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Administration & Society

http://aas.sagepub.com Evolution of Performance Measurement Until 1930
Daniel W. Williams Administration & Society 2004; 36; 131 DOI: 10.1177/0095399704263473 The online version of this article can be found at: http://aas.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/36/2/131

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ADMINISTRATION Williams / EVOLUTION & SOCIETY OF PERFORMANCE / May 2004 MEASUREMENT
10.1177/0095399704263473

EVOLUTION OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT UNTIL 1930
DANIEL W. WILLIAMS Baruch College
Performance measurement originated at the early Bureau of Municipal Research. Over the next quarter century, it became more sophisticated through increased quantification and reliance on experts. However, its focus narrowed from government to government service. This narrowing is linked to reduced social activism among those who used these methods. The entire period saw combined interest in accomplishing results and containing costs. Leading advocates of measurement included Lent Upson, Clarence Ridley, Mabel Walker, and Edison Cramer. Ridley became the executive director of the International City Manager’s Association where he continued to promote performance measurement for the next 30 years.

Keywords: performance measurement; productivity; outcomes; program evaluation; scorecards; performance budgeting; governmental cost accounting; surveys; experts

As Henry Petroski has shown, even such humble objects as forks and paperclips evolve in response to practical environmental forces and the creativity of dissatisfied or merely imaginative users (Petroski, 1992). Is this true also of practices such as performance measurement? Who were the critical inventors, and how did they influence its development? What was added and what discarded? This article examines the development of performance measurement in the critical period from its origins through 1930. It examines the link to
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I would like to thank Romuald Litwin, Lynn Wang, Jeanette Ellis, Frederick Lane, Lynne Weikart, James Guyot, Ray Oman, Denise Wells, Hindy Lauer Schachter, participants in the Baruch faculty research seminar, participants at the 1999 regional conferences of the American Society for Public Administration and the American Political Science Association and at the delayed 2001 National Association for Budgeting and Financial Management conference, and the editors and reviewers for their comments, insight, and assistance. Errors are my own.
ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY, Vol. 36 No. 2, May 2004 131-165 DOI: 10.1177/0095399704263473 © 2004 Sage Publications

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ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / May 2004

forerunners including the social survey, cost accounting, and European collection of municipal statistics and codevelopments including scientific management and the U.S. collection of municipal statistics at the Census Bureau. The primary purpose of this article is to examine the development of performance measurement after its origin through these critical formative years. In 1910, performance measurement was embedded in a broader set of practices called municipal research. By 1930, performance measurement was a distinctive activity. In the interim, its focus narrowed from government to government service and its primary purpose shifted from political accountability to management effectiveness. The second section of the article describes the state of prototypical performance measurement in roughly 1910. In the third section, there is an extensive discussion exposing the particular practices as they occur over the ensuing 20 years. These developments are examined and explained in the fourth section. The fifth section is a brief conclusion. THE STATE OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT IN 1910 The first extended implementation of prototypical performance measurement practices arose at the New York Bureau of Municipal Research (NYBMR) after 1906 (D. Williams, 2002, 2003). Although there were numerous antecedents to these practices, three particulars stand out: the social survey of the settlement houses, prior developments in municipal statistics, and the then-recent advances of cost accounting. The NYBMR’s research activities constitute prototypical performance measurement for two reasons. First, as with their modern descendents, they were focused on the efficiency and effectiveness of government. They focus on linking resources to intended governmental objectives (what is now called performance budgeting), results of governmental effort (outcomes), objectively chosen expectations (benchmarks), and fixing the organization to do better (productivity improvement). Second, the NYBMR’s practices are, as explored in this article, the historical antecedents of current performance measurement practices. It is not uncommon for people to cite Clarence Ridley and Herbert Simon’s Measuring Municipal Activities (1938, 1943, 1948a) or their specifications for municipal reports (Ridley & Simon, 1948b) as the beginning of modern performance measurement (Bouckaert, 1992; Ehrenhalt, 1994). These publications descend from Ridley’s 1927 dissertation, Means of

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Ridley acknowledged the assistance of Lent Upson. the original director of the NYBMR. his two codirectors after a 1907 reorganization. municipal statistics. 1927b). a prominent U. 1997). Ridley.S. Data analysis used qualitative devices such as coded maps to reveal demographic information. the same report might contain information about government expenditures. 1966. Municipal statistics. More than a fifth of Ridley’s (1927a. 2001). Williams (2002) showed that the roots of the NYBMR’s practices are primarily the survey. By 1900. Stigler.S. 1927a) and the nearly identical Measuring Municipal Government (Ridley. Collection and analysis of statistics originated in the 1660s as the study of state facts (Porter. 1933. 1901. Henry Bruere. governmental. and commercial data were mixed together. was directly associated with the settlement houses. Sklar. and cost accounting. 2008 . In this early period. And. communicated these European developments to the American audience. 1986. his teaching at University of Chicago. 1991). settlement house movement. 1986). births. 1986). political scientist. demographic. These practices were merged with the study of probability in the 1800s and became a general science of inductive method about 1900 (Porter.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. It is in this context that the collection of municipal statistics developed in Europe. The social survey was a method to gather detailed data about small areas. Cleveland. most telling. 1927b) explicitly treats in Means of Measuring Municipal Government were all similarly treated in 1912 by Henry Bruere (1912b). Kahn. and his work at the International City Manager’s Association (Augier & March. Allen and Frederick A. John Fairlie (1899. The survey.sagepub. William H. in New City Government. and tonnage at the local port. 1987. Jane Addams and Florence Kelley. Downloaded from http://aas. 1908). In the forward to his dissertation. Booth’s surveys of London are generally treated as the paradigm shift that prepared the way for modern social research. imported Charles Booth’s social survey to discover facts about poverty (Converse. In the decades ending the 19th century. 1927b) citations in Means of Measuring Municipal Government are linked to the NYBMR. were indirectly associated with the settlement houses through their involvement with the Association for the Improving the Condition of the Poor (AICP) (Dahlberg.Williams / EVOLUTION OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT 133 Measuring Municipal Government (Ridley. the original director of the NYBMR. which was part of the NYBMR (Government Research Association. D. 1927a). leaders of the U. the four categories Ridley (1927a. the director of the Detroit Bureau of Governmental Research and a 1912 graduate of the Training School for Public Service. The collection of quantitative social facts flourished during the late 1800s.

