Navigators as a Means of Overcoming Administrative Burdens: A Quantitative Study of State-Administered Federal Assistance Programs
Administrative burdens are the psychological, compliance, and learning costs experienced by individuals interacting with public entities that may shape and reshape their relationship to citizenship and/or access to benefits and rights. It has long been hypothesized that third-party entities, designated as navigators, could be leveraged to mitigate the impact of administrative burden costs on citizens. For effective delivery of service, easing administrative burden costs in application processes may increase applicant likelihood of successfully navigating the bureaucratic process towards a desired end.
This research used data from recently implemented assistance programs in two separate state-level jurisdictions to conduct logistical regression analyses on whether this hypothesis is affirmed by actual program administration. Furthermore, this research tested whether the impacts are differentiated when accounting for an applicant’s demographic and income profile, as well as the applicant profiles whose likelihood of approval is most positively impacted by the use of the navigators.
The findings showed a consistent statistically significant relationship (p < 0.001) between the use of the navigators and the likelihood of approval in both jurisdictions, both on their own and when accounting for all of the other relevant demographic covariates. However, the two programs differed in terms of the stage of application for when the intervention was recorded. The more proactive interaction that stretched from initial interaction to post-application decision showed a positive relationship for every demographic profile, with a particularly strong relationship for lower-income applicants, whereas the more reactive interaction that covered post-application reviews showed a negative association for all income levels.