Analysis Of British Government Performance Measurement Enlightenment China Accounting Essay

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Performance measurement of government is one of new subjects of modern public administration research. It is the effective tool to enhance the government management and improve the government performance, and is the key measures of the modern administrative system. The British government as a chosen study objective of government performance measurement is not only because of its major effects or practice measurement, but also because its features of long duration most completed and comprehensive conduction of performance measurement. To analyze the practices and development features of UK government performance measurement is helpful to establish and to perfect effective government performance measurement for China.

In order to explore the question of "more measurement, better measurement, less measurement, no measurement: which is the way forward for China", this paper is going to analyze and summarize experiences of British government's performance measurements which is placed after the introduction and government performance measurement overview. Then the development and issues of China's government performance measurement will be introduced. The enlightenment to China will be discussed right before the brief conclusion.

PART 1 Introduction

Since the 70's of 20 century, as been experiencing the external challenges like rapidly development of science and technology and economic globalization, and the internal problems like financial deficit, low efficiency of traditional management system and decreasing public responses to government, Western countries have made some significant innovations for government internal operation model and management system. In the innovation process, many governments brought effective methods of business administration into government practices, specially, performance management and measurement have been gradually became the most popular management tool for government innovation. Government performance measurement is using scientific methods, standards and produces to make accurate measures for performance, achievements and actual works of government departments. It has the functions of review and appraise current situation of government management performance, beneficial for improve governments' situation of low administrative efficiency with high sources wasting and then to enhance government performance. Performance measurement emphasis on the relation between government administrative efficiency and effectiveness, which is conduce to raise return on investment during the process of cost control. The results of performance measurement can be used for diagnosing the problems of government. As the government measurements are normally containing the factors of customer orientation and public participation, it can increase communications between government and public and then to improve quality of public service. As a consequence, while government performance measurement has been practiced in many countries' public management, a lot of scholars such as Martin Cave, Maurice Kogan and Robert Smith (1990) believe that "the developments described reflect major shifts in the assumptions and practice of government. The trend at large, in the UK and in other Western European countries, has been christened the Rise of the Evaluative State".

With the continuous improvement of China's reform and open policy, the government administrative reform has been also improved. Particularly after China entered WTO, the demands to the construability, transparency, service responsiveness of government behavior are more and more higher, so performance measurement are paid more attention than ever. Compare with western countries, either the theoretical studies or actual practices of government performance measurement, China is staying at the starting point. In the past few years, although local governments in China in the practice of performance measurement has been achieved certain results, such as goal-representation of government, administrative efficacy, and social service commitment, but on the whole, there are some problems like non-standardization of the measurement content and procedures, low reliability of the measurement results and the poor usage of the results.

The British government as a chosen study objective of government performance measurement is not only because of its major effects or practice measurement, but also because its features of long duration most completed and comprehensive conduction of performance measurement. UK implemented government performance measurement later than the USA, but has achieved the most obviously good results. As been concerned by Zhou Zhi-Ren (1999), British major measures have been emulated by many governments, The Citizen's Charter for example. To analyse the practices and development features of UK government performance measurement is helpful to establish and to perfect effective government performance measurement for China.

In order to explore the question of "more measurement, better measurement, less measurement, no measurement: which is the way forward for China", this paper is going to analyze and summarize experiences of British government's performance measurements which is placed after the introduction and government performance measurement overview. Then the development and issues of China's government performance measurement will be introduced. The enlightenment to China will be discussed right before the brief conclusion.

PART 2 Reviews of Government Performance Measurement

Performance was first used in the field of business administration. Due to the expanding scale of organization, and increasing complication of structure, the former method of mechanical efficiency is not able to produce complete outcomes and achievements of enterprises, and then the more comprehensive concept of performance instead of the relativistic narrow concept of efficiency. Government performance is reflected by using performance to measure the effective of government behavior. (John C. Pierce, Nicholas P. Lovrich Jr. And C. David Moon, 2002)

Government performance is also known as public productivity, national productivity, public organization performance, government action and so on, which is one of the most important theories in recent 30 years in western government administration development. (CPAS: Depends on the statement of National Audit Office (NAO, of UK, performance is included economy, efficiency and effectiveness three aspects which is known as the "Three E's". The NAO has defined the "Three E's" as follow:

Economy: minimizing the cost of resources used for an activity, while having regard to appropriate quality.

