Performance Measurement in the Public Sector
Canadian Business Economics 6(2), 1998, 37-48
Posted: 5 Jun 2013
Date Written: June 3, 1997
Performance measures are being actively developed in Canada at both the federal and provincial government levels to improve the performance of the public sector and to achieve greater accountability. One important source of friction in discussions of performance measurement in the public sector is that closely related terms are used in different ways. Reviewing the types of measures and issues related to their production and use can help avoid misunderstandings. Another reason for calling attention to the spectrum of different types of performance measures is that choices made about how information is to be collected and stored for one particular set of measures can inadvertently facilitate or impede the later development of other measures. When information is to be produced at public expense, it is important for careful consideration to be given to cost-effective auxiliary uses that might be made of the information. We begin by providing a nontechnical overview of the different types of performance measures and some of their uses. Next we discuss how these relate to, and can build on, a number of long established private and public sector functions. Formal performance measurement practices have evolved and been used more in a private than in a public sector context. Many of these practices require adaptive adjustment if they are to be successfully used in public sector applications. We call attention to some of these needed adaptations. Finally, the article summarizes our main conclusions.
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