Performance Management: A Guide for City Leaders


  • Emily Robbins
  • Christiana McFarland


We are pleased to present, Performance Management: A Guide for City Leaders, a report written and published as a service to NLC members and all cities. This guide presents an overview of existing performance management best practices with an eye toward the future of service delivery in cities. We also aim to empower more city leaders to launch performance management programs in their own cities.

Performance management and data analytics in general are key aspects of the continued shift toward data-driven decision-making in cities nationwide. Data-driven decisions help local governments provide city services that are efficient, effective and driven by community priorities. The value of making data- driven decisions is imperative as many cities continue to face the post-recession realities of decreased city revenues, limited intergovernmental aid and reduced municipal workforces. At the same time, there is a growing trend towards openness and making the inner workings of municipal governments more accountable and transparent.

Looking to the future, as advanced data analytics and open data become more prevalent in cities, there will be more opportunities to prepare and predict service needs of constituents. We plan to continue highlighting the importance of this epochal shift in city governance through our City of the Future initiative that seeks to advise cities on coming trends and opportunities. Within the Center for City Solutions and Applied Research we strive to strengthen communities, transform and improve cities and assist city leaders.

Performance Management: A Guide for City Leaders was developed through staff interviews and surveys with a cross-section of large cities across the United States. This work was supported financially by a grant to the National League of Cities Institute by The Pew Charitable Trusts. We join the authors in thanking the city officials who helped make this work possible, and welcome comments and thoughts from readers, as we continue to work to help city leaders lead.


How to Cite

Robbins, E., & McFarland, C. (2015). Performance Management: A Guide for City Leaders. International Public Management Review, 16(1), 216–235. Retrieved from



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