Daniel W. Williams

Baruch College
Public Affairs

One Bernard Baruch Way
New York, NY
daniel.williams@baruch.cuny.edu |  Visit Personal Website

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My principal research agenda is in the history of public administration in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. I am particularly interested in issues of epistemology and political theory that can be discussed in this history. My second research agenda is in matters of management science with special focus on performance, budgeting, and forecasting. Recent research has focused on forecasting and other financial management matters.

Williams, D. W., and S. Kavanaugh. 2016. "Local Government Revenue Forecasting: Competition and Comparison." Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting, and Financial Management 28 (4):415-454.
Abstract: This study examines forecast accuracy associated with the forecast of 55 revenue data series of 18 local governments. The last 18 months (6 quarters; or 2 years) of the data are held-out for accuracy evaluation. Results show that forecast software, damped trend methods, and simple exponential smoothing methods perform best with monthly and quarterly data; and use of monthly or quarterly data is marginally better than annualized data. For monthly data, there is no advantage to converting dollar values to real dollars before forecasting and reconverting using a forecasted index. With annual data, naïve methods can outperform exponential smoothing methods for some types of data; and real dollar conversion generally outperforms nominal dollars. The study suggests benchmark forecast errors and recommends a process for selecting a forecast method.
Williams, D. W., and T. Calabrese. 2016. "The Status of Budget Forecasting." Journal of Public and Nonprofit Affairs 2 (2):127-160
Abstract: This article examines the breadth of the current forecast literature as it relates to public budget making. It serves to provide summary information to decision-makers who otherwise do not have the resources to learn more than a small amount focused on much more narrowly defined areas of forecasting (such as the politics of forecast bias). Next, it serves those who perform forecasting related to budgeting by reviewing the current methods and practices commonly used in this domain. It also provides a ground level for future public budget forecasting research. Finally, this article identifies several areas in which the public forecasting literature needs additional development. Several of these areas, such as the effectiveness of nonregression-based forecasting techniques, are quite important to the majority of governments in the United States and other subnational jurisdictions, where budget offices are limited and resource investments in technology are scarce.
DOI: 10.20899/jpna.2.2.127-160
Wu, Y., & Williams, D. 2015. "State Legislative Earmarks: Counterparts of Congressional Earmarks?" State and Local Government Review 47 (2):83-91.
Abstract: Using data of "member items" in New York State during 2007–2010, we investigate how political factors such as majority party affiliation, tenure of service, and legislative leadership affect the distribution of state earmarked funds. The statistical results suggest that majority party affiliation and tenure of service have significant effects on the total earmarked funding state legislators may receive each year. Senate leaders ormembers of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee can also secure additional earmarks to fund their community projects. This research fills the gap in literature on subnational earmarking.
DOI: 10.1177/0160323X15581056
Bianchi, C., & Williams, D. 2015. "Applying System Dynamics Modeling to Foster a Cause-and-Effect Perspective in Dealing with Behavioral Distortions Associated to City’s Performance Measurement Programs." Public Performance and Management Review, 38 (3):395-425.
Abstract: This paper aims to show how applying system dynamics methodology to performance management can provide a powerful modeling perspective enabling public sector organizations to prevent, detect, and counteract behavioral distortions associated with performance measurement. A dynamic performance management approach is able to support performance management system designers in outlining and implementing a consistent set of measures that can allow public sector decision-makers to pursue sustainable organizational learning and development. This perspective implies a major shift from a static to a dynamic picture of organizational processes and results. It means framing delays between causes and effects, feedback loops, and trade-offs in time and space associated with alternative scenarios. It also means understanding how different policy levers impact the accumulation and depletion of strategic resources over time, and determining how performance drivers affect end results. An exemplar application of this perspective is outlined in relation to municipal crime-control policies. Unintended behavioral consequences generated by the implementation of the CompStat program (New York Police Department) on reward and performance management systems are framed through the “lenses” of dynamic performance management.
URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/GsHBWtv4pWynfr6jw9PW/full
Williams, Daniel W. 2014. "The Evolution of the Performance Model from Black Box to the Logic Model through Systems Thinking." International Journal of Public Administration, 37 (13):932-944.
Abstract: From approximately 1900 through the early 1970s, the examination of organizational performance in the United States reflected the Input/Output construct, which is associated with, if not derived from, scientific management. Beginning in the mid-1950s and accelerating in the 1970s, this construct transformed through systems thinking to Input → Throughput → Output. In current language, this sort of model is known as the “logic model.” There is no single accepted variant of the logic model. This process could be improved by adopting more coherence, integration with more performance constructs, and use of more systems constructs.
URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/zjUGvP5779Dptyiv8PTB/full
Williams, Daniel W. 2012. "The Politics of Forecast Bias: Forecaster Effect and Other Effects in New York City Revenue Forecasting." Public Budgeting and Finance 32 (4):1-18.
