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ROLE 3: Define or Measure Performance

Developing Performance Measures or Measuring Performance, Outside the Traditional Audit Process

While these activities are not typically thought of as part of “traditional” audit processes, some auditor organizations consider these efforts to be audit projects.

Practice 3a. Help choose measures or targets: Provide advice on determining performance measures or performance expectations.

Working outside the traditional audit process, the auditor advises management, elected officials, or other users of performance information concerning what measures would be relevant indicators of an organization’s performance, or what performance expectations (e.g., goals, objectives, targets) should be set.  The auditor may also develop possible performance measures, with other officials deciding on the final selection of measures.  Sources of advice for performance expectations can include historical trends, legislative requirements, customer expectations, industry standards, and internal or external benchmarks.

In Florida, the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) may recommend different performance measures during program evaluation and justification reviews or special reviews of program performance measures. OPPAGA may comment on whether targets are too high or low, but will not recommend a specific target. … Read more

In Kansas City, Missouri, the City Auditor has conducted special studies focusing on identifying performance measures for city agencies, which have included focus groups of users of agency services, and use of professional association comparative measures. In a 2005 study, auditors focused on performance expectations for city employees rather than department measures. … Read more

The Metro Auditor (of Portland metro regional government) has worked with an external consultant to develop benchmarking measures for four internal services. … Read Example from 2004 Guide (PDF)

In Palo Alto, California, the City Auditor worked with departments to select measures for external performance reporting from sources such as the city's Comprehensive Plan and Sustainability Task Force, other jurisdictions, and professional organizations.  Selected measures eventually influenced the city policy process, as city management drew measures from the Auditor’s performance reports for the budget. …  Read more

In Phoenix, Arizona, the City Auditor has long helped improve performance measures, including 1991-95 efforts that used customer focus groups to help make departments’ measures more “results oriented” from the customer’s perspective. … Read Example from 2004 Guide (PDF)

In Portland, Oregon, the City Auditor sometimes identifies changes needed in measures during annual reviews done for preparing external performance reports, and other times works collaboratively with agency managers, on request, to help them identify measures. These practices have generally helped to convince agencies of the importance of performance measurement, not only in internally managing operations. … Read more.