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Monday, May 15, 2006

Performance reports: Making them work at your agency

"How might performance reporting affect your agency? Do you think performance reporting is just the latest fad in financial management? It's not, and chances are it will affect you and your agency soon.

Historically governments have focused on creating budgets and sticking to them, in effect controlling cash flows. More recently, citizens and government leaders are starting to expect more from government than merely managing cash flow. Under pressure to not increase taxes and to provide more services, government leaders are eager to use resources more efficiently by getting the biggest bang for the buck.

Making decisions about the use of limited resources takes more than anecdotal evidence about what works and what doesn't. Personal preferences and opinions don�t cut it anymore; reliable, verifiable and timely information is expected. That's where performance reporting comes in. Performance-measurement systems make the link between financial and nonfinancial information by reporting on resources and results.

More managers are embracing performance management as a way to improve services. If they use meaningful and easy-to-understand performance measures, they are more likely to make decisions that maximize results. Additionally, the public can see how activities lead to results, and can start to grasp the implications of public policy and operating decisions. Once performance information becomes routine and reliable, citizens can become more engaged in their government. Elected officials will become more accountable for the effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars and the results achieved - or not achieved. "

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