From the Expert:
CSG Helps States Manage Performance
By John Mountjoy, CSG Director of Policy and Research
Over the last three years, The Council of State Governments has helped shape the conversation around performance measurement and performance management in the states. With revenues significantly down and state budgets reflecting this fiscal turmoil, state leaders are searching for real-world tools that can aid in their programmatic funding decisions.
While performance measurement and performance management are not new concepts, their increased application across the spectrum of state budget and programmatic decision-making is significant as state leaders seek to employ new tools to ensure public funds are spent in the most effective way possible.
Although the two concepts of performance measurement and performance management may seem interchangeable, they are two separate, but related tools along a continuum that informs and drives the most effective strategic policies focused on positive outcomes, including ensuring the greatest return on a state’s tax dollar investment.
Performance measurement is the process by which an agency or program establishes specific indicators appropriate for measuring success toward established goals followed by the collection of data to track progress toward those goals.
Performance management seeks to use the data developed and collected throughout the measurement process to inform and guide decision-making, facilitate learning, and improve and strengthen policies and strategies that move agencies, programs or states closer to achieving their ultimate goals.
CSG’s State Comparative Performance Measurement Project
From 2007 to 2009, CSG partnered with the Urban Institute to create a new and ongoing tool to collect, analyze and publish comparative service outcome data from the states. The pilot effort, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, sought to examine key indicators across three state service areas: transportation, public assistance and child welfare. The data collected formed the basis for each state to compare its outcomes to other states–using reasonably comparable information; states often measure similar items in different ways.
This effort represented the first attempt to collectively gather performance measures across multiple policy areas from all states and territories. The result was the publication of three reports detailing these indicators and how states compare. Not meant as a “good job/poor job” account, the reports instead detail the differences in state performance and ways jurisdictions can learn from one another.
CSG’s States Perform
CSG launched States Perform Clearinghouse and Database this year as a direct outgrowth of its previous Comparative Performance Measurement Project. States Perform is designed to educate state policymakers on approaches states are taking to measure and manage performance, and give them the tools to implement or improve their own programs. States Perform provides users with access to interactive, customizable and up-to-date comparative performance measurement data for states in six key areas: fiscal and economic, public safety and justice, energy and environment, transportation, health and human services, and education. Data is updated and added annually to bolster the database, providing a more complete picture of state activity across a range of policy areas.
National Performance Management Advisory Commission
The National Performance Measurement Advisory Commission, a collaborative effort of 11 leading public sector management organizations including The Council of State Governments, recently released its final report, “A Performance Management Framework for State and Local Government: From Measurement and Reporting to Management and Improving.”
The commission developed the framework to help state, provincial and local governments—many operating under severe resource constraints—to continually improve the results provided to the public. The framework describes how incorporating seven performance management principles into governmental processes and decision-making in planning, budgeting, management and evaluation can lead to learning and improvement, enhanced accountability and ultimately, better results for the public. The framework was issued after two years of research by the commission and a four-month public review period.
For more information on CSG’s performance measurement and management initiatives, please contact Jennifer Burnett, Senior Research Analyst, at (859) 244-8114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.