Performance management in the public sector is an ongoing, systematic approach to improving results through evidence-based decision making, continuous organizational learning, and a focus on accountability for performance. Performance management is integrated into all aspects of an organization's management and policy-making processes, transforming an organization's practices so it becomes focused on achieving improved results for the public.
Performance management is all the concerted actions an organization takes to improve results by applying objective information to management and policy making. Performance management uses evidence from measurement to support governmental planning, funding, and operations. Better information enables elected officials and managers to recognize success, identify problem areas, and respond with appropriate actions--to learn from experience and apply that knowledge to better serve the public. (1)
Performance management practices within governments are often shown as a cyclical diagram representing the ongoing iterations of planning, budgeting, management, and evaluation (see Exhibit 1). With each successive cycle, governments engage in overall learning and improvement and apply those lessons going forward.
While governments should continually evaluate and look for opportunities to improve their services, the same can be done with their overall performance management approach. More and more becomes possible as staff, managers, and elected officials continue to gain experience using performance data, and their competencies grow. With improvements come greater returns that allow governments to become even more efficient, effective, and responsive to changing external conditions and public expectation
(1.) Taken from A Performance Management Framework for State and Local Government: From Measurement and Reporting to Management and Improving, the final report of the National Performance Management Advisory Commission. The report is available at http://www.pmcommission.org.
MICHAEL J. MUCHA is a senior consultant and analyst in the GFOA's Research and Consulting Center in Chicago, Illinois.
Self-Assessment Tool This self-assessment tool is intended to help public managers and practitioners apply key performance management elements and identify areas for improvement. The questions are applicable to a single program, a department, or an entire public agency. As performance management efforts evolve, all organizations will have opportunities for improvement; the intent of this self assessment is to help prioritize areas that could be improved and build momentum and consensus on the improvement plan. To complete the checklist, select the option that is most appropriate for the statement listed. Readiness for Implementing Performance Management Systems Strongly Strongly Don't Disagree Disagree Agree Agree Know Managers and public officials see the value of a performance management system and endorse implementing one. Staff can clearly articulate the value and objectives of a performance management system for the organization. Staff can define the elements of the organization's performance management system and how these elements support the organizational and decision- making processes. The performance management system supports achieving the organization's defined goals and objectives. Staff has expertise on performance management practices and principles. …