Second. 1977. Hartwell. This measurement was an extension of the settlement house practices (D. First. This effort was an implementation of the NML’s agenda.sagepub. Modern cost accounting spread in the United States following Captain Henry Metcalfe’s 1885 text. The Census Bureau also tried to associate financial statistics (costs) with data on service provision. or even shrinking. Fox. Third. Cost of Manufactures (Garner. retain a decision-making role for the legislature. 1979). Williams. 1901). 2003). 1913.134 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / May 2004 the governmental data sometimes looked like precursors of performance measurement. 1954. the NYBMR measured social conditions. Prototypical performance measurement practices uniquely produce an opportunity to meet these many objectives (D. Frederick Clow (1896) adopted Adolf Wagner’s functional model of government for budget and accounting categories (Fox. the NYBMR sought to reform budgeting and accounting practices so that costs could be clearly associated with specific activities of government. but achieved little success (Cummings. Cost accounting associates costs with those factors that lead to them and with the ultimate uses to which they contribute. taxation. The NYBMR also sought to expand governmental capacity while slowing the growth of. Previts & Merino. 1910). 1977. This effort was an extension of the NML and Census Bureau’s efforts and was influenced by scientific management after 1910. and assist the public to better participate in democracy. 2003). It sought to promote a competent and hierarchical executive branch of government. Meyer. Willoughby. Williams. showing expenditures for various specific activities of government normalized by population. 1910. sometimes focused on needs assessment and sometimes on outcomes. The National Municipal League (NML) promoted uniform accounting based on Clow’s functionalism (Fox. 1977. national sponsorship for collecting municipal statistics began in earnest in 1898 at the Department of Labor and was transferred to the newly formed Census Bureau in 1902 (Fox. 2008 .com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5.1 In the United States. 1910). Meyer. 1901. Early performance measurement practices included three sorts of measurements. Partly to achieve cost accounting objectives. Then NML influenced the early Census Bureau to promote uniform municipal accounting across the country. 2002. the NYBMR sought to develop specific real-time records of work performance so that activity and output could be clearly associated with costs. Downloaded from http://aas. Cost accounting. which it called physical statistics. Hanger. 1977). The NYBMR combined these antecedents and codevelopments to empirically investigate government.

Beginning with the election of Thomas Jefferson. 2002). Allen influenced R. cost accounting. Because of a spectacular study that led to the removal of Manhattan Borough President John F. Second. Williams. 2003). By the late 1800s.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. Transparency was the vehicle to overcome resistance to executive government. First. Performance measurement-like practices were promoted as an improvement in efficiency and in transparency. The administration responded to the president. Under the Federalist governments of George Washington and John Adams. Jeffersonian government was widespread throughout the United States (White. 2008 . which came to dominate the administration (White. OVERVIEW OF DEVELOPMENT UNTIL 1930 In 1906. was hired as the director. Williams. they supported budgetary decision making by revealing information about needs and program effectiveness (D. 2002). The role of the legislature was to express the will of the people. 1919. 1966). However. Patronage. 1958). D. a colleague of Allen’s at the AICP. the fear of dictatorial power and a loss of responsiveness to the public retarded this return to Hamiltonian principles.Williams / EVOLUTION OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT 135 Early performance measurement practices fulfilled two objectives. the bureau received considerable attention. Ahearn. 1958.sagepub. It is in this context that municipal research and prototypical performance measurement took root. the United States adopted a strong executive model of government following the advice of Alexander Hamilton. William H. logrolling. 1958). Williams. Henry Bruere. and corrupt granting of franchises were a few of these shortcomings (Maxey. Through budgeting. Cutting influenced other major donors. 1948. shortcomings in legislative control of local government were apparent. and reporting. White. 1951. 1954. An adequate account of the initial performance measurement practices requires a brief comment on the political context. the executive would be held accountable to the legislature and the public (D. such Downloaded from http://aas. Fulton Cutting to fund the Bureau of City Betterment as a function of the Citizen’s Union (Dahlberg. However. Advocates of a return to Hamiltonian practices were gaining strength. surveys. 1954. After a year. they communicated information to managers to show the nature and status of work completed and contributed to improved work productivity. there was a gradual erosion of presidential power in favor of Congress.

in 1928. Cleveland had served on the NML committee that recommended uniform municipal accounting (Hartwell. 1964. Gulick. 1944). 2008 . 1910). and Chicago (Bureau of Municipal Research. 1913. a government implicitly committed itself to improving its use of resources to achieve its ends. Hammond. technical director. Interstate Commerce Commission. that is. 1912. 1907. essentially to implement the NML’s functional budget as a form of cost accounting (Bureau of Municipal Research. Research bureaus continued to proliferate through the beginning of World War II (Gill. More sophisticated work improvement programs are found after Louis Brandeis popularized scientific management from 1910 to 1911 (Cooke. D. The application of the survey to governments or communities was effectively an audit of the government. the hometown of the NML. At about this time. A large part of the NYBMR’s early activities consisted of providing technical assistance to New York City for accounting reform. 1916. it adopted the intent to improve its work practices. this smear campaign not only backfired in New York. However. 1912.2 which engaged in a smear campaign about the “Bureau of Municipal Besmirch. 1916. 1916. 1928). Welton. 1928).136 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / May 2004 as John D. 1912b. Possibly because of the Ahearn incident or because of encroachment on corruption and patronage. Gulick. 1912).3 Downloaded from http://aas.sagepub. By 1916. and director. three codirectors—of the NYBMR. 1916. early work improvement programs focused on scheduling work so that it could be verified (Bruere. Williams. This audit uncovered empirical evidence of the governmental performance.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. The first city to receive these services was Philadelphia. there were 15 bureaus of municipal research and. Rockefeller. 1911.” According to NYBMR’s literature. Allen and Frederick Cleveland joined Bruere as secretary. the NYBMR quickly earned the enmity of Tammany Hall. 2002. 1911. 1928). 1901). governmental surveys had been conducted in Philadelphia. but it also led to its extensive outreach activities conducting surveys and setting up research bureaus across the country (Bureau of Municipal Research. 1915. Pultz. there were 74 (Bureau of Municipal Research. Boston. respectively—but effectively. the work of the NYBMR and the other bureaus it spawned were highlighted in the May 12 edition of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. In 1912. Gulick. which began to reflect the influence of scientific management about 1910. 2003). Haber. 1928. Gulick. Taussig. Woodruff. By adopting the NML’s functional accounting practices. to commit enough funds to create the Bureau of Municipal Research (as it was originally known). This accounting work also led in the direction of work improvement programs.

development of the scorecard. Soon. 1926). Walker. Walker’s texts were academic documents. E.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. 1924. Lent Upson (1924b) used the survey as a method to improve many local governments. 1948a). municipal research had become an established method for interested civic leaders to monitor government performance. 1938. edited by Upson. used the survey method to assist with reconstruction after the Great Tokyo Earthquake of 1923. Downloaded from http://aas. 1933. who was the director of the Training School at the NYBMR from 1915 to 1918 and director of the Bureau from 1918 to 1921.5 Ridley and M. By this point. cost accounting was much more sophisticated.4 By the 1920s. The bureaus continued to use surveys to study government and to examine social issues into the 1920s. reflecting the growing adoption by practitioners. Ridley’s early work was soon followed by Mabel Walker’s 1929 attempt to develop an index of quality of life in cities of 30. Ridley & Simon. and deepening reliance on subject matter specialists for development of measures and standards. he wrote such a textbook (Upson. 1934. It led to further work by Ridley and others at the International City Managers Association where Ridley was executive director from 1928 through 1956 (Ridley & Nolting. a Chicago alderman and future giant of American political science.sagepub. 1930). 1927a. William B. Munro (1926) wrote an alternative text that recorded 25 criteria for government. FORMS AND DEVELOPMENT OF MEASUREMENT PRACTICES The developing measurement practices can be classified into several broad categories: research into government management. is effectively a textbook in public administration. The use of the survey also continued to expand.000 population or greater (M. Buck & Watson.000 or More for the Colorado Municipal League. Ridley. Charles Beard (1923). conduct of the survey. 2008 . 1927b). 1929. This cumulating body of work led to the 1927 publication of Clarence Ridley’s Measuring Municipal Government. (Ridley. At about the same time.Williams / EVOLUTION OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT 137 The Chicago study was known as the Merriam Commission after Charles Merriam. Edison Cramer (1929) completed A Survey of the General Civic Conditions of Colorado Cities Having a Population of 2. Buck and William Watson (Buck. a landmark text in the development of performance measurement. This can be seen in the work of A. The study of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. 1926).

