Panel Paper: Using Performance Measures in Managing Employment Contracts in NYC: One Goal, Two Programs, Two Performance Measurement Systems

Saturday, November 9, 2013 : 4:10 PM
Georgetown II (Washington Marriott)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Swati Desai, State University of New York, Albany, Katy Gaul, NYC Human Resources Administration/ Dept. of Social Services and Jackie Mallon, NYC Small Business Services
In order to make government more effective and accountable, Congress has passed legislation (the Government Performance and Results Act, 1993, renewed in 2010 as GPRA Modernization and results acts of 2010) that requires departments of the federal government to establish performance measures. Each federal agency has been asked to develop its own performance measures with the hope that they will help agency administrators better manage their programs and in some cases achieve required goals.    While the goals of two agencies could be very similar, their performance targets and performance measurement systems could be quite different. This paper will discuss the different methods of managing and measuring performance in two New York City Agencies that are required to provide employment services under the federal mandate: the Human Resources Administration/Dept. of Social Services (HRA), the local TANF agency and the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), the local WIA program.

Although both agencies provide employment services through contracts with the ultimate goal of helping unemployed or underemployed low income individuals find jobs, the service delivery model as well as contracting model varies considerably between two agencies. HRA has performance-based contracts and contractors are predominantly paid for job placements and job retentions. To achieve these performance milestones, contractors use different work first strategies to rapidly attach these clients to work and provide them with work supports for job retention. SBS’s contracts are partially performance-based. Contractors are required to help employers fill their open positions at no-cost to employers.  Contractors screen individuals based on the need of employers in their assigned “sales” territory and refer the most qualified candidates to employers. They also provide skills training through vouchers to bolster job seekers’ earnings. Contractors get paid for job placement and for training vouchers.  Even though the goals of both agencies are the same –their contracts, performance elements and the use of performance measures are quite different.

HRA’s performance measurement system, known as VendorStat, consists of two major components: monthly reports analyzing important indicators and a monthly meeting between the vendor and senior HRA administrators to discuss vendor performance and strategies. The use of a strategic conversation allows the management of outcome focused performance based contract the discussion of process elements that could be missing without it.

SBS’s performance measurement system consists of 1) Annual Operating Plan and Business Development/Recruitment Plan; 2) Quarterly meetings with SBS and Vendor leadership to discuss performance and modifications to annual plan; 3) Monthly check-ins between Vendor and SBS leadership to discuss performance; and, 4) Weekly Dashboards highlighting performance against key metrics.   

This paper compares the performance measures and contract management utilized by both agencies to manage their contracts and to meet federal mandates. The detailed analyses of both systems suggests that the targets set by agencies at the federal level, don’t have a strong influence on how local programs are developed and managed.  At best, federal performance measures provide a direction for state and local administrators and programs.