Performance measurement involves determining what to measure, identifying data collection methods, and collecting the data. Evaluation involves assessing progress toward achieving performance expectations, usually to explain the causal relationships that exist between program activities and outcomes. Performance measurement and evaluation are components of performance- based management, the systematic application of information generated by performance plans, measurement, and evaluation to strategic planning and budget formulation.
Why We Should Measure
Performance measurement improves communications internally among employees, as well as externally between the organization and as customers and stakeholders. The emphasis on measuring and improving performance (i.e., "results- oriented management") has created a new climate, affecting all government agencies, and most private sector and nonprofit institutions as well. A results-oriented organization requires timely and accurate information on programs and supporting services, whether at Headquarters, Field Elements, or contractor locations. Collecting and processing accurate information depends on the effective communication of mission- critical activities.
Performance measurement helps justify programs and their costs. The public, Congress, and Office of Management and Budget are increasingly taking a more "results-oriented" look at government programs, and the cost-effectiveness of program expenditures is increasingly being called into question. In an era of shrinking Federal budgets, demonstration of good performance and sustainable public impacts with positive results help justify programs and their costs.
Performance measurement demonstrates the accountability of Federal stewardship of taxpayer resources. Federal employees and contractors want their day-to-day activities to contribute to a better society. Performance measurement can show that we are addressing the needs of society by making progress toward national goals.
Performance measurement is mandated by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993 and is central to other legislation and Administration initiatives. In addition to holding Federal Agencies accountable for achieving program results, GPRA also promotes a focus on service quality and customer satisfaction, and seeks to improve executive and Congressional decision making by clarifying and stating organizational performance expectations, measures, and program costs "up front." The Government Management Reform Act of 1994 gives additional impetus to improve management of government performance by requiring, among other things, annual audited financial statements. Agencies must include performance information programmatic and financial) in the overview to their financial statements.
How We Use Performance
It is important to note, however, that performance measurement cannot be undertaken in isolation. It is only one step in a continuous improvement process that includes assessment, strategic planning, program and budget formulation, performance measurement, and program evaluation.
Where We Are
There are many other performance measurement underway in the Department in various stages of implementation: six pilot projects under GPRA; business management oversight pilots; the contract reform initiative; and the PBM SIG.
Where We Want To Go
To achieve this vision, organizations that do not yet have a performance measurement system are encouraged to develop one to support their own planning and evaluation needs. Coordination of measures among organizations and reducing burden is the responsibility of every individual in the Department. We must actively work together to develop valid and useful measures and to minimize unnecessary work.
Copyright 2005 Oak Ridge Associated Universities