The national service indicators within local government: a managers perspective
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Overview Public sector organisations face unprecedented pressure to improve service quality while progressively lowering their costs. They are also expected to become more accountable, customer focused and responsive to stakeholder needs. The Local Government Act, 2001: states that the corporate plan of each local authority should include the objectives and priorities of the authority and the manner by which the authority intends to assess its performance taking into account relevant service indicators (SIs). Purpose The aim of this dissertation is to examine the use of the national SIs within local government in Ireland. The objectives are to gain an insight into the perceptions of managers on the purpose of SIs, the issues relating to the design and implementation of the SIs, the impact they have on managers, the possibility of manipulation of the results of the SIs and finally their views on the usefulness of the SIs for comparative purposes. A review of literature relating to performance measurement highlighted the issues associated with performance measures. Semi-structured interviews with a sample of managers from various local authorities were undertaken to gain an insight into the manager’s opinions on these matters. Findings The findings demonstrate that there is a lack of understanding to the purpose of SIs. Despite the literature, that promotes performance indicators as a valuable management tool, the SIs are not as valuable as the unique set of indicators set by individual local authorities. ii Future Research This study could act as a starting point for a more in depth analysis of the use of SIs within local government. Due to the sample size of interviewees, possible further research could include a comprehensive case study involving each local authority. Importance Since performance measurement is such a complex and intricate topic area, any research on its practice can only enhance understanding while simultaneously contributing to current theories.
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