Specificity key to accurate metrics

In response to "Measuring program performance is a global issue," the ExpectMore.gov Web site looks quite good, and the Performance Assessment Rating Tool results are presented in a very accessible way. It made for interesting reading! Something I note is the overwhelming majority of programs that did not perform, based on the PART results, was due to results not demonstrated, which means lack of performance goals, metrics and data.

From experience, one of the greatest obstacles government faces in developing meaningful metrics is the lack of clarity and specificity of the intended outputs and outcomes. The language is typically action-oriented instead of results-oriented, vague and laden with words that have widely interpreted (or misinterpreted) meanings: effective, efficient, productive, quality, engaged, sustainable.

I believe this is the first step to improving the way government agencies do performance measurement: to spend some time making their outputs and outcomes (or goals) more specific, deliberate and tangible. If you can describe the differences that should manifest after something is made more effective, or more efficient or sustainable, then measures are easier to design.

Can't wait to see what Canada does with the idea of an independent organization to review the robustness of measures.

Stacey Barr
Staceybarr.com

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