How can you use a barometer to measure the temperature? You can’t and that’s the point: Selecting the right metrics near the outset of a public policy programme is one of the keys to properly measuring impact, according to a new guide, ‘Policy Steering – The Role and Use of Performance Measurement Indicators.’
Increasing levels of democratisation coupled with tighter budgets are fuelling a growing public demand for accountability, as pointed out by the report prepared by experts Pascal Delorme and Olivier Chatelain for EuropeAid. Further, the ability to access information eases the public’s ability to make value comparisons themselves.
So, outcome indicators linked to reform objectives are now indispensable when it comes to measuring the impact of a given policy, improving decision-making processes or making parliaments, civil society and the general public clearly aware of the impact of the reforms in progress.
However, the great variety of situations and objectives means that there are no ‘turnkey’ tools or lists of pre-defined indicators which match the specific circumstances and priorities of each partner country.
To help tackle the delicate issue of choosing sectoral indicators, the guide offers a reasoned method, divided into three stages, to aid the reader and everyone involved in the implementation of a performance-based approach (notably in budget support programmes, but not exclusively) and the definition or choice of the associated indicators.
The first stage involves identifying needs: what information would shed light on or reflect the specific policy aspects and challenges on which attention is to be focused?Policy Steering – The Role and Use of Performance Measurement Indicators
The second stage makes it possible to determine whether the indicators relevant to the identification of needs have the necessary characteristics to be used to set targets, to monitor progress and to be available as required.
The third stage involves formally recording the chosen indicators on a fact-sheet designed to provide comprehensive information about the calculation of the indicator, document the sources used, communicate any reservations as to the quality of those sources and give a brief idea of how the indicator can be used and interpreted.