instead, we depend upon control
methods, accountability requirements and standards, and then rely on the
courts, public pressure, and the power of the ballot box when breaches of
trust, the law, or confidence occur. It is not a perfect system-failure and
breakdowns occur-but an infallible system is a theoretical concept and is not
likely to exist in practice.
It may not be plausible to pinpoint a place in time or a specific incident
that was the catalyst for taxpayer demands that government do more with less,
but Proposition 13 in California may be that point. The prevailing belief today
is that government already has sufficient resources; it just needs to do a better,
more efficient job with what it already has.
4Robert D. Behn, "Innovation and Public Values: Mistakes, Flexibility,
Purpose, Equity, Cost Control and Trust." Durham, North Carolina. Ford
Foundation Conference on "The Fundamental Questions of Innovation," May
3-4, 1991, p. 18, 19.
Beginning in the late 1960s and continuing into the 1990s, a substantial
quantity of literature, both academic and popular, has been published dealing
with organizational excellence, innovation, creativity, employee empowerment,
entrepreneurship, and so on. The challenge to government was to do more
with less, while the private sector was seeking a competitive edge and
competing in international markets. Much of this literature has been written
about private-sector innovation, but many authors have suggested their
theories are applicable to the public sector. Behn has pointed out:
. .. unfortunately, the flexibility the scholars of
business find so essential for innovation is often
lacking in government. . They are
uncompromisingly bureaucratic .. lacking the . .
features that foster innovation ... the focus . .
quickly shifts from the purpose to be achieved to
the routines to be followed.5
It may be unfortunate that such flexibility is lacking in government or
just another representation that the private and public sectors are different
and operate with separate value expectations. Some of the needs for
innovation and the stages of their development may be similar, but the
expectations of broad public accountability remain significantly dissimilar. This
is not accidental. Americans have consistently required that government
remain accountable and comply with democratic value expectations. What is
good and acceptable behavior for the private sector may be illegal, improper,
wrongful, and unacceptable in the public sector. Still, some public sector
agencies have risen to the occasion and have found ways to be innovative and
entrepreneurial within their bureaucratized settings.
How do public sector agencies operate as innovative and
entrepreneurial organizations, and, more specifically, are public-sector
innovation and accountability compatible concepts?
The Random House Dictionary defines compatible as "capable of co-
existing in harmony." Another related concept is congruity, which is the
"quality of agreement, harmony or correspondence between things."6 Can
these two apparently incongruent concepts, which arguably require
irreconcilable polymorphic strategies, ever be compatible, and if so, under
Placing the question pragmatically, Downs states:
Creativity can be defined as a deliberate pursuit of
6Random House Dictionary of the English Language. (New York:
Random House, 1987).
change or innovation . creativity inherently
involves experimenting .. some attempts may fail.
Uncertain activities introduce risk ... all of these
ramifications contradict the normal tendency of
officials to reduce the uncertainty and short run
inefficiency of their operations by routinizing
procedures . and using detailed rules . .
creativity within a bureau inevitably generates
tensions and inconsistencies with other bureau
characteristics. Moreover, these other
characteristics-tendencies toward inertia,
routenization and inflexibility are natural and
inevitable attributes of all bureaus. Creativity is
Downs does not suggest creativity is impossible in bureaus, rather it is
inconsistent with bureaucratic culture.
Drucker put the challenge to innovating in government another way:
Im not saying it cant be done ... but chances are
not terribly good in an organization that refuses to
innovate and never wants to do it.8
Both Downs and Drucker suggest innovation is conceivable in a
bureaucratic setting (a) if the organization has a willingness to do so and (b) if
it is recognized that experimentation and risk taking are alien to bureaus and
success comes from hard work-but accountability in this context was not an
Anthony Downs, Inside Bureaucracy (Boston, M.A.: Little Brown and
Company, 1967), 203, 204.
8Anthony Rutigliano, "An Interview With Peter Drucker: Managing the
New," Management Review (January 1986): 39-40.
issue raised by Downs and Drucker.
Accountability requirements are enforced through control mechanisms,
which have theoretically been put into place to protect citizen rights and
promote the public interest in decisions and policy. The bureaucratic structure
of government establishes procedures and routinizes activities that are often
inflexible and characterized by tight controls. Accountability as a legal concept
is enforceable through the courts and the ballot box.
The Random House Dictionary defines accountability as "subject to the
obligation to report, explain or justify something, responsible, answerable."9 In
a public-sector organization this accountability is to the sovereign people.
From a procedural view, the U.S. General Accounting Office,
Comptroller Generals Government Auditing Standards states that:
. . officials . must render a full account of their
activities to the public . this accountability
concept is inherent in the governing process . .
public officials, legislators, and private citizens want
to know whether government funds are handled
properly and in compliance with laws and
l0U.S. General Accounting Office, Government Auditing Standards
(Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1988), 3.
.. accountability means a liability to reveal, to
explain and to justify what one does; how one
discharges responsibilities financial or other.
Accountability is still more than a legalistic/procedural matter, there are
also normative aspects. The ethical side of accountability and democratic
values is manifested in open decision and policy making; citizen, client and
interest-group participation; and stewardship and prudent use of the public
Yin states propositions should direct attention to what should be
examined within the scope of a study.13 To answer the research question,
propositional criteria were established: 1) to properly direct accurate and valid
uThe Dilemma of Accountability in Modem Government:
Independence vs. Control. Edited by: Bruce L. R. Smith and D. C. Hague,
N.Y. MacMillan & Co. 1971. Article: Public Accountability and Audit by:
Normanton, E. Leslie, 311.
12Carl J. Bellone and George F. Goerl, "Reconciling Public
Entrepreneurship and Democracy," Public Administration Review 52 no. 2
(March/April 1992): 130-132.
I3Robert K. Yin, Case Study Research. Design, and Methods Applied
Social Research Methods Series 5 (Newberry Park, London, New Delhi: Sage
Publications, 1989), 30.
data collection bearing on accountability strategies and issues; 2) to function as
an operational checklist that identifies in a summarized form the accountability
strategies actually utilized by the ten innovators; and 3) to set the stage for
developing the findings and conclusions.
The six propositions developed for this investigation are fully described
in Chapter 3 and Appendix A. The academic literature written by six authors
and upon which the six accountability propositions are based are found in
Chapter 2, in the section titled Control, Accountability, and Democratic
This study collects and analyzes data which shows how the six
accountability propositions apply to each of the ten cases examined. This
provides replications and generalizations upon which theory building
conclusions are made.
Scope of Study
Although two complex issues, innovation and accountability, were at the
center of this investigation, the dissertation question simplified the scope.
The study assumed all ten award winners were innovative by virtue of
having been recognized by the Harvard/Ford Foundation Award Program. It
also assumed that all of the award winners were bound by similar types of
laws, rules, regulations, control methods, accountability requirements, and
democratic-value expectations. Both of these assumptions narrow the scope of
Within this narrowed scope, the six accountability propositions were
applied to determine what actually occurred in each of the ten cases, vis-a-vis
innovation and accountability. Cross-case questions were then identified and
generalized.14 In each of the ten cases analyzed, the unit of analysis was an
instance which raised accountability questions. In some of the cases only a
single issue was raised, in others there were multiple questions and
circumstances which required resolving or working out.
Because existing theory suggests increased levels and size of government
negatively impacts the ability to innovate or change, as does the need to
innovate based on program type, the analysis of cases resulted in more
exploratory than explanation-building findings.15 However, some explanation-
building theory is identified. The context of the research question, though
15Downs, Inside Bureaucracy. 270-271; Olivia Golden, "Balancing
Entrepreneurship Line Worker Discretion and Political Accountability: The
Delicate Task of Innovation in Human Services," speech presented at the
annual Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management, Seattle, W.A.,
October 27-29, 1988, p. 11-14, 28; Rutigliano, "An Interview With Peter
Drucker" p.p. 38-41; and Behn, "Innovation and Public Values," 4, 6, 8.
broad (innovation and accountability), is less problematic since the scope is
limited by the assumptions and narrowly defined propositions.
Assumptions and Definitions
1. This study assumes that all of the Harvard/Ford Foundation
innovation award winners were innovative by virtue of being recognized by the
award program. All award winners were from the state, county or city
Operationally, innovation is described by Alan Altshuler, Director, and
Marc Zegans, Associate Director of Research of the Innovations Program, as
An innovation has two elements: a fresh idea and
its expression in a practical course of action. The
idea may be an invention (if it is a product of
creativity) or a discovery (if it has been found in
nature or in some wider human environment).
The innovator, who may or may not have
generated the idea contributes the effective linkage
of the fresh ideas to a practical problem or
objective. . Quantification is usually impossible
in this arena so we have sought conceptual clarity
rather than measurability in selecting criteria. . .
we have sought to .. concentrate on four [novelty,
quality, significance and replicability] ... we judge
novelty by asking how great a leap of creativity was
required ... to access quality we look at how clear
and profound [are the] benefits; significance
involves magnitude of impact; replicability focuses
attention on actual and potential effects beyond
the jurisdiction and time period of concern.16
The Random House Dictionary defines innovation as the "introduction
of something new, to make change in anything established."17
Closely aligned with innovation and creativity is entrepreneurship or
entrepreneurial behavior. The Random House Dictionary defines an
entrepreneur as "a person who organizes and manages any enterprise,
especially a business, usually with considerable initiative or risk."18
Pinchot19 and Drucker20 have described "intrapreneuring" and
entrepreneurship in organizations. They both suggest promoting a more
innovative spirit, providing the necessary resources for risk takers, structuring
organizations as purposeful searchers of change, encouraging cross-
organization team projects, and structuring organizations to be seekers of
16Alan Altshuler and Marc Zegans, "Innovation and Creativity
Comparisons Between Public Management and Private Enterprise," Cities
(February 1990): 20, 21.
