While traditional financial statements provide financial performance information about a government’s fiscal and operational accountability, those statements do not provide all of the information necessary to determine how successful the government was in helping to maintain or improve the well-being of its citizens, nor the government’s efficiency and effectiveness in providing those services.
Performance metrics can assist citizens, elected officials, and other interested parties in assessing governmental accountability and making economic, social, and political decisions and can assist governments in demonstrating their accountability and stewardship over public resources.
Typically, a limited number of performance metrics are selected to focus on information that is essential for assessing the level of performance of a government’s programs and services in comparison to what it had planned to achieve. The number of performance metrics used depend on the number, type and complexity of programs and services; the number of goals and objectives; and the professional judgement of the government.
Performance metrics can be identified based on the following questions for finance personnel:
What Can You Do With the Performance Metric Results?
Performance metrics can be compared internally against a government’s own performance over time, or against internally established targets. Comparisons also can be made with information disaggregated by region, geographic area, neighborhood within the government, or economic or demographic characteristics.
External comparisons can be made to the performance metrics of other governments providing similar programs and services; however be careful when presenting comparisons with other governments to ensure that the reported information is comparable, the government operates in a similar environment, and information for the performance metrics are collected in a reliable manner.
If you'd like to see a useful list of finance-related performance metrics, please see this list.
(Click this link to download and view the list in editable Word-format.)
If you have more questions related to performance metrics, feel free to reach out to Kevin directly:
Kevin Harper, CPA
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Kevin W. Harper is a certified public accountant and has decades of audit and consulting experience, entirely in service to local governments. He is committed to helping government entities improve internal operations and enact controls that will minimize risk and improve day-to-day functions.
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