Congratulations to the winners of the 2014 Marykathryn Kubat Award for Graduate Student Research.  

Through the Kubat Award, AABPA seeks to encourage student research and critical thinking that will prepare students for the budget and program issues they will encounter in their careers, particularly those in the public service. The 2014 winners of the award are Alex Marqusee and Ethan Guy, University of California - Berkeley 

 2014 Finalists

Ethan Guy and Alex Marqusee, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California - Berkeley

An Analysis of Proactive Rental Inspection Policies in California

This report investigates the effectiveness and impacts on tenants of Proactive Rental Inspection (PRI) programs in California over the past 15 years. Increasingly, municipal governments are adopting PRI programs to inspect rental units for code violations systematically – as opposed to inspecting only after a tenant complaint. PRI programs seek to protect vulnerable tenants from unsafe living conditions landlord retaliation, rent increases, or displacements due to increased condemnations, increased rents, or removal of units from the rental market. This report evaluates the effectiveness of PRI programs in four Californian cities to reduce serious code violations, investigates whether any of the aforementioned impacts have occurred and frames the policy implications for the City of Oakland.

This report uses a mixed methods approach of qualitative case studies and a regression analysis. Quantitatively, this report uses data from the American Housing Survey (AHS) to measure the impact of PRI programs on changes in housing quality, rent, total housing costs, and condominiums conversion over time. A series of linear, fixed-effects ordinary least squares models isolate and quantify the impacts of a unit’s inclusion in a PRI program.

Qualitatively, this report analyzes official program documents and conducted interviews with code enforcement officials and tenants’ rights advocates to gather information on PRI program impacts and best practices for program design and implementation.

The main findings are that PRI programs:

1. Reduce serious habitability issues when fully staffed and both the interior and exterior of units are inspected.

2. Are not associated with increasing housing costs.

3. May increase tenant displacement in jurisdictions without relocation provisions, capital pass through limits, and other rent control protections.

This report concludes that the City of Oakland should consider adopting a PRI program to reduce serious habitability issues among rental units, but only if accompanied by a strong mandatory relocation assistance provision.


Jamie Giles, Martin School of Public Policy, University of Kentucky

Do Municipal Stat Programs Improve Services and Reallocate Resources?  Evidence from LouieStat

Performance metrics and municipal stat programs are becoming increasingly popular to measure performance of city departments in order to improve services and save taxpayers’ dollars. This research measured to what extent municipal stat programs have an effect on the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) being measured, and second to what extent municipal stat programs has had an impact on allocated budget dollars by department, using an analysis of Metro Louisville’s LouieStat as evidence. Understanding the effect of performance stat tools will provide insight for the Louisville Administration and for other cities considering using a similar tool.

The analysis looks at one of the metrics, unscheduled overtime dollars, because the data was collected consistently from all departments. Holding all else equal, using a multiple regression of panel data with fixed effects, LouieStat has had an average statistically significant impact on unscheduled overtime dollars of -$12,710 per department per month and the impact of LouieStat was immediate on this metric. In aggregate, this equals around a $2.3 million decrease for unscheduled overtime for those agencies that have implemented LouieStat at the time of this study.

One use of LouieStat is to examine entrenched programs to determine if resources could be allocated to more effective programs. Again using a multiple regression of panel data with fixed effects, the research found the number of months of LouieStat data the administration could consider did have statistically significant negative impact on budgetary allocation of around -$330,000 per department. In other words, it does appear LouieStat is having an impact on the efforts to “budget for outcomes.”

In conclusion, applying internal focus and external pressure to track, manage, and set goals through LouieStat has improved performance for one metric and marginal effort to budget for outcomes. Performance Stat programs modeled after LouieStat are a worthwhile endeavor for other similar cities to implement.


Bill Winfrey, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, The George Washington University


The Opportunity Cost of Impact Investing: A Cost-Benefit Analysis Case Study of an Impact Investment by the Kresge Foundation


The Kresge Foundation participated in the largest social impact bond experiment conducted thus far in the United States, investing $1.5 million of $27 million total in Roca, Inc., a non-profit service provider working to reduce recidivism in the Boston area.


