Center for Governance and Public Policy

Willamette University

Research Reports

Most of these documents are available in PDF format and can be read using Adobe Acrobat Reader. (Click here to download a free version of Acrobat Reader.)

Acquisition Research Program sponsored project reports:

The defense acquisition process, which is governed by federal statutes, executive orders, administrative rules, and judicial rulings, includes opportunities for bidders to protest decisions, especially the final award, triggering a review and administrative hearing by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). In theory, the benefits of allowing protests include more competitive and accountable procurements. The costs of protests include the resources expended by the Department of Defense (DOD) and GAO in responding to legitimate and frivolous protests and delays in awarding and executing contracts. Delays have consequences for both the costs of the contract, defense policy, and national security. These reports outline findings on the defense acquisitions process, focusing upon source selections and bid protests, to identify potential improvements.

Maser, Steven M. and Thompson, Fred, Understanding and Mitigating Protests of Department of Defense Acquisition Contracts (August 2010) BP NPS Final Report.pdf

Maser, Steven M. and Thompson, Fred, Dispelling Fear and Loathing in Government Contracting: A Proposal for Cultivational Governance in DOD Source Selections (July 7, 2010).

Maser, Steven M., Subbotin, Vladimir and Thompson, Fred, The Bid-Protest Mechanism: Effectiveness and Fairness in Defense Acquisitions? (May 10, 2010).

Maser, Steven M., The Karenina Principle and the Pathology of Administrative Appeals: A Chiropractic Approach to Improving DOD Acquisitions (July 15, 2010).

The Oregon Revenue Restructuring Project Generated the Following Reports:

During recessions, the newspapers are filled with stories of the pain caused by state and local budget cuts: slashed mental health funding, reductions in school meals, further delays in long-overdue infrastructure maintenance and replacement, and new taxes. During booms, they are filled stories of state and local spending initiatives, tax cuts, and rebates. This manic-depressive pattern of binge and purge is usually attributed to revenue volatility. But putting first things first, the problem is spending volatility. Governments ought to be capable of growing spending at a sustainable rate, using savings and/or borrowing to smooth out spending over time. The solution to the real problem lies in defining budgetary balance in terms of sustainable growth.

This report shows how to identify an optimal spending level for a particular jurisdiction, one in which the present value of its exhaustive expenditures is equal to its net-financial assets (or liabilities) plus the present value of future tax revenues minus transfers. At this level of expenditure, the sustainable rate of spending growth is approximately equal to the geometric mean rate of revenue growth (tax revenues minus transfers). At higher levels of current expenditure, the sustainable rate of spending growth is less and, at lower levels, slightly more than the geometric mean rate of revenue growth. If actual revenues in the budget period exceed the forecast, the difference should be saved or used to reduce outstanding debt and vice versa.

These are fairly simple rules (although their calculation is not). They are relevant to any jurisdiction that can neither force central banks to buy their bonds nor expect some other entity to rescue them from fiscal distress. Moreover, their application would reduce the tendency of public officials to let concerns about revenue volatility override equity, efficiency, and adequacy considerations in the design of tax codes and transfer mechanisms.

Dothan, Michael U. and Thompson, Fred, A Better Budget Rule (February 10, 2009). Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp. 463-478, Summer 2009.

Choate, Marc Marc, Hand, Michael L. and Thompson, Fred, The Influence of Income Tax Rates on the Market for Tax-Exempt Debt

An Economic Analysis of Locating Oregon’s Custodial Institutions in Marion County and the City of Salem

The Center for Governance and Public Policy Research was asked to conduct an economic analysis of locating Oregon’s custodial institutions within Marion County and the city of Salem.

The hypothesis considered was that these custodial institutions, and the attendant population connected to those institutions, place an undue burden on the budgets, infrastructure and services of local governments and public agencies. Our findings do not support the hypothesis.

[Nathan Isaacs, Than X. Tran, and Fred Thompson, final report October 2008.]

