Sample Public Administration Essay Paper on Performance Monitoring

Performance monitoring


Performance monitoring ensures the development of performance-oriented programs, which are critical in helping governments to advance effective measures of assessing the quality of programs in the realization of the objectives of the finances dedicates in executing government responsibilities. Therefore, it provides a regular assessment service that helps policymakers in making informed decisions regarding issues of public management and the identification of opportunities for improving the performance of the public sectors. As taxpayers and decision makers, citizens and the elected officials are entitled to regular reports on the performance of major projects in the public sector.


Performance monitoring not only provides these stakeholders with information on the cost and the percentage of work that has been completed but also that on the quality of the services delivered and outcomes of a program.


This study will focus on citizen participation as one way through which the government can ensure effective performance monitoring of its project and programs. Through performance monitoring, it becomes possible for the policymakers to streamline the cycle of policymaking, implementation, and assessment. This is an indication that performance monitoring can be used in informing citizens and elected officials while asserting their involvement in matters of governance. The use of performance monitoring is based on the understanding that governments’ decisions on issues of policy are informed by sound evidence. This makes it important to develop an assertion that policymaking and implementation should not be guided by dogma but knowledge of the programs that can be effective while providing reasons for such assertions. Through performance monitoring, policymakers assess the evidence needed in making policy decisions. Therefore, they make decisions based on the existing facts to ascertain the most effective policy approaches that can be used in the realization of policy objectives.

The Complexity Theory

The complexity model is founded on the understanding that the government does not have the best techniques for ensuring successful implementation of the policy process because the policy-making process occurs in conditions of influx and uncertainty (Parsons, 2002). It is through initiatives such as performance monitoring that the policymakers and implementers acknowledge diversity, the possibility of failure, and the recognition that it is important to understand the context of the policy before engaging in deliberation (Parsons, 2002). Hence, it important to acknowledge that the policy-making, implementation, and assessment processes are based on the customization and alignment with the existing needs of the target community to enhance its ability to realize an intended objective.

The complexity theory asserts that through performance monitoring it is possible to engage in evidence-based policymaking (EBPM) because it acknowledges that there are profound limitations of the kind of reductionism that characterizes EBPM (Parsons, 2002). The objective is to acknowledge the existence of an ongoing process of learning at all the levels of the policy process(Parsons, 2002). Furthermore, it also allows for the improvement of the policy process such that it enables the creation of a government system that facilitates self-learning on a continuous basis through the guidance of legitimate goals and priorities that are guided by democratic principles. Furthermore, the model asserts that he aim of performance monitoring aims to enhance the democratization and modernization of the policy-making and implementation processes. This involves the idea of embracing the professionalizing model that breaks the policy process into various stages that provides distinct and clear sets of management responsibilities. Through this approach, the policy-making process can be perceived as a highly mechanical system that allows for enhanced systemic coordination and communication, which implies that it is necessary for policymakers to be subjected to training in the most effective skills, policy protocols, and the provision of the most appropriate tools for executing their responsibilities. This ensures the development of a more professional and rational team of policymakers who depend on the most efficient use of evidence and effective management of existing knowledge.

The complexity theory recognizes that evidence in the policymaking and implementation process has an inextricable interconnection with the problems of participation, inequalities, and power. The dependence on existing evidence in making policy decision provides an understanding to Harold Laswell’s question of ‘who gets what, when and how?’ It is based on the understanding that by acknowledging the complexity of human problems it becomes possible to improve the capacity of the society, through the policymakers, to learn and enhance adaptation to the conditions of rapid and cascading changes (Parsons, 2002). Undoubtedly, it is better than ascribing to the belief that it is possible to increase human capacities of knowing and controlling by increasing their capacity of managing evidence and information. The complexity that confronts policymakers is based on the belief that it only through seeking information through performance monitoring initiatives that EBPM can be used in the development of effective and sound policy decision that improve the ability to exist policies to realize an intended objective in the society (Parsons, 2002). This approach advocates for knowledge management through evidence-based approaches.

Performance monitoring in the policy process aims at providing the government with a platform that enhances the delivery of quality services and improved performance outcomes. It is so because without such measures the government, through the public sector, can be wasteful, ineffective, and unresponsive (Wholey & Hatry, 1992). Moreover, this would indicate the degradation of government’s credibility. The understanding that it is important for the management through public policy initiatives is to develop relevant and people drove public policy measures that will enhance the delivery of effective services to the target population. However, the process is dependent on the availability of adequate and timely information about the aspects that public policy programs are achieving. Also, this implies that policymakers and implementers use performance-monitoring information in stimulating improved program performance (Wholey & Hatry, 1992) because it helps them in ensuring effective communication of the value of public programs to the citizens and elected officials. Performance monitoring, therefore, helps in strengthening public confidence in the ability of the government to execute its mandate. Also, it also provides techniques through which policymakers and policy implementers can ensure that they gain the resources necessary to maintaining and enhancing program operations.