The functional budget was conceived as a form of cost accounting where both planned and actual costs could be compared with each other and with past years. Schachter. First.138 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / May 2004 RESEARCH INTO GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT The bureaus of municipal research engaged in several forms of research into government practices. Chase. and products. 1966). This program was designed to show where money was being spent (functional accounting) and where there was public need (budgeting). the NYBMR helped New York City develop and implement a functional budget and accounting system. 1912). as early as 1907. the functional budget had become line-item budgeting and blocked administrative discretion all too well (Dahlberg. It began to support appropriation in broader categories while retaining narrow categories for accounting and budget preparation (Dahlberg. 1966. Functional categories replaced lump-sum appropriations and served to relate funding to the particular work units. the role of reporting became more important. 1917.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. other communities. The legislature’s power was found in the ability to accept or reject the next budget (Goodnow. D. 2008 . Gulick.sagepub. thus. but not enacted. Williams. 1997). by the early 1910s. When the NYBMR later began to advocate relaxed appropriation categories. This refocusing amounted to a support for executive budgeting where legislative control was dependent on expressed. services. The support of the executive budget was not entirely consistent with the NYBMR’s original objectives. Allen. 1917. so it no longer particularly distrusted government officials. it was a form of cost accounting. There was a heated controversy when Maryland adopted an executive budget system in 1916 (Allen. At the same time. plans. However. 1916. Thus conceived. and results. It was used with success to argue for increased appropriations for the New York City Department of Health in 1907 (Bureau of Municipal Research. 1928). Executive budgeting left the appropriating authority with weaker control over actual expenditures and thus more dependent on accounting and reporting to know whether funds were used as planned. the NYBMR had essentially infiltrated the executive branch in New York City. 2003). who was no Downloaded from http://aas. Functional accounting was used to verify that funds were used for these purposes and to show whether results were achieved. 1907. because this newer system began to close the door on public knowledge of governmental activities. 1907). the functional budget was a device to convince decision makers to allocate funds to specific needs (Bureau of Municipal Research. Both the earlier functional budget and the later executive budget contributed to the development of performance measurement practices.

1916. 1912a. 1924. such as water inspectors or public works employees. Dunaway. this interest centered on getting a full day’s work out of government employees (Bruere. Most significantly. This second sense was carried over from the NML’s uniform accounting objectives. 1910. or even legislative. To get the work done. The executive budgeteers won on all fronts. and inspection. 1915). 1915. 1924). First. scheduling. Cleveland. Taylor. the NYBMR recommended a system of work planning. 1918. these practices became more sophisticated under the influence of scientific management. Connell. 1912. reporting. Standardization cannot be completely distinguished from the scorecard practices discussed below. Cooke. explicitly rejected Taylor’s distributed manage- Downloaded from http://aas.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. invoked Frederick Taylor’s name to assert that the NYBMR’s budget system was an obstacle that must be gotten around. opposed this system. input. The second category of research into government management focused on personnel. 1915. In the earliest period of the NYBMR. Taylor derogatorily referred to hierarchy as military management. put in very little actual work. 1912. Pultz.6 Morris Cooke (1924). there was the core scientific management interest in defining the best way to do each type of job. there was an interest in setting time and resources standards for work. this debate was a proxy battle over the then pending and soon to be enacted Budget and Accounting Act of 1921. To some degree. Allen objected to the Maryland law because it set only limited requirements for public.Williams / EVOLUTION OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT 139 longer associated with the NYBMR. He also criticized the NML’s accounting practices (Cooke. Burks. Scores were used to gauge how well standards were met. Standardization was also carried into financial management with a particular focus on purchasing (Agnew. Klein. It was thought that some employees. which he considered a principal obstacle to efficiency (Cooke. which had been designed by NML experts including his former colleague. 1912. 1912. Bruere. the objective was to validate claimed work activities. Standardization is one of the main practices that the research bureaus borrowed from scientific management. The NYBMR also advocated the improvement of employee efficiency ratings with interest in more detailed and real-time work records rather than retrospective assessments. 1947/1903). 1924. Originally. During the decade of the 1910s. Scott. The NYBMR and its legacy. particularly in the work of Luther Gulick (1981). Barnum. 2008 . Taylor and Cooke advocated distributed management. Welton. After 1910. 1912). Secondly.sagepub. the NYBMR became interested in standardization of work processes in two senses. the most direct transplant from the scientific management community to public administration.

health. 1927). These studies are the bureaus’ most direct continuation of the settlement house social survey. charity. poverty. 1916. surveys that demonstrated an exposure to the risk of typhoid and death (as with a 1916 survey of Portsmouth. For example. They included a study of government power and structure. 1916. industry. 1912b. These surveys got the facts before the public in a manner that made ignoring problems difficult. 1912b). and interviews with government officials and selected citizens. review of laws and government reports.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. Ohio). the bureaus conducted studies of the entire community environment.140 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / May 2004 ment.8 These can be classified into three categories.sagepub. These comprehensive studies were considered the first step in helping a community to establish its own research bureau (Bureau of Municipal Research. seemed obviously to demand implementation of the technology (Mark. it was a survey of the government or the entire community by the citizens. 1910. The survey collected data through firsthand observation. 1916. This comprehensive survey was adopted by socially active groups who began to promote their own citizen surveys (Aronovici. the bureaus engaged in special-topic studies focusing on such matters as housing conditions. 1912). and the physical environment (Bruere. 1928). 1916). One study of 10 cities that had adopted the commission form of government10 was conducted to compare this governmental form with the practices advocated by the NYBMR (Bruere. the scientific management that took root in public administration was rather mutated. schools. The function of the bureaus’ special topic studies was to highlight social problems that needed addressing through public policy.7 As a consequence.11 The citizen survey of 1920 was not a survey of the citizens by the government or its proxy.9 The purpose was to gather a comprehensive description of the community to learn what conditions required improvement and what did not. or any other social matter that was thought to require analysis (Mark. Downloaded from http://aas. borrowing more from the technical developments of standardization and cost accounting than the whole scientific management program. Gulick. Wisconsin Conference of Social Work. recreation. 2008 . Second. SURVEYS The bureaus of municipal research conducted many surveys. when the technology to avoid it was well known. Bureau of Municipal Research. social conditions. 1916). First. Treleven. review of any available statistical data. health.

