“An Exceptionally High Performing Operation”

Congratulations to the City of El Paso Environmental Services Department Collections Division for receiving the Exceptional Performance Award at this year’s Texas Public Works Association (TPWA) Annual Conference in Waco.

As a result of the Department’s Strategic Business Plan facilitated by Managing Results, LLC, the Collections Division tracks as one of its measures the service of the container (or garbage bin) upon the first attempt or first visit. This year, the Division exceeded its yearly goal of 98% by achieving a performance rating of 99.6%.

Interim Director of Environmental Services Kurt Fenstermacher said, “In working with Managing Results to create our Strategic Business Plan, we were able to penetrate our programs and really think about those things we are delivering to our customers.  Sometimes those things are taken for granted, but they are of vital importance…and what a story it is to tell.”

According to the TPWA, this level of performance is, “an incredible feat made possible through a concentrated effort of driver skill, proven safety practices and public outreach.”

Click here to read the TPWA Award Spotlight in its entirety and learn how the City of El Paso Environmental Services Department Collections Division is focusing on results for customers, tellings it story and “getting the job done right the first time around.” 


Budget Webinar is Now Online!

We were pleased recently to present a webinar featuring the good folks at the City of Las Vegas and the remarkable work they have done to preserve their priorities while cutting their budget in the face of their economic catastrophe.  The webinar, “Your City, Your Way:  Managing the Budget Crisis in Las Vegas,” featured City Manager Betsy Fretwell sharing the story of the City’s efforts to use performance information, priorities, and public input to navigate their treacherous economic waters.

We’ve placed both the presentation from the webinar, and a recording of the webinar itself, on our website for folks to share.  You can download the powerpoint presentation by clicking here and can access the audio (in an mp3 file) by clicking here.

We’ve also got a case study that profiles some of the outstanding results Las Vegas is delivering for their customers and that talks about the work we’ve done with them on their Managing For Results effort that they call Performance Plus.  You can download that case study by clicking here.

We’re glad to talk with you about what Las Vegas has done and how we can help you achieve the same results.  Want to talk?  Give us a shout at 512-347-7054.


Performance Contracting: Contracting for Results … or Something Less

This is the second of three posts from Marv Weidner, our founder and CEO, on Performance Contracting.  The first post can be accessed by clicking here.

Speaking events are a great way to connect with people and to find out what is really going on among government leaders.  We often ask questions at the beginning of seminars and presentations, mostly to find out about the audience and to get a quick assessment of their progress in Managing for Results.

One of my favorite questions is: Are your contracts performance based?

And a follow-up question for those who indicate their contracts are performance based: Do you contract for outputs, or for results?

Over the years more and more hands have begun to raise in response to the first question – more governments are developing performance based contracts.  The answers to the second question, though, are still nearly always “outputs.”  Rarely is the answer that governments are contracting for “results.”  That means at best most government contracts are contracts for outputs, and few if any are contracting for results to achieve a particular customer experience.

You may have read our statement that:

“If you can think it clearly, you can write it clearly;

If you can write it clearly, then you can measure it;

And if you can measure it, you can get it done”©.

An old friend of mine in Iowa used to also say “you get what you inspect, not what you expect.” So, when contracting for services, what do you measure and what do you inspect, results or something less?

If contracts for service only count or measure how many services (outputs) are delivered or how many people are served, then you may never know what impact you are having on your customers.  Remember in the first post on Performance Contracting, we said that customers are the people who receive your services and experience the intended result.

Results are a measure of the experience your customer have as a consequence of receiving your services – % fires contained to the room of origin, % of permits issued within 10 days, % of children in foster care not experiencing abuse, % of road miles plowed (snow) prior to the school bus schedule for those same miles.

If you want results for your customers, outputs alone will not get you there.

If you want results, contracts will need to include clearly stated and measurable results.

If you want results, you will have to monitor and inspect what you measure.

To contract for results, the organization doing the contracting will need to become very clear about three things:

  • Who is the customer?
  • What result are we trying to achieve for this customer?
  • What service or outputs will deliver that result?

Watch for our third and final post in this series, coming soon: How to Contract for Results.

Read the first post in this series by clicking here.

Check out our recent webinar on Performance Contracting — you can download the presentation by clicking here and listen to the webinar audio by clicking here.

And don’t miss this column – “Performance Contracting: Turning Talk Into Action” – by our friends Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene for the IBM Center for the Business of Government.


