Performance checks ‘should help staff’

The current system of assessing the performance of local
authorities may be flawed, but performance monitoring is here to
stay, the Audit Commission’s associate director said last

David Browning told delegates at a performance management
conference organised by Community Care and Starfish
Consulting that there were a number of “difficulties” with the
current system, but that performance management was not going to
disappear so it was important those at the front line were not made
to feel it was just an attempt to catch them out.

“Information is power. At the moment power lies with the regulators
and central government. If you can get information out to
front-line staff, that empowers them,” he said.

Acknowledging the pressure faced by local authorities from an
excessive number of targets and indicators, he said: “There’s just
too many of them. People talk about killer indicators – half a
dozen or so that you have to hit or you’ll get sacked.”

Browning added that focusing on performance indicators on their own
was unwise. “Use the indicators to check your position but use
qualitative information to build up that picture,” he

Earlier Tony Hunter, junior vice president of the Association of
Directors of Social Services, said that performance monitoring was
now a way of life. “It’s not an agenda we can ignore and if we do
then it’s at our peril. We can whinge about indicators but,
overall, the concept of performance is critical to our futures. The
truth is, performance matters to everybody,” he said.

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