This paper explores issues managers should consider before developing a performance measurement system, focusing on factors involved in deciding what performance dimensions the system will address, particular problems of measuring program benefits or impacts, the role of goals in setting the measurement system's scope, and these measures' effect on performance.
Managers face the problems of balancing information demands from different constituent groups with limited funds for performance measurement, as well as holding programs accountable for outcomes when they do not have total control over outcomes. They need to be aware that the measurement act itself may distort the program effort and that goal conflicts must be resolved. Performance measurement should not be confined to those events over which a program manager has near-total control. Instead, outcomes should be measured and accountability approached by developing the concept of joint responsibility. Moreover, distortion of effort may be limited by focusing on program outcomes rather than on activities. A performance measurement system should be both flexible and stable, and cannot avoid systems politics. Nine references and a few footnotes are supplied.
Date Published: January 1, 1982
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