Meaningful Goals, Metrics and Measurements

At the heart of every management theory lies the identification and measurement of success. More than any other management tool, robust metrics are the key driver to any successful initiative. The right metrics not only quantify for policy makers, managers, and decision-makers how their program is working, they actually drive successful performance.

Outcome-Focused Goals

OMB has made the identification of effective near-term high priority goals, as well as a limited number of long-term, outcome-focused goals, a new priority under their performance based management agenda. The Administration is asking agencies to develop these high-priority and long-term goals as part of the agency's performance management agenda, reviewing them at the highest agency levels at least on a quarterly basis. In particular, agencies need to identify the direct strategies that will allow them to reach agency goals, and focus on data driven reviews by developing effective metrics to tie to each discrete goal, and determining effective measurement strategies for collecting metrics data.

Outcome Based Metrics

Too often, the measures that we use for success are process-based or output-based, instead of outcome-based. In driving toward outcome-based metrics where possible, we get to the "heart of the matter"-the essence of what the program is supposed to provide. This is especially critical where missions are not profit-based and success not easily reflected in financial markets. Measuring security, or health, or education gains is a far more complex effort than measuring speed or profit; while process or output measures can be meaningful in concert with outcome-based measures, outcome-based measures are the gold-standard of policy-making and program management.

Data-Driven Reviews

OMB is requiring agencies to hold data-driven reviews at least once every quarter to review progress on High Priority Goals and to assure that follow-up steps are taken to increase the likelihood of achieving better outcomes and higher productivity. Reviews should be guided by analyses of performance, evaluation, and related data which ties to the effective metrics developed for each goal. In the review, the focus should be on progress toward desired outcomes, including variations between targets and actual results to allow for prompt adjustments to agency strategies. In this process, agencies are required to identify the senior official responsible for progress on each goal, to ensure accountability.

WWC can help with setting up an effective data-driven review process, taking into account the OMB data quality standards, the Paperwork Reduction Act approval process, and the most effective metrics to use in the data-driven review. WWC's research and statistical experts can also help with interpretation of the data through statistical analysis.