Moving from outputs to outcomes

This report by Burt Perrin offers evidence that countries are moving away from evaluating the performance of government on activities, inputs and outputs, and focusing instead on a results-driven approach.

The report is based on the Roundtable "Moving from Outputs to Outcomes: Implications for Public Sector Management" December 15-16th, 2004 sponsored by the World Bank and the IBM Center for The Business of Government. It focuses on identifying the practical steps, best practices and learning that will aid governments in moving towards an outcome approach that is tailored towards the political, social and historical contexts of individual countries.


"This report is not intended as a prescriptive guide for the development or implementation of an outcome focus. It is apparent that there is not just one right way. Context is very important. What works in one country may not be appropriate in another, given differing political systems, administrative cultures, and levels of development. In fact, each of the countries represented at the Roundtable has taken a somewhat different approach in the development of an outcome orientation. All countries, to some extent or another, are in transition. Nevertheless, despite these differences, many common basic principles and considerations regarding the implementation of an outcome focus have emerged, along with numerous insights and ideas about how this can be done." (Perrin, 2006: 17)


  • Foreword  5
  • Key Themes and Conclusions from the Roundtable  6
    •  Linking outcomes to strategy  6
    •  Facilitating the implementation of an outcome focus  7
    •  Monitoring, evaluating, and reporting on outcomes  7
    •  Using outcome information  8
    •  Conclusion  8
  • Principaux thèmes et Conclusions de la table ronde  9
    •  Faire le lien entre les résultats finals et la stratégie  9
    •  Faciliter la focalisation sur les résultats  10
    •  Suivi, évaluation et documentation des résultats  10
    •  Savoir exploiter les informations  11
    •  Conclusion  12
  • Principales temas y Conclusiones de la Mesa Redonda  13
    •  Vinculación de los resultados con la estrategia  13
    •  Facilitación de la aplicación de un enfoque centrado en los resultados  14
    •  Seguimiento, evaluación y presentación de informes sobre los resultados  14
    •  Uso de la información sobre resultados  15
    •  Conclusión  16
  • Introduction  17
    •  Purpose of this report: Practical ideas About How to Move toward an outcome orientation  17
    •  Sources of information  19
  • Why Is a Strategic Focus on Outcomes Considered So Important?  20
  • How Outcomes Are Being Linked to Strategy  23
    •  The use of Both top-down and Bottom-up support  23
    •  A strategic Approach that Provides for a long-term Vision and 
    •  Attention to Appropriate Medium-term outcomes  27
    •  Integrated ‘Whole of Government’ Approach  30
  • Making It Happen: Approaches to Facilitating Implementation  32
    •  the use of carrots, sticks, sermons—and capacity  32
    •  A Progressive Approach to the development of an outcome Approach  33
    •  Provision of flexibility  35
    •  A diffusion of innovation Approach  35
    •  Champions at All levels  36
    •  Sustainability of outcome-oriented Approaches  373
  • The Role of Monitoring and Evaluation in Making an Outcome Approach Possible  40
    •  A forward-looking, strategic Approach to Assessment  40
    •  Monitoring  40
    •  Evaluation  43
    •  Technology as an enabler  44
    •  Data Quality  44
  • How Countries Are Reporting on Outcomes and Providing for Their Credibility  46
    •  An emphasis on transparency and Visibility  46
    •  The use of independent and external Bodies to carry out evaluations and Analyses, and to  Produce reports  47
    •  Provision of some form of external oversight and Validation  47
    •  Reporting that is Meaningful  48
    •  A developmental Approach, with regular review, evaluation, and revision of the outcome Approach  50
  • Using Outcome Information Meaningfully  51
    •  The Purpose of an outcome Approach: to Be used  51
    •  A new Way of thinking and Managing  51
    •  Demonstration of Value to the citizenry  52
    •  Linking outcome information Appropriately with the Budgeting Process  52
  • Acknowledgments  55
  • Endnotes  56
  • About the Author  57
  • Key Contact Information  58


Perrin, Burt, Moving from Outputs to Outcomes: Practical Advice from Governments Around the World. Report based on the Roundtable "Moving from Outputs to Outcomes: Implications for Public Sector Management" December 15-16, 2004, Retrieved from: