Results Based Accountability™, founded by Mark Friedman, is an outcomes-based quality improvement framework that enables organisations to measure whether their service users are better off. It can also be used by communities to improve the wellbeing of whole populations. Funding bodies are increasingly asking service providers to report on outcomes, and RBA™ is a useful tool which services can use to measure and improve the outcomes of their service users. In this video, Maya Romic, Learning and Development Consultant from Results Leadership Group Australia (RLG: AU), introduces core concepts of RBA™ and explains why services should adopt an outcomes measurement framework such as RBA™. For more information visit the RLG: AU website www.resultsleadership.org.au
In the past a lot of the organisations as well as government were really focused on measuring how much do we do and all of the numbers - how many clients did we serve? How many hours have we spent on clients? How much money have we spent on clients? And also on you know, are clients satisfied with our service and those kinds of things?
I don't think there was a lot of emphasis put on things like, Is anyone better off? Are we actually making a difference? Are our programs working? And I think that that's basically where the sector's heading now because what we've seen in Queensland as well as in New South Wales Governments, I mean all funding bodies as well as Federal Government are moving towards putting a bigger emphasis on outcomes and actually asking those questions. Are these programs working? And should we be investing in them if they're not?
Collaboration, systems reforms, service integration, funding pools are all great things that we all want to do, however, where the difficulty is, is that it seems like in our sectors where there's government or non-government, we're trying to achieve collaboration, systems reform, service integration and funding pools those are just means to an end so what we should be doing is focusing on what are we actually trying to achieve by achieving that. Every organisation that works with a certain group of people, whether it's with vulnerable families and children, whether it's for people with mental health and disability, whether its frail aged people, those services were set up to create a positive change for that group of people. So it is only natural that those organisations should be able to show whether they're achieving that positive change for the group of people because that was their purpose in the beginning. So they should be held accountable in terms of are you achieving the outcomes that you set out to achieve.
We call results-based accountability and outcomes measurement Quality Improvement Framework and that's simply put, that's what it really is. We define results based accountability as a disciplined way of thinking and taking action that communities can use to improve the lives of families, children and community as a whole. RBA is used by agencies to improve the performance of their programs. It is very simple and its common sense and I think that's a huge advantage for framework. It doesn't use any kind of formulas or anything like that and it really does use the logic that we all use in solving problems and I think that's why it's so useful and effective.
There are two kinds of accountability. There is population accountability and there is performance accountability. The distinction between the two is very important. It is the crucial part of RBA that you need to get your heads around because if you don't there will be a lot of confusion, and it's easy, people confuse it quite a lot and get into this cycle of oh what am I doing? So it’s really important to know the difference.
There are three kinds of performance measures - How much did we do? How well did we do it?;Is anyone better off? And there are seven questions from ends to means in less than an hour. Results based accountability is the only framework that has that clear distinction between population accountability and performance accountability and that's, as far as I know, what I think is a great advantage to have because it is very important to know the difference because what we've noticed that happens a lot in the community or in different sectors where funding bodies will fund a service to deliver a particular service to people, and then they will put these expectations for them to create a change on a population level. So basically they're holding these services accountable for something that they don't have power over and I think that's why it's important for people to understand where the responsibility is and what they should actually be measuring and also understanding this is who I'm responsible for which is our service users and this is what I'm contributing to which is the population well being.
So let's talk about the first concept which is about RBA being made up of two parts, population accountability and performance accountability. Population accountability is about the well-being of whole populations, so you're looking at I guess results for people who live in communities, cities, countries, states and nations. You're looking at that big picture stuff and population accountability type of work will not be done by a single organisation, it will be done in a partnership with the community, Community Services and Government Services all coming together to look at population well-being, so maybe looking at children within a certain geographic area making outcomes for those children.
Now performance accountability is about the well-being of customer populations. It's about your service users and is used by programs, agencies and service systems. So performance accountability can be used by any organisation to measure the outcomes for the clients that they actually serve. Whoever their organisation works with, they were set up to create some kind of change for that group of people, their clients. So therefore you have the responsibility to create that change because that is the purpose of what you're doing. Right? However, you are not meant to be responsible for all of that population because you're just one organisation and like he said, there are too many different factors that play a role in population well-being.
In the current economic culture where you know funding is always decreasing and it's getting smaller, those organisations that have processes in place where they can provide evidence that they are achieving the outcomes they have - so they do have an outcomes measurement framework in place - are in a far better place than those organizations that are not because that is where the sector is heading