Headlines: March 30th, 2001

Performance measurement in the public sector has grown over the years in a haphazard and unco-ordinated way. The Social Exclusion Unit’s report ‘Better Information’ exposed the chaos of the current systems revealing that though much data exists on social deprivation little can be used to analyse the problem by neighbourhood, because it was not collected in a consistent form, was not collected at all, or was not being shared between organizations. Cabinet Office researchers also found that some performance measures act as barriers to multi-agency working.In response to this patchwork of bespoke systems which are founded on different criteria, the Treasury has launched a Performance Measurement Strategy. The strategy aims to ensure that performance management initiatives are integrated nationally and locally. This includes across organisational boundaries to help joined-up working.It also seeks to standardise the definitions used in measures collected across public services, where this will help research and joined-up working.

The strategy strikes a balance between prescription and flexibility and provides a number of routes by which systems can be developed efficiently, effectively and in a joined-up way. It is claimed that it will lead to world class performance information practices in the public sector.

Initiatives launched simultaneously include ‘Framework for Performance Information’ a document that sets out principles for good performance information agreed between the Treasury, Cabinet Office, National Audit Office, Audit Commission and Office for National Statistics. The Office for National Statistics is also developing a Neighbourhood Statistics Service to offer a range of statistics on a consistent small-area basis.