19Gilford Pinchot, Intrapreneuring: Whv You Dont Have to Leave the
Corporation to Become an Entrepreneur (New York: Harper & Row, 1985),
20Drucker, Peter, Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and
Practice. New York: Harper & Row, 1985, 1-50.
Bellone and Goerl state that "public administrators and entrepreneurs .
.. seek to find new sources of revenue, besides .. traditional taxes, increase
tax bases through economic development projects, and augment the number of
private sector entrepreneurs within their boundaries."21
2. This study assumes the award winners, regardless of level (state,
county, or city), are bound by similar types of laws, rules, regulations, control
methods, accountability requirements, and democratic values. All have
bureaucratic structures, operate within the confines of a state constitution, and
have legislative, judicial or executive branches as counterparts; all are subject
to citizen, client, and interest group involvement and media attention.
3. This study assumes that innovation inherently requires some
level of experimentation and risk taking which makes it particularly difficult
and risky to be an innovator in the public sector. It may be more difficult to
be an innovator there than in the private sector, but it is not impossible.
4. Finally, this study assumes that to assure construct and external
validity, and triangulation of the research findings, multiple data sources must
be utilized in each case report. In this study these sources include The Data
21Bellone and Goerl, 130.
Sheets and Application II, which were the basis upon which the Harvard/Ford
Foundation Award was granted. The validity of this data is increased by the
process used to select the award winners. Twenty-five annual finalists are
selected from all of the applications received, based on the information
provided in the Data Sheets and Application II. The researchers and/or
government practitioners visit each of these twenty-five finalists for a three-day
site inspection, verification and evaluation. These site teams or individuals
prepare written reports and submit them to the Harvard/Ford Foundation
committee. That committee meets for two days to review the written reports
and to interview a representative of each finalists project. The committee
then selects the ten annual award winners. Other data sources used include
Harvard teaching cases, reports and summaries, newspaper and magazine
articles, journal articles by professionals and scholars, specially commissioned
reports, and investigative analysis and audit documents. In addition to the
Harvard Ford Foundation Award, the author sent information sheets to each
project, conducted telephone and personal interviews, and made visits to three
This dissertation is a comparative case study of ten judgmentally
selected Harvard/Ford Foundation Award winners designed to determine
whether accountability and innovation are compatible concepts. The approach
taken was exploratory more than explanatory, although some explanation-
building theory was developed. Utilizing a set of six propositions concerning
accountability, each case is examined to determine whether the innovation
occurred with due consideration and compliance with the accountability
propositions. A cross-case analysis is made, using the logic of theoretic
replication, upon which the analytic generalizations and conclusions are
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Central to the research question are three literary streams. The first,
organization and bureaucratic theory, describes the setting and conditions
within which the public sector operates. The second traces the need for
control mechanisms, accountability requirements and democratic values. The
third examines the need for change, entrepreneurship, innovation/creativity,
and reinvention caused by rapidly changing technological and social conditions.
Research concerning how public-sector agencies are expected to operate
within the confines of bureaucratic structures, over which they have little
control, and simultaneously engage in entrepreneurial and innovative behavior
while legally and ethically adhering to internal and external controls,
accountability requirements and democratic values is lacking. The purpose of
this literature review is to briefly describe the three literary streams which
impact innovative initiatives of public-sector managers.
To provide an exhaustive literature review of bureaucracy would be a
difficult undertaking, even if the focus of the dissertation were more directly
tied to bureaucracy and organization theory. The quantity of literature written
on the subject is extensive and only a brief overview is presented. More
importantly, the goal is to provide a perspective on the development of the
control mechanisms, accountability requirements, and democratic values we
demand of those in governmental bureaucracies. The following then is not
intended to provide an historical understanding of bureaucracy, rather it is to
place it in the context of the larger dissertation question.
The guiding principal of governance in this country is the
constitutionally based contractual agreement between the sovereign people and
its government. This baseline relationship is as strong today as ever, and
unless it is understood, the question of accountability expectations becomes
blurred. The reason bureaucrats do not always follow the advice which comes
from all directions "has to do with the constitutional regime of which they are
a part."22 The expectations and demands on government are significantly
dissimilar to the private sector.
Fred W. Riggs, "Bureaucracy the Constitution," Public Administration
Review 54 no. 1, (January/February 1994): 65-72.
The Constitution and the design of government it established is to
promote the general welfare and to protect the public interest. An elaborate
system of checks and balances were built into all facets of our government, so
its officials would theoretically be held responsible and accountable for their
Although little was initially written about bureaucracy, its operations or
management, the mechanisms of control have been the subject of extensive
research since. The reformists and scientific-management theorists believed
once "science and rationality" were applied, universal management principles
would be discovered and bureaucracy would operate more effectively.
The politics/administration dichotomy posits that policy formation and
administration of that policy could be entirely separated, thus avoiding the
ethical issues that become problematic when discretionary authority is
involved.23 Once discretionary authority exercised by bureaucrats was
recognized as a reality, and once it was apparent that no simple set of
principles applied to all individuals, organizations or structures, the problem of
Woodrow Wilson, "The Study of Administration," Political Science
Quarterly II. (June 1887), p. 197-222; Frank J. Goodnow, Politics and
Administration (New York: Russell and Russell, 1900), p.p. 10-11; Leonard
D. White, Introduction to the Study of Public Administration (New York:
Harper & Brothers, 1926), 2; and Nichols Henry, Public Administration and
Public Affairs (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1980), 31.
values and control became the subject of heightened interest.
Simon argues administrators made decisions on bases other than those
of economy and efficiency.24 Lasswell and Barnard make essentially the same
argument.25 They state that decisions were made by public administrators on
the bases of feelings, emotions, and mental attitudes, as well as on rationality.
Finally, Tullock suggests that among public administrators what is good for the
public (public interest) or even the organization is often an incidental
consideration for managers.26 To assure control and accountability, a labyrinth
of control mechanisms has been devised. Control is no longer a theoretical
issue but a practical one which translates into efforts to monitor the public
The garden-variety government agency is structured as a hierarchy:
inflexible, rigid, non-creative, and resistant to change. Much of the cause for
these characteristics is the structural design, personnel systems, and control
24Herbert A. Simon, Administration Behavior: A Study of Decision-
Making Processes in Administration Organization (New York: Free Press,
^Harold Lasswell, Psychotherapy and Politics (New York: Viking,
1930); and, Chester I. Barnard, The Functions of the Executive (Cambridge,
M.A.: Harvard University Press, 1938).
26Gordon Tullock, The Politics of Bureaucracy (Washington, D.C.:
Public Affairs Press, 1965).
mechanisms imposed by law and regulation. In effect, government operates as
it was structured and designed.
The question raised by all this is whether it is even possible with all the
control mechanisms placed on public officials to begin a new, innovative, or
creative endeavor and stay within the bounds of control and accountability
requirements? Does it prevent or retard innovation or foster resorting to
subversive or furtive behavior? Further questions arise which are as
problematic: who would want to try; based on what authority would one begin;
and are there any incentives for being a public-sector risk taker or innovator?
Finally, how would statutory language be phrased which would state a public
official must follow the rules, laws, and regulations, and stay within the tight
constraints of legally vested authority; but when called upon act in the public
interest and be innovative, even if the rules, laws, and control methods have to
be stretched or bent? The capacity to develop and implement an innovation
within accountability, control, and democratic-value requirements becomes a
mute question if the two are incongruent and not compatible. Lastly, are we
as Americans ready and willing to selectively look the other way and tacitly
condone behavior and actions that willfully circumvent or subvert
accountability expectations by public administrators, even if their intentions are
good and honorable?
Defense of Bureaucracy
The existence of discretionary authority heightened awareness of the
need for control, accountability, and values. However, it was the civil strife,
social unrest, and rapid growth in technology and social changes of the 1960s
and 1970s which gave rise to a major re-examination of bureaucracy and
government in general. Bennis writes,
. . organizations had to be reformed in light of
the inevitability of bewildering, upheaving change .
. and do so before that predictable time .. when
bureaucracy .. comes to an inevitable end.27
Waldo states that as a result of Vietnam, unequal treatment of
minorities and poverty, "the wave of sentiment against government solutions,"
"centralized government," and "bureaucracy" was growing.28 Marcuse, Ellul,
Roszak, and Reich all criticize bureaucracy and similarly suggest it is
inhumane, technocratic, impersonal, value-neutral, value-less, and biased in
favor of existing policy.29 The so-called red tape, the faceless nature of
27Warren Bennis, Beyond Bureaucracy (New York: McGraw-Hill Book
Company, 1966), Introduction.
Dwight Waldo, Toward a New Public Administration the
Minnowbrook Perspective, ed. Frank Marini (Scranton, P.A.: Chandler
Publishing Company, 1971), Foreword xvii.
29Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of
Advanced Industrial Society (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964), Jacques Ellul, The
Technological Society (New York: Knopf, 1964); Theordore J. Roszak, The
bureaucracy, and reports of waste and mismanagement could lead one to the
perception that all is wrong and nothing is right with bureaucracy.
This has even translated into what is written and taught about
bureaucracy in colleges and universities. Cigler and Neiswender report a
survey of relevant chapters in eighteen college undergraduate textbooks
(published between 1980 and 1991) and found the public bureaucracy is:
. . narrowly presented, popularized unflattering
myths and stressed the need to control
bureaucratic behavior. .. The negative image of
bureaucracy was stressed while failing to cite
As with most controversies, there are counter arguments, and the
maligning of bureaucracy is no exception. Downs, Blau and Meyer, Wall and
Jones, and Goodsell defend and present a case for the bureaucratic structure.31
Making of a Counter Culture (New York: Doublesday, 1969); and, Charles
Reich, The Greening of America: How the Youth Revolution is Trying to
Make America Liveable (New York: Random House, 1970).
