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About SEA Reporting – Performance Measurement

What is SEA performance measurement?

There is no universally accepted term for measuring an organizations' performance. As a result, many terms such as productivity, work measurement, and effectiveness have been used synonymously with 'performance measurement' (NCPP). For example, as stated by John Gearhart, "Performance measurement provides the insight to evaluate (business) activities and how they affect the outcomes of the government organization." KPMG Government Services define it as a system that "helps government managers: (1) set standards and outcome objectives; (2) Measure performance against goals, standards or benchmarks; and (3) communicate results. Performance measurement shifts thinking and focus, as well as a practical technique for quantifying and establishing accountability."

In 1980, the GAO defined performance measurement as "an assessment of an organization's performance, including the measures of:

  • Productivity, which quantifies the outputs and inputs of an organization and expresses the two as a ratio. Generally, the ratio is expressed as output to input.
  • Effectiveness, which determines the relationship of an organization's outputs to what an organization is intended to accomplish.
  • Quality, which examines an output or the process by which an output is produced. Quality is indicated by attributes such as accuracy (or error rate), thoroughness, and complexity.
  • Timeliness, which evaluates the time involved producing an appropriate output.

The GASB has also provided a conceptual basis for measuring and reporting the performance of governmental entities in its concept statements. As stated in 1987 in Concepts Statement No. 1, "the objective of SEA reporting is to provide more complete information about a governmental entity's performance than can be provided by the traditional financial statements and schedules to assist users in assessing the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of services provided".

What is the purpose for doing SEA performance measurement and reporting?

SEA performance measures are meant to provide more complete information about an entity’s performance than do traditional budgets or financial statements and schedules. Primarily, SEA performance measures are concerned with the results of the services delivered by the government. Subsequently, they help to provide a basis for assessing the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of those services. SEA performance information is needed for:

  • Setting goals and objectives,
  • Planning program activities to accomplish these goals and objectives,
  • Allocating resources to programs,
  • Monitoring and evaluating results to determine if progress is being made toward achieving the goals and objectives, and
  • Modifying program plans to enhance performance.

SEA performance measures organize information for use by the decision-makers engaged in those activities. Through the measurement, analysis, and evaluation of performance data, public officials can identify ways to maintain or improve the efficiency and effectiveness of activities and provide the public with objective information on their results.

When did SEA performance measurement and reporting start and how often does it occur?

Government has always been accountable to their constituents for what they do and how they use provided resources. However, there has been a resurgence of the "right to know" attitude among the public over the past decade. Many different methods and attempts to demonstrate quality and performance have surfaced in the administration of public and government entities. Most recently, the idea of performance management and reporting SEA performance information to external users has taken favor in the attempt for public accountability. The frequency and amount of SEA performance information being collected, measured, used, and reported varies greatly within the United States and throughout the world.

Where and who does SEA performance measurement and reporting?

SEA performance measurement and reporting is occurring throughout the nation and worldwide. It is conducted at the top levels of the federal government to the smallest organized locality. Within each entity, the measurement and reporting of SEA performance information is commonly conducted within the offices of budget and finance, auditing, and/or other various offices.

How is SEA performance measurement and reporting done?

Each office, entity, organization, and/or government has their own way of gathering, reporting, interpreting, and using SEA performance information. There is no one set method of how one goes about doing this, however, there are emerging "best practices" in the field. Currently most SEA performance information is only still in the experimental stages of use and much is to be learned from their successes and failures.

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