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This article discusses the early history of performance and productivity measurement. It finds sophisticated development of these tools beginning in the first decade of the twentieth century, primarily at the New York Bureau of Municipal Research. These practices grew out of accounting, the social survey, work records, and municipal statistics. The bureau built government's capacity to measure. They advocated such basic empirical practices as making observations at all, doing so systematically and routinely, and recording data at the time of observation. By 1912, performance measurement exhibited many of the features associated with the modern practice: measuring of input, output, and results; attempting to make government more productive; making reports comparable among communities; and focusing on allocation and accountability. Performance measurement was developed in the context of shifting power between the elected executive and the legislature.