Does Dr. Kelman have it right?


Dr. Steve KelmanDr. Steve Kelman’s essay says the use of performance management is at a turning point in government. Is he right? What if anything should the next President do about it?

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3 Responses to “Does Dr. Kelman have it right?”

  1. Jonathan Breul, Executive Director, The Center for The Business of Government Says:

    Welcome to our first foray into blogging and thank you for helping us begin a national dialogue about “what happens next.” We look forward to your participation in our ongoing conversation.

  2. Jacques Gansler, Professor and Roger C. Lipitz Chair, University of Maryland Says:

    As a participant in the Wye meeting, I certainly think Steve has “got it right.” Since my own research tends to be focused in the National Security areas (“the 800 lb gorilla” in the Federal Government), I’d suggest that further research is required in the following area–beyond our current research in the area of “Business Transformation”:

    1. Affording Defense in the 21st Century
    2. Transforming the Defense Industry for the 21st Century
    3. Greater use of market forces in government Acquisitions
    4. Transforming DoD Logistics (to Enhance Readiness and save Tens of Billions of dollars annually)

  3. Christian Says:

    Dr. Kelman’s suggestions are certainly more realistic then many of Dr. Kettl’s. When have we ever had a radical change in the federal government? Is it even possible?

    There has been a theoretical battle within academia over performance measurement, which continues. However, the practical war (fought, in part, between politicians and public administrators) is over. Performance measurement is a fait accompli. The question now is how will it develop and be used for the betterment or determent of government?

    I can remember the beginning discussions of program evaluation and performance measurement in academia. The focus, then, was mainly on its use as a management tool. In fact, early writings warned against using performance measurement strictly (or at all) as an accountability tool (lest we simply turn it into a different widget counting mechanism). While a handful of public administration academics have continued to keep the focus on debating the value of performance measurement, they have left those of us on the battlefield (practicing administrators) with little defenses and few new weapons. One only has to look at all the red on the President’s “Scorecard” ( or the number of “Not Performing” programs ( to know who is winning this battle. The names of the websites, alone, are insightful. We now have a “legitimate” accountability tool that simply and clearly shows results (in green and red) that tell citizens they should expect more from government. We have succeeded in giving citizens another reason to not trust their government and have allowed the sport of “bureaucrat-bashing” to continue.

    It is time to sign the Peace Treaty; the war is over. Our resources could be better spent on learning how to live harmoniously (“balance” the scorecard), rather than on how to fight a better war. Dr. Kelman has identified a few areas that need immediate (next administration) improvement and performance measurement (used also as a management tool) can aid in bringing about needed change.

    • Contract management is a poignant example of the imbalance in the use of performance measurements in government. Government was mandated to contract out more of its services and held accountable by performance measurements readily adopted from the private sector. Missing were the management tools (resources and measurements) required to achieve results.

    • Interorganizational collaboration will be a difficult and key area in the future. Just as contract management skills where undervalued in the past, collaboration and facilitation skills are today. How do we design measures to underscore the value of these skills in a government that is program-oriented and demands accountability from a single actor?

    • Choice and competition points to some of the real differences between the private and public sectors and reminds us that measurements are not only valuable to hold us accountable, but can also help us answer difficult management questions – like when is it appropriate?

    • Efficiency-promoting budget reforms will always be a priority. I wonder what score we would give an organization that is unable to establish a budget until midway through its fiscal year? Could this affect the results? Can we measure that performance? Should we expect more?

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