Comparisons among government entities, as with comparisons among companies, can be valuable for assessment and policy.
The comparative analysis of the Council on Municipal Performance has yielded important, surprising findings:
- The cities with the most active public economic development programs were also those with the biggest economic problems.
- Cities where the private sector was prepared to take the lead in economic development had the most success.
- Cities with the most police officers had the highest crime rates.
- The most segregated U.S. city was Chicago, not somewhere in the deep south.
- Cities that attempted to solve their own management problems by privatization, failed.
- The cities that used privatization successfully were ones that were able to manage their services well already.
- Government agencies have shown they can compete successfully on price and quality with private providers.
Comparative analysis is critical for public policy. For example:
- In a time of economic recession, a state government wishes to assist troubled localities. In The Wealth of Cities,the Council on Municipal Performance showed that a state's taxing the better-off counties or cities to assist the worse off has limitations, just as does the taxing of better-off citizens to help the poorer.
- This issue is in part one of resources and in part one of incentives.
- Comparative analysis is helpful in this situation for a number of reasons. If the troubled localities rank poorly by some national measure, it strengthens the state's case for Federal assistance. - In either case, to correctly and promptly trigger the direction and amount of aid, a comparative analysis is required to establish a threshhold of distress.