ICMA International / Services / Expertise & Capabilities / Performance Management

Performance Management

Many factors motivate the application of performance measurement and management. In the United States and internationally, governments apply performance measures and standards to promote greater accountability through high-performing, transparent government agencies and communication with citizens. Indeed, elected officials at every level of government, public managers, and citizens benefit from sound performance management systems. Performance management concepts are also being applied to nongovernmental organizations and others interested in improving their operations.

ICMA is a leader in the development and effective use of performance management systems. ICMA’s Center for Performance Measurement™ (CPM), established in 1994, and the National Citizen Survey™ are dedicated to helping local governments improve the effectiveness and efficiency of public services through the collection, analysis, and application of perfor­mance and citizen satisfaction data.

CPM offers publications, training, and technical assistance to local governments. Among the publications are Comparative Performance Measurement (data for local government participants in the United States; published annually); Citizen Surveys for Local Government: A Comprehensive Guide to Making Them Matter (3rd edition, 2009); and the award-winning 2008 edition of What Works: How Local Governments Have Made the Leap from Measurement to Management (ICMA, 2008).

ICMA has applied its expertise in performance measurement to the international arena as well. Here are examples of how ICMA International has supported the development of practical, innovative performance measurement and management and benchmarking systems worldwide:

  • In Mexico, ICMA worked with USAID and the Asociación de Municipios de México (AMMAC) to create the Sistema de Indicadores de Desempeno (SINDES), a consortium of participating local governments that pay an annual fee to access information on 50 indicators in nine service areas to compare efficiency and effectiveness with measures of other Mexican local governments. SINDES became self-sustaining within AMMAC in less than three years.
  • Throughout the Financial Institutions Reform and Expansion (FIRE) project in India, ICMA provided training to city managers’ associations in monitoring and evaluation, as well as performance measurement, in order to build their capacity to do performance measurement for member cities. 
  • In El Salvador, ICMA used performance measurement concepts to rate local government financial performance and overall institutional capacity.
  • In Mexico, ICMA worked with the Mexican Development Bank and BANOBRAS (Banco Nacional de Obras Publicas) to develop a tool to classify municipalities for receiving technical assistance. The system is designed so that BANOBRAS can review potential client municipalities in light of their performance.
  • As part of the Local Governance Support Program in Indonesia, ICMA helped local governments establish performance-based budgets. Performance-based budgets align expenditures with their respective performance items and require the establishment of performance indicators, performance standards, expenditure standards, and benchmark values for each service. In addition to promoting increased transparency and accountability in local government resource allocation practices, performance-based budgets can be used to compare expenditures and results with standards established by other local governments.
  • In Bolivia, ICMA introduced a series of instruments now implemented in Bolivian municipalities, including the Municipal Development Index, a management tool for municipalities that measures their performance and gauges the effectiveness of technical assistance programs. The tool has been adapted to other countries, including Sri Lanka, where it served as a report card for measuring the improvement of service delivery, financial management, rule of law and citizen participation. 

Citizen feedback is an important component of performance measurement systems, because it reflects the effectiveness of service delivery from the viewpoint of local residents. ICMA has facilitated the collection of citizen satisfaction data in a number of projects: 

  • In the early stages of the Regional Afghan Municipalities Program for Urban Populations (RAMP UP), the implementation team developed a citizen survey instrument and recruited and trained surveyors to conduct baseline assessments; data from the surveys and from internal organizational surveys formed the basis for municipal improvement plans.
  • In the Afghanistan Municipal Strengthening Program (AMSP), feedback from citizen surveys supported the privatization of a portion of Kabul’s trash collection services; the survey showed that residents were willing to pay the monthly charge for door-to-door collection.
  • As part of the Post Tsunami Recovery Program in India, ICMA assisted the cities of Cuddalore and Nagapattinam in improving their water services. ICMA coordinated with the Urban Management Center in Ahmedabad and the providers of the National Citizen Survey to poll residents about critical water policy questions and determine why some residents were willing to pay for services and others were not. The survey resulted in recommendations for increasing customer payments as well as customer connections to the municipal water line.