Abstract: This paper examines the impact of forecasters, horizons, revenue categories, and forecast timing in relation to decision making on forecast bias or accuracy. The significant findings are: for the most part forecasters tend to report forecasts that are similar rather than competitive. Forecast bias (underforecasting) increases over longer horizons; consequently claims of structural budget deficit are suspect, as an assertion of structural deficit requires that a reliable forecast of revenue shows continuous shortfall compared with a reliable forecast of expenditures. There is an overforecasting bias in property tax, possibly reflecting demand for services. There is an underforecasting forecast bias in two revenue categories, all other taxes and federal categorical grants, resulting in a net total underforecasting bias for the city's revenue. There appears to be a period effect (forecasts in June are substantially biased), but this effect requires further study. The study suggests further examination of the bias associated with revenue categories, time within the budget cycle, and forecast horizon.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5850.2012.01021.x
Williams, Daniel W., and Joseph Onochie. 2013. "The Rube Goldberg Machine of Budget Implementation, or Is There a Structural Deficit in the New York City Budget?" Public Budgeting and Finance 33 (4):1-21.
Abstract: This paper examines the case of continuous budgeting both preadoption and postadoption in New York City and considers matters of forecast bias, rebudgeting, and the belief that New York City remains in structural deficit which has been cited as a continuing source of concern since New York City's 1970s fiscal crisis. The asserted structural deficit is a rationale for reducing spending in the prebudget and postbudget adoption periods. Williams (2012), shows that New York City's revenue forecasts are biased to underestimation, exacerbating over longer horizons. This paper examines expenditure estimates, reductions and within-year modifications over the first decade of the twenty-first century. If there is a structural deficit, expenditures would exceed revenues in forecasts by more than offsetting forecast biases. However, there are other reasons expenditures may exceed revenues in forecasts. Late term increases in expenditure estimates suggest deliberate choices, which cannot be termed “structural.” Expenditure changes follow changing revenue particularly in the postadoption period. This rebudgeting practice does not reflect fiscal stress; it is part of a complex method of producing a surreptitious budget stabilization fund, reallocations favored by the mayor, and possibly shifting of the budget towards capital uses with little broad public discussion. These observed effects are somewhat consistent with effective financial management, but are nontransparent and inconsistent with democratic participation. Policy recommendations aim at restoring transparency and democratic oversight.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5850.2013.12021.x
Capone, D., and Daniel Williams. 2011. "The History of Evaluation through Regulatory Impact Analysis: A Path from Accounting to Accountability." Journal of International Business 3 (1): 23-57.
Abstract: Evaluation of public policy is an important element of intervention by government in the economy and society. This paper analyzes the path of evaluation the U.S. system through its development in the related scientific field through the use, by different administrations, of Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA). The history of evaluation shows how over time there has been a bipartisan acknowledgment of the importance of these tools and an interesting change in the approach and use of them. At the beginning, RIA and evaluation were conceived as control and accounting instruments with a strong utilization of economic analysis, but afterwards, they became an effective support to the decision making in the direction of more accountability.
Chen, Greg, and Daniel W. Williams. 2007. "How Political Support Influences Red Tape through Organizational Process." Policy Studies Journal 45 (3): 419-436.
Abstract: This study examines the interrelationship between external political support, internal organizational factors, and red tape, using a sample of information managers from state health and human service agencies. The study defines a red tape model and tests the model by structural equation modeling method. The study finds that political support has a direct effect on red tape. The higher the political support, the lower the level of red tape. The study also confirms an indirect effect of political support on red tape, mediated by developmental culture. Indirect effect through goal clarity has the correct sign but is not statistically significant. Practical recommendations are made for the political environment to provide the opportunity for managerial reforms that are often advocated.
Williams, Daniel W., and Mordecai Lee. 2008. "Deja Vu All Over Again: Contemporary Vestiges of the Early 1900s' Municipal Budget Exhibit." American Review of Public Administration 38 (2): 203-224.
Abstract: For a brief period in the 1910s, the municipal budget exhibit was viewed by good-government reformers at the trailblazing New York Bureau of Municipal Research as a key outlet for cleaning up corrupt local governments and educating the masses to play their proper role in the new administrative state. For a time, the budget exhibit spread to other cities adopting municipal research bureaus. However, the municipal budget exhibit quickly fell out of favor with reformers and disappeared from public administration?s reform agenda. Did it vanish completely? The authors suggest that modern-day exhibits by government agencies at state fairs and similar events are the metamorphosis of the municipal budget exhibit. Although the goal of reaching the masses for purposes of democratic accountability has been preserved, the venues and packaging of such exhibitions have significantly changed from the original conception of municipal budget exhibits.
DOI: 10.1177/0275074007303181

Substantive Focus:
Economic Policy SECONDARY
Governance PRIMARY
Urban Public Policy

Theoretical Focus:
Policy History PRIMARY
Policy Process Theory
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation
Policy Analysis and Evaluation SECONDARY