Reaching Public Goals:
Managing Government for Results

A Resource Guide
October 1996


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Reaching Public Goals: Managing Government for Results -- A Resource Guide is a publication of the National Performance Review (NPR). Led by Vice President Al Gore, NPR is helping to change the way the federal government works. Its goal is to create a government that works better and costs less. This guide is one tool for use toward that goal.

This resource guide was compiled by NPR representatives Tom Brandt, Beverly Godwin, Hap Hadd, and Billie Rollins with assistance from Neal Johnson of the Alliance for Redesigning Government at the National Academy of Public Administration. Obviously, this guide would not have been possible without the work of those whose resources are cited throughout. Special thanks to the more than 30 reviewers for their critique and comments on the draft guide and for their help in locating and assessing many of the resources included.

You may reproduce this guide, in whole or in part, as long as you cite this publication and the National Performance Review. We encourage you to help spread the word!

Questions or comments about this document should be directed to: Beverly Godwin
National Performance Review
750 17th Street, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20006
Phone: 202-632-0150 x111, Fax: 202-632-0390


The Movement Toward Improved Accountability

Most public managers work in environments that have echoed for years with rising demands for "performance," "accountability," and "results." Whether you work in Denver's economic development agency or Cuyahoga County's welfare office, in Florida's corrections department or the San Francisco office of a federal housing program, you know you must demonstrate real progress toward your agency's goals.

And you must prove your results to many audiences. Citizens and elected officials are demanding tangible returns on the dollars they invest. Even within your agency, the scramble for scarce resources forces tough decisions among competing priorities.

Managers at every level of the intergovernmental system are moving toward improved accountability by managing for results.

What Does "Managing Government for Results" Mean?

Based on our review of best practices in federal, state, and local agencies from coast to coast, we've learned that managing for results can be about:

You might say that managing for results is about making government work better and cost less.

Increasing Accountability in the Federal Government

"Major statutes now in their first years of implementation hold substantial promise for creating a more accountable and effective federal government."

Charles A. Bowsher
Comptroller General of the United States

President Clinton and the Congress are changing the way the federal government works. Recently enacted federal statutes and similar ones in states throughout the country have become a driving force behind governmentwide changes aimed at letting the public know what government is trying to accomplish with the tax dollars being spent, and then reporting on how well these programs are doing.

The four major federal statutes designed to improve accountability for results as envisioned by the National Performance Review (NPR) include the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act, the Government Management Reform Act, and the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996.

The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 provides the foundation for strengthening agency efforts to use strategic planning and performance measurement to improve results. It is transforming how the federal government is managed.

"The law simply requires that we chart a course for every endeavor that we take the people's money for, see how well we are progressing, tell the public how well we are doing, stop the things that don't work, and never stop improving the things that we think are worth investing in."

President William J. Clinton Statement At the Bill Signing for the
Government Performance and Results Act
August 3, 1993
GPRA requires federal agencies to prepare (1) strategic plans that define an agency's mission and long-term general goals, (2) annual performance plans containing specific targets, and (3) annual reports comparing actual performance to the targets set in the annual performance plans.

Twenty-eight departments and agencies have already begun a test run of GPRA through over 70 pilot projects for annual performance plans and reports; these were begun for FY 1994 in conjunction with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Full-scale implementation of GPRA will occur for FY 1999.

The Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 provides for CFO positions in 24 major agencies and requires annual reports on the financial condition of government entities and the status of management controls. Under the CFO Act, selected federal agencies are subject to the same kinds of audited financial reporting that have long been required in the private sector and by state and local governments.

The Government Management Reform Act of 1994 expands the CFO Act requirements for an agencywide audited financial statement to all 24 CFO agencies. Audited financial statements for FY 1996 are to be completed by March 1, 1997, and include performance measurement information and discussions of progress toward established goals and objectives. For FY 1997, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of OMB are to coordinate the development of a consolidated governmentwide financial statement; the Comptroller General is to audit this statement.

The Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996 requires, among other provisions, that agencies set goals, measure performance, and report on progress in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of operations through the use of information technology.

This guide is intended to complement, not substitute for, these federal statutes, accompanying congressional reports, and guidance from OMB. OMB, for example, is helping federal agencies implement GPRA through OMB Circular A-11, A Primer on Performance Measurement, and other publications identified in this resource guide. These are important tools that federal readers should be sure to obtain and use, and that state and local readers may also find of use as well.

Increasing Accountability Throughout the Country

While management reform continues in federal agencies, states, counties, cities, and nongovernmental service providers are also changing how they do business. Over the past decade, state -- and especially local -- governments have been pace setters in results-oriented management. This resource guide will lead you to information about many of them.

Visit, for example, Florida's Web site set up by the Commission on Government Accountability to the People to learn about Florida's Benchmarks Report or about that state's 1994 Government Performance and Accountability Act which ties achievement of results to more flexibility in appropriations through performance-based program budgeting. Or visit Louisiana's Web site to see how that state is integrating performance accountability into its budget process. See Texas' Guide to Performance Measurement for a how-to instruction book that identifies the steps in that state's performance measurement process. Many other state and local Web sites and publications are described throughout this guide, as are compilations of case studies, such as those recently completed by the American Society for Public Administration.