and the functions of government agencies. M. 1924b). health. who had been the director of the NYBMR Training School and the NYBMR. 1915). Ayres. government surveys did not focus on social issues or social problems. Second. accounting. 1930).com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. Two studies worth note are the study of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. conducted in the early 1920s. “How One City Scored Itself. the scorecard is also linked to the use of standards. The objective facts were thought to demonstrate the reasonableness of this preference.” 1924.Williams / EVOLUTION OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT 141 The third form of survey was the government study (Beard. purchasing. the means of public participation and citizen access to government. Bruere’s New City Government (1912b) was undisguised in its preference for strong executive models of government in opposition to legislator-administrators. It also addressed the delivery of services such as police. These surveys were expected to uncover objective facts. Hudson. they examined government conditions. 1923. They examined both the delivery of government services and the conduct of government itself. led by Upson (1924b) of the Detroit Bureau of Municipal Research and the study of Tokyo conducted by Beard (1923).sagepub. Walker. and the financial condition. 1924. Upson. First. 1920. It provided the opportunity to Downloaded from http://aas. Bureau of Municipal Research. 1916. These studies. Ohio.12 This sort of survey was similar to the special topics studies with two exceptions. It examined matters of governance such as the laws and powers of the government. “Measuring Government Efficiency.” 1923. 1928. 1912b). It included function-by-function recommendations for modernization of the government. fire. but they were not necessarily neutral. and public works (Bruere. Commons. 1908. Ogburn. reflect both the government research discussed in the previous section and the application of survey methods of this section.” 1923. However. the bureaus engaged in a considerable number of these surveys and developed them to a greater degree than other surveys. 1917. Gulick. The scorecard used a point system to standardize results of the survey (Bruere. personnel management. This sort of survey could be considered a program audit of the entire local government. 1926. and other elements of financial management. Federal Council of Citizenship Training. 1912b. THE SCORECARD/INDEX The survey developed into the scorecard by the end of 1910s and was becoming the index at the end of the next decade (“A Score Card for West Virginia Cases. budgeting. 2008 . Richards.

com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. Upson. The points themselves reflected degrees of approximation to a desired level. 126). In 1908. In 1924 and 1925. 1929. 1916. and local residents could know how their city compared with the country. American Political Science Association (APSA) round tables recommended continued research in various aspects of relative values (Cottrell. 1927).142 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / May 2004 compare various communities on a single index (Ayres. such as wheat. 1907). 1927). Deacon. Deacon. 1929). Schneider. 1925. Palmer. H. 1916). it could be used to collect elements of secondary data into one place (Ogburn. communities could be objectively compared. M.14 In 1907. 1917. However. whereas others simply listed the maximum available points beside a question or topic (“A Score Card for West Virginia Cities. Cramer. Bracy. cows. & Elsbree. pigs. 1927).. Williams. 1925. The point total represented the quality of community life or the quality of some particular aspect of community life. For the earlier problem. A few years latter. some scorecards gave instructions for some or all items (Strayer. Bruere (1912b) used a Downloaded from http://aas. Palmer et al. 1917. Ogburn. butter.” 1923. He used the scorecard to normalize housing characteristics. 1926. 1917. and so on” (p. The scorecard was borrowed from earlier use in agriculture on at least three occasions. cheese. so his approach is an ancestor to the broader-than-economics use of indexes. 1926. Ogburn. Thus. M. Hudson. the NYBMR replicated a copy of a scorecard used for dairy inspection in its account of its work at the New York City Department of Health (Bureau of Municipal Research. Point values were assigned to each survey element reflecting how well an object of observation met a standard. Walker. 1929. horses. set based on the judgment of authors. oats. 1926. corn. 1929. 1920. Cramer. Wisconsin Conference of Social Work.13 Two technical difficulties with the scorecard were with the methods of assigning points and of assigning relative values to each item. 1924. 1908.sagepub. The standard could be either technical or normative. 1924a). 1926). Walker. there were many scorecard schemes developed over the 2 decades of the 1910s and 1920s. which confounded the comparative objective. Relative values might be set as equal. 2008 . John Commons borrowed a scorecard from “standardizing and grading agriculture products. or left to the user to decide (Commons. Engelhardt. the only identifiable research-based estimate of relative values is with a proposed health department scorecard that set weights for health work based on damage to be overcome by health services (Schneider. The scorecard was not necessarily a primary data collection instrument. For this period.

child labor. Palmer. By and during the 1920s. Richards borrowed the scorecard from dairy inspection to aid in fire insurance rating of cities. Cramer’s (1929) index for Colorado cities is based on the data collected from the cities themselves through either personal visits or responses to questionnaires. 1930) used municipal data from various reports and almanacs to develop a grade for 160 cities with a population of 30. 2008 . who focused solely on government service.15 These criteria are most similar to those of Allen and Bruere. and it was used by specialists to measure the performance of particular government activities such as the services of the health department (Ayres.Williams / EVOLUTION OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT 143 scorecard approach in rating 10 commission governments apparently having adopted it from his own prior experience at the NYBMR. 1926. Edison Cramer (1929). 1912b. he used the term scorecard in quotes (Bruere. It was used by professional and community groups to rate communities and governments. Bracy’s study does not reveal enough information to show exactly how these two types Downloaded from http://aas. church membership. cities uses secondary data to compute an index that aggregates scores on 17 criteria: wage rate. number of pupils to a teacher. circulation of library books. Walker emphasized. In 1915. teachers salaries. and others transformed the scorecard into an index. The data comprise a mixture of performance data.sagepub. the scorecard became a robust instrument. Wisconsin Conference of Social Work. public properties. such as that M. 21).com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. infant mortality rate. school attendance. Mabel Walker (1929. Ranks are added across service categories to a final score. who also focused on community matters. 1927). E. However. 1924. fire loss.000 or more. M. William Ogburn (1917). H. possibly reflecting an awareness of Commons’s work. Walker emphasizes the word results. school property. 1927. Walker. it was used by experts as a basis for measuring government performance. Ogburn’s 1917 survey of 36 major U. Component scores in seven categories are separately ranked for cost and accomplishment.. and the number of foreign-born persons unable to speak English. M. pavement. parks.16 This study followed a study of 1923 expenditures by William Bracy (1924) that also contained both cost and service data. 1927. Williams. and cost-per-capita data for fiscal year 1928. Walker (1929. p. 1920. rather than Beard and Upson. 1930). death rate. Strayer et al. or Ridley and M. who focused solely on government. G. population married. cost of living. Federal Council of Citizenship Training. which she uses to distinguish her rating from measures of government process or activity.S. illiteracy.

pp. studies frequently return to measuring health status. As early as 1912. Typically. p.S. Throughout the ensuing 20 years. infant mortality was viewed as the most important indicator of local conditions (Allen. which kept track of fire loss. 1926. SPECIALIZATION AND SPECIALISTS In 1907. 72. the American Child Health Association. p. he accepted much of the fire underwriter’s program. 1926b. accounting. So. budgeting. directly associated with services. Ohio.. Cramer’s index is concerned with both productivity in the narrow sense and with outcomes. and the federal government. 1926d). One characteristic that distinguishes fire protection. Public Health Ser- Downloaded from http://aas. a frequent topic was health. 1912b. Henry Bruere (1912b. He provided only brief guidance for measuring other functions.144 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / May 2004 of data were combined. particularly of children. in part. 1926a. they developed a scorecard-style rating system (Committee on Administrative Practice. 2008 . Upson’s (1924b) report on Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Ridley’s work became the foundation for future development. and public works. 1907. Measurement of health services was the beneficiary of even more expert study. and police work from the broad range of matters discussed by Allen or Upson is that measurement of these services and their outcomes had long been the study of subject matter experts. health services. charity. the underwriters used a scorecard approach to rate cities on risk of fire loss based on a combination of fire fighting capacity and environmental conditions (Richards. In 1912. Bruere. 1927b) narrowed the discussion to four services: fire protection. From the start of the municipal research movement. U. because the sources of cost are not.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. 1926c. Although Ridley (1927b. 27). which often meant health of children. as with Cramer’s study. crime. one of the few that were available at that time. public works. health. police. 13-22) recommended a change in the unit of measure for fire loss. fire.sagepub. He discussed criminology and even efficiency of religion. Although various social surveys were in use. purchasing. p. Fire loss was a clear measure of results. In 1927. Innovators in measuring community health included the American Public Health Association. After 1915. Ogburn’s 1917 study addressed 17 categories of service. Bruere (1912b) discussed health. 1925. and citizen participation. 1915. Ridley (1927a. or school efficiency. also reflects extensive breadth. H. 298 ff) cited the work of the National Board of Fire Underwriters. Walker. so this narrowing is significant. Allen was equally at home with hospital. Palmer et al.

