It's The Metrics, Stupid!

By W.D. Reasoner, March 24, 2011

This just in from our You-Can-Have-Your-Cake-and-Eat-It-Too Department.

Very recently, the RAND Corporation examined border effectiveness metrics. The following nugget can be found in Chapter One of the report, entitled "Measuring Illegal Border Crossing Between Ports of Entry: An Assessment of Four Promising Methods":

[T]he U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO, 2009) reports that CBP explained increases in apprehensions made at checkpoints in some border sectors to improved CBP operations and decreases in apprehensions in other sectors to the deterrent effects of improved CBP technologies and increased staffing. [emphases in the original]

So let me get this straight. Apprehensions go up: proof of effectiveness. Apprehensions go down: proof of effectiveness.

Well. Who knew it could be so easy? No wonder the administration claims that border security has never been better. Why don’t we just declare success and furlough all those Border Patrol agents? It would save a ton of taxpayer money.

The postscript to the story: In classically dry, understated fashion, RAND concludes, "Clearly, a measure that reflects successful performance whether it rises or falls has limited value as a management tool."