Implementing the vision: addressing challenges to results-focused management and budgeting

Burt Perrin's 2002 report to the OECD outlines common challenges in performance measurement and results-based management, and identifies potential solutions to these. There is an emphasis in this report on what can be done at the strategic and systems levels of government.


"1.2.1. Key Themes

7. The balance of this paper is organised around the following key themes that emerged in the discussions at the expert meeting

A focus on outcomes is very important, but it is also very difficult. (Section 2)

8. Many countries say that this has proved far more difficult than expected. In particular, they find it hard to see how one can connect what programs and managers do with distant and complex outcomes. For the above and other reasons, many of the countries acknowledged that outcomes receive only minimal attention. Instead, most efforts at performance monitoring thus far have focused mainly on inputs, activities and outputs. Yet there are ways in which one can assess outcomes.

Creation of a results-oriented culture throughout government is essential for actual implementation of a
results-oriented approach. (Section 3)

9. Unless managers and staff throughout government actually buy into a results focus, they most likely will just go through the motions, and performance management risks remaining a paper exercise. There was strong agreement about the importance of this issue, but there was also recognition that it is not clear how to bring about the requisite culture change.

Attention is needed to the question of data quality, to ensure that the performance data that is obtained is
meaningful and valid. (Section 4)

10. This concern was acknowledged perhaps more implicitly than explicitly at the meeting. Inaccurate or misleading data are useless — or worse — for decision-making, and can even distort program activities. In order to ensure the meaningfulness of performance data, one needs to be sensitive to potential difficulties and how these can be alleviated or addressed.

Leadership and support from the top levels of government is needed in order to bring about a results focused approach. (Section 5)

11. Leadership can take various forms, including: top-level support for a results-focused approach, capacity building, and effective communications. As well, proponents of results-focused management and budgeting need to lead by example, in particular by undertaking independent evaluation of reform initiatives. Audit also has a role to play.

A strategic rather than a piecemeal approach is necessary. (Section 6)

12. For effective performance management, an integrated approach involving both monitoring and evaluation is needed. It is important to develop an approach that recognises the realities and complexities of working in the public milieu, with many interacting initiatives and factors. There are a variety of other important strategic considerations, such as: how a results-oriented approach can contribute to a whole-of government approach, how it can be used when contracting externally for services, how performance information can be combined in a meaningful way with the budgeting process, and how it can be made relevant to Parliament." (Perrin 2011, pp.3-4)


Perrin, B. (2002). Implementing the Vision: Addressing Challenges to Results-Focused Management and Budgeting. OECD. Available at: