Virginia to post performance data online

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ROANOKE, Va. -- Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine plans to make the state’s management of programs a matter of very public record.

The governor has asked department leaders to identify two to four metrics that can be used to gauge how well their agencies are fulfilling their missions. Beginning this fall, they must post their progress against those measures on the state’s Web site, with new data added as it becomes available.

This initiative will ensure that agencies are accountable to both the governor’s office and the public, said Kaine, speaking at the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Innovative Technology Symposium here.

“Too often in state and local government, we [measure performance] by the extent of our efforts, by how hard we’re trying,” rather than using concrete metrics, he said.

But metrics are important because “you meaningfully change poor practices unless you have good data,” Kaine said.

The challenge is coming up with the metrics. Some agencies initially proposed measures tied to their budgetary goals rather than their missions, and they went through several iterations before they ended up with the right measures.

Kaine said the process has gotten the attention of state officials. “It makes a lot of people gasp,” he said. “My goal as an administrator is to make them gasp but not to make them faint.”

Kaine believes the work will pay off and said it has been one of the most exciting projects in the first eight months of his term.

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