An Analysis of the Office of Management and Budget's Program Assessment Rating Tool for FY 2007

May 30, 2006

With the release of the Bush Administration's proposed budget for FY 2007, the Office of Management and Budget has completed its fourth year of the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) for evaluating federal programs. This working paper analyzes the PART results to date and seeks to determine how agencies have fared over time according to PART's methodology. McKenzie and Norcross examine the proportion of agency budgets PARTed as "Results Not Demonstrated," or lacking in performance measures or data. The authors also consider how PART ratings are related to Congressional funding levels and the executive's funding recommendations. To date, OMB has PARTed 64% of the budget, or $1.47 trillion. The ideas presented in this research are the authors' and do not represent official positions of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Strengthening Economic Freedom: Natural Resource Indicators and Economic Growth

October 26, 2006

In this policy comment submitted to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the Mercatus Center reflects on the first three years of the MCC and evaluates the potential of two proposed "natural resource indicators" as criteria for awarding aid grants to developing countries. The MCC was created in 2003 by policy makers who saw potential to go beyond the failed programs that had characterized sixty years of American international assistance.

The intent of President Bush and the MCC’s framers in Congress in creating the MCC was to make aid conditional solely on pro-growth institutional changes and policies that supported poverty reduction through economic growth. Thus far, the MCC has identified 16 indicators across the three categories outlined in section 607 of the Millennium Challenge Act of 2003 which it uses to make award decisions. In 2005 the MCC indicated a desire to expand the number of indicators to include measures of "natural resource management."

This choice represents a critical decision point—one that will have consequences for the long-term viability and direction of the MCC. One proposed indicator, the Natural Resources Management Index (NRMI), is out of place given the MCC's legislative mandate and threatens to derail its focus on economic growth. The alternative Land Rights and Access Index would provide a much better indicator of effective natural resources management as it relates to economic freedom and encouraging economic growth as mandated by the MCC's mission.

Lessons from Business Improvement Districts: Building on Past Successes

June 30, 2008

Although most people probably have not heard of them, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have proliferated across the globe. Geographically defined zones authorized to collect taxes from businesses within their boundaries, BIDs have significantly changed urban governance and revived business areas. The property owners within a BID elect a board of directors who funnel the collected funds to various activities, which usually include sanitation, street cleaning, street improvements, additional security, and marketing for the business neighborhood. However, the BID model is very flexible and could be used to tackle other urban problems.

This Policy Primer provides basic background information on the history, legal framework, and past successes of BIDs, information that local governments interested in promoting BIDs within their jurisdictions might find useful. It further proposes alternative ways urban governments could give BIDs enhanced roles in local governance.

Citation (Chicago Style)

Nelson, Robert, Kyle McKenzie, and Eileen Norcross. "Lessons from Business Improvement Districts: Building on Past Successes." Mercatus Policy Series Policy Primer, No. 5. Arlington,VA: Mercatus Center at George Mason University, June 2008.


From BIDs to RIDs: Creating Residential Improvement Districts

May 12, 2008

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are special geographically defined zones that are authorized to collect taxes from their members and manage those revenues to serve a variety of purposes.  Compared with other urban redevelopment approaches, BIDs have had relative uncontroversial success as they address the collective-action problem faced by area businesses seeking urban renewal.

This collective-action problem extends beyond businesses, however, and the same BID concept can be applied to urban residential neighborhoods.  Given that the needs of the inner-city poor are certainly as great as—if not greater than—those of urban businessmen, this Policy Comment suggests that Residential Improvement Districts (RIDs) could be a successful remedy for varying urban neighborhood problems.  As no legal mechanisms for establishing RIDs currently exist, this Policy Comment urges states and municipalities to act promptly to enact the necessary authorizing legislation that would allow RIDs to exist and thrive.

Citation - Chicago Style 

Nelson, Robert,  Kyle McKenzie, and Eileen Norcross. "From BIDs to RIDs: Creating Residential Improvement Districts." Mercatus Policy Series, Policy Comment No. 20. Arlington, VA: Mercatus Center at George Mason University, May 2008.