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What Measures Belong in Your Government Balanced Scorecard?

Posted December 21, 2011 3:25 PM by Ted Jackson

Earlier on this blog we discussed the keys to successful implementation of a government Balanced Scorecard. Leadership, communication and stakeholder engagement are the keys to success. A major challenge, however, is finding the right measures for your government Balanced Scorecard. It is important to find measures appropriate for the level of government, measures that can illustrate cause and effect linkages and those that can drive action at the right level.

Measures must be appropriate for the level of the government. If you are implementing a national level Balanced Scorecard the reality is that you are is going to have high level predominantly lagging measures. Gross Domestic Product, Life Expectancy and Budget Deficit are about as high level as you can get for your outcome objectives. They are still the right type of measures for a national or a provincial government. At the national level, even the internal process measures are likely to be lagging measures – Average Years of Schooling, Public Transportation Usage for instance. As you cascade your Balanced Scorecard to lower levels of the organization your measures will be more tailored to the mission of the department or region. In many cases GDP can be broken down by sector or region. An environmental agency is a key contributor to Longevity but they pay attention to Water Quality, Recycling, and Pollution Rates. Health Agencies also contribute to Longevity but focus on Obesity, Smoking, Nutrition Indicators. As you select your measures be sure to get those that are as local as possible and as closely tied to the mission of the organization.

Select measures that will inform your understanding of cause and effect linkages. If one of your themes emphasizes Employment Rates as the outcome then be sure your objectives and measures depict the cause and effect linkages that will drive that outcome. Number of Community College Courses Offered in Technical Areas, Number of Technical Job Offerings by Major Employers, Number of Community College Graduates Staying in the Area all contribute to Employment in a Region. Similarly, Quality of Life is affected by Ranking of Local School Systems, Health Indicators, Traffic Congestion and Housing Availability. Be careful to explicitly depict your cause and effect linkages in your strategy map and ensure that your measures provide insight into those linkages.

Finally, while it can be difficult at a government level – even city and state governments – be sure to select measures for your internal and learning perspective that can drive action. GDP is an outcome measure that does not necessarily inform action. But Smoking Cessation statistics are well understood at this point – many states and countries have succeeded in reducing smoking and smoking related diseases. Obesity and diabetes is a health challenge that has not yet been solved but experimentation is well underway that governments can learn from. The importance of Increased Years in School is well documented as is Ease of Transportation. Be sure to choose the measures that will help you address the needs of citizens and provide insight to your mission.

Filed Under Balanced Scorecard