30Beverly Cigler and Heidi L. Neiswender, "Bureaucracy in the
Introductory American Government Textbooks," Public Administration Review
51 no. 5 (September/October 1991): 442-450.
31Downs, Inside Bureaucracy: Peter M. Blau and Marshall W. Meyer,
Bureaucracy in Modem Societies (New York: Random House, 1971) 148-151;
Peter Wall and Rochelle James, "Against One-Man Rule: Bureaucratic
Defense in Depth," The Nation CCXVII. 17 September 1973, 229; and,
Charles T. Goodsell, The Case for Bureaucracy (Chatham, N.J.: Chatham
House Publishers, Inc., 1983), preface.
Perhaps the best defense of bureaucracy is presented by Goodsell:
Governmental bureaucracy in the United States is
a generalized failure and threat. This view point
comes to us from all directions. Political
conservatives insist bureaucracy blunders constantly
and threatens the superior instruments of private
enterprise . Political liberals reject bureaucracy
as a tool of the elitist establishment and as an
oppressor of the hapless individual. The press
finds bureaucracy to be a splendid source of
interest arousing horror stories. Academics within
several disciplines ... make extravagant, outraged
claims as to bureaucracies overall breakdown and
oppressive nature ... I am not claiming that
bureaucracy is perfect or anyway near that
wondrous state .. deficiencies are particularized
rather than generalized and that they occur within
tolerable ranges of proportionate incidences. They
do not constitute a comprehensive inadequacy or
over arching threat. . bureaucracy is ... a vast
mix of performance and quality. Within this mix,
acceptable and responsible conduct is far more
common than unacceptable and irresponsible
Whether one agrees or disagrees that bureaucratic structures are
necessarily endemic to the public sector, there is little evidence they will
drastically change. The criticisms will continue, but actual changes may be less
than desired. Bureaucracy has survived for over two hundred years, and for
the foreseeable future, innovators in the public sector will have to develop and
32Ibid. Goodsell, Preface ix.
implement their initiatives within the confines, constraints, and scope of the
bureaucratic structure imposed upon them.
Control. Accountability, and
Americans have always had an uneasy relationship with their
government, and accountability requirements were built into the Constitution.
A move to change control mechanisms drastically would be extremely
unpopular and would almost certainly not gamer many votes. Therefore,
public-sector innovators will have to develop and implement their initiatives
within the parameters of existing accountability requirements.
Control mechanisms, as they apply to organizations and public
administrators, are mechanistic and technical in nature, and exist in the form
of procedural-based rules, regulations, and law. They also come in the form of
control exercised by the bureaucratic hierarchical structure, internal reports
and reviews, and restrictions on information and budgeted resources.
Accountability has two implications-one ethical and value-based, the
other procedural and enforcement-based. To be responsible and accountable
is an expectation of liability for ones actions. Ethically, accountability in this
sense is a form of self-control since most people understand they are liable
and responsible for what they do. Whether they chose to be so is an entirely
different matter. To be held accountable takes on an involuntary aspect and is
enforced by internal and external monitoring of agencies and the use of
mechanisms such as auditors, program reviewers, Inspectors General (IGs), the
public, legislators, the courts, the press, and the ballot box.
The term "democratic values" is an ethical and value-based concept:
public officials should act in the public interest and good, even if some
decisions might not result in a positive outcome for the official. Again, court
decisions at both the federal and state level have recognized the existence and
necessary exercise of discretionary authority by public officials. The courts
have stated that the grant of power mandates that the powers of public
officials, which includes discretionary authority, be exercised for the public
good.33 Democratic values require the consideration of equity along with
efficiency and effectiveness. Honesty, openness, involvement of citizens, client
and interest group participation, democratic stewardship and primary care for
the public interest, are its hallmark.
Gortner, for example, prefaces his discussion of accountability and
responsibility with an overview of bureaucratic power. He suggests that in
33Corpus Juris Secundom. 637.
spite of this power, bureaucracy "has been held in check."34 This has resulted
from formal external controls: legislative control, citizen and interest-group
participation, the courts, hearings and meetings and the press. Internal control
is primarily the result of hierarchical structure^). Finally, he states the
ultimate control is internalized "self-responsibility."
Gruber further identifies five broad approaches to democratic control:35
1. Control through participation;
2. Control through client relations;
3. Control through pursuit of the public interest;
4. Control through accountability (procedural based rules
and regulations); and
5. Self control.
Normanton also states,
the premise of public accountability is ... it obliges
politicians, officials and management to engage
openly in a dialogue which calls into question what
they are doing, and sometimes the assumptions
upon which that activity is founded.36
34Harold F. Gortner, Administration in the Public Sector (New York:
John Wiley and Sons, 1977), 63-82.
35Judith E. Gruber, Controlling Bureaucracies. Dilemmas in Democratic
Governance (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California
Press, 1987), 18.
36E. Leslie Normanton, "Public Accountability and Audit," The Dilemma
of Accountability in Modem Government: Independence vs. Control, ed.
Bruce L. R. Smith and D. C. Hague (New York: MacMillan and Company,
Bellone and Goerl stress the need for democratic values "when public
managers engage in entrepreneurial actions."37 The following represents their
Bellone and Goerl Democratic Value Propositions
Requirements for Entrepreneurial Democratic Values
Autonomy and use of discretionary authority. Democratic accountability attempted by measuring inputs and regulator/administrative processes (rules, regulations, and laws).
Entrepreneurial Vision private vision and schemes. Citizen input and participation.
Secrecy as a requisite for success. Openness in the conduct of public business.
Risk taking behavior. Democratic stewardship prudent use of the public trust and concern for the public interest.
To reconcile the incompatibilities, Bellone and Goerl recommend a
"civic-regarding entrepreneurship" which is built on a "strong theory of
citizenship."38 This is simply ethics-grounded self-control/responsibility
37Bellone and Goerl, Reconciling Public. 130-132.
suggested by others.
Down suggests that the structure of bureaucracy is a form of control.
In two chapters of Inside Bureaucracy, he specifically addresses the nature of
control, control processes and devices. Internal controls are exercised by the
hierarchical structure, rules, uniform procedures and use of technical operating
Demand for Change. Innovation.
Entrepreneurship and Reinvention
From the late 1960s to early 1980s, several trends and conditions
became evident. These included rapid technological and social change, loss of
U.S. dominance in world markets, internal economic downturns, decreasing
productivity rates, and heightened frustration with government.
Botkin, Dimancescu and Stata state:
American history is a case study in creativity of
individuals and institutions constantly testing new
ground and probing new ideas . creativity,
innovation, entrepreneurship and a capacity to
deliver are the means by which America ascended
to world prominence ... we have lost that special
edge that comes from getting ideas to the market
39Ibid Downs 132-158.
place faster and better than anyone else.40
If America is a case study in creativity, it became so through large
bureaucratized organizations both public and private. What caused the
problems? One answer is that we were not getting worse but others in the
world were getting better. Another more plausible answer, suggested by Dill
and Bums and Stalker, is the change from stable to unstable environments.41
These authors, though analyzing four different European organizations,
conclude that under stable conditions, organizations could successfully operate
as classically defined bureaucratic organizations.
The organizational design and operating methods required for unstable
conditions are like those described later by J. Galbraith, Nesbitt, Peters and
Waterman, Peters and Austin, Peters, Kanter, Pinchot, Rowan, Drucker, Ray
and Meyers, Robert and Weiss, and Waterman, et al.42 All of these authors
James Botkin, Dan Dimancescu, and Ray Stata, The Innovators:
Rediscovering Americas Creative Energy (New York: Harper & Row
Publishers, 1984), 274.
41William R. Dill, "Environment as an Influence on Managerial
Autonomy," Administrative Science Quarterly II. March 1958, 409-443; and,
Tom Bums and G. M. Stalker, The Management of Innovation (London:
Tavistock, 1961), 1-64.
42Jay R. Galbraith, "Designing the Innovative Organization," American
Management Association (Winter 1982); John Naisbitt, Megatrends. 1982;
Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, In Search of Excellence. 1982; Tom
Peters and Nancy Austin, A Passion for Excellence. 1985; Tom Peters,
suggest that in unstable environments characterized by rapidly changing
conditions, organizations that exhibit features such as rational/structural
environments, bureaucratic, hierarchical, inflexible, rigid, closed, segmented,
non-risk-taking, uncreative, and resistant to change, would be inadequate.
The debate about how to proceed in these tumultuous times continues.
It is almost universally accepted that organizations, both private and public,
have required new models and ways of thinking. Gardner states:
. . complexity is difficult enough, but
bureaucratized complexity in government. .
discourages innovation, intuition, and boldness,. .
without that [innovation] the organization becomes
. . non-adaptive bureaucracies . rigid,
unimaginative, and totally unequipped to deal with
a swiftly changing environment.43
Again, Botkin, Dimancescu, and Stata believe:
. . leadership has settled into a caretaker
syndrome as managers sit on past accomplishments
with no strong incentive to question the viability of
Thriving on Chaos. 1987; Rosabeth M. Kanter, The Changemasters. 1983;
Gilford Pinchot, Intrapreneuring: Why You Dont Have to Own the
Corporation to Become an Entrepreneur. 1985; Roy Rowan, The Intuitive
Manager. 1986; Peter Drucker, Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice
and Procedure. 1985; Ray, Michael and Rochelle Myers, Creativity in Business.
