Tools for Decision Making : A Practical Guide for Local Government book cover
3rd Edition

Tools for Decision Making
A Practical Guide for Local Government

ISBN 9780367654320
Published September 9, 2021 by Routledge
528 Pages 81 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book guides readers to the mastery of a wide array of practical analytic techniques useful to local governments. Written in an easy-to-read style with an emphasis on providing practical assistance to students, local government practitioners, and others interested in local government performance, this updated third edition features analytic methods selected for their relevance to everyday problems encountered in city and county governments.

The authors outline a variety of practical techniques including the simplest that the fields of management, public administration, policy analysis, and industrial engineering have to offer. Each analytic technique is introduced in the context of a fictitious case presented over a few pages at the beginning of that technique’s chapter. Contents include demand analysis, work distribution analysis, process flow-charting, inflation adjustments, annualizing capital costs, staffing analysis, identifying full costs of a program or service, present value analysis, life-cycle costing, lease/buy analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, benchmarking analysis, and more.

This updated third edition features a dramatic expansion of Excel-based applications, plus templates and exercises accompanying many of the chapters and available online. New chapters prepare readers to:

• use statistical tests to identify significant differences in performance averages;

• construct Pareto charts;

• develop cause-and-effect diagrams;

• prepare control charts;

• detect possible discrimination in hiring and appointment practices; and

• present analytic evidence more effectively.

This book is an essential resource for students and instructors of public administration courses on analysis, methods, evaluation, productivity improvement, and service delivery.

Online resources for this book, including Excel templates, are available at

Table of Contents


Part I – Introduction

Chapter 1. The Role of Analysis in Local Government

Part II – The Basics

Chapter 2. Central Tendency and Dispersion

Chapter 3. Performance Measurement and Monitoring

Chapter 4. Smoothing Data Trends by Using Moving Averages

Chapter 5. Sampling for Analysis

Chapter 6. Basic Statistical Testing: Correlation and Chi-Square

Chapter 7. Sensitivity Analysis

Chapter 8. Break-Even Analysis

Chapter 9. Detecting Meaningful Differences in Average Performance

Part III – Analyzing a Unit’s Capacity to Meet the Demand for Service

Chapter 10. Demand Analysis

Chapter 11. Work Distribution Analysis

Chapter 12. Using Performance Standards

Chapter 13. Staffing Analysis

Chapter 14. Staffing Factor Calculation: Projections for Uninterruptable Services

Part IV – What Does It Cost?

Chapter 15. Adjusting for Inflation When Comparing Revenues or Expenditures

Chapter 16. Basic Investment Calculations: Figuring Interest Rates and Yields

Chapter 17. The Time Value of Money: Opportunity Costs, Discounting, Compounding, Future Value, and Present Value

Chapter 18. Simple Options for Annualizing Costs of Capital Items: Usage-Rate and Straight-Line Depreciation

Chapter 19. Identifying the Full Costs of a Program

Chapter 20. Calculating Go-Away Costs for Privatization Decisions

Chapter 21. Life-Cycle Costing

Chapter 22. Lease or Buy?

Chapter 23. Cost-Effectiveness Analysis: A Truncated Version of Cost-Benefit Analysis

Part V – Process Improvement

Chapter 24. Pareto Charts

Chapter 25. Cause-and-Effect Diagrams

Chapter 26. Process Flow Charts

Chapter 27. Control Charts

Part VI – Other Analytic Opportunities and Techniques

Chapter 28. Citizen Surveys and Customer Surveys

Chapter 29. Analyzing Survey Data: Revealing Graphics and Simple Statistics

Chapter 30. Financial Condition Analysis

Chapter 31. Random Chance or Bias? A Practical Use of Binomial Probability Distribution

Chapter 32. Forecasting

Chapter 33. Analysis of Operations via Benchmarking

Part VII – Presenting Analytic Evidence

Chapter 34. Presenting Analytic Evidence: Tables or Graphs?

Part VIII – Wrap Up

Chapter 35. The Place of Analysis in a Political Environment

Appendix A. Distribution of Chi-Square

Appendix B. Distribution of t

Appendix C. Future Value Interest Factors

Appendix D. Sum of Annuity Factor (SAF)

Appendix E. The Normal Distribution and Table of z-Score Probabilities

Appendix F. Excel’s Data Analysis ToolPak—Installation, Use, and Example

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David N. Ammons is a Professor of Public Administration and Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. He has written several books and his articles have appeared in Public Administration Review, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Public Performance and Management Review, and other public affairs journals. He has served on the National Performance Management Advisory Commission and the North Carolina Governor’s Advisory Committee on Performance Management. He was elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration in 2006.

Dale J. Roenigk is the Director of the North Carolina Benchmarking Project and a Faculty Member at the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. He is the author of an annual benchmarking report on municipal services published by the School of Government. He also helped develop the County and Municipal Fiscal Analysis tool, a web-based dashboard designed to help North Carolina local governments analyze their fiscal condition. His research interests include benchmarking, performance measurement and management, and evaluation.


"Finally, a no-nonsense, how-to book that takes the fear out of statistics and analysis. Tools for Decision Making is an ideal book to use in masters-level research methods classes where the emphasis is on equipping students with basic tools of analysis that they can use in their careers." — David Schultz, Distinguished University Professor of Political Science and Legal Studies at Hamline University, USA

"By incorporating Excel instructions into the collection of analytic techniques presented in Tools for Decision Making, the authors have made this book a must-have. Every local government researcher/analyst in the world has access to Excel, so this feature alone makes this text invaluable. The online Excel templates that accompany the third edition are a major selling point; their availability for student use and for subsequent use on the job make this book a necessity on one’s bookshelf." — Hunter Bacot, Graduate Program Director and Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA

"Tools for Decision Making is a gold mine of ideas for improving services. It makes difficult-sounding management techniques very understandable. I caution owners of the book to be leery of those who seek to borrow it; else it may go the same way as the trusty hammer and saw." — W. Bartley Hildreth, Professor at the Center for State and Local Finance / Department of Public Management and Policy at Georgia State University, USA

"The analytical tools described by Ammons and Roenigk demystify the management of complex organizations. This book can serve as your tool box of ideas and models for continuous improvement." — Russell Blackburn, City Manager at the City of Port St. Lucie, Florida, USA

"Tools for Decision Making is a very user-friendly book that can be used in policy analysis or financial management courses in upper-division or graduate instruction. Ammons and Roenigk use excellent examples that place tools in realistic and appropriate context for typical public administration students." — Howard Frank, Professor in the Department of Public Policy & Administration at Florida International University, USA