In 1993, the Province of Alberta initiated the development of a comprehensive business planning and performance measurement system, which is now considered a leader in Canada. This contribution examines theoretical models and practical experience for designing performance measurement systems, and compares the similarities and differences between Alberta's approach and three other prominent North American public sector models (Oregon, Minnesota, and Florida). Drawing upon the experiences of Alberta and these other jurisdictions, the contribution discusses the implications for the development and advancement of results-based public sector performance measurement.
Performance measurement and quality management principles (e. g., reengineering) came into vogue with North American governments following the release of Reinventing Government (Osborne and Gaebler, 1992). Reinventing Government provided a critical catalyst for mainstream experimentation by redefining the way government can and should operate. A central tenet of the book was the notion of results-oriented government, where the focus shifts to the outcomes of government policy actions, rather than the budget or programs delivered. Reinventing Government, combined with the United States Federal Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 motivated many jurisdictions to develop similar systems.
Among US state governments, some of the older, more prominent systems are: Oregon Benchmarks, Minnesota Milestones, Florida Benchmarks, Texas Tomorrow, and Utah Tomorrow. Performance measurement is gaining momentum in Canada. Alberta's system is the oldest, followed by Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Canadian federal government. Initiatives intended to measure quality of life such as the US Genuine Progress Indicator (Redefining Progress, 1998), and Human Resources Development Canada's Index of Social Health (Brink and Zeesman, 1997), are also attracting public interest.