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Glossary





Glossary

For the best results in creating a successful performance reporting system in any government or organization, it is imperative that the basic terms and concepts are understood. Such terms and concepts used in "performance reporting" have many different meanings, interpretations, and contexts. Therefore, a glossary of terms is being provided.

Accountability
The responsibility of one party to another party. In government, the responsibility of elected and appointed officials to those who elected or chose them or who provide the resources with which services are provided. Being obliged to explain one's actions, to justify what one does. Requires governments to answer to the citizenry-to justify the raising of public resources and to explain the purposes for which they are used. Governmental accountability is based on the belief that the citizenry has a “right to know” (GASB Concepts Statemetn 1, 1989, para. 56).

Action plan
The detailed plan for processes that will convert resources (inputs) into services or products. Usually consists of activities and performance processes designed to produce the outputs that are aimed at achieving desired results.

Activity
A specific action or process undertaken by an organization to convert resources to products or services (outputs).

Activity-based costing
A methodology that measures the cost of activities, assigns resources to activities and assigns activities to cost objects based on their use, and recognizes the causal relationships of cost drivers to activities.

Activity-based management
An approach to the management of activities within processes as the route to continuously improve both the benefit received by customers and the efficiency with which the service or product is provided. Causes of activities are identified, measured, and used along with other activity information for performance evaluation; emphasis is on the reduction or elimination of non-value-adding activities. Activity-based management draws on activity-based costing data as a major source for information.

Agency
An administrative division of government with specific functions. An organization that offers a particular kind of service, program, or assistance.

Aggregation
The bringing together of separate component parts of a performance measure, collections of information such as demographic, geographic, or by the components of an entity

Analysis
An examination to find out the reason for results; the nature, proportion, function, and interrelationship of results. A statement of the product of this process.

Balanced scorecard
An approach using multiple measures to evaluate managerial performance. These measures may be financial or nonfinancial, internal or external, and short-term or long-term. The scorecard allows a determination as to whether a manager is achieving certain objects at the expense of others that may be equally or more important.

Baseline
The level of results at a certain time that provides a starting point for assessing changes in performance and for establishing objectives or targets for future performance.

Benchmark
In the context of outcomes and performance discussion, the term refers to desired program results. It may include a target or standard for the program to achieve. It is also used to denote best practices.

Community outcome or result
A broad-level outcome affected by services, products, and explanatory factors beyond those provided by any single organization. For example, the income level of residents is affected by the economy of the area and nation, the programs of the government, their own motivation, and many other factors.

Comparable
In reporting SEA performance information, comparable means being able to be compared or suitable for comparison to provide a basis or context for assessing performance. (Discussed in Concepts Statement 2 as amended by Concepts Statement 5)

Comparisons
Various forms of information about reported performance measures that provide a basis for assessing the level of or changes in results. This may take various forms-for example, comparisons of reported information with (a) several earlier reporting periods, (b) targets established by the entity including targets established as part of the budgetary process, (c) externally established norms or standards of performance, (d) other parts or subunits of the same entity, or (e) other, comparable entities.

Comprehensive
Covering completely or broadly. Including the necessary information to communicate the major or essential aspects of an organization’s performance.

Consistency
Conformity of information or measures over successive periods of reporting. In reporting SEA performance information consistency means measuring and reporting the same SEA performance measures in the same way from period to period. (Discussed in Concepts Statement 2 as amended by Concepts Statement 5)

Cost-outcome
The relationship between efforts (or inputs) to outcomes. Measured by indicators of the resources used or cost per unit of outcome.

Cost-output
The relationship between efforts (or inputs) to outputs. Measured by indicators of the resources used or cost per unit of output.

Cost of services
The cost, usually on an accrual basis, of providing a specific service. May or may not include indirect cost.

Department
A separate part, division, or branch of an organization, government, business, or school.

Disaggregation
Separated into component parts of a performance measure; breakouts of information-often demographic, geographic, or by the components of an entity.

Economy
The level or amount of resources applied to a service, especially an assessment of whether the amount applied was appropriate to produce the services considered necessary to achieve an objective.

Effectiveness
Producing a desired result. Effectiveness measures the degree to which predetermined goals and objectives for a particular activity or program are achieved. It may include both intended and unintended results of a program as part of the measurement of effectiveness.

Efficiency
The relationship between efforts (or inputs) to outputs or outcomes. Measured by indicators of the resources used or cost per unit of output or outcome.

Effort
The amount of financial and nonfinancial resources (in terms of money, material, and so forth) that are applied to producing a product or providing a service (output). Effort is also referred to as inputs.

Evaluation
A careful examination, analysis, or appraisal of the reasons or causes of results.

Expenditures
An outflow of current financial resources for current operations, capital outlays, or long-term debt principal retirement and interest.

Expenses
A measure of costs incurred (accrual basis), usually measured for a specific period such as a year.

Factors that influence results
Includes a variety of information about the environment and other internal and external factors that might influence an SEA performance. They can be either factors substantially outside the control of the entity, such as environmental and demographic characteristics, or factors over which the entity has some control, such as staffing levels.

Final outcome
An end objective. The end result that is desired or anticipated.

Goal
The condition or state that one is striving to achieve. Usually long-term and may be beyond what might reasonably be expected to be achieved.

Initial outcome
The result of a product or service that occurs immediately or very soon after the product is delivered or the service is provided. For example, the initial outcome of a program to inform residents about the value of recycling might be the level of awareness the residents have after attending the program. (The long-term objective would be to increase recycling.)

Input
See Effort.

Intermediate outcome
A measure of results that indicates progress toward desired end results but is not itself a final outcome.

