Connecting Performance Management to Program Evaluation

Originally posted on aea365.org

By Nichole M. Stewart and Laura Pryor

Distinguishing between PM and PE has historically presented challenges for program directors and the public agencies and non-profit organizations that fund them. Programs have to grapple with day-to-day operations as well as adapting to evolving frameworks for understanding “what works”—from results-based accountability to continuous quality improvement to evidence-based everything. Evaluators are frequently called upon to engage simultaneously in both PM and PE, however the distinctions between the tasks are not always clearly understood or articulated in practice.

Fortunately, several authors have explored the relationship between PM and PE and outlined how PM and PE can complement one another with regard to data collection and analysis:

  • Information complementarity– Use the same data to answer different questions based on different analyses (Kusek and Rist, 2004).
  • Methodical complementarity– Use similar processes and tools to collect and analyze data and ultimately convert data into actionable information (Nielsen and Ejler, 2008).

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Our session at the 2013 American Evaluation Association conference, Performance Management to Program Evaluation: Creating a Complimentary Connection, used a case study of a Los Angeles-based juvenile offender reentry program to demonstrate how “information and knowledge production” can be coordinated for performance management (PM) and program evaluation (PE).

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The demonstration illustrates the step-by-step process of: 1) using data to assess needs and develop the program, 2) creating a logic model and outcome measures that correspond to a data collection and reporting process, 3) designing an appropriate data collection and management system for performance management, and  4) providing examples of how the data can be used for both implementation and other quasi-experimental methods.


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