Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 2772 ..
MS HORODNY (continuing):
Performance indicators must be credible and able to be easily evaluated. They should also be informative and act as a tool for monitoring trends towards particular goals. The Greens are concerned that there will be too much emphasis on quantitative outputs. Maybe a way to address this is by providing some avenues for indicators to be responsive, and maybe even open to amendment and comment by users if they do not accurately reflect the nature of the objectives of a particular organisation or service.
Having had a chance to reflect on performance indicators during the budget process, it is also clear that there needs to be more consideration given to how performance indicators provide interrelated information across sectors, or there will not be integration across the whole of government. It is no use having good environmental or social performance indicators if they contradict performance indicators in business, for example.
I look forward to progress in integrating the Commissioner for the Environment's work more into the annual reporting and budget indicators, as well as more community input into setting the goals and standards by which we measure progress in our society. All these things are possible. Many local governments in Australia have made real progress in this area and maybe there are some lessons for the ACT from them. This Government has a long way to go. They have rejected outright the need for environmental indicators to be integrated through the budget, for example, and this is of real concern to the Greens.
MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (11.04), in reply: I thank members for their comments on this Public Accounts Committee report and I also thank the Government for their response. As other speakers have indicated, the issue of performance indicators has been a topic for debate ever since we have had self-government. It has been something that has been worked upon in an attempt to get a better picture through successive public accounts committees and successive debates in this Assembly. I do not believe that this will be the end of the matter. I think we are going to see a continuing effort for performance indicators to be perfected, but I do want to say a couple of things about the current situation.
The first is that the written performance indicators are but one measure of a government's effectiveness in implementing its policies and performing its task of serving the community; but they are a very important measure because they are subject, year by year, to the detailed scrutiny that occurs through the Estimates Committee, through the Public Accounts Committee and so on, so it is important that we get them as useful and as accurate as is possible.
I notice, Mr Speaker, on looking at the Public Accounts Committee's report, that the Government, in effect, has adopted all of the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee, and I commend them for that approach. I do want to say, however, that the Government's new model for looking at performance indicators, the outputs and outcomes model, is one where I think we need to exercise a little bit of caution, particularly in regard to the outputs measurement. It is the case, Mr Speaker, that outputs are usually the things that are fairly easy to measure, such as how many letters were written, how many garbage bins were picked up, and so on. Those things are reasonably easy to measure, and it is reasonably easy to get a standard framework for measuring such outputs.