1986; Michael Robert and Alan Weiss, The Innovation Formula. 1988; and,
Robert Waterman, Adhocracy. 1990.
43John W. Gardner, Leadership Papers 1-12 (Washington, D.C.:
Independent Sector, 1986-1988) paper 5, p. 17 and paper 7, p. 6.
what appeared to be a continuing success.44
Although this was written over ten years ago and many positive changes have
been made, problems still exist.
Osborne and Gaebler, authors of the controversial Reinventing
Government describe how some public sector organizations have "reinvented"
the entrepreneurial spirit. They present ten principles for forming a new
model of government.45 This book has also become one of the centerpieces of
the Clinton administrations effort to modernize the federal government.
Osborne later became a central figure in Vice President Gores National
Performance Review (NPR), which published its report, From Red Tape to
Results: Creating a Government that Works Better and Costs Less.46
Ironically, the report states that federal employees from every agency
contacted complained that federal Inspectors General had inhibited innovation
and risk taking by their strict enforcement of rule-based controls. In the
44Botkin, Dimancescu, and Stata, The Innovators. 275.
45David Osborne and Ted A. Gaebler, Reinventing Government: How
the Entrepreneurial Spirit is Transforming the Public Sector (New York:
Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1992), Preface.
46A1 Gore, Vice President of the United States, From Red Tape to
Results: Creating a Government That Works Better and Costs Less, report of
the National Performance Review (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government
Printing Office, 1993).
future, the report suggested, the Inspectors General must focus more on
helping managers improve systems and spend less time on writing "gotcha"
This is especially ironical when one considers the Inspectors General
Act of 1978 (twice amended 1980 and 1985 to add new Inspectors General)
was enacted as a showpiece of monitoring-type accountability. The IGs were
to prevent and detect fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement and to promote
economy, efficiency, and effectiveness. Fraud, waste, abuse, and
mismanagement are relatively easy to quantify and report. Unfortunately
economy, efficiency, and effectiveness are soft concepts, thus much more
difficult to describe and quantify. This problem, along with the simple fact
that it is easier to get budgeted resources from horror stories rather than from
how-someone-was-helped examples, led Light to write a critique of the
Lights conclusions are much like those found in the NPR report: i.e.,
the Inspectors General spent less time making government programs and
operations efficient and effective and more on a numbers game that measured
47Paul C. Light, Monitoring Government: Inspectors General and the
Search for Accountability (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution,
1993) 6-8, 18-22, 203-219.
success by statistical accomplishments. Light defines three contemporary
strategies of accountability: 1) rule-based compliance; 2) performance
incentives; and 3) improvements in basic government services. He concludes
that "[a]fter all the statistical accomplishments are totalled. .. government
appears no more accountable today than before the I.G. Act." Thus the
Inspectors General spent too much time on rule-based compliance and not
enough on performance analysis and making recommendations to improve
If one of the showpieces of federal government accountability received
this level of rebuke, it is little wonder Osborne and Gaeblers book and the
NPR report were not enthusiastically received by everyone. Walters stated
that Reinventing Government is "invaluable and inspiring," while others call it
"simplistic and politically naive."48 Goodsell writes:
. . there were no revolutionary ideas ... the term
entrepreneurship was stretched beyond normal
usage, accepting the substance of the books
contentions without going into 'messy details and
carefully weighing pros and cons is scarcely solid
advice .. [and finally] ... do we want to replace
concepts of public interest with test marketing and
^Jonathan Walters, "Reinventing Government: Managing the Politics
of Change," Governing. December 1992, 29.
Larkin warns when the public sector is subjected to market forces, it is
easier to run the risk of "crossing the line of becoming less responsible"
(accountable).50 Seidman, who was critical of the book and its use as a key
conceptual framework by the NPR, writes that "Its concepts are not
revolutionaiy ... it is easier to devise political slogans than adapt systems
changes." Seidman predicts, "Reinventing government is destined to go on the
shelf with MBO, ZBB and other oversold quick fixes."51 Finally, Overman and
Boyd suggested the book would hardly pass the litmus test of grounded
Irrespective of preferences to operate as in the past, the unstable
conditions which now exist will require making changes. These include
encouraging innovation, entrepreneurship, decentralization, reinventing and so
49Charles T. Goodsell, "Reinvent Government or Rediscovery It?"
Public Administration Review 53 no. 1 (January/February 1993), 85.
50John Larkin, "Reinventors Urged to Proceed with Caution," Public
Administration Times 16 no. 2 (February 1993), 1, 7.
51Harold Seidman, "Reinventing the Wheel, Not Government,"
Government Executive (April 1993), 32, 33.
52Sam Overman and Kathy Boyd, "Best Practice Research and Post
Bureaucratic Reform," Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory
4 no. 1 (January 1994): 67.
on, without diminishing the demand and expectation that government actions
be responsible, accountable, and made in the public interest. Whether
accountability continues in the form of rule-based compliance or some other
approach remains to be seen. Still, public-sector organizations and managers
will have to learn to do more with less, which strategically can be accomplished
with innovative approaches. The minefield to be negotiated includes the
hazards of a bureaucratized setting as well as constraints of democratic
controls, accountability, and values. Conventional wisdom and research
suggests these counter-demanding conditions are incompatible and are only
accomplished when the would-be innovators engage in deceptive, subversive,
or furtive behavior to circumvent control and accountability restrictions.
Harvard/Ford Foundation Award Program
After researchers and case studies disclosed some public-sector
organizations had begun to react to the demand for change and had developed
innovative approaches, interest in the process and phenomenon heightened.
Harvard Universitys John F. Kennedy School of Government, with the aid of
a Ford Foundation grant, began annually recognizing successful public sector
The purpose of the Harvard/Ford Foundation Award Programs is
... to identify valuable initiatives at the state and
local level; to recognize and publicize them as
sources of inspiration and to develop curricular
material [case studies] that may prove useful in
training public officials to approach missions
creatively. Further, the intellectual agenda was: to
pursue greater understanding of the dynamics of
innovation and to clarify thought about innovation
appraisal within the context of U.S. public values
The award program began in 1985 (the first awards were made in 1986)
with an initial three-year grant (1986-1988) from the Ford Foundation.
Because of the programs success, the Ford Foundation renewed the grant and
annual awards have been made from 1990 through 1995. The program is
administered by the Kennedy Schools A. Alfred Taubman Center for State
and Local Government. The purpose of the award program is to recognize
governmental entities that have met critical societal needs with innovative
programs in a period of reduced resources and increased public skepticism
Prior to 1995, only state and local governments were considered for the
ten annual $100,000 awards. In 1995, the award program was expanded to
include federal programs, and the number of annual awards increased to
fifteen. As of 1995, ninety-five governmental programs had received awards of
53Altshuler and Zegans, "Innovation and Creativity" 16-17.
$100,000 each. During the period 1992-1995, sixty semi-finalists received
$20,000 each. There have been approximately 1,200 to 1,500 award
applications received annually and over ten thousand applications have been
received to date. In 1995, the program reported a total of $10.7 million had
been awarded to the annual innovation award winners and semi-finalists.
When the program began accepting applications from federal government
entities, the name of the program changed to "Innovation in American
Harvard researchers and others have conducted a great deal of analysis
and study of the award winners and applicants to better understand
governmental innovation. To date, the bulk of these studies have centered on
the dimensions of innovation, not innovation and accountability. The question
of innovation and accountability has not been a specific targeted research
issue. Still, data, references, and indirect comments concerning accountability
are found throughout the two application forms submitted by governmental
entities to the Harvard/Ford Foundation Award Program and in the Harvard
case study reports.
Research has failed to disclose any similar empirical study of the
dissertation question. The Dissertation Abstracts International was reviewed
for the past ten years and no inquiry has been conducted into the
innovation/accountability question. Likewise, the Social Science Index
(Wilsearch); Public Affairs Information Service (PAIS); and ABI/Information
Business Index, failed to disclose any like studies.
The quantity of literature dealing with government,
innovation/creativity, entrepreneurship, accountability, and control is massive,
but the topics are treated separately. Some authors cross-discuss the other
topics, but none were found which empirically examined the topics.
Galbraith54 and Waterman55 both suggest private sector organizations
should develop dual or parallel organizations which can fulfill the
organizations standard operating purpose on the one hand and a separate
innovative function on the other hand. Presumably, by creating separate
organizations within the central organization, accountability issues were non-
problematic as innovation occurs in a separate controlled environment.
Behn primarily discusses flexibility requirements to innovate.56
Managers must trust the people in their organization, without whom "there can
54Galbraith, "Designing the Innovation" 5-6.
"Waterman, Adhocracy. 63-65.
56Behn, "Innovation and Public Values" 17-20.
be little innovation." More importantly, these leaders must first gain the trust
of "external enforcers: legislators, candidates [running for office], and
journalists." By establishing their organizations as examples of successful
service and program providers, there is reduced criticism when innovation
requires experimentation and risk taking.
Behn points out that Kanter, IBMs A.K. Watson and Schon have
suggested resources for private sector innovation are obtained by bending
rules, transferring funds illicitly, and through unauthorized funds and behavior,
(funds detoured from official programs).57 None of these strategies, however,
are appropriate for the public sector. Not only are accountability, control, and
ethical values wantonly disregarded in them, they could result in
civil/administrative sanctions, if not criminal proceedings.
Levin and Sanger posit public sector administrators do, in fact,
"intentionally underestimate obstacles," and utilize "creative subversion" to get
around controls on their capacity to implement their initiatives.58 They are not
condoning illegal or wrongful behavior, as they state the innovations are done
in the name of public interest: "Public sector organizations are committed to
57Ibid Behn, 7.
