Key Area to Consider in Open Government Planning: Performance Measurement

SECTION ONE: Importance of Performance Measurement Issues in Open Government Planning

Performance measurement will play a key part in enabling senior leaders to ensure that Open Government activities and processes align with an Agency’s and the Open Government Directive’s strategic visions. Differentiating key performance indicators (KPIs) into two categories, strategic alignment and process measurement, will not only help frame stakeholder analysis, but it will also act as a catalyst for decision makers to develop and approve a set of criteria that can be used to measure strategic alignment. Thus, performance measurement can not only act as an enabler for action, but for analysis, as well.

Additionally, performance measurement will be a key part of an implementation plan due to its ability to alert decision makers to underperforming activities, projects, or tasks. An important distinction must be made between leading and lagging KPIs in the reporting process so these same decision makers can focus their time and effort on projects with leading KPIs that have fallen below an acceptable threshold.

Developing specific leading KPIs, however, will most likely be dependent upon each agency’s unique set of circumstances. Moreover, leading KPIs may often need to be measured through proxies vice directly from an activity or task, which may be a contentious management issue. A more general, and palatable, methodology would be to distinguish critical path activities from non-critical path activities. Referencing the Pareto Principle, the ratio between the two should be somewhere close to 20% and 80%, respectively. The movement of activities and tasks onto the critical path can serve as a leading indicator that an Open Government implementation is facing increasing risks in both financial and time management terms.

Lastly, performance measurement will enable the identification of systemic risk that may exist across organizational functions or offices in regards to Open Government. Although risk and performance are two distinct fields of expertise, they are intimately tied in that underperformance often occurs due to the manifestation of a risk. Since the Open Government concept is cross cutting, any strict compartmentalization of its implementation should lead to KPIs falling below acceptable levels, thus ‘tripping’ or initiating a response plan.

SECTION TWO: Linkages with the Open Government Directive

OMB will be required to create a dashboard that will monitor the progress of Open Government implementation around the Federal government. Agencies will most likely have to report a standardized set of metrics that are established by OMB. This standard set of metrics, however, may not be sufficient for an agency to monitor all of the necessary activities and outcomes that must take place within an agency. Thus, agencies should expect to add to this standard set of OMB metrics in order to create performance frameworks that better suit their needs.