About SEA Reporting General Information
The reporting of the results of governmental programs and services is referred to as Service Efforts and Accomplishments (SEA) reporting. This type of reporting includes information about the acquisition and use of resources, the outputs and outcomes of the services provided and the relationship between the use of resources (costs) and those outputs and outcomes—what may be referred to as efficiency measures (cost-output and cost-outcome) of performance. A variety of measures are needed to assist citizens, elected officials, and other interested parties (collectively referred to as “users”) in assessing governmental performance. These measures include: measures of service efforts (inputs), measures of service accomplishments (outputs and outcomes), and measures that relates service efforts to service accomplishments (cost-outputs and cost-outcomes).
SEA reporting is the act of preparing and publishing a report or several linked reports that communicate the efficiency and effectiveness in which a government operates in trying to achieve desired results. SEA reporting communicates information on the results of government programs or services that can be used to help users make decisions. SEA reporting provides citizens and other users with measures, indicators, or metrics of the volume, quality, efficiency, and results of public services. These indicators of performance, when publicly reported, are yardsticks that can be used to assist users in determining if a government is working well, poorly, or somewhere in between.
The reporting of SEA performance information is more effective if the government's officers, elected officials, public entities, organizations, and public servants realize that they are all accountable for their performance and the use of public resources. The reporting of SEA performance information to assist in assessing accountability is more commonly done internally, but there is a growing desire for the external users/recipients (such as citizens) to know how government is performing. "Citizens want to know what's being accomplished with their tax dollars, not just how much is being spent and on what" (Walters. Measuring Up. 1998. Page 6).
The overall process of using and reporting SEA performance information to assist in increasing public accountability is often referred to as performance management. This management approach focuses on selecting, defining, and then working to achieve results that are important to the users of a government. The government develops a shared, widely understood framework using SEA performance information in setting goals and objectives, managing, allocating resources, and evaluating its level of accomplishment. The external reporting of SEA performance information is only one part of the process of performance management. Performance management can be beneficial to governments for improving the focus on key results and sharpening the government's management skills to achieve those results. It is a tool for more responsive and accountable government.