How government measures its impact

Movement of impact indicators, 2010 to 2015
The Government’s cross-government way of measuring the impact of a department’s policies is a set of impact indicators, originally published as part of each department’s Business Plan.
 
The number of impact indicators per department varies – from a high of 28 for DfE to a low of six for MoD. Our previous work suggests that some departments take them more seriously than others. Eight departments prefer to use their own measurements, which at best supplement the Business Plans.
 
The way each department publishes its impact indicators also varies widely. By following the links from the Number 10 Transparency website, we found that some departments (such as DCLG, DfT and DWP) presented their impact indicators in an open format (for others to use) and in a form easily understandable by members of the public, while the links for others went to indicators not updated since 2012. Many also failed to make clear what impact they wanted to see – was the department’s desired outcome a decrease or increase?
 

Annual report 2014 chapter

 

About the data

Government departments published a list of impact indicators as part of their Business Plans in November 2010, although the actual data was not published alongside them. Since then, the indicators have been refined, and transparency.number10.gov.uk provides a single portal for accessing the indicators for each department. The site says that ‘input and impact indicators… help the public assess the effects of policies and reforms on the cost and impact of public services’. We used these links to assess how the impact indicators were presented; our methodology concentrates on how transparent and easy to use the indicators are from the central Number 10 site.
 
In analysing how many impact indicators each department has, we have for the most part accepted their own classifications.  However, where departments have nested indicators – a series of bullets within each indicator – we have counted these as separate indicators.