Moynihan's research focuses on how government administrative processes work. Overarching themes in Moynihan's writings include how bureaucracy, confusing paperwork, and complex regulations often introduce delay and frustration into our experiences with government agencies. Moynihan also studies the behavioral effects of efforts to improve public sector outcomes through government reform. Moynihan serves governments and international organizations interested in public sector performance, and advocacy groups interested in reducing administrative burdens in different policy areas.
Shows how red tape and paperwork is deliberately imposed on individuals in a variety of social policy areas, voting and abortion.
Shows through a survey experiment that politicians pay more attention to performance data when performance is low, and make decisions using this data through an ideological lens. `
Uses a series of treatments (giving more autonomy, appealing to bureaucratic preferences, providing more useful data) to examine how to encourage school principals to use more performance data.
Describes how learning, compliance and psychological costs are constructed by political actors in the area of Medicaid.
Shows how a performance management system under the Bush administration was applied more aggressively toward liberal agencies. Exemplifies how apparently neutral governmental reforms are used in ideological ways.
Examines the adoption of performance systems in US governments. Shows how governments have struggled to make these systems useful in practice. Recommends that governments move away from tying extrinsic rewards to indicators, and instead to build a culture of organizational learning.