Performance Management: The Need for a Focus on Public Value
Performance management of the policing sector consistently fails to take account of the most important resources in delivering performance people - the public. Research indicates that the primary problematic issue of police performance management is the unclear description of its culture and social outcomes which lead to poor performance and public mistrust. Current literature has only begun to start addressing the importance of social outcomes and public value; two crucial standards for performance measurement. This essay investigates performance management issues within the policing sector and the importance of including public value as an important resource to utilize in the performance management of the police sector.
Public organisations face significance challenges to optimal performance management (Winstanley & Stuart-Smith, 1996). The primary issue of effectively managing performance in the public sector is the challenge of embedding it within the organisation's culture (Accenture, 2009). Another challenge for many public sectors is the lack of focus on social outcomes (Moore & Braga, 1997). The policing sector and other public sectors are facing increased pressures to meet government goals, citizen expectations and increased productivity and efficiency. It is argued that public sectors are not considering the importance if social outcomes. As Accenture (2009) explains;
Delivering value to the people they serve - citizens, taxpayers, service users and consumers - public service organisations must align and focus resources and employee behaviour to provide real and beneficial social outcomes to the public, their ultimate customers” (p.5).
An improvement of efficiency and effectiveness of public safety is a primary social outcome for the policing sector. Public sectors (e.g. Police) have mission statements and objectives that are not aligned with social outcomes.
In a detailed study of public sector performance management, Accenture (2009) determined that “performance management is not being used in a strategic or proactive way to anticipate, respond to and mitigate performance issues before they escalate into problems” which results in merely reporting accomplishments and failures and not methods of improvement (p.9). Research also indicated that there is too much focus on the financial departments of public sectors as a drive for performance activities which deters behavioural change and performance improvement in other departments (Accenture, 2009).
Economic conditions are causing more pressure on public service sectors; resulting in reduced budgets and increased public expenditure. Ideally, performance management in the public sector should allow organisations to focus management efforts and resources on social outcomes so that there is a greater value for tax payer money. This would also enable organisations to spread limited funds further through activity and outcome-aligned budgets. Perhaps most importantly, effective performance management provides greater individual and departmental accountability and efficiency. As service performance levels are increased, the level of waste and inefficiency decreases.
The launch of the Operational Efficiency Programme in 2008 by the Chief Secretary of the Treasury was integral to the push for greater efficiency in the public sector (Accenture, 2009). The Programme highlighted the need for improved accountability and performance management. In order to improve and motivate public sector performance, the UK government implemented public service agreement (PSAs) which based budget allocations on agency performance (2009). The implementation of performance management improvement programmes for public sectors have been initiated in Canada, Australia, and the US. The problem however, with this approach, is the reliance of statistical assessments of performance as a driver, rather than the social outcomes. It is important that the policing sector hold social credibility and legitimacy in the public eye which is obtainable through positive social outcomes.
Performance Management in the Public Sector
Public sector performance management is much different than that of the private sector. Whereas private sector performance heavily focuses on profit maximization as an indicator of performance, public sectors do not. The public sector is not concerned as much with the “bottom line” as the private sector (Boland & Fowler, 2000).
Unlike the private sector, the public sector, obtains its principle source of money from the public in the form of taxes. The public's perception of the necessity of the police organisation influences legislations use of tax collection towards police financial capital and operating revenues (Moore & Khagram, 2004). The importance of public and legislative support is summarized by Moore and Khagram as;
Government managers secure the resources they need to operate not by selling products and services to individual customers, but by selling a story of public value creation to elected representatives of the people in legislatures and executive branch positions.
It is important to understand the importance of public value, as this value will determine the resources allocated to police organisations. Therefore it is crucial that public value be a goal in performance management strategies.
Private sectors rely on their revenue of goods to determine value; this is not the case with public organisations however, they must rely on alternative methods of determining value as they do not sell their services.
Early attempts to understand performance management in the public sector relied on a value for money strategies that involved external audits (Boland & Fowler, 2000). Most recently, performance management strategies in the public sector rely on the achievement of set standards.
These standards, e.g. in the policing sector, would be set for the entire industry; this criterion is then used against individual organisations to determine how much they have achieved. Many organisations find this strategy somewhat systematically inadequate and have attempted to initiate a performance improvement initiative (PII) which allows upper management to consider what strategies, or performances could use improvement and how that can be achieved. These improvements are seen through performance indicators (Fleming, 2000). These indicators help determine whether the organisation is meeting specific goals and using resources wisely. Performance indicators in the policing sector must focus on not only meeting financial targets, but public value goals as well.
Research indicates that there are numerous theories of what constitutes effective performance management standards. It is clear that there has to be accountability through financial targets which justify the use of financial resources. There is also reason to include specific social outcomes; however Moore & Khagram (2004) believe financial and social standards do not provide enough information to determine the actual value of the organisation which is important in assessing the performance of a public sector organisation.
Other research indicates that a corporate structure can be used to assess performance management (Flemming, 2008). Perhaps Fleming (2008) sums up police performance management best when he writes, “police organizations are expected to deliver value through the socially and fiscally responsible allocation of resources and ensure effective service delivery” (p. 254).
Since defining performance management standards in policing has been so difficult, many researchers have differing beliefs as to what constitutes performance management and how to understand the results. It is important therefore to first understand the development of performance management which is discussed in the following section.