Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Local Government Performance Benchmarks

The link between citizen-driven community indicators projects and government-driven performance benchmarks is often understated or overlooked. Community indicators projects generally rely on local government for at least some of the data sets that they report, and benchmarking data are often included in that mix. For example, both the internal benchmarking processes of the local police department and our community's indicator report use the same data on police response times. The government agency and the community both want the same thing -- improved performance -- and using the same data helps deliver a shared message of when improvements have been made (or are needed).

The work on how to better tie together citizen-driven community indicators and government benchmarks is progressing rapidly. Results That Matter is both the name of a book and a website that outlines how effective community governance ties together the notions of community problem solving, citizens reaching for results, and organizations managing for results, into communities governing for results. I highly recommend the book, and the website provides a clear overview of the message it contains.

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Service Efforts and Accomplishments (SEA) Program provides a guide (Government Service Efforts and Accomplishments Performance Reports: A Guide to Understanding) and a report (Special Report: Reporting Performance Information: Suggested Criteria for Effective Communication) that help governments understand how to report out information in ways that are useful for the communities they serve.

Last month I told you about a national effort to connect local and statewide efforts into a network for public performance measurement. A similar effort is happening in the Southeastern United States, led by the Community Research Council of Chattanooga, Tennessee. If you're interested, drop them a line to see how you might get involved.


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