The advantage of performance monitoring in the policy process is that it provides a platform for ensuring regular measurement of quality service delivery and outcomes realized through public programs. Performance monitoring embraces and goes beyond typical approaches to monitoring which emphasize the issues of quality of service delivered cost, and the population served against the objectives of a program (Wholey & Hatry, 1992). Through performance monitoring, it is possible to measure the medium-term and short-term outcome of a public policy program, and this is considered critical in the development of long-term objectives of such a program.It is considered essential because it provides a platform for comparing the performance levels of different units regarding their current and prior performance. This is critical in making an informed decision about the future of a unit in relation to the existing resources and the expectations of the citizens. In the policy process, one of the most difficult aspects is to develop an appropriate performance monitoring system (Wholey & Hatry, 1992). undoubtedly,  this is because such a process is dependent on the type of agreement between the policymaking process and the operating levels of the most appropriate indicators of program performance.

The difficulty in developing operation performance monitoring systems is also based on the understanding that the stakeholders such as policymakers, staff, the management of programs, and the interest groups often have divergent goals and objectives for the same program. Furthermore, the complexity and dynamism of the society imply that most public services have a plethora of quality dimensions characterized by multiple outcomes (Wholey & Hatry, 1992). It is an indication that the process of developing appropriate performance monitoring systems often requires multiple program performance indicators to realize quality outcomes. Furthermore, the extensive nature of the target society implies that it may be difficult for the performance indicators to cover all aspect of the implementation process. It will be defined by the design of an approach that targets the sample population to enable generalization of the possible outcomes based on the analysis of the information gathers through the performance monitoring systems. In sectors such as education and healthcare, performance monitoring can be used in stimulating the delivery of quality services and enhancing the performance of the staff because through this approach; it becomes possible to identify the existing problems and develop effective solutions to these problems based on existing evidence.


The complexity theory recognizes that the policy-making and implementation processes are defined by a variety of aspects that make it relatively confusing and difficult. However, this process can be streamlined through the development of measures that advocate for the incorporation of knowledge and skills on the most effective ways to generate and use evidence in making informed policy decisions (Parsons, 2002). It is an indication that by embracing the complexity approach to the policy process, it becomes possible to decentralize the process in ways that enhance the participation of different stakeholders throughout the process. This improves the ownership of the public policy and the development of supportive measures, which are essential in realizing the intended objective.

One way of embracing complexity in the policy process is the introduction of performance monitoring systems because the citizens through the elected officials demand regular information of service quality and program outcomes (Wholey & Hatry, 1992). These demands are based on the desire to be provided with evidence that offers critical information on the initiatives that government has instituted to ensure that it successfully delivers its mandate to the society (Parsons, 2002). The government, through its agencies, can focus on quality and improvement to objectify and quantify the existing problems and develop effective and verifiable solutions to these problems. This can be de through the development of quality-measure techniques that are driven by total quality management approaches.

The complexity of the demands of the society that requires policy intervention ascertains the need for government agencies to work in collaboration with other players to enhance their ability to develop and implement illustrative performance indicators and develop standards for functioning (Wholey & Hatry, 1992). It will enhance the ability of the agencies to ensure that the decisions they make throughout the policy process are informed by objective and relevant evidence on the needs that exist in the society to provide a platform of overcoming complexities in the policy process (Parsons, 2002). Policymakers, through engaging in performance monitoring initiatives, facilitate the development of effective communication channel as a way of minimizing the effects of existing complexities. This is based on the understanding that complexity emerges from simpler systems that make it inherently difficult to unravel, design, or ensure the adaptation of a social system that enhances interoperability of organizations (Wholey & Hatry, 1992). In public policy, the role of performance monitoring system is that it provides policymakers and implementers with a system of information and action.

Policymakers and implementers recognize the efficiency of this approach to policy process because it functions to ensure the understanding of the dynamics that are inherent in service delivery through a plethora of static snapshots. Performance monitoring systems are based on the establishment of measurable objectives, definition of work processes that are necessary for the realizing of the set objectives, and ensuring the development of effective measures of monitoring the performance of the work processes and the realization of the objectives (Wholey & Hatry, 1992). Through performance monitoring, it is possible for policy implementers to determine whether the program is achieving its policy objectives as envisioned in the program. Additionally, performance monitoring also provides a technique for identifying the problems that characterize the work process, which may be affecting the process of realizing public policy goals and objectives. This process is realized by aligning the data, analytical and action components of the performance monitoring systems (Parsons, 2002). Since performance-monitoring systems provide continuous information, it becomes an effective measure of realizing organizational goals because the data collection and analysis processes do not interrupt the basic routine of implementing the policy process. The information generated serves the purpose of guiding the stakeholders in the identification and implementation of corrective actions to enhance the effectiveness of the policy process.

