Performance Measurement in Nova Scotia

I came across this website a while back and found it to be a good example of performance measurement as usually practiced by government.

Nova Scotia has typically faced a brain drain and this website tracks efforts to change that. Any time you set a goal, it is important to measure your way there to see how you are doing. This extends even to the realm of fitness – almost any and all fitness websites will tell you to track your activity to measure how well you are progressing (or not) towards your goal. The other thing it does is influence you psychologically – it is not just about doing something, it is that you see it done. And that makes you feel good.

The OneNS website, is of course not about fitness, but by having the website I bet it makes Nova Scotians feel a bit better about themselves and it shows what work is being done, and where work needs to be done.

As described in the Background section, the measurement is being carried out by a group of organizations, and this will go on until 2024. While it is normal for interest to fade after a while, the fact that the website is readily accessible and the measures are under development makes me believe that interest will be maintained. Seeing different rates of progress on the various indicators could also invite input/ suggestions from different quarters – interested/ affected organizations or individuals thus again ensuring interest in the project.

I like the fact that it is a long-term project – gives it time to change methods if/ as needed to achieve or even exceed goals. And, of course, generates more data.

Performance measurement in the public sector, and I am sure it is the case in the private sector too, is always tough to measure. The goals mentioned are often hard to define and everyone’s interpretations are different. “A better society” for one may mean something completely different than to another.

I recall reading a very interesting article on this topic when I worked for the Ontario government (I could easily access public administration journals, one of the perks of being in the public service). Markus Sharaput’s “The limits of learning: Policy evaluation and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation Authors” (Canadian Public Administration; Volume 55, Issue 2; June 2012; Pages 247–268) talks about the problem of measurement at the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, frequently the source of good news for the provincial government. Perhaps the members of OneNS can read up on this article to learn some useful lessons and do better with their online efforts.

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