Ridley remained concerned with arrests and convictions but was also interested in the reporting of crimes (complaints) as a measure of crime prevention. p. 55). reflecting a lack of more than incidental use by governments. 39-46). 1926). which he concluded to be reasonably valid. sewers. Their work was associated with the bureaus of municipal research through the service of Lent Upson (Committee on Uniform Crime Records of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In 1924. and police services were the object of expert study. refuse disposal. Ridley (1927b. 1925. 1926. Ridley (1927b) argued that public works cannot be measured in aggregate impact on the community but must be measured separately for each service. 31) considered the objective of police work to be preventing crime. at no point throughout this period did these professionals lose track of infant mortality. and water supply. he looked to measures in the form of area or quantity supplied or moved. 136-137). As he said. Other matters such as enforcement of laws were sometimes addressed (Committee on Administrative Practice. For all of these areas. pp. 31)..000 infants along with. it had not reached the same level of sophistication as fire protection or health services. street lighting. 1929). p. street cleaning. there was no method of comparing them (Quigley. the International Association of Chiefs of Police began collecting uniform national crime data. however. 1912b. However. 1927b. Downloaded from http://aas. 279). Hugh Lester recommended uniform crime classifications. Smith. snow removal. he characterized his recommendations as suggestions. Although Ridley knew that some communities kept crime statistics.Williams / EVOLUTION OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT 145 vice. As with health and fire protection.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. 1927b). Emphasis is on getting an exact unit that can be compared across communities. the American Child Health Association study examined service capacity or delivery issues such as the number of nursing visits per 1. For each of these. the measurement of crime prevention and detection was dominated by experts. not solving crime (convictions). Police work had also received some prior expert attention. p. infant mortality (Palmer et al. p. For example. of course. Although fire. He discussed streets. The scorecards were used to judge health departments or health services as much as health outcomes. Ridley (1927b. In 1930. health.sagepub. p. Ridley. 30) devoted a considerable portion of his text to discussing the validity of these measures. “No real standard of measurement for police work now exists” (Ridley. pp. However. 1930. 1927b. 2008 . measurement of public works had hardly begun (Ridley. as it had been 20 years earlier (Bruere. the measurement itself was not as advanced. 1925.

146 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / May 2004 I will discuss two specific sets of Ridley’s suggestions. garbage collection. sewerage. Ridley (1927b. 43) discussed factors contributing to the cost of system construction and maintenance. and emergent criminologists) took charge and developed measurement techniques. character and amount of traffic. for schools. The bulk of Ridley’s text discusses these four areas. a decline from the work of the Census Bureau as reported by Meyer in 1910 where specifics of refuse are not so clearly addressed but additional consideration is given to frequency of cleaning. Her welfare categories were schools (primarily). and. public health workers. She was unable to obtain any useful data on police. Her three additional objects of measurement also benefited from expert atten- Downloaded from http://aas. 42). Although her categories are somewhat broader than Ridley’s. and welfare. p. These services were measured in terms of volume of services provided including the number of books circulated. lastly. Her protective services included Ridley’s other three categories—police.sagepub. 378). although she was interested in the proportion of the population served with sewage systems. Ridley (1927b) went to some degree to be specific about area and raised additional issues such as “grade of street. subject matter specialists (fire insurance companies. paved or unpaved intersecting streets. Mabel Walker (1930) similarly narrowed her discussion to three principal categories: public works. These standards reflect little advance and. She included five measures for each of the first two categories and six for the third. in some ways. public works measurement was no more developed in 1927 than in 1910 and had perhaps somewhat regressed. Her measure of fire protection was loss. For street cleaning. the proportion of the population served. The measurement of public works reflects little advance over the earliest studies. libraries. the area of park land per capita. and.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. Her public works measures focused on street cleaning. and parks. Health and fire protection had seen considerable advances. the standard of cleanliness” (p. 2008 . fire. She measured health services through death rate. and infant mortality rate. In summary. type of pavement. For sewage.17 With the first three. This stands in stark contrast to the view offered by Walter Wilcox in 1896: “Hence the benefit of a sewerage system should be measured in terms of decreased mortality rather than in terms of increased productivity” (p. those for street cleaning and sewage. and paved highways and were volume measures similar to Ridley’s. protective service. quality and character of the refuse. they are still considerably narrower than Upson’s or Allen’s. Nowhere did he ask what the purpose of a sewage system might be. whether cleaning is done by day or by night. communicable disease rate. and health. whereas police work was under study.

infant mortality. these citizen data are not included in Cramer’s final index. Hansen & Wheeler. Walker’s or Ridley’s.Williams / EVOLUTION OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT 147 tion (Ayres. a municipal enterprise. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 1928. Davis. Walker. William Bracy (1924) used essentially the same categories as Cramer. 1929. Cramer’s study differs from Ridley’s methods or M. particularly health and fire protection. government was no longer a frequent object of examination. 1929. but these factors are not tabulated in the rankings. the object of expert measurement. CHANGES AND CONTINUATION How did performance measurement change between the early work by the NYBMR and the end of the 1920s? What remained unchanged? SOPHISTICATION There was increased sophistication of methods in some areas. And the survey had evolved to the scorecard and then the index. However. acres of parks per capita. had seen little change over these 2 decades.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. Gulick. by the late 1920s. and parks were developing specialized technical performance measurement. Strayer et al. Cramer’s study also includes discussion of other matters such as elections.sagepub. Emmons. Six of Cramer’s seven categories match M. Police work measurement had begun to become sophisticated. the practical effect is the same: Fire loss. which reflect the examination of citizens rather than government services. M. and volumes of books circulated per capita were. tax rates. performance measurement had come to reflect observation by experts. Walker’s index in that the objects of study originated with Bracy in 1924. Martin. Some types of activity. & Keppel. by the late 1920s. Although Cramer’s reasons for including categories may differ from M. In the earlier study. 1926. This earlier origin can be seen in the collection of election data. 1927. 2008 .. Overall. libraries. 1930). 1920. and debt. His additional category is water works. such as public works. Walker’s (Cramer. Thus. 1926. 1927).18 It is not possible to tell from Bracy’s report whether he included citizen data in his index. Downloaded from http://aas. Performance measurement was used to examine how government services were delivered to the public. Other areas of study such as education. but development was uneven. primarily by focusing on the volume or consequences of services.

