Ken Rowe, ACER

Publication Date



Background paper to invited address presented at the 2004 Public Sector Performance & Reporting Conference, under the auspices of the International Institute for Research (IIR) Sydney, 19-22 April 2004


Within the context of a growing international movement toward the adoption of ‘outcomes-based’ modes of public sector service provision, policy, governance and accountability, this paper focuses on the context, nature and purpose of performance indicators (PIs), and in particular on the analysis and reporting of data derived from them as bases for informing policy. Presented and discussed are key issues related to: • The nature, purpose, types and sources of PIs; • essential features of useful indicators; • the ‘dangers’ of analysing, interpreting and reporting aggregated data, and • effective methodologies for the responsible analysis and reporting of PI data. To illustrate these ‘issues’, specific reference is made to educational PIs, and especially to responsible modes of PI data analysis, use and reporting.