Street-level bureaucrats and intrastate variation in the implementation of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families policies

Riccucci, N. M.
January 2005
Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory;1/1/2005, Vol. 15 Issue 1, p89
Academic Journal
This article examines the impact of street-level bureaucrats on the implementation of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families policies in the state of Michigan. Michigan's welfare programs are highly centralized, leaving counties very little formal discretion to run their programs. The formal signals sent by Michigan officials around welfare reform revolve around work first immediate job placement over human capital investment. In a two-step analysis, including Analysis of Variance techniques, an examination of three local sites within Michigan indicates that street-level bureaucrats in welfare offices do not see their own priorities in the context of the formal goal of welfare in Michigan (i.e., work first). Moreover, the research indicates that there is variation across the three counties within the state. The findings of this research ultimately suggest that the discretionary power of street-level bureaucrats is an important determinant in the implementation of public policy, and that the reference point of their discretionary power is not the supervisor but, in fact, the client.


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