Academic journal article The Public Manager

Demand for Results Drives New Systems and Behaviors

Academic journal article The Public Manager

Demand for Results Drives New Systems and Behaviors

Article excerpt

Federal agencies have made great progress in reporting on results, but agencies still face performance challenges reflecting the public sector's complex operating environment.

Performance measurement challenges have been both conceptual and practical. Many public-sector programs have only limited control over their outcomes because they (1) rely on actions by other parties (both public and private), or (2) have ambitious goals influenced by forces outside the program-the economy, climate, or demographic trends. Reliance on third parties tends to limit access to data on client-level effects or data that can be readily combined across jurisdictions. Managers are often torn between choosing ambitious goals focused on health and safety benefits or using lesser indicators of organizational change or intermediate benefits for which they can feel responsible. Moreover, while population statistics or satisfaction surveys are often convenient and appear highly relevant, they often do not measure program performance so much as a mixture of program effects plus the effects of outside contextual forces.

Federal agencies have drawn on a variety of strategies to address these challenges. To provide a balanced picture of program performance, managers have selected portfolios of measures to depict both concrete process improvements as well as progress on benefits for program clients and citizens. …

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