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Cityscape: Volume 17 Number 2 | Article 16


The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Affordable, Accessible, Efficient Communities

Volume 17, Number 2

Mark D. Shroder

Michelle P. Matuga

Evaluation Tradecraft: Improving Program Evaluation: Using Direct Time Measurement for Estimating Administrative Costs

Kevin Hathaway

Jennifer Turnham
Abt Associates Inc.

Evaluation Tradecraft
Evaluation Tradecraft presents short articles about the art of evaluation in housing and urban research. Through this department of Cityscape, the Office of Policy Development and Research presents developments in the art of evaluation that might not be described in detail in published evaluations. Researchers often describe what they did and what their results were, but they might not give readers a step-by-step guide for implementing their methods. This department pulls back the curtain and shows readers exactly how program evaluation is done. If you have an idea for an article of about 3,000 words on a particular evaluation method or an interesting development in the art of evaluation, please send a one-paragraph abstract to

Benefit-cost analysis is a common component of evaluation studies. Although techniques to establish the benefits continually improve, approaches to estimate costs based on how staff distribute their time remain antiquated, with imprecise timesheet instruments and precarious assumptions. For government agencies and researchers interested in accurately evaluating these costs, and with labor remaining the largest share of administrative spending for many programs, better techniques are needed for recording and measuring staff time. We present the direct time measurement approach from the Housing Choice Voucher Program Administrative Fee Study, describing the techniques and technologies used and discussing the logistical work required to ensure a successful time measurement effort.


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