Performance Measurement: An Effective Tool for Government Accountability? The Debate Goes On

Patria de Lancer Julnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


For much of the 20th century, accountability and performance measurement in the public sector centered on financial accounting, focusing on questions of how much money was spent and on what. Improved performance was mostly defined in terms of managerial efficiency. Recently, however, accountability has taken on a broader meaning to include the results of public actions. This emphasis on ‘managing for results’ has yielded the GPRA (Government Performance and Results Act) approach in the US government. Efforts to promote accountability with this emphasis, however, have occasioned a backlash. In particular, some have criticized the information that results from performance measurement systems as inadequate for the task of guiding government resource allocation decisions. That task, say critics, is the domain of program evaluation. In reviewing the contributions of performance measurement and its limitations, this article concludes that accountability needs are better addressed when program evaluators and performance measurement practitioners cooperate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-235
Number of pages17
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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