Results Based Accountability

We believe it is important that social service providers are proactive in the development of outcome measurement, ensuring that any systems that are developed, required, or implemented, improve the quality of what is being delivered and don’t just add to the workload.  Impact Research NZ has expertise in developing and delivering Results Based Accountability (RBA) evaluations and provides support for organisations wanting to implement the framework.

Results Based Accountability (RBA) is a management tool that encourages collaboration among human service/social service agencies. As the term implies, expected results/goals are clearly articulated, and data are regularly collected and reported to assess whether results have been achieved. RBA can be developed and used at different levels (national, regional, community, agency or programme) with each level contributing to achieving the results. Components of RBA systems include: a strategic planning process, goals and indicators (measures of progress), benchmarks or targets, and mechanisms for regular public reporting. In addition, reports should provide contextual information to enable correct interpretation of data.

Friedman (2005) describes RBA as a framework that provides a step-by-step method to turn data into action. It starts with the ends and works backward step-by-step to the means. For communities, the ends are aspects of well-being for the community, such as children being safe. For programmes and services, the ends are clients being better off when the service works as it should.

Benefits:

The RBA model builds organisational strength and evidence of performance, which can provide a basis for funding.  It has a focus on effectiveness, ensuring that resources are utilised in the most optimal way.  RBA is a support mechanism, rather than a monitoring tool, which promotes improvement in the quality of service delivery, as awareness of organisational performance grows.

In a nutshell, RBA:

  • Starts with ends, work backwards to means. What do we want? How will we recognise it? What will it take to get there?
  • Uses plain language, not exclusory jargon.
  • Keeps accountability for populations separate from accountability for programmes and agencies.
  • Results are end conditions for populations in a geographic area: children, adults, families and communities; they are the responsibility of partnerships.
  • Uses data (indicators and performance measures) to gauge success or failure against a baseline.
  • Uses data to drive disciplined business-like decisions to improve the process.
  • Involves a broad set of partners.
  • Gets from talk to action as quickly as possible.


Friedman, M. (2005) Trying hard is not good enough: How to produce measureable improvements for customers and communities, Victoria, BC, Canada: Trafford.

Weir, A. E., & Watts, R. (2013). Results Based Accountability: Evaluating program outcomes in a social services organisation in New Zealand. Evaluation Journal of Australasia, 13(2), 13-19. Click here to see article

For help with developing and implementing Results Based Accountability, please contact Dr Annie Weir This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone on 027 6124335.


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Research and evaluation are now seen as essential elements in the provision of the social services, and provide the means of measuring outcomes for clients, and informing service improvement.

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