Improving Public Services:
International Experiences in Using Evaluation Tools to Measure Program Performance

Edited by Douglas J. Besharov, Karen J. Baehler, and Jacob Alex Klerman

Description

The government performance movement has been in full swing for decades around the world. So, why do so many public programs and organizations continue to underperform? A major reason is that measuring the types of performance that people value most -- real outcomes for citizens -- continues to be an elusive goal. And why is performance measurement so difficult? Because performance managers have not taken full advantage of the tools and knowledge available in the field of program evaluation; the worlds of performance measurement and program evaluation have much to learn from each other, but they remain largely separate for reasons of history, politics, and inertia.

Improving Public Services spotlights recent advances in the theory and practice of performance measurement with potential to bridge the divide. As the text's essays, case studies, and comparative analyses demonstrate, many of the challenges to outcome-based performance measurement are similar across national and cultural boundaries. And many of these challenges are amenable to solutions drawn from program evaluation, especially program theory as captured in logic models. 

Key issues addressed include designing and implementing high-performance contracts, using administrative data to measure performance and evaluate program effectiveness, minimizing the unintended consequences of performance-based incentive schemes, measuring qualities of governance as well as service delivery, and fitting performance systems to different institutional settings. The authors offer insights relevant to charitable organizations, private service providers, international bodies, municipalities, states, and national governments in developed, developing, and transitional countries. As the global debate over performance management rages on, this volume points to promising directions for future research and practice at the intersection of program evaluation and outcome-based public management.

Editors

Douglas J. Besharov, Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland

Karen Baehler, Scholar in Residence, School of Public Affairs, American University

Jacob Alex Klerman, Senior Fellow, Abt Associates