Efficiency: the relationship between outputs, in terms of goods, services or other results, and the resources used to produce them. An efficient activity maximizes output for a given input, or minimizes input for a given output and, in so doing, pays due regard to appropriate quality.

Effectiveness: the extent to which objectives have been achieved, and the relationship between the intended impacts and actual impacts of an activity.

According to Gloria Grizzle (1982), the term of government performance contains the concepts of efficiency (cost related to direct output), cost-effectiveness (cost related to benefit or impact), service delivery quality, service delivery equity, governmental fiscal stability, and conformance with governmental policies. Concerned by Zang Nai-Kang (2001), government performance is more than the principle of governmental achievement, it also including the concepts of government cost, government efficiency, government stability, social development, and development prediction. Seen from the framework, government performance mainly includes economic performance, social performance, and political performance.

Generally, government performance is about the inputs, outputs and outcomes of government social economic management activities, which can reflect government management capabilities in the process of function exercising and purpose realization. Measurement is the recognition process to the capabilities.

Measurement contains the meaning like appraise, estimate, audit, exam and evaluate. Cai Li-Hui (2005) has defined government performance measurement is on the basis of judges of management efficiency, competence, service quality, social responsibility and social public contentment, and some other aspects to measure and grade inputs, outputs, outcomes and results of performance in the process of government management.

According to the CPAS, government performance measurement is concluded as to make as accurate as possible measures to government achievements, accomplishments and actual works by using scientific method, standard and produce, which is aim to improve and enhance government performance. There are two features of government performance measurement. One is the content of government performance measurement is comprehensive and multidimensional category. Besides the traditional "Three E's", customer satisfaction, social effect, quality, fairness and some other factors should be included. The other one is that government performance measurement is a circular and dynamic process. As the Government Performance Results Act of 1993 mentioned, government performance measurement includes performance plan, performance indicator, performance goal, program activity, program evaluation and performance reports. (

PART THREE: The Practice of UK Government Performance Measurement

3.1 UK's government performance measurement system

Government performance measurement is a complicated and circular process, and it is constituted by measure subject and object, performance measurement indicator, measure procedure and some other related sections. British government performance measurement is an important component part of administrative reform, after more than 20 years practicing, it has been developing into a comprehensive and completed system. This system is mainly unfolded by the method of government auditing. Since the administrative reform on 1980s, government auditing has transformed the key emphasis in work to performance auditing, which is called Value For Money Audit in UK. Performance auditing is to measure the use of public capital, provided service quality of public services and results to central and local government. Thus, government performance measurement can be named government performance auditing in UK.

British Professional measurement institution

The subject of government performance measurement in UK is auditing institutions, and their major responsibilities are conducting measures and make performance measurement systems for local government and related departments. There are two major official auditing institutions in UK: the National Audit Office and Audit Commission. Although they are both official auditing institutions, but not belongs to government department, and both complete independent from government.

National Audit Office (NAO)

"The 1983 National Audit Act established The Public Accounts Commission (TPAC) to oversee the work of the NAO", stated by NAO, "the NAO works on behalf of Parliament and the taxpayer to hold government to account for the use of public money and to help public services improve performance". The NAO is responsible for auditing the financial statements of "all central government departments, executive agencies, and a wide range of other public sector bodies". (

The NAO is leaded by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) who is with no political affiliation and is appointed by Parliament. The NAO is responsible for the Parliament to audit of government public expenses, and the Comptroller and Auditor General is required to report to the Parliament on annual base. The performance auditing of NAO is mainly to review and measure the performance results, but not to make suggestions to improve government performance. (John Bourn, 2002)

Audit Commission

According to the statement of Audit Commission itself, it is an "independent watchdog, driving economy, efficiency and effectiveness in local public services to deliver better outcomes for everyone". In other words, the Audit Commission is responsible for local public services related auditing, including local government's education, health, transportation and environment protection, and other public service departments which are allocated funds by local authorities. (

Public Accounts Commission (PAC)

