|Mayor Hits Bulls-eye with Performance Suggestions|
Posting Date: 08/30/2011
Mayor Mark Wier's suggestion that the city adopt a performance-based budget approach is right on target.
There is nothing new about performance based budgeting, nor about linking the budget to the planning and programming processes. Wier is correct in arguing that line-item budgets create organizations that have little reason to strive for better performance. And, he is correct in asserting that the use of performance-based approaches is not the same as micro-management.
There are numerous examples of government experiences with performance-based budgeting. Everything from Management by Objectives, Planning, Programming and Budgeting, Zero Based Budgeting and the contemporary mix of all these in the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) which has been in use for years in the Federal government.
Indeed, it's the executives' job to ensure that taxpayer funds are spend efficiently and effectively and ensuring so is not simply done through legislation as Councilman Karl Gustaveson suggested. It's the job of an executive (elected or otherwise) to see that governance is done correctly. If they can't do it, they hire or contract with someone who can guide them through the process and help city administrators and elected officials freeze the performance process into everyday operations..
The terms, efficiently and effectively, form the measurement framework around which a performance-based management approach rallies.
There are four key elements of a performance-based approach and each element is measured qualitatively or quantitatively with concentration of the efficiency and effectiveness of the service or program under study.
Here, in simple terms, are the four key elements of any good performance-based program:
1. Resource inputs, i.e. dollars and man-hours are committed to…
2. a set of processes that are measured in terms of their efficiency which results in…
3. a set of outputs which taken together meet the…
4. goals (outcomes) which are measured in terms of effectiveness.
One notices that this is an approach that does not simply concentrate on the inputs and the outcomes. All the elements must be considered in a systematic fashion if resources are to be spent in an efficient and effective way.
Further, it's important to realize that all the functions of an executive; planning, organizing, staffing, directing, co-coordinating, reporting andbudgeting, are exercised in a performance-based approach.
If all the functions of an executive fail to be unified, then the exercise becomes nothing more than a disjointed plan with little actual impact.
Normally, a person, trained, educated and experienced in governance would lead elected officials and department heads through the process, but the city lacks that type of expertise.
Space does not permit specific examples on how this approach works in practice but it is practical, sensible, and well understood by those who have worked within such a system.
Further performance-based management is not as time consuming as it may appear primarily since it's a matter of adding measurable elements to the existing functions which are performed routinely. In other words, its a re-education process.
A systematic approach to performance management is very much needed if the city is to survive the upcoming financial difficulties and deliver the most efficient and effective service possible. Done correctly, the approach generates measurable economic and performance rewards. Done incorrectly, it's an exercise in futility.
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