58Levin and Sanger, 37, 215-216.
participation and accountability."
These authors also devote a portion of a chapter to describe the
differences between the challenges and role-expectations faced by public-sector
versus private-sector executives and managers. They also include a chapter
"Balancing Innovation and Accountability," in which they stress the importance
... the demand for accountability in the public
sector, along with other values, such as equity and
access, ultimately produce organization constraints
that affect even minute practices of management. .
. these bureaucratic entrepreneurs biased toward
action causes them to operate as if theirs were a
world without opportunity costs . and inadequate
oversight poses risks for abuse.59
They conclude by suggesting that the system needs to be changed in order to
provide public sector managers more flexibility.
Finally, in two scholarly pieces which loosely parallel the dissertation
Golden,60 like Behn,61 focuses on the use of discretionary authority as a means
59Ibid, 214, 227.
Golden, Olivia, "Innovation in Public Sector Human Services
Programs: The Implications of Innovation by Groping Along," Journal of
Policy Analysis and Management. Vol. 9, No. 2 (1990), 219-248.
6lBehn, Robert D., "Managing Innovation in Welfare, Training and
Work: Some Lessons from ET Choices in Massachusetts." Paper presented to
the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago, IL,
to innovate in her study of a set of winners and finalists (total seventeen) in
social service programs from the 1986 Harvard/Ford Foundation award
program. Again, the ability to innovate was based on the manager(s) ability to
establish successful operations. From this trust, flexibility was built and
discretionary authority was granted:
. . but I do not here explicitly lay out the other
side of the argument that discretion leads to
abuse and neglect of public and client interest or
propose ways of finding the right balance to meet
the public interest. I hope that these examples
may prompt others to attempt that task.62
Her challenge is precisely the objective of this dissertation.
This chapter laid out the milieu in which public-sector innovators must
operate. They work in bureaucratized organizations and operate in conditions
over which they have little or no control. Although there is considerable
pressure to modify, change, and alter the rigidity and rule-based nature of
bureaucracy, it is theorized that it will not drastically change, certainly not to
the level afforded to private-sector organizations.
62Golden, "Balancing Entrepreneurship, Line Worker Discretion, and
Political Accountability," 9.
Public-sector organizations are mandated by necessity and citizen
demand to do more with less, to be more innovative, creative and
entrepreneurial. At the same time, our heritage of governmental mistrust
overlays on them systems of control, accountability requirements, and
democratic values. The directive is to operate as bureaucracies, innovate, and
be accountable. To negotiate such a path through such a minefield is
dangerous, a task for superhumans.63
Yet, the examples provided by Harvard/Ford Foundation Award
Programs and others have shown a considerable amount of innovation is
occurring in the public sector in spite of the apparent difficulties. The issue is
whether these innovators complied with control methods, accountability
requirements, and democratic-value expectations without guile, deception, or
A gap in the analysis is an empirical investigation of how successful
innovators operating in bureaucratic settings managed to deal with
accountability requirements. The goal of this dissertation is to identify models
or strategies for achieving congruence and compatibility of public sector
innovation and accountability.
Behn, "Innovation and Public Values," 15.
This dissertation is an empirical inquiry using a comparative-case
study design. Ten Harvard/Ford Foundation Award Program winners were
purposively selected for analysis. A purposive selection was chosen over
random sampling to help increase and improve the quantity and quality of
data availability, increase the number of personal contacts with those involved
in the individual cases, and to provide a variety of accountability issues. The
judgmental sample of ten included four cases (two sets of two) which involved
similar innovations but utilized different accountability strategies.
Because the dissertation is designed to answer the question of
compatibility between innovation and accountability, innovators recognized as
successful were chosen over those who may or may not have been successful.
An unsuccessful innovation, which is by definition a subjective determination,
may have been unsuccessful precisely because of accountability, control and
democratic-value expectations. Further, there is a requirement that some
standard or criteria be established that specifically identifies successful
innovation. The Harvard/Ford Foundation Award Program does maintain
such standards and criteria. Whether other award programs with a different
set of criteria could have produced an equally high proportion of successes is
not questioned, but the Harvard/Ford Foundation Program does establish a
pool of successful innovations.
The Ford Foundation Award Program receives approximately 1,200 to
1,500 applications from across the United States annually from governmental
entities that believe they have developed a noteworthy innovation. The fact
that some are not selected does not mean the innovation is not good or
successful; however, it does suggest that the applicants program did not meet
some or all of the criteria of the Harvard/Ford Foundation Award Program.
The criteria utilized by Harvard/Ford Foundation Program are fully described
in Chapter 2 but in brief they are novelty, quality, significance, and
It was, therefore, assumed all ten selected samples were innovative due
to their recognition by the Harvard/Ford Foundation Awards Program and all
were subject to accountability requirements and expectations. The dissertation
question is not changed by the utilization of a random or judgmental selection,
that is, the question remains: are innovation and accountability compatible?
Another significant concern is whether these Harvard/Ford Foundation
innovation award winners are so far superior, significant and important that
their use would bias an investigation. Using scientific experiments as a basis of
comparison, these public sector innovations, though important, are not like the
discovery of a cure for AIDS, cold fusion, atomic energy, or microcomputer
chips. The problems faced by the Harvard Ford Foundation Award winners
are no more significant, unique, nor unusual than those faced on a daily basis
by any other public-sector organization. Thus, the use of Harvard/Ford
Foundation Award winners does not constitute cases so uncommon that this
studys conclusions cannot be generalized to other, "average" programs.
The remainder of this chapter section describes in detail the ten cases
that were drawn from the larger pool of sixty award winning programs.
The ten cases represent three levels of government, (state- four;
county-four; and local-two), which provided broader cross-case
generalizations and increased the breadth of issues by affording comparisons
across three levels of government.
During the years of the Harvard/Ford Foundation Award Program
(1986-1988 and 1990-1994-the last year of the initial program), applicants for
the awards were required to identify their organizations function from a listing
provided on the application forms. Generally, there have been fifteen
functions to select from each year, such as administrative/management, public
safety, health, housing, and so on. However, over the years some kinds of
functions were added to the list and others deleted. For example, arts and
culture policy and communication and information policy was found in the
1990 Data Sheet, but these two categories of function were not on the 1987
Data Sheet. The 1987 Data Sheet included the categories of transportation
and science and technology, but these functions were not included in the 1990
There was a core set of approximately twelve function types that have
remained fairly constant, such as criminal justice/courts, education, and social
services. The ten cases selected for analyses included two each from the core
set of twelve functional types. The dissertation sample included cases from
administrative/management, criminal justice/courts, education, the
environment, and health (Appendix D). The non-sample years (1993 and
1994) are presented in Appendix F. The year 1995 was not analyzed since the
number of annual awards increased from ten to fifteen and included federal
programs for the first time. Approximately 47% of the Harvard/Ford
Foundation award winners, a total of 29 of 60, during the period 1986 through
1992 are represented in five of the twelve core governmental functional areas
and are the same five categories of the ten cases investigated.
By selecting ten cases from five different governmental function types,
the dissertation explores a broad spectrum of innovations from similar
governmental functions, increasing the robustness of the data and improving
the validity of the cross-case findings.
Unlike Goldens study,64 which restricts its analysis of the Harvard/Ford
Foundation Award program winners and finalists to Social Service programs at
the local level, with only discretionary-authority links to accountability, this
dissertation explores a broad spectrum of innovative initiatives at three levels
of government and applies six accountability propositions, only one of which
considered discretionary authority. This broader examination of functional
type, governmental levels, and six accountability propositions, represented by
the ten cases investigated, enhances the depth of understanding of the
Yin argues that the correct interpretation of multiple case studies is
replication, not sampling logic, which is more often associated with
quantitative survey type designs.65 The replication logic is analogous to that
used in multiple (scientific) experiments.66 Yin states, "An individual case or
Golden, "Innovation in Public Sector Human Services Programs," 219-
Yin, "Case" 53.
M. Hessen and D.H. Barlow, Single-Case Experimental Designs:
Strategies for Studying Behavior (New York: Pergamom, 1976), 63.
subject is considered akin to a single experiment and the analysis must follow
cross-experiment rather than within-experiment design and logic . the logic
underlying ... multiple case studies is the same."67 Case-study designs,
especially those which attempt to provide generalizations from a single case,
are-according to Guba and Lincoln- "often attempted without success."68 Ten
cases were therefore selected to provide solid, empirical research findings and
Because ten cases were chosen, theoretical rather than literal
replication (usually associated with six or less multiple cases) is the outcome of
this study.69 The ten cases investigated reveal, as predicted, a different pattern
of accountability strategies linked to the set of six accountability propositions
which taken in the aggregate, provided compelling evidence for answering the
question of whether innovation and accountability are compatible.
Why a Case Study
A fundamental question is why a multiple-or comparative-case-study
design was chosen over some other type of social science research strategy.
67Yin, "Case" 53.
E.G. Guba and Y.S. Lincoln, Effective Evaluations (San Francisco,
C.A.: Jose-Bass, 1981), 93-102.
69Yin, "Case," 53.
