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Publication Date: January 2010
What Are Performance Measurement and Program Evaluation?
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What Are Performance Measurement and Program Evaluation?


Performance measurement and program evaluation share similarities but serve different purposes. Performance measurement provides the data you will use to measure your program’s results; program evaluation is the process of obtaining, analyzing, interpreting, and reporting on this data to describe how your program is working.

Performance measurement is the ongoing monitoring and reporting of program accomplishments and progress toward preestablished goals. For many programs, requirements can be met through performance measurement, which includes collecting data on the level and type of activities (inputs) and the direct products and services delivered by the program (outputs).

Program evaluation is a systematic process of obtaining information to be used to assess and improve a program. In general, organizations use program evaluations to distinguish successful program efforts from ineffective program activities and services and to revise existing programs to achieve successful results. Conducting evaluations is an integral part of operating and managing a program because it helps to determine whether you are meeting the needs of your client base. The type and application of program evaluation methods depend on the mission and goals of the program.

Both mechanisms support resource allocation and policy decisions aimed at improving service delivery and program effectiveness. While performance measures can tell you only what is occurring in your program, program evaluation provides you with an overall assessment of whether your program is working and can help identify adjustments that may improve your program results. Performance measurement data can be used to detect problems early in the process so that you can correct them before it is too late. Program evaluation data are often used when results or outcomes are not readily observable and performance measures are not sufficient to demonstrate a program’s results.

Program evaluation and performance measurement complement each other in—

  • Developing or improving measures of program performance.
  • Helping to understand the relationship between activities and results.
  • Generating data on program results not regularly collected or available through other means.
  • Ensuring the quality of regularly collected performance data.