Syndicate content

Government performance

Lorne Turner: Remembering a city worker who made a difference

Dan Hoornweg's picture

Lorne Turner served as Manager of Performance Management for the City of Toronto.
People wandering through the labyrinth of booths of yet another UN urban conference in Nanjing (2008) or Rio de Janeiro (2010) may have stumbled across a friendly, unassuming man, looking somewhat out of place at the Global Cities Institute – Cities Alliance stand. These types of conferences were not the typical work venue for Lorne Turner, Toronto’s manager of city performance.
 
Lorne was a city practitioner, tasked with the professional, meaningful and honest monitoring of the progress of Toronto, alone and alongside other world cities. He firmly believed that all cities – in Ontario, Canada and around the world - succeed when working together, and that measuring this progress is absolutely critical. Lorne was a ‘details-guy’ who knew how the small brushstrokes blended together to paint a community, a country, and later in his life, he helped demonstrate how they could define urban life around the planet.
 
Lorne passed away last week, after a long battle with cancer. Lorne was in his role for almost 30 years (including Budget Director, North York, 1988-97).
 
Lorne’s passing is particularly poignant for city workers. Lorne was quiet and modest; he fit his professional accountant stereotype well. He was also highly effective. Last year, the global city indicator standard was published (ISO 37120). This standard is important for all cities and is anchored to Lorne’s perseverance, commitment and his ability to keep the City of Toronto actively engaged for the more than ten years it took to develop the idea. The idea and the standard owes much of its existence to Lorne.

Beyond romance and nostalgia: A clear-eyed view of long term career-based incentives in the public sector

Nick Manning's picture

Teacher and studentsAs we argued in the previous post, the evidence on performance-related pay (PRP) is limited but generally supportive.   However, the evidence base for, or against, PRP is distinctively weak in relation to core civil service jobs outside of the OECD.   The conclusion of our recent report1 urges cautious experimentation, breaking out of the evidence-free certainties which have driven so many donor recommendations for reform. 

In some cases a more detailed empirical look will likely show that long term career-based incentives provide a better alternative to the short term motivation provided by PRP.  In complex public sector environments, with complex and occasionally contradictory objectives and multiple principals, there are arguments that incentives for performance should rely on information which is hard to game as it emerges over the longer term.2

Performance-related pay in the public sector: Experimentation with humility is an appropriate stance, given the state of the evidence

Nick Manning's picture

Pay Flexibility book coverA new publication on Pay Flexibility and Government Performance[1] finds that, in this area as in so many aspects of public sector management, practitioners are hampered by a lack of high quality evidence, particularly for PRP in core administrative public sector jobs.  The publication draws on a two sets of data: a review of the literature on Performance-Related Pay in the Public Sector[2] which disaggregates the available evidence by the different public sector contexts, the different types of public sector jobs, the quality of the empirical study, and the economic context; and case studies of PRP in emerging market and OECD countries, which included large perception surveys of government officials.

A related article in the World Bank Research Observer notes that this has not limited the remarkable certainty which opponents and proponents of PRP adopt concerning recommendations for reform.  Opponents march behind populist banners such as that provided by Pink[3], appealing to the idea that monetary and other extrinsic incentives are both counterproductive (because they frequently undermine intrinsic incentives) and unnecessary (because intrinsic incentives can be harnessed and used to maximize individual productivity).