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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Performance Management

Bureau of Resource Management
February 24, 2012


Pie chart summarizing the performance ratings for FY 2011. Values are: Above target: 41%. On target: 15%. Improved, but target not met: 2%. Below target: 22%. Rating not available: 9%. New indicator, no rating: 11%. Total number of indicators: 148.

Source: FY 2011 Annual Performance Reports and FY 2013 Annual Performance Plans for both agencies. Performance ratings calculated from performance data provided at the time of publication.

Ratings are not available for indicators that are new or for which result data are not yet available.

1 Percentages rounded to the nearest whole number.

The Department of State and USAID work together, along with other U.S. Government partners, to plan and execute programs that meet global challenges of the 21st century. Performance management practices at the Department and USAID enable programs to achieve U.S. foreign policy outcomes and promote greater accountability to the American people. A multiphase process includes setting strategic goals and priorities, creating programs to achieve goals, monitoring program activities, measuring progress, using performance data to inform resource allocations, and communicating program results to stakeholders.

To communicate the progress achieved towards U.S. foreign policy goals in FY 2011, 148 representative performance indicators were published in the Department of State's and USAID's Annual Performance Reports. FY 2011 results for each indicator were reviewed against previously determined performance targets to determine performance ratings, which are summarized in the chart at right. The following section highlights 15 of these illustrative indicators organized by Strategic Goal, accompanied by an explanation of each goal and analyses of the results achieved in FY 2011. For complete information on indicators, see FY 2011 Annual Performance Reports for State and USAID.

Department of State

The Department of State uses performance management to measure organizational effectiveness, strengthen and inform decision-making, and improve programs and policies so that they are linked to specific performance targets and broader strategic goals. Managers at all levels use performance management best practices to assess and mitigate risks, benchmark program results, comply with legislative requirements, and adjust strategies in response to performance successes and shortcomings. A critical element of the performance management approach is the use of performance indicators that track the Department's progress in reaching its annual targets. Many Department bureaus, such as the Department's Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, conduct quarterly performance reviews to track their success in meeting the targets established for each indicator and address any shortfalls that might necessitate a change in direction.

The Department's annual planning cycle is anchored by mission and bureau level strategic plans that engage diplomatic missions and Washington-based bureaus in outcome-oriented planning that drives policies and establishes programmatic direction by country, region, strategic goal, and strategic priority. A data quality assurance process has been instituted throughout the Department of State to ensure the integrity and reliability of the data reported for all performance indicators. Every two years, bureaus are required to complete a questionnaire that assesses the quality of each of their indicators. These Data Quality Assessments are also required for all new indicators. Through use of an internal Data Quality Assessment tool, the bureaus determine the overall quality of the indicators and submit a formal Data Quality Statement affirming the overall accuracy and reliability of the performance information provided.


Diagram showing USAID's Program Cycle - Agency-wide policy and strategies, strategic planning (through Country Development and Cooperation Strategies), project design and implementation, as well as evaluation and monitoring. These components, representing the At USAID, the tools for assessing, learning, and sharing are interrelated through the concept of performance management. USAID missions and offices are responsible for establishing Performance Management Plans and targets to track progress toward intended objectives. They are also responsible for reporting key indicator data in their annual performance reports. These performance reports inform decisions on funding, program development, and implementation.

USAID is undertaking a number of reforms to implement PPD-6 and the QDDR. The Agency is incorporating these reforms into its operations through the core components of USAID's Program Cycle - Agency-wide policy and strategies, strategic planning (through Country Development and Cooperation Strategies), project design and implementation, as well as evaluation and monitoring. These components, representing the "discipline of development," are informed by continuous learning and adapting, influence the annual budget and resource management processes, and focus on achieving results.

The Program Cycle specifically delivers on the Agency's QDDR commitment to "develop processes to define specific strategic priorities, evaluating results in light of those priorities, and incorporating our conclusions into budget, program management, and project design decisions."

A strengthened and integrated Program Cycle will enable more effective interventions and maximize development impacts. It will also allow the Agency to provide analysis and data on what is working, determine strategic opportunities and tradeoffs, evaluate projects, and feed knowledge back into programming and future policy development. The Program Cycle provides a more strategic and evidence-based approach to justify resources and serves as the basis for a more integrated budget cycle, ensuring that resource decisions are built around strategic plans and priorities and performance and evaluation data.

A good performance target is ambitious, measurable, and achievable. USAID follows a multi-step process to determine targets by examining the following: baseline value before U.S. Government intervention, historical trends and level of progress, expert judgment from technical authorities, research findings and empirical evidence, accomplishments of programs with similar characteristics elsewhere, customer expectations, and planned progress from the baseline for what will be accomplished over a five-year period with anticipated funds.

Data are only useful for decision making if they are of high quality and provide the groundwork for informed decisions. USAID missions and offices are required to conduct data quality assessments for all performance data reported to Washington. These assessments verify the quality of the data against the five standards of validity, integrity, precision, reliability, and timeliness.


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