Case #1994.0

Performance Management for Health in Washington State

Publication Date: April 30, 2014
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By the mid-2000s, Washington State's Department of Health (DOH) had earned a national reputation as an innovative and effective agency. But beginning in 2005, when newly elected Governor Christine Gregoire introduced a state-level performance management system, Government Management Accountability and Performance (GMAP), DOH and other state entities found themselves having to regularly explain and justify their work through the newly established forum. Based on two similar, but smaller-scale programs, CompStat (created by the New York Police Department in 1994) and CitiStat (used by the City of Baltimore), GMAP challenged public officials to analyze data in new ways and to rethink the kinds of results that they were accountable for delivering. This case provides background on GMAP's origins and on the general ways in which the initiative was managed, but it focuses primarily on DOH's efforts to comply with the new performance measurement requirements and to meet the expectations of the governor, her staff, and GMAP leadership. In exploring the benefits and challenges of the department's experience with GMAP, the case also raises questions about the applicability and usefulness of such a system for public health, which tends to address complex issues with objectives that are often difficult to quantify.

Learning Objective:
In a broad sense, this case explores the potential advantages and disadvantages of implementing a wide-ranging performance measurement system across state government. More specifically, it prompts the reader to consider the merits and limits of performance management vis-à-vis the particularities of public health and asks the reader to think about how health departments (and other public entities) can make best use of such initiatives.

Other Details

Case Author:
Jennifer Weeks
Faculty Lead:
Arnold Howitt
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials