Promises are Promises, but only Performance is Reality

Oct 15
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It was the sometimes controversial American businessman Harold Geneen who famously said “It is an immutable law in business that words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises but only performance is reality“.  Good performance is an essential part of good management and governance in any organisation.  It assists in ensuring accountability, transparency and aid decision making across the board on a range of services delivered.  In my world that reality is about the effectiveness of road and transport administrations.

The combined value of Australia’s road asset is in the order of $280 billion and rising, collectively we invest just under $20 billion on roads per annum.  In Western Australia the value of our State road network represents 30% of the State’s total asset base.  Understanding our performance and if we are managing the asset appropriately and meeting our customers’ needs is essential.  Regular reporting of good performance information, in our context, makes for strong public sector accountability and informs the community about the effectiveness of our services.  It also helps to make decisions and track performance in turn, improving public value creation and overall public sector performance. 

Guide to Good Practice Performance Frameworks

As a member of the World Road Association Technical Committee on Performance of Road and Transport Administrations we have produced a Guide to Good Practice Performance Frameworks.  The guide was developed by identifying contemporary good practice based on literature reviews, analysing the findings from an in international seminar in Tanzania bringing together delegates from 23 countries and looking for common elements drawn from nine practical real life case studies.  These case studies represent a diverse cross section of road and transport agencies at a national and provincial level with populations ranging from 2 million to 128 million, employee numbers ranging from 1,000 to 20,000 and annual investment of up to $15 billion per annum.  

Common themes

Regardless of the level of administration or the complexity of the road and transport network under management, the following recurring themes arose:

  1. A focus on outcome based reporting
  2. Alignment to an appropriate strategic context
  3. Meeting customer needs, user satisfaction and determining service delivery effectiveness
  4. Creation of review mechanisms challenging the information gathered
  5. Communicating performance results

If we can’t demonstrate to Government and the community we serve that we are performing well and are positioned to respond to the future, then all we are left with are words, explanations and promises.

The next conference in the Road Maintenance series takes place on May 17th – 18th 2016. Book soon to secure your place!

Road Maintenance 2016

Submitted by Alan Colegate

Alan Colegate

Alan is Manager Strategy at Main Roads Western Australia and through Austroads represents Australia and New Zealand on the World Road Association Technical Committee on Performance of Road and Transport Administrations.

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