Set Goals

Once a framework has been established and data has been collected, many strong programs continue to evolve by establishing goals and measurements of success.

Useful goals should be:

  • Well-defined: Address the strategies the department will employ to use department resources most effectively, and explain how the department will improve services for constituents. Some examples of specific goals would be to reduce overtime, increase acres of land using cover crops, or reduce error rates in the administration of benefits.
  • Measurable: Ensure that you are able to measure your results to show you’ve met (or not met) your goals. Being able to align data with your goals brings credibility to your efforts.
  • Clear about timeframe: Giving each goal a timeline improves accountability internally and externally. Build in time for reevaluation, progress reporting, and check-ins.

Short, Intermediate, and Long-Term Goals

Think about the short, intermediate, and long-term goals that the performance effort can achieve. Consider asking department leads for three lists of goals.

Short-Term Goals

These are typically operational or programmatic goals that can be achieved in the next one to two years. They focus on a blend of operational and programmatic targets.

Operational Goals deal with the processes for getting things done.


  • Reduce use of employee overtime by 20% by 2017
  • Increase city spending with minority firms by 20% by 2018
  • Increase the number of government meetings streamed online by 45% by 2018

Programmatic Goals focus on how well those processes are followed.


  • Increase number of farms using cover crops by 30% by 2018
  • Increase the number of children visited by social workers by 15% by 2017
  • Increase the number of parents who receive safe infant sleep training by 20% by 2018

Intermediate Goals

These goals usually fit into a political term, and are achievable in the next two to four years. They are broader and require more collaboration with others.


  • Reduce the number of homicides by 5% by 2019
  • Increase transit ridership by 2% by 2020
  • Increase hotel tax revenue by $500,000 by 2020

Long-Term Goals

These goals are loftier, and can be achieved in the next four to 20 years. Driven by outcomes that are easily identified and of high value, equally, among government stakeholders and the public. These goals are most effective if they create a forcing mechanism for cross-department, or multi-departmental collaboration.


  • Reduce violent crime by 20% by 2025
  • Decrease the infant mortality rate by 10% by 2025
  • Improve 8th grade reading and math test scores by 20% by 2022