Showing posts from October, 2005

Q & A: A Public Accountability Framework

Q: “What is a public accountability framework?” This question came this week from Alice Phalan, Planning and Evaluation Manager of the Oregon Judicial Department, after she saw the term as a topic in an upcoming meeting in her state, and after she “googled” it and came up empty.

Q: The term public accountability framework, or PAF, was introduced earlier this year by my colleagues and me at the National Center for State Courts and CourtMetrics in the context of building organizational performance measurement systems for courts and justice systems in Arizona and British Columbia. In the argot of management, we’ll see if it has any legs!

PAF in Mesa, Arizona

In August this year the Mesa (Arizona) Municipal Court launched the “Good to Great” Public Accountability Framework (PAF) Project, an ambitious six-month project of building its performance measurement capacity, process improvement, courthouse design and planning, technology development, and strategic planning. The central task of the p…

A Logic Model of Performance Inputs, Outputs and Outcomes

Increasingly, the courts' stakeholders -- justice system partners, the general public, litigants, jurors, witnesses, and even the courts’ own court employees -- demand clear evidence that the resources courts expend actually produce benefits for people. Looking for this evidence starts early in the development of a court performance measurement system (CPMS) (see Step 2, Identifying and Defining the Performance Measures Needed and Desired to Help Achieve Goals, October 15, 2005 posting, “Six-Step Process for Building an Effective Court Performance Measurement System”).

For every strategic initiative, program or specific strategy, court managers should develop a simple logic model that describes how the initiative, program or strategy theoretically works to achieve the desired results from program inputs through end outcomes. Critical thinking and discussion of the logic of how a proposed program or strategy may bring about results that benefit citizens and the community can reap gr…

Six-Step Process for Building an Effective Court Performance Measurement System (CPMS)

The key to the successful use of performance measurement is to identify and develop the right measures – measures that are aligned with vision, goals and success factors -- and then making sure that the measures get into the hands of those that can make good use of them at the right time. This requires a Court Performance Measurement System (CPMS). A CPMS is the routine collection, analysis, synthesis, delivery and display of performance measures and other information about the work and accomplishment of a court as an organization. It is an ordered and comprehensive assembly of parts -- interrelated data, principles, standards, methods, processes and procedures -- forming a unitary whole. All the elements of a CPMS -- the performance measures, data collection methods, analysis and interpretation, and information distribution and display -- operate toward the common purpose of running a court effectively and efficiently.

Over the last five years, by benchmarking the design processes use…

Performance-Based Budgeting: The Devil is in the Detail

A note of caution for court managers: There is today a consensus that a court’s performance measures should provide critical information for developing and justifying budgets. The need and rationale for performance-based budgeting are not in dispute. However, there are serious concerns about how it can be done.

Need and Rationale Are Indisputable

Budgeting is a rational and systematic way of estimating and allocating resources. Performance based budgeting or results-based budgeting, and related approaches like activity-based budgeting (ABB) and activity-based costing (ABC), are methods of budgeting that link resource estimates and appropriations to outputs and outcomes (see September 28, 2005 Post, “A Preference for Outcome Measures”). For many court managers, making their budget process more performance-based is the primary motivation for developing court performance measurement systems (CPMSs).

The major elements of performance-based budgeting are defining goals and objectives, develo…

The Differences Between Performance Measurement and Research

It is common for large and medium-size courts to have research units or departments that employ researchers with titles like “analyst,” “statistician,” or “planner,” if not “researcher.” No courts today -- to my knowledge -- have units or departments devoted solely to performance measurement. Only a handful of court-employed researchers consider their job to be performance measurement. This situation is likely to change as courts become more familiar with the functions and uses of performance measurement, and as the differences between performance measurement and research become more apparent.

“Performance measurement” is the process of measuring an organization’s accomplishments (outcomes), work and service levels (output), and its resources (inputs). It is any effort undertaken to meet the need for evidence of an organization’s performance on a regular and continuous basis. Behavioral and social “research” (including evaluation research and program evaluation), on the other hand, is …