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Performance Measures

Performance measures translate programatic goals and objectives into measurable indicators of progress. They are a vital part of the adaptive management approach, advocated by the council,that provides decision-useful information about areas of success as well as weakness. This insight helps reveal the critical areas in need of adjustment. A successful performance measurement process aligns limited monitoring resources to priorities and, in doing so, helps to ensure that outcomes meet expectations.

The goal of being able to measure the progress of what the Delta Plan is designed to manage is fundamental to determining the success of the Plan, as well as ensuring the proper use of adaptive management techniques in fine-tuning the Plan’s operation. The Delta Reform Act of 2009 requires the Delta Plan to include performance measures. The Plan says the measures "need to be designed to capture important trends and to address whether actions are producing expected results."

The Delta Stewardship Council assists partner agencies, stakeholders and other parties interested in furthering the coequal goals by tracking and reporting on implementation of the Delta Plan.

Success is measured in three steps: 1) by developing and then assessing effective performance measures; 2) by developing smart technologies for data collection; and 3) by using an efficient reporting process that supports the coequal goals.

Our Approach

An important role of Performance Management is constantly maintaining the linkages between the Delta Plan’s goals, policies, and recommendations, as well as the efforts supporting them. The Council tracks progress based on the Delta Plan’s elements, and then reports the outcomes (may be annually)

This illustrates the Delta Reform Act’s requirements for the “Performance Measures” of the Delta Plan, which creates a system where performance fits into an adaptive management process. Data is gathered and reported in a continuous cycle of decision, support, and improvement. The “Measures” must be flexible so they can be refined as the understanding of the system and/or the condition evolves.

The Delta Plan currently tracks 160 Performance Measures in three types:

  • 118 Administrative Measures

  • 21 Output Measures

  • 21 Outcome Measures

Administrative Measures: These indicate the dates or targets achieved for the actions recommended by the Delta Plan and identify the resources expended (funds, staff, construction, etc.). A database tracks these measures.

Output Measures: These track the results of management actions. They can also highlight factors that may influence outcome measures which can include uncontrollable factors such as natural phenomena (e.g., weather and hydrologic fluctuations) not caused by the management actions.

Outcome Measures: Also called "response" or "results" measures, these describe the ultimate outcome of management actions upon the system that is being managed – in this case, the Delta. These measures are continuously assessed and illuminate important trends for the competing demands encompassed in the Delta Plan. They highlight whether specific actions are producing expected results.

Aligning Performance Management with Adaptive Management

Adaptive Management, as defined in the Delta Reform Act, is “a framework and flexible decision making process for ongoing knowledge acquisition, monitoring, and evaluation leading to continuous improvements in management planning and implementation of a project to achieve specified objectives.”

Performance Management is a systematic process used to improve effectiveness in the accomplishment of the organization’s mission, goals, or objectives through tracking and evaluating the organizations performance results.

Figure 1 Adaptive Management can be seen below in Step 4 of the framework: "Select action(s) (research, pilot or full-scale) and develop performance measures." This important function conducts its own sub-process called the Performance Management Framework.

Figure 2 The Performance Management Framework provides output and outcome information the Council can use to adapt future policies and recommendations.

Collectively these conceptual models provide a common understanding of how performance and adaptive management work in unison to create a report system that effectively manages collecting data on performance.

Coequal goals

The Delta Stewardship Council was created in legislation to achieve the state mandated coequal goals for the Delta. "'Coequal goals' means the two goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. The coequal goals shall be achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta as an evolving place." (CA Water Code §85054)