Measurement in Public Management:
The Case for the Defence
I want to highlight five things that occurred over the following
decade as a result (Marson and Heintzman, 2009). First, as I already
mentioned, was early agreement on a common objective and results
measure, an outside-in measure (not an inside-out or process measure,
as so often occurs in the public sector), based on citizen satisfaction
with public sector service delivery.
Second, the undertaking of joint “action research” to achieve a
deeper, shared understanding of the nature and dimensions of the
challenge, as a basis for action, including a series of national
surveys, especially Citizens First, which has now been conducted every two years since 1998.
Third, the development of a common measurements tool (CMT) and
related service improvement methodologies to facilitate results
measurement, service improvement planning and implementation, and
performance benchmarking within and between Canadian governments.
Fourth, the creation of communities of practice within governments
and across governments, together with the institutions necessary to
support those communities, including intergovernmental councils and an
Institute for Citizen-Centred Service (ICCS) to serve, among other
things as a research centre and data warehouse for results from the
And, fifth, a shared understanding (also resulting from the “action
research”) about the distinctive “drivers” of citizen satisfaction with
public sector service delivery.
So what has all this achieved for public sector service delivery in Canada, over the past decade?
Well, for one thing, it enabled the Government of Canada both to set
and then to exceed a target of a 10 percent improvement in service
results between 2000 and 2005, overtaking the provincial level in the
process, and even closing the gap with the municipal level in service
reputation. Ten years ago, a federal task force on service delivery
proclaimed that public sector service delivery lagged woefully behind
private sector service delivery performance, such as the banks (Canada,
1996: 12). Ten years later, the service performance of many Canadian
public sector organizations now surpasses comparable private sector
results and benchmarks, including the banks. In the process, Canada has
become a world leader in public sector service delivery, the only
country that has achieved, and can measure and demonstrate, continuous
improvement in citizen satisfaction with public sector service delivery
over a ten-year period. The international consulting firm, Accenture,
has identified Canada as a world leader in public sector service
delivery, and other countries are now looking to Canada as a best
practice (Marson and Heintzman, 2009).
And what does this public management story show? I think it is a
concrete example of how an “outside-in” approach based on the
measurement of results and outcomes can contribute to significant
improvements in public management (Heintzman, 2007).