Ohio. 265). 317-322).com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. Buck and Watson proposed standard costs to which an administrator can compare actual costs to gauge whether they are reasonable. This study quantifies something in nearly every section such as the proportionate disposition of cases by judges (Upson. At the beginning of this period. Another example of quantification is a study directed by Upson (1924b) concerning the governments of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. They discussed such matters as indirect costs. With a scorecard. 241). The use of scorecards also reflects this quantification. they had adopted standard industrial cost accounting. as with the more sophisticated weighting of points near the end of this period. E. In 1926. and relative Downloaded from http://aas. The scorecards also became more sophisticated. 1924b. relative cost of cleaning the court house (p. 1912). death rates (p. Buck (1924) was not uninterested in results in government but held that results are simply not what cost accounting studies. In summary. fire loss (p. QUANTIFICATION The sophistication of cost accounting reflects a general movement toward quantification. overhead allocation. mileage by pavement type (p. 328). cost accounting can say how many days of care a patient received and the cost of delivering but not whether the patient is left better off. Buck and Watson (1926) were clear that cost accounting is a cost-of-production concept and is used to determine whether the production cost is extraordinary. p. cost accounting was addressed through functional budgeting and accounting and the calculation of work unit costs. 352). Buck and Watson (1926) defined three sorts of cost units: production units where there is a tangible output of an activity. Such answers.148 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / May 2004 Another technique that saw more sophistication was cost accounting. relative efficiency of street cleaning (pp. and service units where there is a mixture of tangible and nontangible output. 293). do not show whether the end user gets ultimate value out of the service. they expressed no interest in the possibility that costs are too low. average load of a garbage trip (p. work units where there is no tangible output—they give the example of student-hours of instruction. and consideration of controllable and uncontrollable costs. Buck and William Watson rejected functional accounting as cost accounting and instead worked with cost centers. Unlike early innovators (Bachman.sagepub. communities can be compared with a single number. the comparative number of crimes in various localities (p. 337). 229). they said. they did not have to be. 2008 . Although cost centers can be organizational units. A. for example.

clerks. 24) With scorecards. the scoring is made the rigid consequences of formulas. In Mabel Walker’s work. The fire underwriters assigned their weights based on relative contribution to fire risk (Richards.Williams / EVOLUTION OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT 149 access to parks (p. 148). she declared that some levels of achievement are unrealistically demanding. This effort was not always appreciated.sagepub. this is tricky business. Walker. Commons dismissed the problem of weights as something that any researcher could settle to his own satisfaction. what was not yet measured would be in the future: “It may not be long until bookkeepers. which is very difficult to make objective at all. where scoring has become constituent to indexing. p. However. To combine scores from various observations. 67). Carey (1946) put it. Quantification was not universal. 1916). as with the comparative efficiency of building inspection with transportation by foot or by automobile. which itself requires some care to capture reliably. Curtis. a judgment. 1937. Where quantification is not possible because of lack of data. In 1912. there were efforts to implement these very measures (Bills & Dickenson. quantification brought problems to overcome.19 In effect. However. one health services scorecard assigned weights based on relative damage to be overcome through various services (Schneider. 2008 . p. there is an effort to estimate (Upson. In later times. scoring required assigning of scores to the component elements. 274). First. 1924b. and Upson later carried out this measurement (Upson.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. As time progressed. and stenographers will be required to measure and report on a standard day’s work” (p. Bruere (1912b) assigned equal weights to the elements of his study. Charles Beard’s The Administration and Politics of Tokyo (1923) contains very little quantitative data. For Upson (1926). 1926). requiring the poor wretch in the field office to convert his telephone calls and paper actions into points and decimals” (p. 292). the American Political Science Association convened panels and committees focused on addressing the Downloaded from http://aas. instead. 1937. Rosenberg. 1948). some rear-echelon genius with a slide rule will devise units of weighted measurement for each individual type of action. even it contains many recommendations for Tokyo to implement quantitative measurement. The second problem is one of assigning weights. she discussed the character of her own problems working out these formulas and reflected the need for continued input of analyst judgment (M. one must assign weights to each constituent element. In 1908. In 1924. It is. The score is not an unprocessed observation. 1915). As the modern survey researcher might observe. “Occasionally. efforts were made to guide the observation and scoring. as William D. 1930. In the 1920s.

that is. 2008 . the mechanical analogy was less exact. In the introductory chapter of Efficient Democracy (1907). This view holds that science studies facts that include no normative component. which Louis Brownlow. Stivers. Cramer (1929) weighed seven categories of service equally and two categories of measure equally. it simply compressed them into a concise result. At the beginning of the 20th century. But to the chagrin of all. organizational efficiency is a nearly mechanical notion.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. applied public administrators were adopting a norm of neutrality.21 The objectification of scores and indexes aimed at the public administrators’ norm of neutrality or the scientists’ value-free observation. a former city manager and a future advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt. by the late 1920s.150 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / May 2004 problem of setting weights for scorecards (Upson. Waldo. The selection of items. later called a “passion for anonymity. the chart when completed showed that a distressingly large percentage of the boys were serving second and third sentences at various penal institutions. The academic side of public administration began to adopt this view. p. should act as neutral agents (Neustadt. Walker (1930) assigned weights to provide roughly equal balance to her three major categories of government service. Williams (2003) has shown that the early innovators did not believe that management efficiency would guarantee good results. this confusion rests on the meaning of the word efficiency. But the scorecard and the index are not neutral. Weighting was important and not easily solved. RESULTS It has been alleged that early 20th-century public administrators were interested primarily in tax savings or. weighting of selected items.sagepub. M. while a painfully small Downloaded from http://aas. or at least some of them. and assignment of scores to observations all reflect normative decisions. D. In her 1929 study. In the current era. 17. 1924a). 2000. but they believed that management in efficiency would likely lead to poor results. Meanwhile. getting the most output from the least input (Bouckaert. at most.” He meant that public administrators. 1948). Quantification did not eliminate normative decisions.20 Here we come face to face with the growing belief that science is value neutral. 1963). in the narrower sense of efficiency. Allen related a story of the Lyman School for Boys: A chart was prepared for the Chicago Exposition to portray graphically this information. 1992. In part.

efficiency. 10) Here. Some technical advances were achieved. “In truth. He recommended what today would be called reengineering government: “For example. some needed clarifications were not made. volume measures. Socially desirable outcomes would depend on the nature of the books and what was done with them. Throughout this period. are output measures. However. With Ridley. This early literature anticipates performance monitoring or uses of secondary data.sagepub. 318). not merely to save money. 2008 . measures must be easily and routinely observable. each of Ridley’s categories was addressed in Bruere’s The New City Government (1912b). The concept of results was never adequately clarified. we see that results such as infant mortality or fire loss remained of interest in the late 1910s. Between Bruere and Allen (1907). as well. such as the number of books circulated. The increasing sophistication of cost accounting reflects a trend toward getting a clear grasp of government costs. and concerns for pure cost suppression continued to compete with interest in achieving results. efficiency is defined by results. Categories for which results were observed did not much change. results counted. often attributed to the ever-expanding scope of government. Walker. although there were advocates of the latter. namely. To some degree. results depended on what could be measured. The concern over results neither advanced nor retreated. Park acreage per capita is a service capacity measure. As Cramer’s (1929) study shows.Williams / EVOLUTION OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT 151 percentage could be referred to with pride. these new activities are not as costly as the expansion and ‘doing better’ old ones” (p. Walker’s and Cramer’s categories were addressed. but by daring to question the efficiency of this whole activity” (Upson. 319). the aim was to get better results while containing costs. With Ogburn. p. Downloaded from http://aas. M. 1922.23 Overall. So. not program evaluation studies. for example. results continued to be of interest in the late 1920s.22 There were competing views about results. most of M. Infant mortality and fire loss clearly relate to socially desirable outcomes.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. not the reverse. The directors believed their chart and devised for future guidance a new test. lower police costs cannot come thru improved foot patrol methods. (p. However. and Cramer. a potentially poor proxy for the intensity of criminal activity. However. Costs were growing at an alarming rate. the development is mixed. For example. Upson (1922) examined the link between costs and expanded scope and concluded. the point was normally to obtain good results. Ridley’s recommended measuring police service outcomes with complaints.

