Nuts & Bolts: Performance Management Can Improve Local Services in Developing Countries

Latest Issue: 
  • Number 29, Volume 5

Kubat Sydykov / World Bank

In this issue...
  • The Service Improvement Action Plan (SIAP) is a performance management tool created to help local governments improve their services.
  • SIAP provides basic management steps that focus on outcomes, such as local roads in good condition, clean cities, or access to drinking water.
  • This tool has been effectively implemented in countries with varying income levels-- and has seen rapid and visible results.

Local governments are well positioned to reap the benefits of performance management. Their decisions about services,informed by performance data, can yield rapid results that are easy to see. However, only a small fraction of the local governments who measure performance actually use the data for resource allocation or services management.

Leadership in cities that have been successful in introducing performance measurement continue to speak of “the difficulties of persuading managers to use performance data in their management strategies” (Sanger 2008).

Given the prevalence of this disparity between measurement and the use of resulting data, it is worth considering the Service Improvement Action Plan (SIAP), which has been effective in helping a substantial number of local governments with limited resources implement performance management to achieve measurable improvements in service outcomes.

" The local governments in Albania—and indeed in most other countries where the SIAP was introduced—did not have any earlier experience with performance management...but the approach led to some surprisingly rapid and visible results. "

The SIAP can be described as a bottom-up approach that allows local government operational staff to be the prime actors in using performance management techniques to do their jobs. The SIAP provides a semi-structured set of basic management steps that explicitly focus on outcomes, such as local roads in good condition, clean cities, or access to drinking water. Local government working groups, typically led by frontline managers, but often including community representatives, carry the SIAP forward, using performance data to allocate resources and inform decision making to improve services.

The key performance indicators measure outcomes that reflect not the process of delivering the service, but the result. SIAP commonly involves the following steps:

1. Select one service as the focus.
2. Establish a working group.
3. Analyze the service, priority needs, and options.
4. Identify the specific outcomes that are to be improved.
5. Identify indicators to measure progress, including both output and outcome indicators.
6. Identify data sources and collect baseline data.
7. Set targets for the selected indicators.
8. Develop an action plan to reach the targets.
9. Carry out actions and monitor the indicators.

Read more about SIAP methodology, replication, and specific applications in the full note, here

A World Bank newsletter that shares knowledge and best practices on public-sector monitoring and evaluation systems.