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ISSUE THREE: Performance measures

Today's limited resources have made performance-based programming more important than ever before.  In this issue discussion, participants explored how performance measures can be developed and used in their local traffic safety efforts. A NHTSA staff representative outlined the outcome goals and performance measures to which NHTSA is held accountable by Congress.  Participants also were provided as an example, an overview of Impaired Driving Gold Standards developed by law enforcement, prosecution, adjudication and treatment professionals in NHTSA's Region IV to help reduce alcohol and/or drug related injuries and fatalities on roadways.  Participants noted that these standards were largely quantitative, and did not touch on the less tangible, qualitative impacts of traffic safety programs.  

A major outcome of this issue discussion was that standards are necessary, but balance is needed between qualitative and quantitative standards when measuring performance of the criminal justice system's traffic safety efforts.  The outcome is more important than the process, and standards should be flexible to accommodate the needs of various agency sizes and the values of each discipline.

Participants raised the following points during discussions:

Emphasis on numbers should be used cautiously

  • Balance emphasis on qualitative and quantitative measures.
  • Develop multiple measures and processes to reach a desired outcome.

Performance Measures should represent the core values and mission of the discipline

  • Consider these differences when developing standards and measures to which the disciplines will be held accountable with regard to traffic safety.  Each discipline should not be held accountable by standards that are not a part of their roles in the system. 

Standards must be flexible

  • Consider differences in jurisdictional laws and agency sizes when applying and holding disciplines to standards. 
  • Consider the development of substitute measures based on an assessment of local circumstances.
  • Allow local level flexibility in setting and achieving performance measures.

Leadership must be held accountable

  • Hold federal, state and local governments accountable for getting everyone on board.  Leadership must be persistent with assessment and follow-up.