he became the executive director of the International City Manager’s Association (as it was then named) where he stayed until 1956. During this same period. during the 1910s and early 1920s. the social survey was frequently conducted by citizen volunteers. A. attending to such matters as the appropriate weights of the various components of the survey. Ridley. He taught measurement of government activities at the University of Chicago during the 1930s (Augier & March. 1986. 1999).com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. Measurement also became increasingly the province of experts and academics. academics took a greater lead. the social survey was a device for validating demands for increased governmental services from sewage systems to fire inspection to education. 2008 . especially for the poor or dependent. measurement moved away from the qualitative social survey that conveyed the rich contextual nature of social problems to the quantitative study that provided a summary score or set of proportions that represented effectiveness and efficiency. Also. this advocacy role began to fade. 1986.sagepub. During the 1910s. His Measuring Municipal Government (1927b) is a product of his dissertation at the School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. The NYBMR. did not shrink at demanding services. himself. particularly Allen. He became a leading spokesman for Downloaded from http://aas. was an expert and an academic. The summary score did not necessarily provide the compelling story that was often communicated in the report of social surveys. These groups were involved in measurement from the start. A community might improve its score by addressing a number of smaller and less important problems rather than facing its more severe shortcomings directly. 2001). municipal research was promoted as advancing social causes by increasing government’s capacity to make better communities. The new professional city managers took a stance of neutral competence rather than policy advocacy. Stigler. Fisher made statistics into a general tool for study of social data in the early 20th century. However. in the 1920s. In 1929. However.152 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / May 2004 ADVOCACY At the onset of these activities. This new sophistication made empirical research the exclusive province of experts. so the need for corrective action could be more easily ignored. summary scores might provide less specific guidance for improvement. After Karl Pearson and R. the use of more sophisticated methods for empirical research began to spread through the academic community (Porter. Academics were not necessarily as interested in advocacy as were citizen activists. In the middle of the 1920s.

1997).com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. perhaps. or at least deemphasis. some truth to this assertion. There is. 1997. COMMUNICATION WITH THE PUBLIC The three original codirectors of the NYBMR—Allen. Cleveland. Jonathan Kahn (1997) and Hindy Lauer Schachter (1997) argued that Allen was forced out of NYBMR largely because of his conflicts with Cleveland and patrons over public information. the research bureaus that sprang up in its likeness typically created public communication organs such at the Toledo City Journal or the Philadelphia Citizens’ Business. that is. The very idea of an organization for research into government rests on the idea that citizens require the aid of experts to mediate information such as budgets and government performance. The most intense form of public communication may be the Budget Exhibit. the point of these efforts was to overcome the public’s inability or unwillingness to understand government. a public event communicating governmental performance data to the public and conducted by the NYBMR in 1908 and 1909 and by New York City with NYBMR assistance in 1910 and 1911. The later conflict over executive budgeting centered. on the abandonment. Williams.sagepub. This plan suggests that experts are elite consumers of governmental data who can determine what the public and public officials really need Downloaded from http://aas. 1917. The Budget Exhibit reached more than 1 million people in 1911 (Kahn. William Allen went to such great trouble to communicate with the public that he came into conflict with the Rockefeller foundation. 1997). 1917. and Bruere—made repeated efforts to educate the public about government. Kahn (1997) argued that these sorts of activities reflected intellectual and political elitism. Schachter. Chase. Providing for informed public opinion was one of Allen’s (1907) five principles of efficient citizenship to help the public fulfill their citizenship duties. Central to efficient citizenship was the collection and analysis of data about government that would then be made public through reports and news accounts. 1997. Schachter. 1997). less committed to this view. a view that Bruere (1912a) also articulated. D.Williams / EVOLUTION OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT 153 governmental measurement. the NYBMR’s chief patron (Schachter. Not only did the NYBMR frequently distribute material directly to the public (Kahn. 2008 . of the public information objective for analytic practices (Allen. a practice that became more associated with management competence than policy advocacy. Cleveland was. in part. 2003). probably.

But. This plan borders on paternalism. in the early days of the NYBMR. Cramer’s (1929) report appears to be more clearly targeted to the public. but he continued into a career focused on serving government professionals and. that should go a long way towards stimulating a degree of efficiency in public business at present unknown” (p.154 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / May 2004 to know. not using them. this purpose had faded in significance and was partly replaced by an objective to communicate to government professionals. In 1927. picked up and summarized her American City Magazine article (Bureau of Municipal Research of Philadelphia. In 1923. The whole point of such activities as performance measurement (in 1907 or in 2003) would seem to be just that: Mediate difficult information to aid consumers. rather than in the popular press. she published it in her dissertation (1930) and in The American City Magazine (1929). It is not unreasonable to suppose that voluminous and complex information about government requires some mediation for public consumption.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. there was still considerable support for communicating performance data to the public. this silence may be because he was defining measures. it is somewhat elitist. Upson said. thus. 2008 . 1929. p. in her dissertation she took note that Citizen’s Business. First. Second. Any such plan implicitly assumes that the mediators are more expert in accessing the information. But this effect is an inescapable consequence of analysis. “Given to the press and the public. the plan is not unrealistic or necessarily anti-democratic. as late as 1923. By 1930. The attempt to mediate likely incorporates the mediators’ value judgments. as well. This statement reflects two matters. Ridley was not clear who he intended to receive the products of his measurement. In part. 111). Walker.sagepub. Although Mabel Walker produced an analysis comparing governmental contribution to quality of life in 160 cities. there was limited progress in producing the sort of performance data to be so communicated. only indirectly. reports of what and how the government was doing were clearly intended for the public. not evidence of deliberate undermining of democracy. a trade journal for public officials. a publication of the Philadelphia Bureau of Municipal Research intended for the public. 1930. In summary. at the same time. It also naïvely risks treating experts’ value judgments as if they were facts. Still. M. 122). Downloaded from http://aas. there appears to be no way out of this result except to leave the public to its own devices in trying to understand difficult material. However. these operating statements would furnish an outside check. the public.

