OMG! Performance Data galore!

Just over a year ago, a new Policy on Results came into force, with the objective of setting out the “fundamental requirements for Canadian federal departmental accountability for performance information and evaluation, while highlighting the importance of results in management and expenditure decision making, as well as public reporting”.

The new policy is meant to be the next-gen of results and resources reporting, putting all your financial and non-financial performance information together in one plain English package; streamlining and reducing reporting burden on departments (better use of resources); posted on the intertubes for all to see. Finally, Canadians will get a clear, easy to read picture of what the government does on behalf of Canadians.

Cool. Certainly makes sense, too, for a federal government with Open Government commitments and a desire to be at the top rather than bottom of OECD ranking exercises.

Cue JT spending the last year of her life on this file, at the pointy implementation end of things…you know, where ideal and real meet, hang out, and reality beats the sh*t out of the ideal. It’s been fun.

And, while I generally suck as a cheerleader, there are parts of this policy initiative that are going to be very interesting to watch unfold (unless someone figures out how interesting those parts might be, and kills them) that I think should be lauded and embraced with enthusiasm.

Have you ever read a policy? They tend towards the melba toast rather than fresh out of the oven sourdough side of the street. But you can read them like a road map — a plan to do something by a certain time, with these people, and resources. Usually comes with a handy list of things it won’t do, or can’t do. Treasury Board Secretariat has a handy primer of how to read these beasts.

Anywho…the Policy on Results comes with a Directive (see handy primer link above about what a Directive does) which also contains five little appendices full of chunky goodness to be explored, each in its own way contributing to the overall potential to change how the Canadian public service creates, tracks, and reports on its efforts to get stuff done for Canadians.

I just want to point out the ones that tickle my fancy, and how those bits link up with other things being done — that might just change how people have conversations with their government about objectives, desired results, and actual performance.

The first one is going to be a game changer…seriously, when I think of all the data that is going to be linked up…and that can be linked up with other data, I get all…sorry. Where was I? Right: Appendix E: Standard on Tagging. There are going to be linkage tags (think strategic alignment from program level on up to the desired results a department is working towards achieving; including mandate letter commitments, among other things) as well as two kinds of descriptive tags: for method of intervention, and target group. (Method of intervention is a clumsy way of saying ‘we’re going to use this tool to get that result’).

Metadata. Finally. A way to slice and dice performance data within and across all types of filters (there are 82 target groups, six types of interventions), AND against financial and people resources. If I want to know what the Government of Canada is doing to work with First Nations and Inuit on mental wellness and crisis prevention — including how the government is measuring its performance, I will be able to do so…Oh sweet Jeebus…they did it — they put all the data up! This is beyond my wildest expectations!!! OMG OMG OMG.

Me go play with data now. Kthnxbai.