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Twenty Years of Benchmarking in North Carolina: Lessons Learned from Comparison of Performance Statistics as Benchmarks

PAQ, Vol. 41 No. 1, (2017)

The North Carolina Benchmarking Project has been in existence for approximately 20 years, functioning under the benchmarking category of comparison of performance statistics as benchmarks. This form of benchmarking, however, is diagnostic, requiring subsequent analytical steps before local officials can actually use comparative data for improving service delivery. This article presents lessons learned from the North Carolina Benchmarking Project to advance our understanding of why local governments participate in these types of benchmarking initiatives and how they review and make decisions regarding the comparative data. They include that local governments participate more for the purpose of greater internal accountability rather than performance management and that local governments use benchmarking data both for excellence and satisficing when responding to departmental rankings.

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