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"Picking Winners": Federal Discretion and Local Experience as Bases for Planning Grant Allocation

Neil Gilbert and Harry Specht
Public Administration Review
Vol. 34, No. 6 (Nov. - Dec., 1974), pp. 565-574
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Society for Public Administration
DOI: 10.2307/974352
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/974352
Page Count: 10
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"Picking Winners": Federal Discretion and Local Experience as Bases for Planning Grant Allocation
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Abstract

Funding agencies, both public and private, are continually engaged in selection processes that attempt to distinguish those applicants most likely to succeed. Usually these processes rely upon some form of expert judgment. This article describes and evaluates the Department of Housing and Urban Development's procedures for selecting 75 cities from among the 193 applicants for first-round funding in the Model Cities Program. This selection process, called the Planning Grant Review Project (PGRP), involved the review and rating of all applications by federal staff from the various agencies expected to participate in Model Cities projects. The assumption underlying this process is that, within the bounds of political constraints, expert judgments by federal staff could distinguish those applicants most likely to achieve Model Cities Program objectives. The PGRP ratings given to applicants that were selected for funding are correlated with a series of outcome measures that reflect the cities' performance during the planning year and the first action year. The results indicate that PGRP ratings generally were not associated with levels of performance, except with regard to citizen participation in planning. An alternative selection procedure is illustrated. The latent functions of multi-judgmental selection processes, such as PGRP, are analyzed.

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