It is evident that policymakers in different societies have been involved in using information obtained from performance monitoring the development of effective measures targeting enhanced policy processes (Parsons, 2002). This is exemplified by an increase in the number government agencies involved in the development of useful and applicable performance monitoring systems in program areas such as education, healthcare, economic development, police service, and mass transportation and solid waste management (Wholey & Hatry, 1992). At the federal level in the United States, there are agencies, which have engaged performance monitoring as a tool for tracking selected aspect of program outcomes. For these agencies, federal level performance monitoring has been introduced in a project such as monitoring progress in Child Support Enforcement, monitoring progress on the realization of national goals in the education sector, and monitoring Medicare patient outcomes. The objective of these monitoring initiatives is often based on the desire to assess the extent to which such programs are realizing their intended objectives of the outcome of those objectives in enhancing the livelihoods of the target population (Parsons, 2002). For policymakers, performance-monitoring systems provide them with techniques for ensuring that any measures undertaken to enlarge or reintroducing the program are defined by evidence from the monitoring process.

In healthcare, performance monitoring has played an essential role in ascertaining the relevance of health care incentives such as Medicare in enhancing access to quality healthcare among the most vulnerable members of the society. Through performance monitoring, the department of health can assess the best approaches that can be initiated to enhance the quality of healthcare service provided to the target population (Wholey & Hatry, 1992).


Performance monitoring is one of the most critical aspects of the policy process since it provides evidence on the functionality and the ability of policies to achieve their intended objectives. Also, through performance monitoring, it is possible to understand the complexities that define the needs of the society and develop measures of mitigating undesirable outcomes of the policy process. Through effective performance monitoring systems, it becomes possible for the stakeholders in the policy process to strategize on ways of initiating performance-based incentives for the target sectors in a broader reform process with the objective of stimulating improved performance in the target sector. Through performance indicators, it also becomes possible to establish a relationship between the possibility of achieving policy objectives and the prevailing conditions that may enhance or impede the realization of the intended objective.

Enhancing the effectiveness of the performance monitoring system and the ability of policymakers to use the resulting information in making policy decisions requires the government, through its agencies, to advocate for citizen participation. This approach to performance monitoring will help in transcending the barriers to an effective policy process. Besides, active citizen participation will help in the development of informed and expert citizens who can provide holistic and relevant solutions to the challenges facing the community. Through their participation, it becomes possible for the administrators and other policy implementers to provide sufficient explanations on their reasons for pursuing certain policy initiatives because performance monitoring allows for the involvement of more participants who possess more sophisticated and enhanced levels of social and technical understanding. The process results in the development of enhanced policy decisions, which are critical to improving social and environmental outcomes. It does so because citizen participation in performance monitoring provide the government with an enhanced understanding of the existing problems in the society and the ability to exit policies to ensure that they are operational and highly effective in mitigating the effects of these problems.

It is important to educate policymakers and implementers on the best ways of developing performance-monitoring systems that can contribute to enhanced program outcomes and service quality. This will ensure that performance data is not only used for external accountability purposes but also to help the players in the policy process to improve their programs to allows for frequent feedback of performance data while minimizing the over-aggregation effects of performance data. Through this approach, policy implementers will be provided with the necessary information on outcomes for enhancing their performance.

At the federal level, it will be critical for the government to ensure that in its budgeting process it provides policy heads with effective techniques of managing and developing effective performance monitoring systems that target the improvement of the effectiveness of federal programs. Indeed, it will help in establishing the most effective steps that would enhance the inventory and analysis of the available efforts in the determination of the programs for which performance monitoring systems and procedures can be effective in realizing the objectives of the program. It will also be important to incorporate professional groups in the development of performance monitoring systems because their expertise can help in providing better performance information to public officials and the citizens. Enlisting professional groups will ensure that most government programs that make performance measurement become more straightforward.


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Administration Review, (6), 604

Parsons, W. (2002). From Muddling Through to Muddling Up – Evidence-Based Policy Making

and the Modernisation of British Government. Public Policy & Administration, 17(3), 43.

Renée A. Irvin, a., & John Stansbury, a. (2004). Citizen Participation in Decision Making: Is It

Worth the Effort?. Public Administration Review, (1), 55.