Public Sector Performance Measurement: Successful Strategies and Tools
Bens gives specific guidelines on how to use performance measures, as well as guidelines for managing projects successfully. There is even information available in certain resource documents on how to select the best politicians by measuring their performance
This book, by Charles K. Bens, M.A. of Best Practice Consulting, focuses on the growing interest for the public sector to monitor more carefully how tax dollars are spent.
Performance measurement has been a management tool available to the public sector since the first cost-benefit analysis was done in the mid-nineteenth century. For many reasons, both political and technical, performance measurements have not become an integral part of most governments’ management or decision-making systems. That is starting to change.
The threat of privatization and spending cutbacks, made without due consideration for impact of these changes in the future, has certainly helped increase the interest. Bureaucrats are anxious to prove the value of the programs and services they provide. Employees are anxious to preserve their jobs, and not be thrown to the private sector wolves or out of work completely. Politicians are keen to save their jobs as well.
The missing ingredient in this quest for better performance measurement of the public sector has consistently been how to do it. Measuring the performance of a government service or program involves much more than simply taking out a ruler to determine how much something costs, how long it takes or whether it was done well or not. Certainly, these are all factors, but what about the context for this measurement effort. Should it simply be part of the budgeting process, which unfortunately, has been the choice of most government agencies?
Giving measurement such a focus on spending can tend to push decision-making in the direction of short-term financial considerations. Would it not be wiser to use measures as part of an overall continuous improvement or quality effort?
If the context is right, but the skills are not in place to properly develop and use these performance measures, what are the chances that good and useful measures will be developed? There is an impressive set of tools and techniques that should be learned by managers and employees if they really want to develop and properly use the best performance measures within a proper decision-making context.
Case studies of the successful application of this model and examples of how these measures are being used help provide a sense of practicality and reality for this process. Bens gives specific guidelines on how to use performance measures, as well as guidelines for managing projects successfully. Finally, there is even information available in certain resource documents on how to select the best politicians by measuring their performance.
Charles Bens is one of the foremost authorities on public sector performance measurement in North America. He has a Masters Degree in Public Sector Decision Making and has worked in over 200 public sector organizations in the United States, Canada, Eastern and Western Europe and Latin America.