Yin suggests the various strategies (experiments, surveys, histories, etc.) have
advantages and disadvantages depending upon three conditions: 1) type of
research question; 2) control over behavioral events; and 3) focus on
contemporary as opposed to historical phenomena.70 Further, case-study
design is preferred over other methods when "how" and "why" questions are
involved: "such questions deal with operational links .. traced over time,
rather than frequencies or incidents and . [when] behavior cannot be
manipulated." Case studies provide a better method to understand complex
social phenomena that represent contemporary real life events because case
studies can generalize to theoretical propositions:
. . not to populations or universes . and ... the
investigators goal is to expand and generalize
theories (analytic generalizations) and not to
enumerate frequencies (statistical generalization).71
The research question then is how the ten Harvard/Ford Foundation
award winners successfully innovated and did or did not comply with control
requirements, accountability standards, and democratic values. There was no
control over prior behavior, the innovation/accountability issue(s) occurred
over time, and the settings are contemporary. The case study method has
70Ibid, 19, 20.
been determined to be the most appropriate for these circumstances.
Propositions Development Definition
Application, and Utilization as an
In case studies clearly defined and developed propositions direct
attention to what should be studied in the scope of the research.72 Once
developed they direct accurate data collection and act as an operational
checklist or standard by which research, data and evidence can be compared.
When analyzed in the aggregate, propositions set the stage for developing the
cross-case findings and conclusions.
The objective of this dissertation, then, is to determine the compatibility
of public sector innovation and accountability. The ten Harvard/Ford
Foundation Award winners were assumed to be successful innovators due to
their recognition by the award program. The award program has criteria,
standards, and an intensive evaluation and selection process.
To determine whether the ten innovators investigated complied with
control methods, accountability requirements and democratic value
expectations, standards and criteria for such compliance or non-compliance
were required. The six accountability propositions developed for this
^Ibid Yin, 30.
dissertation provide the standards by which accountability compliance was
determined. The propositions establish an if/then relationship. If, for
example, the innovators engaged in open policy making, included citizen
participation, and acted in the public interest, then that accountability criterion
(or proposition) was met.
The multiple data sources utilized in each case report established what
the ten innovators did, vis-a-vis innovation and accountability. Based on the
information and data disclosed in each case report, a Case Report Summary
Sheet, which includes the six accountability propositions, was completed.
From the data disclosed in the ten case reports, and Case Report Summary
Sheets, a cross-case analysis utilizing analytic generalization based on theoretic
replication was made. This resulted in the production of Tables 4.2 through
4.6 and Table 5.1, as well as the findings and conclusions.
The six accountability propositions were derived from the academic
literature written by the six authors reviewed in Chapter 2 Control,
Accountability, and Democratic Values section. Table 3.1 identifies the
accountability, control, and democratic-value strategies discussed by these six
ACCOUNTABILITY PROPOSITIONS BY AUTHOR
Categories of: control, Gortner Gruber Normanton Bellone Downs
accountability and and
democratic values. Goerl
External oversight: courts, legislature, hearings and meetings X X
Internal controls rules, laws, budgets, regulations, hierarchial structure X X X X X
Democratic values openness of process. Citizen, client and interest group participation. Public Interest Stewardship and Codes of Ethics. X X X X X
Bureaucratic self- control X X X
Media oversight X
The following Table 3.2 was formulated from the theories of
accountability presented by the six authors.
RESEARCH PROPOSITIONS DERIVED FROM AUTHORS
A. Rules, regulations, laws followed, discretionary authority used.
B. Rules, regulations, laws set aside, or temporarily rescinded.
C. Rules, regulations, laws were changed, eliminated or new ones
D. Democratic Values considered and followed: openness,
participation, stewardship of public interest and trust
E. Rules, regulations, laws were broken, ignored, not followed.
F. Democratic values not considered.
The six accountability strategies listed in these propositions are
operationally defined as follows:
A. This is procedural, rule-based accountability. It consists of
internal controls rules, regulations, laws, budgets, and
hierarchial structure. The innovators utilize their statutory and
discretionary authority during the innovative process. They can
proceed and operate within existing authority.
B. To accomplish the innovation, external oversight comes into
play. To set aside or temporarily rescind rules, laws, or
regulations, a legislative or rule-making body external to the
innovative organization is called upon for the authority to
approve such changes. Public hearings or meetings may be
C. To accomplish the innovation, rules, laws, or regulations were
changed or eliminated, or new ones enacted. The authority to
make any one of these changes involves an external oversight
authority such as a legislature or other rule-making body. Public
hearings or meetings may be involved.
D. During the development and implementation of the
innovation, democratic value expectations are demonstrated.
The innovators may utilize A, B, or C above, or a combination,
but the innovators also include citizen participation, openness,
and acted in behalf of the public interest and trust.
E. To accomplish the innovation, rules, laws, or regulations are
knowingly broken, ignored, or not followed. Intentional behavior
is clear, unintentional actions or errors are excluded since this
proposition assumes conscious wrongdoing, even if there is a
misplaced belief or perception that their intentions are good.
The behavior could also include excessive or wrongful use of
discretionary authority. This proposition states a public official
may not use his or her power in an arbitrary or capricious
manner or for personal, selfish or fraudulent motives. Control
and accountability expectations are not followed.
F. This proposition states rules, regulations or laws may have
been followed, but when required or appropriate, citizen
participation is excluded, activities are conducted in secret, and
the public interest and trust is ignored. In this situation
democratic value expectations are ignored or not followed.
Bureaucratic self-control is assumed to occur when the innovators
comply with control mechanisms, accountability requirements, and democratic-
value expectations. When they are willfully, wrongfully, or intentionally
disregarded, bureaucratic self-control is presumed to have played an inactive
Often, external (courts, legislatures, and hearings) or media oversight
occurs when the actions of a public organization or one of its officials is
brought into question. If this occurs, it most likely results from a breach or
alleged breach of rules, regulations or laws. Such external oversight might also
result from excessive use of discretionary authority, whether actual or
perceived. In either case, unless the oversight body finds wrongdoing, it can
be presumed that accountability standards were not violated.
A discussion of accountability, especially when procedurally based
(rules, laws, regulations), is not complete without an understanding of the legal
definition of intent. The Law Dictionary states, "intent is a state of mind
wherein the person(s) knows and desires the consequences of his [wrongful]
act [and] . must exist at the time the offense is committed."73 For purposes
of this investigation, the legal concept of intent is considered and factored into
the analysis of the actions and activities of the innovators. The only case that
raises a question of intent was the Kentucky Video Courts case (see page 86);
the other nine did not. The Kentucky Video Court case revealed there were
"informal agreements," and up-front written agreements (contracts) could have
reduced legal risks. However, there was no apparent wrongful or willful intent
to violate procedural-based rules, regulations and laws. Although intent is a
formal legal theory that must be proven as an element of an offense in court,
73Gifis, Steven H., Law Dictionary (Woodbury, NY: Barrons
Educational Series, Inc., 1985), 107.
the concept does bring clarity to the analysis of accountability compliance.
When a breach of control methods, accountability requirements, or
democratic values does occur and is disclosed, it can result in civil,
administrative, or criminal court remedies. Less formally, such a breach can
result in changed decisions or actions or a defeat in the next election.
The six accountability propositions developed from these six authors
were utilized as benchmarks of accountability compliance and were designed to
facilitate clarity, operational accuracy and understandability.
Data Analysis. Construct
Validity and External Validity
Kidder identifies four tests to judge the quality of research designs and
outcomes:74 construct validity, internal validity, external validity, and reliability.
Three of these affect the quality of this dissertation: construct validity, external
validity, and reliability. They are described as follows.
Construct validity is assured in this dissertation by the use of multiple
sources of evidence (data sources) and triangulation. None of the ten case
reports are based on less than five data sources, and four have ten or more
74Tracy Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine (Boston, M.A.: Little
Brown, 1981), 7-8.
with an average of 7.3 data sources. Although the multiple data sources
produced varying interpretations in some cases, the evidence presented is from
a common perspective and led to convergent lines of inquiry. The data from
each case dovetailed from one case to another. In all of the cases, the data or
evidence was either generated by an inside or outside source, an independent
investigation or is confirmed to be accurate through a cross-analysis or
verification of the various sources.
This design assures reliability, which was defined by Kidder and Yin as
the probability that the research could be repeated with the same results.75
External validity uses replication logic across the multiple-case studies and
relies on analytic generalizations for the case findings and conclusions. The
test of external validity is knowing whether multiple cases can be generalized
beyond an immediate or single case. The test for this is the extent to which
cross-case findings can be established.
Each of these three tests for judging the quality of a research design
were built into the criteria for selection of data sources, collection, verification,
and replicability to assure the validity of the research findings.76
75Ibid.; Yin, "Case," 41, 45.
76Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine.
Each case was analyzed based on multiple data sources which included
the Data Sheets and Application submitted by the award winners to the
Harvard/Ford Foundation Award Program (the validity of the data contained
in these two application forms was enhanced by a rigorous three-day site visit,
verification, and evaluation by Harvard/Ford Foundation commissioned
researchers and/or practitioners before an award was granted); Harvard case
study reports and summaries; newspaper and magazine articles; informational
articles and pamphlets bearing on some of the award winners; reports by
professionals and scholars found in journals; specially commissioned
investigative reports; investigative analysis; and audit documents. In addition,
the author sent Information Sheets to each of the ten cases investigated. The
Information Sheets were less formal than a questionnaire and were designed
primarily to clarify accountability issues. Only five of the Information Sheets
were completed and returned. Only one was judged to be very good, one was
fair, and one the other three were of marginal assistance. However, the
Information Sheets did generate the receipt of additional documents,
information, and articles from almost all of the cases investigated. With these
data and other sources, accountability issues and information dealing with the
innovation was disclosed. Also, telephone and personal interviews were
conducted, along with three site visits.