This cost-benefit analysis was conducted because, while aiming to further the mission of the Foundation, the funds used in the impact investing portfolio are diverted from the endowment. This means that there is an opportunity cost to making such investments, equal to the foregone returns of the market- approximately 5% per year. This paper calculated the benefits accrued to the mission-based investment of the Kresge Foundation and determined that, based on the attributable financial returns of this investment, the Kresge Foundation exceeded potential market returns.


The methodology of this analysis was to compare the opportunity cost of this investment to the financial benefits realized by the funded intervention. The financial benefits were calculated based on a reduction in recidivism as dictated by the terms of the bond and calculated the portion of savings realized by these interventions that was attributable to the Kresge Foundation.


The findings of this analysis established significant financial returns to the Kresge Foundation from this investment. Using a sensitivity analysis, the base case analysis estimated that just under $185,000 could be attributed to Kresge (compared with the opportunity cost of $75,000). Using various break-even estimates, it appeared highly likely that the Kresge Foundation would realize savings in excess of $75,000.


Social impact bonds are revolutionizing the strategy for paying for social support programs. The Kresge Foundation’s financial support for this particular impact investment appears to be financially justified. The results of this analysis make the case for future impact investments, especially in recidivism interventions, based on the financial returns of such investments.



Andrea Vaughn, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, The George Washington University

U.S. Policy on Food Aid in North Korea: A Cost-Benefit Analysis

The citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic Korea, or North Korea, face considerable food insecurity. Although the country is not currently experiencing widespread famine, millions are suffering from malnutrition, stunting, and poor health due to chronic food shortages. The global community, including the United States at various points in time, offers food aid to the impoverished nation for humanitarian and stabilization purposes. However, in the United States food aid is typically seen as explicitly tied to security; therefore, since 2009, the United States has not provided food aid to North Korea. This paper monetizes and analyzes the costs and benefits to American taxpayers, North Korean citizens, the North Korean government, and South Korea that would be recognized if the United States was to resume providing food aid to North Korea through the World Food Programme. By analyzing the costs, such as commodity values, compared to the benefits, such as value of statistical lives saved, and detailing cost avoided scenarios that could occur with significant destabilization of the Korean Peninsula, this analysis finds that the total costs are dwarfed by the significant benefits of providing food aid to the North Korean people. Based on this analysis, a U.S. policy designed to give food aid to North Korea through the World Food Programme is an economically beneficial policy that should be implemented.



2012 Winners


Kathryn Vesey, George Washington University


Federal Capital Budgeting: An Evaluation of the Current Budgetary Treatment of Capital Spending by the U.S. Federal Government

Enrique Ruacho, University of California-Berkeley

Realigning Realignment: Outcomes and Performance Measures for the Long-Term Success of California's Criminal Justice Realignment



2011 Winners

Sarah M. Ammar, American University School of Public Affairs 

The Creative Economy: Finding New Solutions to Old Problems    

Nicole Buell and John Tortorella, Duke University Nicholas School for the Environment

An Analysis of the Program Assessment Rating Tool: Evaluating the Performance of the Federal Environmental and Natural Resource Programs         



2010 Winners

Amanda Parker, American University

Measure Twice, Cut Once: Examining the Impact of Budget Cuts on Student Success

Robin Ghertner, The Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, The George Washington University

Gains to Guestworkers: The Social Welfare Consequences of the Y Visa Program in S.1639



Robert Edward Allison
West Virginia University    
Tax Progressivity and Human Development: An Exploratory Analysis
Andres Antonio Carriedo
George Washington University         
Improving the Budget Treatment of Federal Defined Benefit Pension Plans and Other Post-Employment Benefits
Spencer Deery
George Washington University  
The Supplemental Appropriation: An Avoidable Weakness of Responsible Budgeting
Robin Ghertner 
George Washington University  
Gains to Guestworkers: The Social Welfare Consequences of the Y Visa Program in S.1639
Amanda Parker
American University 
Measure Twice, Cut Once: Examining the Impact of Budget Cuts on Student Success
Ying Tan
Ohio University
FY 2004-FY 2008 Budgeting Report for the Ohio State School for the Blind
Rebecca F. Vertes
George Washington University  
Cost Benefit Analysis of the eligibility requirement change in the Weatherization Assistance Program