Federal agencies are working with their state and local partners in an array of cross-cutting government efforts to focus on results, establish performance partnerships, and measure progress. All of these intergovernmental partners are learning a great deal. Publications found throughout this guide describe some of these partnerships and the lessons learned from them. See, for example, the Public Innovator, a newsletter published by the Alliance for Redesigning Government, for many articles in this area.

About This Resource Guide

NPR's intention in preparing this guide was neither to create something new nor to duplicate other efforts. Rather, we sought to compile and summarize existing resources and share that information as widely as possible. We have crafted this resource guide to help you find the information you need to manage government for results whether you're just beginning or are well along the way to a strong accountability system.

Given the volume of information on everything from defining an agency's mission to strategic planning and performance-based budgeting, it would be impossible to provide a comprehensive catalog of all available resources. Instead, Reaching Public Goals is designed to point you in the right direction for obtaining how-to guides, step-by-step instructions, lessons learned, and helpful tips from other public managers.

The Web sites and publications sections are annotated with key words to help you locate information on specific topics. Look for this sign and the key words listed below to identify items throughout this guide for each topic listed.

Key WordTopic(s) Key WordTopic(s)
auditPerformance Auditinginvest Investment
account Accountabilitylocal Local Focus or Specific Local Case Studies
benchBenchmarking / Best Practicesmanage Performance Management
budget Performance-Based Budgeting / Financial ManagementmeasureMeasures / Performance Measurement
customer Customer Surveys / Customer Satisfactionmfr General Managing for Results
evaluate Evaluation plan Planning
federalFederal Focus or Specific Federal Case Studiesreport Reporting
international International Focus or Specific International Case Studiesstate State Focus or Specific State Case Studies

In general, the resources in this guide are aimed at those of you who are familiar with the fundamentals of results-oriented management, but are looking for help at a particular phase of the process. If you are deciding what to measure, you can look at specific examples of performance measures being used within federal, state, or local organizations across a wide range of issue areas; or at publications listing criteria for good performance indicators, such as Louisiana's Manageware: A Practical Guide to Managing for Results.

If you have already developed performance measures and are looking for information on how others have prioritized their measures, you might want to focus on what Oregon terms its "urgent" performance measures or what Canada's Alberta province calls its "watch list."

If you are interested specifically in measures of customer satisfaction, see the NPR publications or visit the Web sites of the President's Vanguard Customer Service Agencies.

If you are beginning to tie measures to your budget process, you might look at The Alliance for Redesigning Government's Deciding for Investment: Getting Returns on Tax Dollars, Southern Growth Policies Board's Guide to Public Sector Strategic Planning and Performance Measurement, or Louisiana's Web site, among other resources found in this guide.

If you are interested in performance audits, see the International City/County Management Association's Performance Auditing for Local Government or Arizona's Program Authorization Review: 1997 Legislative Session Self-Assessment Guidelines.

This guide is intended for use by all levels of government so that we can learn from each other. If you focus on local government, you might want to look at a recent report from the Pennsylvania Economy League, Performance Measurement of Municipal Services: How Are America's Cities Measuring Up?, which examines performance measurement and management systems in 16 cities. Or see the CD-ROM and various publications available from the International City/County Management Association, the Urban Institute, and others.

To focus on the state level, there are numerous publications and Web sites from specific states as well as publications that highlight groups of states, such as those by the Southern Growth Policies Board, Financial World, and the Harvard Family Research Project, among others.

For federal examples, you might visit the Web sites of selected agencies; look at agency-specific publications listed in this guide; or review some of the federal case studies compiled by the American Society for Public Administration, the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), and others. GAO's Executive Guide: Effectively Implementing the Government Performance and Results Act, for example, will tell you how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is using GPRA to increase forecast accuracy and warning times for severe weather.

If you're looking for training opportunities, you'll find some references throughout this document, but your first stop should be your own agency, department, or office. We discovered a number of training services that were being provided by federal, state, and local governments.

Of course, there are also an unlimited number of nongovernmental training and consulting providers available to choose from. You can find out about many of these providers by contacting your counterparts at the federal, state or local level who have utilized such services. Several universities, colleges, and professional associations also offer assistance in this area.

Changing the culture of an organization is not easy, but the benefits to your customers and your agency -- as well as to your sense of accomplishment -- can be remarkable. We hope Reaching Public Goals helps you do just that.


Federal, state, and local practitioners assess
Reaching Public Goals:
Managing Government for Results

"Job well done! Your clear, user-friendly guide certainly fills a void."

--Carolyn Lane, State of Louisiana Office of Planning and Budget

"A great resource for people interested in government performance."

--Martha Marshall, Prince William County, Virginia, Office of Executive Management

"It will be a great resource for the state and local practitioners in our region who are grappling with these issues."

--Linda Hoke, Southern Growth Policies Board

"To our knowledge, it is unique and should prove helpful to government managers and policymakers."

--John Murphy, U.S. Department of the Treasury

"This is one of the best, most useful guides [the National Performance Review has] ever produced. As a practitioner in this area, I can assure you this document will be well-used."

--Jody Kusek, U.S. Department of the Interior

National Performance Review
750 17th Street, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: 202-632-0150
Fax: 202-632-0390

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