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Results matter. But we don't know whether we're achieving results unless we can measure our performance. Performance measurement indicates what a program is accomplishing and whether results are being improved. It helps managers by providing them information on how resources and efforts should be allocated to ensure effectiveness. It keeps program partners focused on the key goals of a program and supports development and justification of budget proposals by indicating how taxpayers and others benefit.


Information provided by performance measurement is just part of the information that managers and policy officials need to make decisions. Performance measurement must often be coupled with evaluation data to increase our understanding of why results occur and what value a program adds. Performance measurement cannot replace data on program costs, political judgments about priorities, creativity about solutions, or common sense. A major purpose of performance measurement is to raise fundamental questions; the measures seldom, by themselves, provide definitive answers.

But achieving results must start with the definitions of success -- performance measures. Typically, performance measures include outcome, output, and efficiency measures, because each type of measure provides valuable information about program performance. Collectively, these measures convey a comprehensive story regarding what products and services are being provided, how well it is being accomplished and to what result.

In expanding E-Government, performance measures play a key role in evaluating and overseeing the federal information technology portfolio, managing the Presidential E-Government Initiatives and driving transformation through the Line of Business initiatives.

The Federal Government spends more then $60 billion a year to develop and maintain information technology systems which support federal programs. Each major information technology budget request, in the form of a business case, is evaluated to ensure it contains appropriate performance measures. In order to successfully address this area of the business case, performance goals must be provided for the investment, for the agency and be linked to the annual performance plan. The investment must discuss the agency's mission and strategic goals, and performance measures must be provided. These goals should map to the gap in the agency's strategic goals and objectives that this investment is designed to fill. The goals must be clearly measurable investment outcomes, and if applicable, investment outputs.

In addition, agencies are required to institute performance measures and management processes that monitor and compare actual performance to planned results. Agencies must use a performance-based acquisition management system to obtain timely information regarding the progress of capital investments. The system must also measure progress towards milestones in an independently verifiable basis, in terms of cost, capability of the investment to meet specified requirements, timeliness, and quality. Agencies are to be within 10 precent of of the cost, schedule and performance goals for major acquisitions. Agency heads must review major acquisitions that are not within 10 percent of the goals to determine whether there is a continuing need and what corrective action, including termination, should be taken.