Achieving #1 - Performance Reporting in Oregon
(A Blog by Professor Ken Smith)

In a forthcoming journal article, Willamette University Professor Ken Smith describes the performance of the State of Oregon - leading the nation by a wide margin 25% over 2nd place and almost 40% over 4th place. Both the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) received special distinctions from the Association of Government Accountants (AGA). Oregon is the only state in the nation to have earned the award for more than one department - and only one other state agency (in Oklahoma) earned an award. The city of Portland received special distinctions from the AGA three times since 2004. "There clearly is a difference between good "reporting" and good "performance", and Oregon state agencies are leading the nation on the reporting element.

Based on my numerous experiences working with and teaching managers in our CPM program, I know that the quality of performance management is also increasing rapidly, " Smith notes. "These awards are good news and the citizens of our state deserve to be proud of the well-deserved recognition."

Click Here for more information on the upcoming Oregon Performance Measurement Event - July 17, 2008

Betting on the Future with a Cloudy Crystal Ball?
Revenue Forecasting, Financial Theory, and Budgets

Accurately predicting revenue growth is nearly impossible. Predicting the peaks and valleys of the business cycle is even more hopeless. This matters because tax revenues are largely driven by economic growth. Volatile, unpredictable revenue growth causes all sorts of unpleasant responses on the part of governments, most commonly manic-depressive patterns of spending and taxing. Fortunately, modern financial economics gives us a set of tools that can be used to manage volatility. These tools include tax portfolio analyses, hedging and buffering strategies, and, in the context of present-value balance, consumption smoothing based on sustainable spending rules. These tools are based on mean-variance analysis, analysis of covariance, the use of stochastic processes to model movements in financial variables, and optimal control theory to formulate solutions to those processes. This report shows how these tools can be used to inform fiscal decision making. Our focus is on state governments, but the analysis applies to all jurisdictions that face a hard budget constraint and must therefore balance spending increases against revenue growth.

Economic Opportunity in a Volatile Economy: Understanding the Role of Labor Market Intermediaries in Two Regions

A comparative study of the role and impact of labor market interdiearies in the 'old' and 'new' economies of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the Silicon Valley in California. Funded by the Ford, Rockefeller and Russell Sage Foundations. [Laura Leete, Manuel Pastor, Laura Dresser, Chris Benner, Annette Bernhardt, Bob Brownstein and Sarah Zimmerman, final report May 2003.]

Workforce Investment Act Service Delivery: The Case of Oregon

This report provides a detailed overview of the implementation of the Workforce Investment Act in Oregon. It was prepared under the auspices of an eight-state network research field study conducted by the Rockefeller Institute of Government (State University of New York-Albany) with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. It will be published in a volume along with the other state case studies by the U.S. Department of Labor. [Laura Leete and Neil Bania, September 2003, Final Version]. Report Appendices. Rockefeller Institute Eight-State Summary Report.

Project on Transportation and Rural Poverty

Project investigating the barriers to access for employment opportunities in rural Oregon. Funded by the Oregon Department of Transportation [Laura Leete, Tom Sanchez, Neil Bania, June 2002.]

Oregon State Case Study of Medicaid Take-Up and Welfare Reform

The Public Policy Research Center recently completed an analysis of factors influencing Medicaid enrollment and outreach at the state level and within Multnomah County as one of 25 states participating in the State Capacity Study being conducted by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York-Albany. [Carol Freedman, Laura Leete, and Maegan Lindsey, September 2001.]

Forecasting Methodologies for Oregon's Medical Assistance Program Caseloads

This report to the Oregon Department of Human Services provides an overview of new methodologies for forecasting caseloads for Oregon's medical assistance programs, including Medicaid and the Oregon Health Plan. It includes previously unavailable tabulation of program flows. [Laura Leete and Bruce Gates, April 2001.]

The Internet and Oregon's Future: A Day of Discussion

This report summarizes a forum discussion about the potential influence of the Internet and information technology on the future of work, democracy and public infrastructure in Oregon. [Laura Leete and Olivia Clark - Oregon Governor's Office, January 2001.] Video also available.

Ballot Measure 2: Creating Accountability or Wreaking Havoc?

[Susan Smith Willamette University, College of Law. October 2000.]