Factors Influencing the Use of Performance Data to Improve Municipal Services: Evidence from the North Carolina Benchmarking Project


David N. Ammons is Albert Coates Professor of Public Administration and Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of Municipal Benchmarks: Assessing Local Performance and Establishing Community Standards (Sage, 2001) and Tools for Decision Making: A Practical Guide for Local Government (CQ Press, 2002). His research interests include local government management, performance measurement, and benchmarking.
E-mail: ammons@sog.unc.edu

William C. Rivenbark is an associate professor of public administration and government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the coauthor of Performance Budgeting in State and Local Government (M. E. Sharpe, 2003). His research interests include performance and financial management in local government.
E-mail: rivenbark@sog.unc.edu


Many local governments measure and report their performance, but the record of these governments in actually using performance measures to improve services is more modest. The authors of this study examine patterns of performance measurement use among a set of North Carolina cities and conclude that the types of measures on which officials rely, the willingness of officials to embrace comparison, and the degree to which measures are incorporated into key management systems distinguish cities that are more likely to use performance measures for service improvement from those less likely to do so.