A Billion Here, A Billion There: Most States Spending on Transportation Without Essential Tools

Is your State able to understand and communicate to citizens the return on investment from the billions spent on transportation?   States spent an estimated $131 billion in 2010 – can they tell you what they got for it?

Most can’t.  In fact, a new study – “Measuring Transportation Investments:  The Road to Results” – from the Pew Center on the States and the Rockefeller Foundation says that only 13 states employ goals, performance measures and data that decision makers can use to choose cost-effective policy options and ensure the likelihood of a strong return for taxpayers.

Check out this new study, and an online interactive map, by clicking here.


Performance Contracting: Spotlight By Barrett & Greene

We’re very pleased that our friends Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, authors of the excellent “B&G Report” in the Governing magazine e-mail Management Letter, featured some of our customers and “lessons learned” in a recent online column for the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

The column, “Performance Contracting: Turning Talk Into Action,” featured the experience of Franklin County, Ohio, which very effectively used performance contracts in 2001 to manage a 70% cut in welfare reform grants to community organizations.  Those performance-based decisions resulted in improved decision making, almost no political blowback, and, in a couple of cases, services being continued even without the funding.

The column also featured the best-in-class example of the Alcohol Drug and Mental Health Board (ADAMH) of Franklin County, which contracts out approximately 90% of its funding to community providers using performance contracts.Remarkably, their providers reported greater satisfaction with their relationship with ADAMH even as their accountability for performance increased.  We’re very proud to have featured ADAMH and their Vice President for Performance and Management, Susan Lewis Kaylor, in a fantastic webinar recently; if you missed it, it’s not too late!  You can download the webinar presentation by clicking here and listen to the audio of the webinar by clicking here.

Performance Contracting – or, as we like to call it, “Partnering For Results” – offers a powerful tool to improve results, align performance, and drive efficiency.  The Barrett & Greene column is a great overview on getting started.  Take a look and let us know what you think!


Performance Contracting: Now, Who Is the Customer, Again?

A few thoughts from Marv Weidner, our founder and CEO, on Performance Contracting:

Governments provide services and deliver results for customers in two basic ways:  through employees, or through contractors.

Aligning and integrating employee performance to advance your organization is a powerful way to “git ‘er done,” and it’s a big focus of our efforts as well.  We’re in the middle of presenting a series of webinars on Employee Performance Management; you can check out what we’ve already shared by clicking here, and you can sign up for one of our upcoming sessions by clicking here.

But with all the (deserved) attention to employees, organizations sometimes don’t focus enough on using their contracted vendors to accomplish results as well.  Partnering for Results is a suggested way of talking about Performance Based Contracting, and I’ll be talking about that here and in a couple of blog posts to come.

This first piece focuses on being clear about who the customer is – is the customer the vendor, or the people receiving the service?  In upcoming posts I’ll share some thoughts about what you want to actually contract for, and how you can build capacity in your organization and in your contractors to get the results you need.

The first of three keys to successful Partnering for Results (code for Performance-Based Contracting):

Be relentlessly clear about the answer to the question, “Who is the customer?”

We are unequivocal about this:  the people who receive the services provided through the contract are the customerNot vendors.  Vendors who provide services are not the customer – they you’re your “performance partners.”

Customers are not held accountable for results, and we do not measure their performance.  But vendors should be held accountable, and their performance must be measured.  In contracting relationships, staff can develop what I would call a co-dependent relationship with vendors that can soften expectations for performance.  Listen, services providers would love for you to treat them like they are the customer!

What’s the big deal about this?  Contracts are intended to be an extension of your organization’s efforts to implement your strategic and business plans and achieve key results for your customers.  So there is a great deal at stake in managing performance through contracts.

What does it look like when vendors are considered to be the customer?

  • Contracts include few, if any, performance requirements.
  • Little or no data is collected on the experiences of the people who receive the services.
  • Contract or performance reviews are rare to nonexistent.
  • Support services for vendors are first priority.
  • Contracts tend to be multi-year and extended with little effort by the vendor.
  • Performance reports are mostly about how much money is spent.

Not a pretty picture.

By comparison, what does it look like if the people who receive the services are considered the customer?

  • Contracts have both output and results measures.
  • Data is  collected on both types of measures and reported at regular intervals.
  • Contract reviews are primarily about performance and are conducted regularly.
  • Performance is reviewed frequently.
  • Reports connect money to the customer experience.
  • Contracts are clearly and directly aligned to support your strategic and business plans.

The Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board in Franklin County, Ohio, has demonstrated best-in-class focus on results for the customer through their efforts to Partner For Results.  They contract out, through service providers/vendors, more than 90% of the funding they receive each year.  Over a decade ago they made the decision that the individuals and families receiving the services are the customer, not the vendors who provide those services.  The impact of that decision has been extraordinary.

Check out our recent webinar in which Susan Lewis Kaylor, Vice President for Performance and Management at ADAMH, shared the story of their focus on results for customers.  You can see the presentation file and listen to the webinar audio.

Get clear about who the customer really is, and then you can be clear about what you need your contracts to accomplish – results, or something less.  I’ll talk about that next time.


"It’s my job to ensure results"

If you didn’t see this op-ed piece in the March 2 New York Times“Why Your Boss Is Wrong About You” – it’s worth a look:


Regardless of your perspective on the questions raised by recent events in Wisconsin, the column makes some excellent points about the power of ensuring employees are focused on results in a clear, fair and systematic manner.


The author makes a point that’s very familiar to us: without clear expectations established around results for customers and agreed upon measures for performance, employee performance reviews can stifle, not support, a focus on results and on innovation.



Under such a system, in which one’s livelihood can be destroyed by a self-serving boss trying to meet a budget or please the higher-ups, what employee would ever speak his mind? What employee would ever say that the boss is wrong, and offer an idea on how something might get done better?

Only an employee looking for trouble.



We call this the “whack-a-mole” culture. What happens when an employee sticks up their head to point out an issue or to make a suggestion? If they get “whacked” for it, how many times are

they going to do that? Or are they going to (correctly) conclude that, if they want to work in an organization where they can contribute, they need to go elsewhere?

Managers and leaders at all levels have the power to create a work culture that helps employees succeed and that clearly defines success in terms of results delivered for the customer. As the column notes, in such a system:


Instead of the bosses merely handing out A’s and C’s, they work to make sure everyone can earn an A. And the word goes out: “No more after-the-fact disappointments. Tell me your problems as they happen; we’re in it together and it’s my job to ensure results.”




Sounds about right to us.

We’ve been sharing rich resources recently to help governments create Employee Performance Management systems that accelerate performance. Check out our previous posts on aligning employees to the organization’s priorities and why managing employee performance matters to your customers. Look for links to our EPM webinar series here as well — coming very soon!

Words From Weidner: Focus on Results

We’re excited that our Founder and CEO, Marv Weidner, has started sharing some of his thoughts and expertise in short videos. We’ll be posting these here and at marvweidner.com as we do them, and we hope you find them useful.

Marv’s a pretty sharp guy, and in 20 years of working in state government in Iowa, he learned all of three things. Here, he talks about the first thing he learned:



Communicating For Results: Pinal County, AZ Juvenile Court

Looking for an example of effective communication about performance? Check out this report from the Intervention Services Division of the Juvenile Court in Pinal County, AZ.

This was prepared to be included in their newsletter, and it’s definitely worth a read — a great example of an organization that is not only willing and able to be transparent about its performance, but also to be clear about the context for that performance and how it is actively managing for results.
You can download it by clicking here. Got other examples like this one? Send them our way — we’d love to share them!

Cool Tools: Profile of Four States Using Performance Budgeting

We recently found a terrific resource that we wanted to share.

In February 2009 the Government Performance Project and the Pew Center on the States released “Trade-Off Time: How Four States Continue to Deliver.” This report – which you can download by clicking here – profiles how the states of Virginia, Utah, Maryland and Indiana are aggressively using performance management techniques, including performance budgeting, to address the extraordinary challenges they face in funding and service delivery.

From the report:

“The Pew Center on the States has followed state government performance for more than a decade, studying good and bad practices and analyzing what works. Our research has shown that results-based budgeting systems can aid states during economic downturns by cutting wasteful spending on programs that are not showing results, and directing resources to programs that evidence has shown to be more effective. Such an approach also can provide lasting benefits, laying the foundation for a leaner, more effective government during the next economic upturn.”

We’ve repeatedly seen the benefits that come from sharing tools and information – it’s a big part of the reason we have this blog. We hope you’ll be able to take this report and put it to good use in your own organization – and let us know what you learn!