It’s Never Too Early to Start Improving

ICMA Certificates in Performance Management recognize accomplishments and help chart your path forward.

Nov 8, 2017 | ARTICLE

'Tis the (Budget) Season

Even though it may still seem far off, budget season is just around the corner, and now is the time to determine what place performance data will play in next year’s planning and decision making.

As a result, this is also when ICMA posts the application materials for the upcoming Certificates in Performance Management. The certificate program recognizes jurisdictions that have demonstrated a commitment to reporting performance data to the public, training staff, making data-informed decisions, networking with their peers, and building a performance culture. But since such initiatives do not happen overnight, the application forms and criteria are posted now so jurisdictions can get a head start on any fine-tuning that may be appropriate.

For 2018, applications will be due on May 1. If you haven’t done so already, this is a great time to consider:

  • Ensuring that new staff (or those who need a refresher) get appropriate training.
  • Surveying local residents.
  • Building a public-facing performance dashboard.
  • Benchmarking with other jurisdictions.
  • Revisiting the targets you set last year.

80 Is Better than Zero

Regarding benchmarking, one new resource available this year is the ICMA Open Access Benchmarking program. Rather than start from scratch with selecting and defining a list of measures you can compare with your neighbors, you can use the metrics chosen by the ICMA Performance Management Advisory Committee – 80 key performance indicators for general-purpose local governments and 54 more specific to counties – with no software requirements, no data reporting deadlines, and no fee to participate.

The list of indicators is not intended to track every line item in your budget, but it can go a long way toward adding context to a budget document that may not have any benchmarks now. And although the program just launched at the ICMA Annual Conference in San Antonio, the database already includes more than 13,000 data points on which to compare.

A Blueprint Awaits

Many jurisdictions profess an interest in performance management, but don’t know where to start. In addition to benchmarking with others, there’s a lot to consider in terms of internal policies, council/board involvement, strategic planning, employee appraisals, and process improvement. The Certificates in Performance Management page has a wealth of examples demonstrating how prior recipients have met the certificate criteria. Even if you’re not ready to apply this year, check out those links to start laying the foundation for your own efforts today.

Click here to access the certificate application and eligibility criteria, or contact Gerald Young with questions at





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