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Blogs / Performance Management / Jurisdiction-Led Benchmarking

Jurisdiction-Led Benchmarking

Who’s In Charge?  You Are.

As the ICMA Insights program continues to wind down, a number of members have inquired about what comes next.  Is ICMA planning a new software partnership?  Can jurisdictions continue to benchmark?  How will performance management move forward?

To start with, ICMA is not planning to offer any new software.  When the SAS partnership on ICMA Insights ends in May 2017, no single software package will take its place.  That said, however, ICMA remains committed to both the practice of performance management and the facilitation of benchmarking.  Even if each jurisdiction or region decides to work with its own software vendor(s), ICMA will continue to engage all parties in constructive discussion around the comparison of their datasets.

For those comparisons to be valid, however, it’s important for all the parties to use consistent metrics and definitions as they track performance.

ICMA is currently working with the Performance Management Advisory Committee to identify a short list of key performance indicators for nationwide comparison.  The target size of this list would be in the range of 100 measures – not intended to track everything your departments do, but enough to give at least a few benchmarks for each major service.

That’s where you come in.

To help the committee make its selections, we encourage you to offer your suggestions for the top ten measures you would like to benchmark by adding “Comments” to this post or by sending them to  You may be as brief as you’d like (e.g., “response time”), and the committee will hammer out the details.  In many cases, the more specific measures have already been defined, and it’s simply a matter of the committee identifying which ones best capture the range of performance.

While the end result may not be an off-the-shelf full-service analytics system, the consensus list of measures will help guide future benchmarking in a way that ensures comparability even when data collection is decentralized and software-independent.

So what measures make your top ten list?


Gerald Young

According to the preliminary discussions of the Performance Management Advisory Committee, the metrics on which there’s the most interest in benchmarking include:

• Police: Overtime expenditures for sworn staff
• Workers compensation: Number of days lost to injury
• Code enforcement: Average days from inspection to voluntary compliance
• Fire: Percentage of emergency responses within x minutes, dispatch to arrival
• Roads: Pavement rehabilitation expenditures per paved lane mile
• Demographics: Population, unemployment rate, median income, percentage with a bachelor’s degree or higher

A department’s performance typically can’t be boiled down to a single number, so the committee is looking at a range of interrelated metrics to assess the cost effectiveness, timeliness, and quality of the services being provided. For example, in comparing road expenditures, it might also be helpful to know the annual snowfall in the comparison jurisdictions, pavement management inventory scores, or citizen satisfaction.

As jurisdictions review their own performance, such metrics may provide needed context for comparisons to other jurisdictions. If you have other metrics for which you’d find benchmark data particularly valuable, please post them here.

Once the Advisory Committee completes its review, their list of key performance metrics and precise definitions will be posted to the ICMA Knowledge Network. This will enable jurisdictions to compare using consistent criteria and share data online.

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