The utilization of these multiple data sources, which varied in type from
case to case, enhanced construct and external validity and triangulation
sufficient to confirm the findings. If any data element(s) germane to a case
investigation were not at first found, a clinical approach was used. Clinical as
used here is like a medical examination, the technique or data required to
determine causes or unknowns was expanded until the questions were
Information concerning the actual innovation and the conditions that
motivated development of the innovation was relatively straightforward and
less difficult to obtain and confirm. However, the task of obtaining, analyzing,
and confirming data relative to accountability and democratic-value issues as
well as strategies applied to deal with them was difficult. In a few cases this
latter issue was less complex and the data required was not difficult to obtain
and confirm. In at least five of the cases, the need to expand data sources was
required to confirm the findings relative to accountability and democratic-value
An individual case study report (Appendix C-Outline for Case
Reports) was written for each of the ten cases. The full reports are found at
the beginning of Chapter 4 Research Findings. From the evidence disclosed
in each of the ten case reports, a Case Report Summary Sheet, which served
as an accountability proposition checklist, was completed. The data revealed
in each case report along with the Case Report Summary Sheets is the basis
of the cross-case findings and conclusions. Each case stands alone, but when
analyzed in the aggregate, compelling cross-case evidence developed from
analytic generalizations was found to answer the question of whether there is
congruence between the innovation and accountability standards.
The logic of analytic generalization and theoretical replication, which is
similar to the legal concept of the preponderance of the evidence, was applied
to the theory-building conclusion^). As with any exploratory inquiry, some
questions were raised for future inquiry.
The research model is an empirical, comparative case study design of
ten Harvard/Ford Foundation Award winners and how they successfully
developed and implemented innovative initiatives and did or did not comply
with accountability requirements. If they did comply with such standards the
goal is to determine the strategies they used in correlation with the six
accountability propositions. Multiple data sources were used in each case
investigation, but varied in number and type from case to case, to assure
accurate findings, enhance construct and external validity and triangulation.
Utilizing the logic of analytic generalization, theory-building findings and
conclusions are disclosed.
RESEARCH FINDINGS PART 1
In the ten case reports that follow, the struggle and difficulty to develop
and implement innovations while at the same time dealing with accountability
requirements and democratic-value expectations is revealed. Superhuman
efforts were not required to innovate or comply with accountability
expectations, but the innovations were time consuming and often required
effort in addition to the innovators other duties and responsibilities.
To accomplish successful innovation can be an accountable act in and
of itself. That is, in many instances there is no regulation, rule or law which
requires public-sector employees and administrators to be problem solvers or
innovators. However, since innovation is theorized to be an act of
accountability, and accountability calls upon public administrators to be
stewards of the public trust and resources, an interactive relationship between
innovation and accountability is formed. This transactive connection is not
clearly understood: public sector administrators need to recognize that
accountability requirements are not just passive obstacles that need to be met
and negotiated. Rather, accountability expectations call upon members of the
public sector to be innovators, change agents, problem solvers and good
stewards of the public trust and interest.
Most public servants operate within fairly tightly designed and
statutorily created limits of authority. In addition, there are numerous control
mechanisms in place and accountability standards established to regulate,
monitor, and hold them within the limits of their authority. However, there
still exist vast bands of discretionary authority and power which permit them to
accomplish goals and objectives and to solve problems not specifically defined
in laws or regulations.
Such power and discretion can be used positively, to promote the public
good, or negatively. When the latter occurs, Americans hope and expect that
the wrongful behavior will be caught and appropriate remedies applied.
Goodsell states that such wrongdoing is far more uncommon than "acceptable
and responsible behavior."77 Whether he is correct or not, the American
public continues to insist that government be more productive, efficient,
innovative, and entrepreneurial. At the same time, the public expects
^Goodsell, "The Case for Bureaucracy," preface.
government to be accountable and not take risks with their money. The
obstacle course is laid out: operate as controlled, inflexible bureaucracies,
innovate, and solve problems; but be accountable and do not take risks with
The ten cases investigated are stories of how public servants accepted
the challenge and innovated interactively with accountability requirements and
expectations. As the research presented here demonstrates, the task required
different strategies, varied in degree of difficulty and produced nationally
An individual case report for each of the ten cases is written based on
multiple data sources that varied from case to case but was sufficient to
confirm the findings. The standard for the confirmation of the data is based
on legal doctrine and the language of the courts, and the test of the validity of
the case findings comes from the civil courts, (the preponderance of the
evidence) not the criminal courts (beyond a reasonable doubt).
Each case report that follows consists of seven separate sections:
Headings; Synopsis; Innovation Overview; Origin/Inception of Innovation;
Controls, Accountability, and Democratic Values; Data Sources; and Case
Report Summary Sheet (see Appendix C for description of each). Both the
Synopsis and Case Report Summary Sheets (the last page[s] of each case)
provide a summary of the findings but with a slightly different emphasis.
The degree of difficulty to obtain a full understanding of the case facts,
utilizing different data sources, varies with each case-some are simply more
complex than others. For these, the available data to determine the causes or
need for the innovation (problems), a description of the innovation, its
mechanics and how it functioned was less difficult to obtain.
Since the emphasis of the Harvard/Ford Foundation Award Program is
on the innovation itself, information and data concerning the strategies the
innovators employed to deal with controls, accountability requirements, and
democratic values was more difficult to obtain. However, even though the
issues of accountability and democratic values were not specifically addressed
on the Harvard/Ford Foundation Award Program applications and most of the
other descriptive reports and summaries of the innovations, information and
data concerning these issues is discussed or described in most cases.
It may well be more difficult to innovate in the public sector, but it is
far from impossible. The innovators investigated were well aware of their
place and role in the public sector and this research showed they were aware
they had to address the controls, accountability requirements, and democratic
expectations. Whether they agreed or liked them was not determined, but
they did confront them directly, honestly, and transactively during development
and implementation of the innovation.
Strategies of Innovation and Accountability
The Random House Dictionary defines strategies as "a plan, method or
series of maneuvers for obtaining a specific goal or result."78 In the ten cases
investigated, the term "planned" would be generously applied. The process
was something analogous to a billiards game. The innovators knew or felt they
knew where they wanted or needed to be and took their best shot. Depending
on where they landed, they took aim and took their next best shot. They
continued this process until they reached their goal. The innovators
investigated had a fairly clear picture of the problem requiring attention and
that they did not have unlimited authority or resources to develop and
The innovators are not superhuman nor can all of them be described as
particularly strong-willed leaders or managers. They basically did what they
had to do, moving in a zig-zag direction but always pointing toward a fairly
clear goal. There is no evidence that indicates they attempted to hide,
circumvent, nor act subversively to maneuver around control methods,
accountability requirements, and democratic-value expectations.
Accountability is accepted as part of doing business in the public sector, and
they addressed such requirements or standards forthrightly and with no
apparent malintent. They did not appear to view accountability or control
methods as impenetrable blockades; rather, these were accepted as part of the
process, no more difficult to confront than requirements of innovation.
Lastly, it is the innovation and the requirements for its development
and implementation that drove the strategies to address the accountability and
control expectations which were confronted as requirements of the innovation
developed. Accountability was not treated as an afterthought, but rather as a
Throughout this dissertation, references are made to stages or steps in
the innovation process and strategies to comply with control methods,
accountability requirements, and democratic-value expectations. There were
identifiable stages in the development and implementation of the innovations
investigated, and the strategies to comply with accountability requirements
were not separate and apart from the stages of innovation; instead they
overlapped and often coincided.
The following thirteen steps or stages (A thru M) were developed from
cross-case findings and evidence revealed from the ten case reports and Case
Report Summary Sheets. A broad outline was first developed-the problem
coming first, possible problem solutions second, and the innovations
development, implementation and accountability issues following. The steps
are refinements to this broad outline. None of the ten innovators investigated
followed all of the steps, but most followed the majority.
These steps and stages are provided before the ten case reports are
presented to assist in the understanding of the case reportsfor clarity,
readability and analysis of the evidence disclosed. While these steps represent
a significant finding of this dissertation and could have been located further
back as a finding or conclusion, their present location in the dissertation
provides the reader with a useful tool in the reading and understanding of the
ten case reports that follow.
The general process is described as:
A. Problem identification or recognition.
B. Statutory or discretionary authority utilized to begin
alternative problem solution(s) identification.
C. Potential innovative initiatives considered as permission
to proceed requested.
D. Needed resources identified and mobilized,
contacts/networking begins, project teams, groups or
individuals assigned task functions. Work begins but
clear paths remain vague.
E. Outside contractors, consultants, or public/private
partnerships engaged as required for the innovative
solution(s) being proposed.
F. Support and participation from interest groups,
advocates, and concerned citizens sought. Public
pressure from the media considered and damage-control
strategies developed. (This latter step was a rare
requirement in the ten cases investigated.)
G. The "pieces-parts" period is in place. There is a
dynamic, fluid mixing of the above elements. The
innovators engage in an extended trial and error period as the
innovation takes shape and implementation is considered. This
is a period of collaboration and coalescence.
H. In some instances, pilot or test projects or programs are begun.
(This occurred in five of the ten cases investigated.)
I. Innovation has shape and form; some testing and
experimentation has occurred; overarching visions and goals are
clarified. Public hearings held. Feedback from interest groups,
advocates, and concerned citizens considered and adjustments
J. Any necessary changes in procedural laws, rules, and regulations
are sought from a legislative body (state legislature, city or
county council, board of commissioners) or some external body
which has legal authority to do so. Some rules, laws, or
regulations are set-aside or rescinded, or new ones enacted.
K. Implementation begins. Problems are identified and adjustments
are made. Refinement continues for various periods of time,
usually several months to a year or longer.
