By Rick Little, Director of Management Information
Can diverse government agencies use a common measure to evaluate overall system performance? Is there an indicator that can be used as well in state departments that render social services as by public-sector organizations that provide economic development?
The answer to these questions is yes. The measure is based on the principle that government defines and measures exactly what is purchased with each dollar spent. The formula is an output/input model defined by the equation QT/OE, where QT is a composite measure of output defined by its quality (Q) and the level of productivity during a specified period called throughput (T); and where OE is the sum of operating expenses associated with generating QT during the same period.
QT/OE is the primary performance measure of the Herbert administration’s SUCCESS Framework, which has been developed to assist cabinet agencies in gaining greater value for every taxpayer dollar invested. This framework helps agencies improve quality, reduce costs, and create the capacity to do more with the same or fewer resources. Additional operational indicators are also important.
Among the tactical approaches for measurement described in the guide is the use of “evidence-based practices.” Some government services focus their current resources on important challenges that are multi-dimensional or have longitudinal targets. For example, the correctional system seeks to reduce the number of former inmates that return to prison. Can specific actions – if taken today – improve long-term outcomes? Yes. Applying research techniques, the correctional system has identified evidence-based practices and associated metrics that statistically lead to less recidivism. The measurement of such actions become part of quality throughput (QT) used to measure overall system effectiveness. Evidence-based practices should be expanded in those agencies where desired outcomes are difficult to assess or take a long time to reconcile. Corresponding measures should focus improvements on the whole system and not on localized processes.