As been introduced by Parliament that the role of the Public Accounts Commission is defined by the National Audit Act 1983. Its principal responsibilities under the Act are to measure and evaluate the NAO Estimates, to view reports from the appointed auditor of the NAO, and to report from time to time. The C&AG keeps providing advices to the Commission on the resources issues. However, "since by statute the C&AG has complete discretion in the discharge of his functions, the Commission does not involve itself in the day to day running or administration of the NAO". (Public Accounts Commission,

Local Auditing Institutions

The local auditing institution of UK includes Audit Scotland, Wales Audit Office, and Northern Ireland Audit Office. They are all responsible for their local government departments' auditing. (Audit Scotland:, Northern Ireland Audit Office:

British government performance measurement procedure

According to the NAO, The British government performance measurement procedure has three stages: preparation, implementation and audit trail. In the stage of preparation, it is going to define appropriate audit plan through investigation and analysis. It is important to collect data before define the audit plan, and these data are collected from the annual report, operational planning, related policies and some other aspects of the be audited organization. When define audit objectives, it is required to conduct strict project risk management system, and the auditing work should be implemented strictly according to the confirmed contract by audit team. When draft up project suggestions, audit team will generalize the questions which are need to answer. Lastly, auditor general or Public Accounts Committee will determine whether to implement the audit plan. ( )

The stage of implementation refers to three steps: preliminary audit, comprehensive audit and auditing report. Preliminary audit is to ensure the issues need to solve in comprehensive audit, the method, plan, budget and time arrangement for comprehensive audit implementation. The comprehensive audit is to formulate rational performance auditing conclusion based on sufficient, related and credible audit evidences. Performance auditing report requires to be brief but clear, and should not be more than 40 pages including appendix. Unless involving some confidential details, all the report must be published on the website of NAO.

The aim of the stage of audit trail is to ensure the be audited organization is following the audit suggestions in the auditing report which are provided by PAC and C&AG, and to ensure the progress of implementation and quality of rectification. To measure the results at this stage, it is normally adopted four methods:

News and media report

External supervision

Point of view of the be audited organization

Review of the audit team

The standards of British government performance measurement

Depends on the statement of British National Audit Office, performance is included economy, efficiency and effectiveness three aspects which is known as the "Three E's". Economy measurement is the key step in the early stage of administrative reforming which is aim to release the financial pressure of British government and to promote cost awareness, expense saving and cost reducing. Indicators include cost and investment ratio, administration expense and operating expense ratio, expense per person measurement, improvement possibility measurement, and source waste measurement. Efficiency refers to input and output rate. Low input with high output means high efficiency; high input with low output means low efficiency. In order to achieve high efficiency, measure must pay attention to the quantitative factor and holistic (not individual) factor. It is Effectiveness concern to the relation of output and effect. In British practicing experiences, it is mainly about the measure of output quality, customer gratification degree, results of target realization and so on.

The local government performance measurement indicator system

Best Value Performance Indicators (BVPIs) and Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) constitutes current local government performance measurement indicator system. BVPIs is implemented since 2000, and is the fundamental indicator system. In 2002, in order to make up for the disadvantages of BVPIs, NAO designed CPA framework (showed in Figure 1) which is focus on single-tier councils and county councils, district councils and fire and rescue authorities.

3.2 Features of UK's government performance measurement system

1. The development of British government performance measurement is continuous, extensive and comprehensive. These features are specifically shown as the measurement has been advancing over the administrative reform; the objects of the measurement are covered by the central and the local levels of governments, and from health care to environmental protection and nearly all the service areas. (Liu Xu-Tao, 2005)


(Source: Briefing on the Audit Commission's Comprehensive Performance Assessment frameworks, Audit Commission, Local government briefing, 2006)

2. The attention of political leaders and promote

British people in the nation to carry out large-scale performance assessment movement is inseparable from 'the Iron Lady' Ms. Margaret Thatcher's power to govern. Ms. Margaret Thatcher esteemed the management techniques and methods on the private sectors that gave the promotion of the performance evaluation powerful political support. (Liu Xu-Tao, 2005)