L. In some instances, evaluations are made. Some adjustments are
made as required. (This step usually occurred after a year or
M. The innovation is entrenched and functioning.
The following is a listing of the ten award winners investigated. (The
two letter code designation assigned to each case is utilized throughout
Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 to facilitate the readability of the analysis and
Name of Entity Innovation Coded Year
1. State of Missouri Parents as Teachers Program PT 1987
2. State of Kentucky Video Courts VC 1988
3. Ft. Collins, CO Planning Department Land Development Guidance System LD 1988
4. St. Louis County, MO, Police Department Computer Assisted Report Entry CR 1988
5. State of Kentucky Parenthood & Child Education Program PC 1988
6. Ramsey County, MN, Human Services Department Electronic Benefit System EB 1990
7. Montgomery County, MD, Health Department Obstetrical Need of Indigent Women ON 1990
8. Seattle, WA Engineering Department Recycling Program SR 1990
9. Madisonville, TN, Monroe Maternity Center, Inc. Maternity Care for Appalachia MC 1991
10. State of Washington Department of Labor & Industries Workers Compensation That Works WC 1992
The ten case reports follow, page 75 to page 239.
Ten Case Reports
Case 1 Entity: State of Missouri. Department
of Education. Division of Elementary
and Secondary Education
Harvard/Ford Foundation Award Title: Parents as Teachers Program (PAT)
Year of Award: 1987
Contact Person: Mildred Winter (now) Executive Director of PAT,
10176 Corporate Square Drive
St. Louis, MO 63132
Telephone: (314) 432-4330
The Parents as Teachers Program (PAT) was born out of academic
research of the 1950s and 1960s which suggested significant parental involvement
in their childrens education from the earliest years was one of the most
important predictors of later educational success. After a statewide meeting of
education leaders in 1975, a legislative proposal was sponsored which would have
enacted an earlier version of the PAT program. This 1977 bill passed the House
of Representatives but was defeated in the Senate. At a second statewide
"Conference of Decision Makers" convened in 1981 by the Missouri
Commissioner of Education, research findings and goals were established for
early-childhood education. The PAT program, which was the result of that
meeting, emphasized the role of parents as "first teachers" and took the position
that a local school districts interest in and concern for children begins at the
onset of learning, not just when they enter school.
Based on their earlier experience and the failure to enact legislation for
a PAT type program in 1975, a broad-based strategy was designed to secure
approval on a second try. The implementation of the Department of Educations
strategy involved discretionary authority, establishing four tests or pilot programs,
hiring an expert consultant, commissioning an outcome evaluation, utilization of
public/private partnerships (use of private foundations and their funds),
appointing a broad-based thirty-five member partisan/citizen support and lobbying
committee, seeking political champions which included former Governor Kit
Bond, and planning to seek statewide legislation. This strategy assured that the
tenets of public accountability were followed throughout the development and
implementation of this innovation.
The Parents as Teachers Program is designed to provide parents of
children from birth to age five with information and support they need to give
their children the best possible start in life and school. The PAT program began
after a 1981 statewide "Conference for Decision Makers" convened by the
Missouri Department of Education to examine research findings and establish
goals for early childhood education.
Four pilot programs were established in the Farmington, Ferguson-
Florisant, Francis Howell and Independence school districts. Representatives
from these four schools were present at the 1981 meeting and volunteered as test
sites. Funding for these four test sites was provided by a U.S. Department of
Education, Chapter II Grant of $130,000 for innovative education projects.
Parent educators were trained and the PAT program began in 1981 with 380
families, which represented a cross section of diverse economic backgrounds, age,
and family configurations, and urban, rural, and suburban communities.
PAT has four key components:
1. Personal visits from parent educators to the homes of eligible children and
parents to work with the parent and child by giving guidance relative to
the childs development and home environment.
2. Group meetings with parents who shared successes and common concerns.
During some meetings outside speakers and experts presented advice and
3. Developmental screening services to help detect, potential health problems
(disabilities and developmental), which could delay or interfere with a
4. A resource network to help families who may have needs beyond the
scope of the program.
The parent educators are trained at various sites, which includes some
state colleges and universities, and work out of their local school districts. They
are paid from state and local school district funds. Through June 1995, the PAT
program has grown from the four test sites in 1981 to all 453 of the states school
districts, and from 380 to 160,000 families or 40% of the families with children.
The program has spread to 1,625 programs in 43 states and the District of
Columbia, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and the West Indies.
Mildred Winters stated in a newspaper interview with the St. Louis Post
Dispatch (June 22,1995), "Kids dont drop out of high school. They drop out of
kindergarten and hang around for 10 or 12 years to make it official." The PAT
program was designed to prevent such outcomes.
This program is described as innovative because of its emphasis on the role
of parents as "first teachers." Research shows that if intervention is begun at ages
three to five years but bypasses parents, positive results are only short term. PAT
took the position that the school districts interest in and involvement with
children should begin at the onset of learning. Further, the state and schools
should assist parents with their teaching and nurturing responsibilities and
strengthen the family unit, not to replace parents as teachers and caregivers.
Origin/Inception of Innovation
The PAT program, as it is currently known, had its origins in a 1975
statewide educational conference for "Decision Makers." At that conference, a
1972 position paper dealing with early-childhood education which was based on
research from the 1950s and 1960s emphasizing early-childhood learning was
discussed. In 1977, proposed legislation was presented to provide funding for a
program similar to the PAT program to the Missouri State Legislature. The
Missouri House of Representatives passed the bill, but it was rejected by the
Senate. Ms. Winters suggested such a program was believed to be a glorified
type "sandbox" education and a "frill."
During and after the 1980 national elections, former President Reagan
publicly questioned the newly established U.S. Department of Education created
during the latter part of the Carter Presidency. President Reagan appointed a
blue ribbon committee to study the status of education in America, presumably
to question the need for a national-level Department of Education. That blue
ribbon panel produced the well-known pamphlet entitled "A Nation At Risk."
The pamphlet not only pointed out many of the problems with American
education but suggested they were worse than believed. The entire issue of
education in America had become a hot national subject.
In response to this debate and its own ongoing goals on education,
Missouri Commissioner of Education Dr. Arthur L. Mallory convened another
conference in 1981 of state educators, concerned citizens, and politicians.
Governor Kit Bond presented the keynote address supporting early-childhood
education goals. From this conference, a decision was made to implement four
pilot projects funded by a U.S. Department of Education, Chapter II Grant in the
amount of $130,000 and funds from the Danforth Foundation.
Commissioner Mallory also appointed a thirty-five member committee,
"The Commissioner of Educations Committee on Parents as Teachers." This
citizens committee represented business, the medical profession, the media,
private foundations, social services, academia, public and private schools, and
volunteers. It was established to promote public awareness, provide support and
to lobby for the Parents as Teachers Program throughout the state and to the
legislature. That committee raised over $200,000 in private funds to support PAT
training and to sell the project to the state legislature.
The Danforth Foundation, with Jane Paine as its representative consultant,
provided $25,000 to support Dr. Burton White, formerly with the Harvard
Preschool Project and later Director of the Center for Parents Education
(Newton, MA.), to serve as a consultant through the pilot project phase.
As a result of direct and indirect lobbying efforts, public support and the
reported early successes of the four pilot projects, the Missouri State Legislature
passed the Early Childhood Development Act (SB658) in 1984 which authorized
state funding for all 543 school districts beginning with school year 1985-86.
Under this new state law, school districts were required to offer PAT services, but
participation by parents was voluntary. State appropriations have continued to
increase and has risen to $19.1 million in 1994-95.
As a final note, the supporters of the PAT program commissioned an
independent evaluation in 1981 of the four pilot test sites. The report completed
in 1985 reported positive findings and feedback on the test sites and PAT
program. This report was presented as evidence of the programs value and
reduced concerns about risk.
Controls. Accountability and Democratic Values
From the onset of the second effort to initiate an early-childhood
development program in 1981, supporters of the PAT program utilized a variety
of accountability measures. From the time of the first effort to receive legislative
approval for an early-childhood development program failed, the national climate
on education had changed dramatically and had become a topic of national
debate. Although this innovation was based on research findings from the 1950s
and 1960s, the actual PAT program began to coalesce with the 1981 statewide
"Conference for Decision Makers," convened by Dr. Mallory.
The accountability strategy involved discretionary authority utilized by the
Education Department, establishing four test or pilot programs, engaging expert
consultants, commissioning an outcomes evaluation, utilizing public/private
partnerships (use of foundations and their funds), appointing a broad based
thirty-five member, partisan citizens-support and lobbying committee, seeking
political champions, which included Governor Kit Bond and plans to seek
statewide enabling legislation.
Discretionary authority involved convening the 1981 "Conference for
Decision Makers," utilizing Department of Education resources, approving the
use of U.S. Department of Education, Chapter II Grant funds for the four pilot
projects, appointing the thirty-five member citizens committee, establishing
relations with various private foundations and cultivating political relationships.
Following the first attempt in 1977 to receive legislative approval for a
PAT type program failed, an organized plan was developed for implementating
such a program after the 1981 meeting. The bulk of the authority utilized was
discretionary in nature, and it was not necessary to rescind any laws or
regulations. This was a long-range plan, designed to seek citizen awareness and
approval and involve client and interest-group participation. To avoid criticism
that the program was a frill or a glorified sandbox experiment, four long-term test
sites were established, and an expert consultant was engaged to help direct and
guide the initial pilot programs. To assure an independent evaluation of the pilot
projects was rendered, a private outside company, Research and Training
Associates, was hired. That company completed its work in 1985 and reported
positive results. All of these efforts were directed towards receiving new
statewide laws and funding, which in fact occurred when the state legislature
passed enabling legislation in 1984.