Key measure
A measure of the essential results or objectives of an organization, program, or service.   A key measure provides information about the level of achievement of the major goals and objectives of the programs and services included in an SEA report .  

Link
Serving to connect or tie; to show the relationship between.

Long-term outcome
See Final outcome.
See performance management

Mission
The charge, assignment, or purpose given to an organization or part of that organization.

Multiple levels of reporting
A hierarchical structure for a report that proceeds through levels (layers) from overview to detail with clearly identified links between the levels.

Needs assessment (external and internal)
Analysis of the external conditions that a program or service is (or is considering) trying to address and the external and internal factors that might affect its performance.

Objective
A statement of the condition or state one expects to achieve. An objective is realistic, measurable, and generally within the control of the organization, and time constrained.

Outcome
The basic unit of measurement of progress toward achieving desired results. An outcome may be initial, intermediate, or long-term.

Output
A measure of the quantity of a service or product provided (may include a quality component).

Perception
Citizens’ and customers’ feelings about conditions in the community or the operation and results of services or programs.

Performance management
A system of management used to focus decisions and activities on the clear and measurable results—as well as the costs, outputs, and outcomes—of governmental activities and actions. Its purpose is to aid the government in maximizing the efficiency, quality, and effectiveness of services and programs.   Ideally, performance management is a systematic approach to managing a government that is fact-based, results-oriented, open, and accountable.

Performance measure or indicator
A quantifiable indicator of progress, achievement, and efficiency that includes: outcome, output, input, cost-output, cost-outcome, and factors that influence results.

Performance report
An internal or external report conveying information about the results of an organization’s services and programs.

Policy
An adopted principle, plan, or course of action, as pursued by a government, organization, or individual.

Procedure
A particular course of action or way of doing something. The act, method, or manner of proceeding in some process or course of action; especially, the sequence of steps to be followed.

Process
See Activity.

Productivity
The ratio of the quantity and quality of units produced or service provided to the resources applied. The relative efficiency of activity-that is, the amount of products or services produced compared to the amount of resources used to produce them.

Program
Groupings of activities that provide certain products or services with a common purpose. A set of activities undertaken to realize one common purpose with an identifiable end result or outcome.

Quality
A measure of conformance of a product or service to certain specifications or standards.

Quality of life measures
Generally, community or national indicators that provide a basis for developing a comprehensive picture of overall well-being. The variables included in definitions of quality of life are diverse, complex, and wide ranging. The indicators include traditional economic measures of employment, income distribution, public safety, education, and housing, along with assessments of environmental factors, infrastructure, health, and education.

Relevant
Having a significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand, to be capable of making a difference in an assessment of a problem, condition, or event. In reporting, to have a close logical relationship between the information provided and the purpose for which it is intended to be used. (Discussed in Concepts Statement 2 as amended by Concepts Statement 5)

Reliable
To be able to be depended on, or to be trusted, to be accurate. Information that is verifiable and free from bias and faithfully represents what it purports to represent. (Discussed in Concepts Statement 2 as amended by Concepts Statement 5)

Reporting period
The period of time covered by a report or an SEA performance measure, program or service included in a report-for example, quarterly or annually.

Resources (resource costs)
Costs of economic inputs used to perform activities. They include people's salaries as well as the cost of materials, supplies, equipment, technologies, and facilities.

Risk
The probability of a negative occurrence affecting the entity's performance such as the possible reduction in the well-being of citizens because of the failure of a program or service.

Risk assessment
The process of measuring and analyzing the risk associated with achieving or not achieving desired results.

Scope
The programs or services covered by a report, or the extent of a report’s coverage of an organization.

SEA performance measure
A quantifiable expression of the amount, cost, or result of activities that indicate how well and at what level services are provided.   SEA performance measures include measures of inputs, outputs, outcomes, cost-output, cost–outcomes, unintended consequences of programs and services, and factors that influence results

SEA report
A general purpose external report, separate from a comprehensive financial report or other general purpose external financial report, which communicates the results of programs or services to elected officials, legislative staff, citizens or citizen groups, taxpayer associations, media representatives, municipal analysts, and other interested parties.

Service efforts and accomplishments (SEA)
Measures of the resources used, the effect of their use, and the efficiency with which they are used. These measures include measures of service efforts (the amount of financial and non-financial resources used), measures of service accomplishments (outputs and outcomes), and measures that relate efforts to accomplishments (cost-output and cost-outcome). SEA measures may also include unintended consequences of programs and services and factors that influence results.

Strategic plan
A plan or blueprint that clearly and concisely states the mission, goals, and objectives of an organization, along with what the organization plans to do to strive to meet those goals and objectives.

Strategies
Based on goals and objectives, a strategy is the means for transforming inputs into outputs, and ultimately outcomes, with the best use of resources. A strategy reflects the planned use of budgetary and other resources.

Target
What is stated as its intended level of results for a program or service.

Timely
Soon enough after the end of the reporting period to be useful for affecting decisions or assessments of accountability. (Discussed in Concepts Statement 2 as amended by Concepts Statement 5)

Trend
A measure of the direction or tendency of performance over time.

Understandability
Clear and concise enough for users to perceive and comprehend. (Discussed in Concepts Statement 2 as amended by Concepts Statement 5)

Unintended consequences
Significant indirect consequences, positive or negative, that occur as a result of providing a service. Normally, results that are not directly associated with stated objectives and therefore are not anticipated.

Verifiable
Capable of verification; can be proved to be true or accurate. Capable of being tested (verified or falsified) by experiment or observation

Verification
Establishment or confirmation of the truth or accuracy of information, or the process of checking the truth or accuracy of information.


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