Performance reporting has good practice

Key performance indicators of agencies are generally well managed and reported, but with room for improvement, according to the Western Australian Auditor General.

The audit has covered the current government framework of 155 agencies with different roles and purposes, with personnel capacity of up to 20000 staff to those with only one employee.

Acting Auditor General, Glen Clarke said the latest audit looked at the key performance indicators (KPI) of 10 agencies, assessing them against six defined attributes of better practice.

“We found the best performing agencies had gone beyond simple compliance into mature performance reporting,” Mr Clarke said.

According to Mr Clarke, the agencies had set appropriate indicators, developed good processes that delivered KPI data when it was needed, KPI information in their annual reports was clear and easily understood and used KPIs to guide and inform management decisions.

“This level of better practice tended to occur where an agency’s core business could easily be linked to concrete outcomes,” Mr Clarke said.

However, agencies struggled in areas including making their KPI reporting easily understood for non-specialist readers, setting well-based targets for measuring performance and ensuring KPIs covered all key areas of agency activity.

Mr Clarke said some of these challenges are partly a result of applying the same reporting framework to agencies that “vary considerably in role, size and capacity”.

Agencies now routinely think about their performance and how to report it because of the annual KPI audit requirement, Mr Clarke said.

This makes it easier for Parliament, the public and government to assess if agencies are achieving their desired outcomes, he said.

He said providing good performance information is an essential part of the accountability and transparency that is expected from Parliament and the community.

“Importantly, constraints in the current framework need to be addressed to help ensure that the reporting of KPIs continues to deliver benefits in public sector performance and accountability,” Mr Clarke said.

It has been a requirement for Western Australian agencies to include KPIs in their annual reports for nearly two decades.

To view the Auditor General’s report, visit the Office of the Auditor General’s website.

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