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A Framework and Performance Report for the Nation's Public Works (U.S.A.)

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A Framework and Performance Report for the Nation's Public Works (U.S.A.)
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  The Federal InfrastructureStrategy Program A FRAMEWORK AND PERFORMANCE REPORT FOR THENATION'S PUBLIC WORKS  byDr. Cameron GordonUS Army Corps of EngineersInstitute for Water Resources November 1993IWR REPORT 94-FIS-13    TABLE OF CONTENTS iii A FRAMEWORK AND PERFORMANCE REPORT FOR THE NATION'S PUBLIC WORKSTABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I: A FRAMEWORK FOR MEASUREMENT AND MANAGEMENT OFPERFORMANCE IN PUBLIC WORKS SYSTEMS......................................1INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW...........................................1DEFINING PERFORMANCE.................................................1PLANNING FOR PERFORMANCE............................................2PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT CONCEPTS.................................2QUANTIFICATION, MEASURABILITY AND COMPARABILITY...................3PERFORMANCE IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR....................................4PUBLIC WORKS DELIVERY MECHANISMS...................................4A PERFORMANCE FRAMEWORK FOR PUBLIC WORKS........................5THE POLICY CONTEXT FOR FEDERAL INFRASTRUCTURE PERFORMANCE......5Government Performance...............................................5Infrastructure Performance..............................................9Financial Performance................................................10Alternatives........................................................10THE CURRENT STATE OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT IN FEDERAL AGENCIES ........................................................11A POLICY AGENDA FOR THE FUTURE......................................12MEASURING AND IMPROVING INFRASTRUCTURE PERFORMANCE: THE NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL..........................................14CONCLUSION...........................................................14CHAPTER II: CURRENT PERFORMANCE PRACTICE IN FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION, WATER RESOURCES AND WASTE MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS......................17PERFORMANCE IN WASTE MANAGEMENT, WATER AND TRANSPORTATION: THE STUDY.............................................................17TRANSPORTATION.......................................................18Aviation...........................................................20Highways..........................................................21Mass Transit........................................................25WATER RESOURCES AND WATER SUPPLY.................................25Water Resources....................................................27Public Water Supply.................................................29THE ENVIRONMENT.....................................................31Waste.............................................................32Hazardous Waste....................................................34Wastewater Treatment................................................37APPENDIX A TO CHAPTER II.....................................................39REFERENCES..................................................................55     A FRAMEWORK    FOR MEASUREMENT AND MANAGEMENT 1 A FRAMEWORK AND PERFORMANCE REPORT FOR THE NATION'S PUBLIC WORKSCHAPTER I: A FRAMEWORK    FOR MEASUREMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF PERFORMANCE IN PUBLIC WORKS SYSTEMS INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW Performance is a concept often difficult to define. However, whether one is talking about the wayin which a business is managed or an automobile runs, performance is a lot like the Supreme Court'sdefinition of pornography: you know it when you see it.You also often know it when you don't see it. That is why performance is important. For if something doesn't perform well or at all, the consequences can be serious. Thus the factors which affect performance are of interest to policymakers, since if they can be understood, they may potentially bemanipulated to lead to better outcomes and avoid failures.Government has a special challenge in identifying and managing improvements in performance.Unlike a private enterprise producing goods or services for sale in the marketplace, government output isoften difficult to measure, and the effects of a particular policy on a given problem can be esoteric.Moreover, even when a particular course of action is suggested, public agencies may have difficulty in pursuing such a course due to external constraints or institutional rigidities.Despite these challenges, a performance drive has come to Washington, D.C. Starting with the National Performance Review, continuing with the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (bothdescribed later in this chapter), and driven by a general perception that the public sector is not working likeit is supposed to, the desire to impose a results-orientation on government has taken firm root. DEFINING PERFORMANCE What exactly is performance and how is good performance achieved in a public sector setting? First,one must start by defining one or more goals  or objectives which are expected or desired. If there is nothingto be accomplished, then by definition the performance of an organization has little interest or meaning.Having defined a goal, there must then be some sense of knowing when and if the goal is beingachieved. Critical to such a measure is the articulation of a standard or benchmark of comparison  whichallows an assessment of whether goals are being met.Then there comes the actual attainment of the specified goals. Thus an ability and means for takingactions  which can move events forward and result in changes in circumstances from whence one began must  2  A FRAMEWORK FOR MEASUREMENT AND MANAGEMENT  be identified. Such a means of action require inputs , such as employees, machines, and facilities, in order to create outputs , such as the building of a bridge or the paving of a road. Achieving output is desirable, but not as an end in itself. As mentioned above, performance isalways defined with respect to some goal, implying that the final outcome  of a set of actions is what isdesired. Outputs, such as waterway canals, are a means towards achieving outcomes such as enhancedmobility of goods and people. PLANNING FOR PERFORMANCE In actual practice, the achievement of performance, even in private organizations, can be quitedifficult. Successful mobilization of inputs to create outputs which then influence outcomes takes time andeffort and careful planning. The setting of goals and implementation of means can be organized intodifferent stages loosely conforming to the temporal stages in the decisionmaking process. These stages could be described in the following way:Planning/Budgeting:Set goalsIdentify constraintsIdentify alternativesIdentify strategiesSelect alternatives/strategiesFinancing:Identify and secure fundsManaging/Control: Implement strategiesKeep organization functioningOutcomes:Achieve GoalMeasure AchievementBecause decisions are so multifaceted, different strategies for achieving performance will often benecessary for different situations. Also, performance can be measured and managed over the wholedecisionmaking cycle or only one specific stage of it: there is no "one-size-fits-all". Thus strategies for improving performance will vary. Some strategies can and must focus primarily on improving availableinformation. Other strategies must focus on actions on the ground as well. PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT CONCEPTS To aid in measuring and managing performance, a number of concepts have evolved. One importantidea is productivity . Productivity simply measures the amount of output delivered for a given unit of input.The more output which a given amount of input can turn out, the greater the organization's productivity.A broader idea than productivity is effectiveness . Effectiveness refers to how close an organizationgets to achieving its stated goals, i.e. how much its inputs-to-outputs have resulted in changed outcomes.An organization may be productive but not very effective. For example, a transportation agency may processits paperwork very rapidly and at low-cost, but may be very ineffective in achieving its goal of increasingmobility for the general population.
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