Dr. Bozeman recalled an earlier statement about the ATP being the most studied federal program since Head Start. Taking issue with that characterization, Dr. Bozeman said that most social programs are assessed a great deal, probably more so than the ATP. Nonetheless, Dr. Bozeman said that this was a good metaphor for thinking about the challenges facing the ATP.
Dr. Bozeman agreed, however, that the ATP has been studied more than any other technology program. The ongoing ATP assessment has benefited from the development of a number of useful assessment tools. Having read many of the studies on the ATP, Dr. Bozeman said he has found most of them to be well-done and valuable contributions to program assessment. In today's environment in which the Government Performance Review Act (GPRA) is so important, this is no small accomplishment.
Another metaphor from Head Start is that the best studies show that the Head Start program did not work very well. The more precise the studies were, the smaller the ''trace effects" of Head Start were, that is, the effect of Head Start quickly wore off for the individuals studied. One lesson of Head Start is to learn from evaluation. Because of Head Start evaluation, another program was developed to address diminishing trace effects and this greatly improved the Head Start program. Dr. Bozeman said that he was pleased to see that the ATP was using its evaluation to improve program implementation.
Turning to another Head Start metaphor, Dr. Bozeman said that, in looking back to the old Office of Economic Opportunity and other War on Poverty programs, he doubted that many people would recall which one had the best cost/ benefit ratio and the best rate of return to the economy. The program with the best return was not Head Start, but the Job Corps program. Yet in spite of positive assessments, Congress disliked the Job Corps and the program did not have a long life. The lesson for the ATP is that, regardless of whether returns to the economy are estimated at $20 million or $35 billion, these positive evaluations in themselves are not likely to be program sustaining.
Dr. Bozeman said that this realization can be quite liberating. It gives program managers a chance to build a clientele for what really works. He sees this already in the ATP; in addition to estimating economic benefits, Dr. Bozeman said that evaluators are paying attention to program instruments that are effective and are highlighting them.
One of the most important metaphors from programs such Head Start is that, overall, the War on Poverty was lost. That, at least, was the prevailing perception in the 1970s, said Dr. Bozeman. However, an authoritative study from the University of Arizona found that, taken over a long time horizon, the returns from the War on Poverty were quite substantially positive, especially in light of the modest amounts invested. Dr. Bozeman said that this would be the likely long-term conclusion on the ATP, namely, that its benefits would be shown to be quite positive. In concluding, Dr. Bozeman said that he hoped there would be an opportunity for this kind of long-term analysis of the ATP.