Paulette Robinson, Partner
Under the PGPA Act, there are requirements in relation to performance monitoring and management. Because the process is now more formalised, there’s planning at both the PBS and corporate plan stages and reporting on performance in the Annual Performance Statement located in the Annual Report.
Often agencies will say, “We’ve done this all before. It’s part of our governance arrangements, we’ve had our strategy, we’ve had our planning and we’ve got our PBS.” However, that work didn’t need to be as structured as it is now. Now the requirements are specific.
Previously, government agencies had always reported on their successes and their achievements, but they’ve never really been held accountable against what they said they were going to do. It’s easy to tell a story, but another thing to be held accountable against statements in the PBS and corporate plan made over 12 months ago.
The PBS talks about the money, where it needs to be spent and the performance indicators that are allocated against programs and the administered money.
Corporate plans talk about how an agency plans to achieve its purpose. It’s not just the money, it’s the activity that’s going to help achieve the outcome and have the most impact on purpose and/or the supply of services to clients.
The Annual Performance Statement wraps up each year by reporting actual achievement/success against the planning in the PBS and Corporate Plan.
Performance indicators are crucial in any performance framework, and it’s great when you’re talking with executives about them and they understand the concepts immediately. But when you start asking specific questions like, “But how do we measure the impact on your outcome? How do these activities impact on your purpose?”, it becomes more difficult to really develop the nitty gritty measures. A lot more effort is required than initially anticipated.
Some agencies are easier to develop measures for because the services delivered can be counted as widgets, and they go directly to the success of the purpose for the agency. However, the successes of other agencies are more difficult to measure because their outcomes are more amorphous and there are many variables that impact on purpose achievement that are outside agency control.
Performance management has been a focus of mine for the last 18 months, and it’s been quite an enjoyable journey to work with agencies to develop performance indicators and see how they mature those measures over time.
In addition to the framework, there’s a new focus on management assurance, and that’s a really important part of the exercise now. Secretaries and agency CEOs are required to sign assurance documents for the annual performance statement that guarantee all numbers are correct.
As part of that management assurance, we’re creating dashboards for monitoring purposes. During the year, executives really need to understand the following questions “Are we achieving what we said we would achieve? If we’re not, why? What do we do to address that, if we can?”
The development of process and reporting for monitoring and assurance requirements is really important.