How Data Churn Destroys Evidence about Public Service Performance and What Can be Done about it

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    Photo: Image: Ruth Dixon

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There is a paradox or contradiction between the demand for evidence to drive performance improvement and the apparently increasingly short ‘shelf-life’ of the indicators that allow us to evaluate that performance. This tension may represent an inevitable trade-off between continuity and responsiveness. Discontinuities and data-breaks are perhaps only a problem for a few  evaluators, social scientists and economic historians, and it is hard to argue against  the proposition that indicators should be discontinued when they become obsolete. But what about performance indicators that change so rapidly that policies and management can’t be evaluated even in the short term?

In this briefing Ruth Dixon and Christopher Hood discuss whether and how this contradiction might be resolved.

Dr Ruth Dixon is Associate MemberEmeritus Professor Christopher Hood is Emeritus Professor of Government, Fellow, All Souls College