Subsequent successor leaders insisted Thatcherism's new thinking in public administration. During their tenure of office, they introduced corresponding measures to improve the performance of the government, set up performance evaluation agencies, designed performance evaluation system to ensure the continuation and develipment of the government performance measurement and development. The government leaders employ the managers from the private sector to participate in the administrative reform, and these managers' pragmatic style of work also play a very important role in the promotion of the performance measurement, such as Reina, Gibbs use entrepreneurs' pragmatic style to implement the specific management of performance evaluation, and use effective techniques to assess the implement in real earnest. (Sang Zhu-Lai, 2009)

3. There are continuous change and development in the content of government performance measurement. It is a relatively enduring change and development which are including the changing point of emphasis and development of main body in measurement.

In the early stage of administrative reform of UK, Government Performance Measurement was focused on the economically and efficiency of management activities. During the development of administrative reform in 1990's, the emphasis of reform became quality and satisfaction of customers. In the early stage of British government performance measurement, the measure subject was department, superior department, efficiency unit audit committees. Because the point of emphasis of measurement changed from measurement of government as the center to measurement of service target group as the center, the main body also changed to general public.

4. In form of measurement, it reflects the continuous completing and development process from spontaneous to institutionalization and standardization.

The measurement method adopted in the early stage of British government performance measurement was the spontaneous measure, which means to be measured organization was performing the measures combined internal initiative and voluntary with external coordination and supervision. Since 1980s, government required all the departments must join in the performance measurement mechanism which is supervised and urged by the ministry of finance, and established laws and guidance documents which are relevant to performance measurement procedure and technical approach. (Sang Zhu-Lai, 2009)

5. Pay attention to the diversity of measure indicator design which is embodied on the science of measure

The indicators design of BVPIs is mainly hard indicators, such as local government's tax increasing rate. However, the hard indicators are the only reflected the current performance situation of a certain local government or public service organization, but lack of reflections on the aspects of government or public service organization's real working competency, service quality and internal and external public image. Therefore, in 2002, British government has been adopting the CPA which involves soft indicators like strategic vision and innovation ability. The design of indicators also reflects the feature of openness as the audit committees keep adjustment on indicators of BVPIs and CPA. In addition, the audit committees provides a totally opened platform that anyone or any organization can express any opinion at any time. (Liu Xu-Tao, 2005)

6. Results are brought into the public, and paid attention to utilizing

The publication and utilizing of the measure results is the key guarantee for exerting function of government performance measurement. Related website such as NAO will publish period performance measurement results of public service departments on time for public inquiring. In addition, every department can check their performance situation through the performance scorecard and to compare with other organization at any time. On the utilizing of measure results, central government gives right to manage their own affairs depends on the results, the better results of an organization will have more power to manage by themselves. (Sang Zhu-Lai, 2009)

PART FOUR: The Government Performance Measurement in China

With the realization of China entered WTO and the development of economic globalization, Chinese government is experiencing more complicated external environment, objectively it is required Chinese administration system to speed up to connect with international conventions, and this has been being the main topic of China. To learn advance management concepts, technologies, and success practice experiences from abroad, and combine with Chinese actual situation to explore an appropriate way for China government performance measurement is going to be the development tendency.

4.1 The current situation in China

Government performance measurements is introduced and promoted later than countries in comparison, but have achieved rapidly development and some good results.

Firstly, Chinese government combined China's national conditions with practices to explore a China government performance measurement style while attaching great importance to learn the advanced experiences. The current implemented government performance measurement style is the result of use the experiences of other countries for reference since the reform and openness of China, and it is an important part of the sustained administrative reform. As an imported approach, Tang Xing-Sen (2009) has mentioned that China can use the theories, experiences, and business administration related achievements of government performance measurement from other countries for reference, but definitely cannot simply copy from them.

