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Keywords:

  • Performance measurement;
  • key performance indicators;
  • mental health;
  • Australian public sector

This article investigates the implementation of key performance indicators (KPIs) in Western Australia's public mental health system. A nationally agreed performance measurement framework forms part of the much needed reform now taking place within Australia. However, progress in the effective monitoring and reporting of KPIs is slow in most states, including Western Australia. The authors report on the results of a selective case study involving semi-structured interviews with mental health administrators and offer a more nuanced insight into the intricacies and difficulties involved in performance measurement reform. The principal finding is that effective performance measurement and reporting can be internally problematic, particularly within a fragmented and networked system. This tends to give rise to a conformance-only approach to performance measurement.