How Organisations Measure Success: The Use of Performance Indicators in Government

How Organisations Measure Success: The Use of Performance Indicators in Government

How Organisations Measure Success: The Use of Performance Indicators in Government

How Organisations Measure Success: The Use of Performance Indicators in Government

Synopsis

Examines the performance of various government agencies and departments as well as other organizations, including the National Health Service, the Department of Social Security, the police services, the courts and a clearing bank.

Excerpt

In the 1980s the Thatcher Administration set out to transform the management and style of government. Previous Administrations had set out with the same ambition; none was able to pursue it with such persistence for so long. the Whitehall of the 1990s clearly bears the imprint, and the scars, of the efforts made to ensure that it will be very different from the Whitehall that Mrs Thatcher inherited in 1979. It is a change that goes beyond the introduction of new techniques or the re-drawing of the boundary between the public and the private sectors. It reflects also a challenge to some of the traditional values of the civil service. It demands that the mandarin should be reborn as a manager. It emphasises drive and energy rather than the avoidance of mistakes; it requires loyalty to Ministers and their political goals rather than to some notion of the public goods defined by the civil service. Its vocabulary stresses value for money, efficiency, decentralisation, and accountability. Above all, it represents a determination to change the culture of government.

It remains to be seen how much of Mrs Thatcher’s cultural revolution will survive her period in office. To the extent that it reflects a wider transformation in society as a whole, it seems probable that it will. It is unlikely that the civil service will ever again fit comfortably into an establishmentarian mould that has cracked. It is equally unlikely that Whitehall will ever be able to ignore the transformation wrought by information technology in all large organisations. Above all, it is highly implausible that any government will throw away the new tools of management that were developed in the 1980s.

Hence the relevance for the 1990s of this study of the way in which performance indicators (PIs) were developed in the 1980s. Performance indicators were only one element in the overall strategy of making evaluation a feature of the new Whitehall structure. But they were an essential part. If there is to be value for money, then the activities and

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