Secondly, for the development stages, the practice of China's government performance measurement can be divided into three stages: from middle of 1980s to the early 1990s, it is represented by the responsibility system and efficacy supervision; from the early 1990s to the end of 1990s, it is represented by social service commitment system and performance measurement of public organization, responsibility system, and citizen oriented performance measurement system; since the late 1990s till now, it is represented by the government performance measurement guiding by scientific views on development. The development process of China's government performance measurement demonstrates that China has experienced organizational-measure consciousness, self-measure consciousness, and governmental-measure consciousness. (Tang Xing-Sen, 2009)

Lastly, government performance measurement is the logic choice during the process of improve government efficacy. The practices of local governments of China are generally based on the point of solving practical problems. In the process of implement government performance measurement in China, it has formulated six models which are featured as local color in China's local government performance measurement (Sang Zhu-Lai, 2009):

Government performance measurement with responsibility system;

Government performance measurement with economic and social development indicators;

Government performance measurement based on the supervision of key tasks;

Government performance measurement which is setting to enhance government efficacy construction as the goal;

Government performance measurement with public comments;

The third-party measurement of government performance.

As an emerging government management tool, it has been proved that government performance measurement is playing an important role in enhancing government performance, changing government working style and transforming government functions in China.

4.2 The insufficient factors in China

Government performance management always involves four questions: why measure, who is going to measure, what be measured, and how to measure? These are the basic questions that must be solved seriously, and have been puzzling Chinese government performance measurement practitioners and theorists, and these questions are also easily cause problems while Chinas government measuring performance.

Why measure?

The first question of performance measurement is why. This question is going to identify the reasons to measure and aim to measure. Government has many reasons to conduct performance measurement, it is demanded by government's annual budget, local governments' Five-Year forward planning, contribution based income distribution, employee promotion and career life planning, and project management. (Meng Hua, 2006) China government performance management has the issue of "the aim to measure is for the aim of measure". As Meng Hua considered, performance measurement is not treated as the positive step to strengthen level of management but as the negative precaution. Only if problems in some aspects have strong social suspicions or being serious, then to adopt measures such as major inspection and special investigation for change, therefore measures in China's government performance always stuck in reverse. (Yang Hong-Ming, 2002) The reason is that Chinese local governments are blindness in practice as they are inexplicit understand why to measure.

Who is going to measure?

Who is going to measure is mainly about which subjects is participated in measure. Problems in this part is mainly presented by unguaranteed objective and impartial measurement results as the measures are mainly implemented by the measure objectives themselves, which means in China the local governments are the main subjects of measure participator. Therefore, the measure results are lack of reliable. (Sang Zhu-Lai, 2009)

What to measure?

This question is about what contents that government should be measured, measuring target, in other words. The measuring target of government performance measurement is the government performance. Different definitions of government have different definitions of government functions; therefore the key points of performance measurement will be different. In China, government is generally defined as the executive authorities which are directly have connections with publics, thus the measure is aimed at the performances of these executive authorities. In order to define government performance, it is necessary to clear the definition of government function as its level of clear is directly determine the definition of government performance. However, due to China's government performance measurement is lack of proper dynamic adjustment between contents of performance measurement and actual government functions, the contents of performance measurement is obviously cannot reflect the real local government's performance level. (Zhuo Yue, 2006)

How to measure?

How to measure refers to use what method to process effective measures for government performance. Currently, China's government performance measurement is mainly relying on top-down promotion method, and social participant is limited. For a long time, government ignored social development indicators and treated GDP indicator as the only measure standard. Even this situation has been improved by scientific direction; GDP is still remaining its important position in all levels of government performance measurement. What is more, government has not paid attention to the differences between enterprise and government, and simply copied the design and implementation activities of performance measurement system from business organizations; therefore, another problem of government performance measurement is that economic indicator becomes the primary indicator. (Yang Hong-Ming, 2002)

PART FIVE: The Enlightenment to China (Recommendations)

British government has been practising government performance measurement more than 30 years, and has achieved many experiences. However, China is at the starting point of using government performance measurement. To study the successes and experiences of UK is valuable for Chinese government's implementation. Depends on the study of British government performance measurement, here are some recommendations for China's government to conduct measurements.

5.1 To enhance construction of legalization and standardization

Legalization and standardization is the prerequisite and basis to conduct government performance management, and is also the important tendency to develop government performance measurement. At present, China has issued some laws and regulations that involve government performance measurement, such as Audit Law, Appraising Rules on the Performance of State-owned Capital and so on. However, these laws and regulations are not comprehensive, and still lack of detailed and specific prescripts on all links and aspects of measurement, and problems and issues also exist in these laws and regulations. In order to promote further development of government performance measurement, to legislate laws, regulations and related policies to guide national government performance measurement is an inevitable demand.

