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A Government that Worked Better and Cost Less?Evaluating Three Decades of Reform and Change in UK Central Government$
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Christopher Hood and Ruth Dixon

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199687022

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199687022.001.0001

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Performance Data Breaks

Performance Data Breaks

Breaking the Mould and Burying the Evidence

Chapter:
(p.44) 3 Performance Data Breaks
Source:
A Government that Worked Better and Cost Less?
Author(s):

Christopher Hood

Ruth Dixon

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199687022.003.0003

This chapter focuses on the data that documents government performance over time, showing that despite the rhetorical emphasis placed on the desirability of evidence-based policy and management, the continued destruction of consistent data-series over time often makes it impossible or at least very laborious for anyone to possess evidence about whether government is doing better or worse over a period of more than a few years. The chapter examines why that should be so, setting out four ways of explaining this evidence-destroying data ‘churn’ (ranging from deliberate cover-ups to more mundane organizational dynamics), and exploring the consequences of such churn. The study of data breaks and data volatility is argued to be valuable for the light it can throw on changing priorities, preoccupations, and ways of working over a generation, and the chapter develops a unique ‘data volatility index’ to enable the phenomenon to be tracked and analysed.

Keywords:   evidence-based policy, data churn, data breaks, organizational dynamics, data volatility, performance

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