At least in principle. pp. 1916). Ridley’s own focus was on government service. Walker included any measure of governance. M. 1910. 521-527) study of Cincinnati includes a short section on “Citizen Influence on Government. Bruere. They gave up the political component of the municipal research program. Before Ridley. or the study of how well the government complies with the norm of democratic government (Allen. the number of elective offices. the size of council. In his 1923 study of Tokyo. 137-161) devoted more than an eighth of the entire study to “The Spirit and Practice of Self-Government in Tokyo. and the terms of office.sagepub. whose focus is primarily governance. the characteristics of the city charter. Similarly. 1923. Although Ridley acknowledged Munro. Upson. 2008 . It is the narrowing of focus to government service alone.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. One object of study. fire protection. 1907. It was also during this period that the citizen survey movement developed. In fact.” Even Upson’s (1924b. What they gained was focus. or even the volume of library circulation. municipal research included the measurement of governance. he excluded this measure from his index. 1924b). they gave up something and gained something. Beard. pp. Bruere (1912b.” William Munro’s (1926) recommendations from the same period as Upson and Ridley are much more heavily oriented to governance and consider such matters as whether the city has home rule. Ridley and Cramer were interested in how government agencies performed assigned tasks. Walker’s question was: What is the social product of government activity? By asking narrower questions. the Downloaded from http://aas. In Efficient Democracy. pp. can be equally delivered by democratic or autocratic governments. 1912b.Williams / EVOLUTION OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT 155 GOVERNANCE Ridley’s largest change from prior practices is not the inclusion of various services as the subjects of observation—all of the services he discussed were examined by Bruere and Allen—nor even particularly the addition of expert measurement. This focus permitted continued advances in measuring the particulars of government. this movement might be viewed as a community and governmental self-study from the point of view of citizens (Aronovici. 376-400) took this advice and devoted 25 pages of his study of commission government to the examination of citizen control and cooperation. neither Ridley nor M. Allen (1907. Beard (1923. p. Although Cramer (1929) considered voter participation. 273) suggested that the level of public participation in government decision making is an important measure of democracy.

Haber (1964) suggested that the combined effect of the First World War and the growing distrust of socialism killed activist progressivism. and city managers were powerful. After the passage of the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921.sagepub. However. was no longer to be evaluated. moderation of interest in communicating with the public. another important object. On this thesis. Jeffersonian government prevailed with minor inroads of Hamiltonian resurgence in the growing power of some mayors. performance measurement served activism as it provided an explanation as to how leg- Downloaded from http://aas. remained important. and reduced interest in governance—collectively amount to a decline in activism among government reformers. governors. Americans have sought increased public service but have resisted taxes. Allen in particular.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. Why did the activists of 1910 turn into the technicians of 1930? A full exploration of this question is beyond the scope of this article. Focused performance measurement could serve as a technical tool to meet these objectives. One should not overlook the fact that the political environment had changed. satisfaction of public demand. 2008 . Schachter (1997) and Roberts (1994) suggested that the Rockefeller foundation deliberately killed social activism in public administration. it was just a matter of time before the president would be the most powerful official of all. the Hamiltonians had won. By the 1920s. the decline in public administration is symptomatic of the broader decline across the society. Throughout the 20th century. Activism arose in the transition period but declined when this period ended.156 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / May 2004 adherence to democratic form. Roberts argued that Rockefeller’s choices were between supporting the development of a seemingly neutral public administration and providing no support at all because the public would not tolerate Rockefeller activism. mayors. It is as a focused technical tool that performance measurement became intimately associated with productivity improvement. DECLINE IN ACTIVISM Several of the changes over this period—reduced advocacy. In the 1890s when the NML was first conceptualizing these developments. we can consider some of the major theses that have been raised. Schachter suggested that this suppression resulted from policy differences between Rockefeller’s trusted insiders and William H. Stivers (2000) suggested that the choice to develop in the direction of technical competence was implicitly a defensive masculine form of social activism that contained in its origins the destiny of preference for technical neutrality. however. In the transition period.

the point had become much more management oriented—to assist the mayor. it was refocused to serve the more limited technical needs within the executive. In 1906. It evolved from a more inclusive study of government to a narrower and more sophisticated study of government service. performance measurement was a practice. such as either the modern survey or the social survey of 1900. 2008 . By the end of this period.sagepub. Governmental cost accounting had abandoned the close link to budget accounting thereby allowing more effective development. or outcome of government service.Williams / EVOLUTION OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT 157 islators were not giving up very much power to executives. Walker and Cramer’s comparative studies depended. The qualitative survey had become the quantitative index. or expert administrator to get good results out of limited resources. performance measurement had a quarter century of practice behind it. Downloaded from http://aas. CONCLUSION By 1930. It was less closely linked with the public but more closely linked with government management. it refers to the application of relevant techniques to the problem of observing government at work. governor. It was no longer closely linked to policy advocacy. not simply an objective or recent innovation. the point of such observation was to inform the citizenry so that they could fulfill citizen duties. performance measurement was not discarded.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. product. Critical concepts such as results remained unclarified. its apparent objectivity and neutrality hid unexamined value judgments. Instead. Ridley had begun to bring intellectual rigor to outcomes measurement. efficiency. M. after Ridley. This history also shows us that performance measurement does not refer to a particular empirical technique. city manager. When this explanation was no longer needed. These empirical techniques included budget and cost accounting and collection of data on output of government activities and the social conditions that could reasonably be thought to depend to some degree on successful government service. Quantification sometimes became an end in itself. on routine collection of data that was only contemplated in 1900. such as difficulties with relative weights for indexes. however. that meant the delivery of government services. Techniques. By 1930. in part. are relevant to the degree that they get to the objective observation of the method. Methodological sophistication brought new problems.

Willoughby. It was. However. During the time Mabel Walker prepared her dissertation. the available alternative. founded just as the Pittsburgh survey was getting under way. 7. 2. The Philadelphia and Chicago studies had technical assistance from the New York Bureau of Municipal Research (NYBMR). which is the reorganized NYBMR. 2008 . The early Bureau of Municipal Research had three directors. they were community leaders. these interviews were. continues to conduct studies that could reasonably be thought to descend from the survey. Commission government is a form of municipal government where a small number of legislators are elected and each legislator serves as a department head. 3. which was also closely associated with the Institute of Government Research (Brookings Institute) that was headed by William F. This survey is the settlement house social survey. whether it followed this practice itself or not. Publications 66 through 73 of the Wisconsin University Extension comprise the whole citizen survey instrument. 12. in part. Downloaded from http://aas. 14. by the Russell Sage Foundation. These government studies could also be classified as government research (the first category in this section). They are included in this category to emphasize the similarity of approach to information gathering. 6. 4.158 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / May 2004 NOTES 1. 9. the selected citizens were not intended to be representative.sagepub. The wording of these labels is his. but this research does not show a common ancestor. This form of government is the antithesis of the strong executive government promoted by most government reformers of the era. at least in part. Changes from earlier functional accounting may have been motivated. M. The Institute of Public Administration. The reader should not set too much store by the NYBMR’s apparent use of distributed leadership. 343). 8. this rudimentary approach to normalization reflected considerable advance over the not-too-distant past. However. The random-sample survey of a population had not developed at this time. 11. Tammany Hall was the most powerful political machine in New York City. Ridley completed his text as his dissertation at Syracuse University. 15. gave it considerable support” (p. Normalization by population is a rudimentary cost accounting idea. the renowned political scientist. Governmental cost accounting. from its origins. was president of Johns Hopkins. It shows costs as they are experienced by the taxpayer but not as they are generated by activities. ascribed this relationship to the fortuitous coincidence of timing: “The Russell Sage Foundation. 10. associated with advocates of a strong executive in government. Economic indexes are functionally similar to scorecards. another technical area. 13.com at Cape Breton University Library on December 5. Frank Goodnow. Much of the work in surveys and scorecards was supported. which is 199 pages in length. in an early account of the social survey. which may be contrary to the principle of hierarchy later advocated by Luther Gulick. by Cooke’s criticism. in part. in 1900. also borrowed directly or indirectly from scientific management. Harriet Bartlett (1928) . not the survey of modern social science. Other contrasts between the NYBMR’s agenda and scientific management originate in the early NYBMR period. Walker completed hers as a dissertation at Johns Hopkins University. 5. and it was associated with corruption for a century after 1850.

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