5.2 To establish performance complaint mechanism

Performance complaint mechanism is used for improve government performance by the method of restraint. The complaint mechanism of UK and other countries is used for protect legal rights of citizen, fictitious person and organization, and to solve unreasonable administrative behavior in the performance measurement activities which refers to delay, impertinence and nonfeasance, or the unfair, improper, and biased procedures that cannot reflect result oriented and customer oriented concepts in the process of performance measurement. Due to China's government performance measurement activities have limitations on standardization and not scientific enough in the aspects of measure produce and measure indicator, many measures are mainly rely on the evaluator's experiences and value judgements, therefore the factor of subjective prejudice and knowledge effects are impossible to avoided, and measure deviations are produced. This kind of internal conflicts in measurement caused many unstable factors, thus in process of developing government performance measurement it is necessary to consider the complaint rights of the measured objects. Enable related investigation of measure to evaluate problems in measure can promote the virtuous cycle of both sides of measure and be measured parties. It is should established relatively independent complaint organization to remove possible internal interferences especially the subjective interferences from upper level, so that the fairness of complaint investigation can be ensured in this way. What is more, government should pay attention to the employees' training and select professional people with good moral being.

5.3 To perfect the government performance measurement system

Build up diversity measure subjects

Diversification of measure subject is the experience from many countries' practicing of government performance measure, which is benefit to eliminate and surmount one-sidedness and limitations of single measure subject. It is an important method to decrease measure deviations and strengthen results' effectiveness and reliability of government performance measurement. In China, government performance measurement is mainly measured by the higher positions or self-evaluation, sometimes measured by colleagues or same level organizations. With the development of performance measurement, some places have been adopting public measure and expert measure methods. However, the setting, duty, and participant of divers subjects in measure institution still have many shortages, and the situation of sing measure subject is happened usually. Therefore, government performance measurement can adopt the 360-degree method, and build up divers measure mechanism gradually.

Build up independent performance measure organization

This organization should be relatively independent in political, and does not belongs to any department, but can be managed by Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. Recall to the British government performance measurement, the reason of the apparent accomplishment is UK has established independent and special organization to leading the measurements. The main duties of measurement organization are:

To make measurement action plan: ensure measure contents, measure standards and system, and to define the requirements of measurement;

To make measurement plan: ensure measure period and time, select appraisers;

To guide measurement works: after the measure plan be issued to the target departments or organizations, measurement organization is responsible to collect, response, and supervise and guide the measure process on time.

Encourage public to participate in the measurement process

The character and nature of government determined the necessary of public participation. Public are the direct beneficiaries, by participate of public, governments can review and exam whether their supplied services or service types are satisfying desire of public or not. However, the traditional concepts and technology factors restrict public participation in China, so it is recommended government to:

Enhance the education of public supervision and participation by teaching in school or social cooperation with media;

Establish legal supporting for public participation;

Positively promote public participation practicing to make public attach importance to participate in government performance measurements;

Build up openness policies to ensure public have opportunities to understand the actual working process of government which is aim to ensure participated public can make proper measures;

Continue to explore channels of communication with public so that to engage the divers participation form.

PART SIX: Conclusion

Performance measurement is one of the most popularest topic in the fields of public management and government innovation. As being an utilitarian management principle and method, performance measurement is playing an important role in improving government performance, enhancing goal-representation, controllability, administrative efficacy and social service commitment of government behavior. It is an effective tool to implement government reform, innovate, improve and evaluate government management in western countries. UK is one of the pioneer countries that start to use government performance in Western, and have gained wider experiences and formulated mature theories and methods. With the continuously exploring in practice, UK has achieved development and improvement on government performance measurement. By analyzing British government performance measurement, it has defined deficiencies in China and produced some suggestions which may suitable for the development of Chinese government performance measurement. It has answered the question of which is the way forward for Chinese government measurement, which means to the measures depends on the actual situation of China and keep making adjustments while changings happen.

PART SEVEN: References and Bibliography

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