Public Works Program: Performance Evaluation
Author(s): CUPR ( Burchell ), Rutgers University
and NJIT ( Pignataro ), NJIT and NCIS ( Griffis ), Columbia University
and NARC ( Epling ), Princeton University and CDCPS ( Haughwout
), NARC and UCSP ( Varady, Looye ), University of Cincinnati
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM PERFORMANCE EVALUATION
• The purpose of the research described here
is to evaluate all 205 Economic Development Administration (EDA)
Public Works Program projects that received their last payment in
FY 1990. This means that, as of that date, the projects were completed
and structures associated with them either occupied or soon to be
occupied. Thus, at the time of this research-six years later-these
projects had been sufficiently established to make their evaluation
• Since 1965, EDA's mission has been to promote
the long-term recovery of economically depressed areas by assisting
local governments via public works project grants in generating
and retaining jobs and in stimulating commercial and industrial
• The study was undertaken from November
1996 through March 1997 by research teams from five universities
and a major professional organization. All principals of the research
teams have extensive experience in both economic development and
infrastructure studies. Each principal spent significant time in
the field researching individual projects and talking to grantees.
Each principal and affiliated staff participated in some aspect
of research analysis and in writing the final report. All concur
with the findings presented below.
• The research team contacted by mail and
telephone 205 grantees of public works projects. To help the grantees
better understand the purpose and types of information necessary
to undertake the evaluation, all grantees were invited to attend
seminars conducted by the research team at 13
locations nationally. Sixty (60) project sites were visited to conduct
in-depth discussions with grantees to learn more about their individual
projects' impacts and to validate the information that they were
in the process of providing.
• The analysis uses performance measures
developed by EDA specifically to evaluate public works projects.
Performance measures relate primarily to numbers of various types
of jobs created or retained and amounts of private- and public-sector
PROJECT TYPE AND CONTEXT
• From a universe of 205 EDA public works
projects receiving a closeout payment in FY 1990, all 205 were successfully
• The composition of the 203 completed' public
works projects is as follows:
• In terms of the context of the above projects,
EDA public works projects take place in locations where levels of
unemployment and percents of the population below the poverty level
are 40 percent higher than state and national averages. These are
also locations where per capita income is typically 40 percent lower
than averages at the state and national levels.
• Of those public works projects contacted
by the research team, 99 percent (203) were completed as planned.
• Ninety-one percent (185) of the projects
were completed on time.
• Fifty-two percent (105) were completed
• Project-Related Direct Impacts
• Ninety-six percent (195) of the public works projects
produced permanent jobs six years after completion.
• Eighty-four percent (171) leveraged private-sector investment
over the period.
• On average, each public works project produced
327 direct permanent jobs for every $1 million of EDA funding.
• Based on average EDA funding of $660,557
per project, $3,058 in EDA funds was spent per job created or retained.
Total cost (all sources of funding, including EDA) per job created
or retained was $4,857.
• Not including public projects, for every
$1 million of EDA funding, $10.08 million was leveraged in private-sector
• For all projects, for every $1 million
of EDA funding, another $1 million was leveraged in federal, state
or local investment.
• 15.0 FTE (full-time-equivalent) construction
jobs were created per $1 million of EDA funding, carrying out solely
the grant-supported component of capital infrastructure.
Nonproject-Related Direct and Indirect Impacts
• Nonproject-related direct or indirect jobs
(those that occur because of the project or the project's jobs)
found to be present in 30 and 35 percent, respectively, of all public
Considering all projects' ability to generate nonproject-related
direct or indirect effects, for every $1 million of EDA funding,
an additional 50 jobs and $1.18 million in private-sector investment
were generated in nonproject-related direct effects, and an additional
64 jobs and $126,180 were generated in indirect effects. Except
in cases where the project was tax-exempt, public works projects
increased the local tax base at a level of $10.13 million per $1
million of EDA funding.
PROJECT IMPACTS (GENERAL)
• Public works projects' economic impacts
generally increase with time. Jobs resulting six years after completion
were, on average, twice the number witnessed at project completion.
• EDA public-sector economic stimuli create
private-sector jobs at high levels of success and low levels of
• Most of the public works projects achieved
EDA's objective of providing communities with the necessary infrastructure
to expand their economic base.
• Jobs and private investment have occuned
in many areas that would not have experienced these benefits without
• EDA offices as an instrument of government,
and EDA field representatives who interact with grantees, are well-regarded
by their constituencies.