Evaluating a Performance Measurement System--A Guide for the Congress and Federal Agencies

FGMSD-80-57: Published: May 12, 1980. Publicly Released: Jun 4, 1980.

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GAO was asked to develop a tool to evaluate productivity measurement systems which could be used to assess agency measurement systems objectives, measures of efficiency and effectiveness, and reporting mechanisms. Performance measurement systems are a valuable management tool; however, they must be used or the systems are of little value. Measurement systems are not being used by Federal agencies in planning, budgeting, or personnel management activities. As a case study, GAO reviewed the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare's (HEW) development and use of certification criteria for approving measurement systems.

HEW was selected because preliminary efforts indicated that its certification criteria could serve as a basis for development of the evaluation guide. However, the system did not receive high-level departmental support, which is vital to the success of any measurement system, and it was terminated in 1977. HEW certification criteria determined whether a system's approach was feasible, how comprehensive it should be, what documentation was required, and how the system was used by managers. GAO was able to develop an evaluation guide which provides a framework for promoting the use of performance measurement systems. To encourage the use of performance measurement data, the House Subcommittee on Civil Service, Committee of Post Office and Civil Service, should disseminate the GAO Performance Measurement System Evaluation Guide to all Federal agencies.

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