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State legislatures face many challenges in obtaining reliable information about the policy choices they face and the effectiveness of previously established programs, and they have limited ability to enforce agency compliance with program directives. To help address these challenges, most state legislatures have created oversight offices and have endowed them with significant resources and access to information. These offices provide program evaluation and policy analysis services to their parent legislatures, and their work is intended to help improve legislative decision making and oversight. However, these intended benefits will not be realized unless legislatures actually use the information produced by these offices. Research utilization literature has identified steps that the offices can take to promote use in legislative environments. These steps can be categorized into two overall strategies—developing strong networks with decision makers, and astute marketing of research products. However, there has been little empirical information on whether these strategies are actually being used, or whether when used are related to increased satisfaction with and use of research products in the legislative environment. This study bridges this gap and identifies and analyzes the strategies that state legislative oversight offices are using to promote use of their work in the legislative process, and assesses how differences in the offices' networking and marketing activities is related to how their work is valued and used by key stakeholders—legislative staff in leadership, appropriations, and committee positions. The institutional design of the offices—whether they are located within auditing or legislative units—and the research standards they have adopted— whether they conform to Government Auditing Standards which stress organizational independence or other standards that stress utility to stakeholders—are found to be key variables related to both the offices' utilization activities and legislative stakeholder satisfaction and use of their work products. The study advances scholarship relevant to knowledge utilization and the policy process and provides practical information that evaluators and policy analysts can use to increase their value and impact and serve as an effective voice speaking truth to power rather than a voice crying in the wilderness.
Program Evaluation, Policy Analysis, Legislative Oversight, Utilization, Legislatures
Date of Defense
October 24, 2006.
A Dissertation submitted to the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Frances Berry, Professor Directing Dissertation; Carol Weissert, Outside Committee Member; Lance deHaven-Smith, Committee Member; Earle Klay, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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